Triple Threat: 2021 Freehold Boro High School Football Preview
There have been some dynamic individual performers to lead Freehold Boro over recent years and this upcoming season, there will again be upper-echelon talent on the Colonials roster. While Freehold games could often turn into a one-man show with players like Sha’kim Shuler last year and Ashante Worthy before him, this year’s team has a trio of seniors who can take over a game – a dynamic that could make Freehold a different kind of dangerous in 2021.
Kamore Gill, Yah-Sin Calhoun and Tyler Ochojski are the talented, seasoned veterans leading the Colonials into the upcoming season and the expectation among the coaching staff is that this team will be all about that big three more than it is the one-man showcase.
“It’s all three of those guys – to single one out as the guy would be an injustice to the other two,” Freehold Township coach Dave Ellis said. “They all have great character, they are very coachable and they are all unselfish.”
The rest of the team lacks overall experience but Ellis and his staff have consistently succeeded in building around speedy skill players and this year’s team has every opportunity to be as dynamic as any Colonials team. This season will have its share of barnburners on the scoreboard and keeping those key players healthy is key, but Freehold Boro rolls into 2021 again eying a deep postseason run now that the NJSIAA Playoffs are back for this coming fall.
With those three guys, we are going to be a tough team to play,” Ellis said. “It’s going to come down to how quickly the other guys can learn but we have three coaches on the field who are out there helping the offensive linemen and showing guys as much as they can. When you have a group of seniors who care that much and are that talent, it makes you want to win for them. I want those guys to experience a state championship, so that’s going to be our mindset going in.”
Freehold Boro at a Glance
Projected Starters (RS=Returning Starter)
QB: Kamore Gill, Sr.
RB: Yah-Sin Calhoun, Sr. RS; Cameron Crooms, Jr.
WR: Kayden Hutchinson, Jr. RS; Christian DaSilva, Jr.
WR: Mike Bickerton, So.; Spenser Rushton, So.
WR: Tyler Goldstein, Sr.; Asir Smith, Jr.; Hector Rodriguez, Jr.
TE: Tyler Ochojski, Sr., RS; Matt Giuffrida, So.
LT: Anthony Lombardi, Sr.
LG: Matt Verardi, Sr.
C: Carter Stokes, So.
RG: Steve Goncalves, Sr.; John Russo, So.
RT: J.J. Johnson, Sr., RS
DE: Steve Goncalves, Sr.
NT: J.J. Johnson, Sr., RS
DE: Matt Verardi, Sr., RS
OLB: Cameron Crooms, Jr.; Matt Giuffrida, So.
ILB: Anthony Lombardi, Sr.
ILB: Tyler Ochojski, Sr. RS
ILB: Alex D’Antonio, Jr.
SS: Spenser Rushton, So.; Mike Bickerton, So.
CB: Kamore Gill, Sr., RS
CB: Jordan Hamlin-Woolfork, Jr.
FS: Yah-Sin Calhoun, Sr., RS
K: Kayden Hutchinson, Sr.
P: Kamore Gill, Sr.
Head Coach: Dave Ellis, 13th season
Career Record: 48-50
Record Last Five Years:
Assistant Coaches: Mike D’Antonio (WR/OLB), Jason Blum (Off. Coordinator/OL), Zac Cooper (Special Teams/DL), Jeremy Mercer (TE/LB), Nick Tyson (QB/DB), John Kinzel (OL/DL), Jake Curry (QB/OLB/Freshman), Matt Whalen (RB/DB)
Players to Watch: Tyler Ochojski (SR., TE/LB) and Yah-Sin Calhoun (Sr., RB/FS)
The big three of Ochojski, Calhoun and Gill (more on him shortly) will be the driving force in taking Freehold Boro as far as it can go in 2021. Ochojski is a tight end and linebacker with six FBS offers and is primed to be a force on both sides of the ball. He was a regular red zone target of Shuler last year and also led the Shore Conference with 10 sacks.
“Tyler is big, strong fast and he does everything,” Ellis said. “He is one of the best all-around players we have had here, just from what he brings to the table with his size, speed, athleticism, his overall ability and his intangibles.”
Calhoun, meanwhile, had one of the best all-around seasons of any Shore Conference player, putting up 970 total yards and nine touchdowns on offense, while leading the Shore Conference in both tackles (113) and interceptions (six). This season, Calhoun again figures to be the No. 1 option for carries in the spread attack while also playing a part in the passing game and captaining the secondary as the free safety.
“Yah-sin is a 4.5 (40-yard dash) guy who would probably be an easy 4.4 if he trained for it like a lot of guys do,” Ellis said. “When you lead the Shore in tackles and interceptions, obviously there is more to his game than pure speed but he is a guy who can change a game.”
Player Under the Radar: Cameron Crooms, Jr., WR/LB/S
While Freehold Boro has leaned on a handful of players to carry its explosive offense from year-to-year, there is a reason it keeps working: new players keep emerging. This season, Crooms is a candidate to take a big step forward in the passing game, particularly with Gill moving to quarterback and opening up a spot at slot receiver. On top of becoming a weapon in the passing game, the junior returns as a versatile defender who can play in the box as well as drop back as a safety in Freehold’s 3-5 stack defense.
“He had grown up a lot,” Ellis said of Crooms. “We had a conversation over the summer, we got on the same page as far as what was expected from him and he has come out and been even better than we were hoping.”
Impact Newcomer: Spenser Rushton, So., WR/SS
Unlike Crooms, Rushton is starting the season without varsity experience but has demonstrated early on that he will be an important part of the program for the next three seasons. The sophomore will be part of a deep wide receiver corps and could carve out some catches within that group, but his bigger impact could very well be on defense as a potential starter at strong safety.
Top Position Group: Skill Positions
As usual, Freehold Boro has speed and athletes around the field, so much so that Kamore Gill can move off receiver to quarterback and there are still plenty of options for Gill to target once he takes the snap. Kayden Hutchinson is one of the Shore’s best kickers on top of a reliable target in the receiving game, while Mike Bickerton, Tyler Goldstein, Asir Smith and Christian DaSilva are all in the receiver rotation.
Big Shoes to Fill: Kamore Gill, Sr., QB/CB
Calhoun’s graduation leaves a major opening at quarterback and like many of his predecessors in the program, Gill is moving from another skill position to quarterback – in his case from slot to signal-caller. The Freehold coaching staff has helped multiple players make the transition and the early signs are that Gill will excel in the role.
“Last year, I feel like people around the Shore found out who Kamore Gill is,” Ellis said. “Now, he has taken another leap forward. He wants to be perfect and it bothers him when he is not, which I love because that’s what helps him get better every day. He motivates himself.”
Freehold’s big three will give the Colonials a chance to beat any team on its challenging schedule but whether or not the Colonials can put together a big season will likely have more to do with the performance of some of its less experienced players. Matt Verardi and J.J. Johnson both return with some experience as well, but the rest of the lineup on both sides is looking to pick things up quickly.
“I have never had a team like this where you have three guys who are so advanced that they are practically coaches and then a whole bunch of guys who are basically doing this for the first time,” Ellis said. “The one good thing is that they are all coachable. I’ll take a bunch of athletes who don’t know anything but are coachable than guys who have played but can’t listen. If you’re coachable, you have a shot and this group is extremely coachable.”
Thursday, Sept. 2 at Jackson Memorial, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 10 at Freehold Twp., 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 18 vs. Long Branch, Noon
Friday, Sept. 24 at Toms River East, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 2 vs. Toms River South, Noon
Friday, Oct. 8 at St. John Vianney, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 16 vs. Manalapan, Noon