Young and Hungry: 2023 St. John Vianney Football Preview
After graduating multiple standouts off of its 2022 team, Saint John Vianney enters this fall as a program with plenty of youth and question marks but also with tons of optimism for what the future may hold.
Head coach Jeff Papcun enters his second year at Vianney after a 5-5 debut season in 2022. This was a Lancer program that started off 5-1 closing the season with losses to Raritan, Point Boro, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine. They return five starters on both the defensive and offensive sides of the ball.
With 15 starters graduating, there’s a massive hole that many newcomers will have to step into and fill the shoes immediately.
One of those potential stars in the making would be junior starting quarterback Ryan Vallely. He will be working with senior running back Luca Minardo all season long. Minardo (6-0, 200) saw some playing time during his junior season, which should have their backfield ready to go come Friday. Minardo will also have counterparts Abraham Amoako (5’11” 175 lb) and Abul Turay (5’10” 180 lb) to round out the running game for the Lancers.
The Lancers’ wide receiving core will start off with three-year returning starter senior Joe Marcello (5-10, 175) The presence of the acclimated Marcello will be joined by transfers Mark Augello, Dante Campagna, and Jahmere James.
Senior Deon Jackson (6’5” 200 lb) will be the Lancers starting tight end for the fall and has the size to be a factor in the passing game and as a run-blocker.
Sophomore Jaizair Stills (6’1” 245 lb) returns for his second year as their starting left tackle, while newcomer sophomore Frankie Rodriguez (6’1” 245 lb) will be the Lancers’ left guard to begin the season. Another player who’ll be an essential part of the Lancers' success is senior Ryan Buchanan. The 6-foot, 260-pound center returns as a three-year starter and was an all-division selection on defense last season.
Freshman Joe Diver (6’1” 205 lb) will have a large role as the starting right guard. He looks to make a name for himself for the next four years. He will be joined by two-year starting right tackle senior Myles Bird-Rice.
Jackson also established himself as one of the main forces at defensive end, as he returns for his second starting season. Sophomores Hayden Lewis and Anthony Manning make up the defensive tackles.
Sophomores Ryan Cawley and Danny Breen step up as the starting outside linebackers for the group. Freshman Danny Rocco Sosa is the Lancers starting inside linebacker and the coaching staff is very high on his potential to be a program leader for the next four years.
Two-year returning starter Dirk Hohenkirk (5’10” 180 lb) is joined by sophomore Victor Montalvo as the Lancers' cornerbacks. Finishing up the secondary is sophomore Gavin Richter at strong safety and senior Chris Roselli at free safety.
Junior Mike McCormack (6’ 195 lb) comes back as the Lancers' go-to man for kicking and punting duties on the season.
There are certainly a lot of question marks for Saint John Vianney coming into 2023 and rightfully so as the Lancers have a lot of gaps to fill with 15 players lost to graduation. With the juniors and seniors that return, it’ll be up to them to get everybody started early. A handful of skilled transfers look to make noise on offense and key returners come back on both sides of the ball.
There may be hurdles that the Lancers have to jump over early, but once this team gets adjusted, there’s a strong chance they could flip the switch and contend for a division title. A lot will depend on the adjustments the team makes from losing 15 starting seniors. There’s a lot to be excited about for the Lancers as a lot of young talent looks to showcase its abilities. If all comes together for Saint John Vianney, there could be a new face atop the Constitution Division.
At a Glance
Head Coach: Jeff Papcun, 2nd season
Career Record: 5-5
2022 Record: 5-5
Coaching Staff: Mike Alberque (Asst Head Coach/QBs); Danny Fierro (Offensive Coordinator/WR); Jamiel Sims (Defensive Coordinator/LB); Derek DePasquale (Special Teams Coordinator/DB); Ed Hernandez (Strength and Conditioning/DL); Shannon Hoadley (Offensive Line/TE); Lou Libretor (Freshmen); Paul Cocoziello (Freshmen); Tyler Lucas (Freshmen); Andrew Pender (Freshmen)
Circle the Date: Week 1- Saturday, Sept. 2nd at Marlboro
The Lancers look to spoil Marlboro’s opening day kickoff after playing a highly respected Hammonton program during Week 0. It’ll be a test early for the Lancers, as they’ll have a week under their belt. A rematch from 2022, the Lancers look to carry the 28-14 victory from last fall into this season.
Player to Watch: Luca Minardo, Sr., RB/LB
After seeing some playing time last season, all tasks will be handed to Minardo looking to capitalize on the opportunity ahead of him.
Impact Newcomer: Donny Rocco Sosa, Fr., OL/LB
Rocco Sosa is a player the Lancers' coaching staff is very high on, as obvious by the fact he earned a starting spot on both sides of the ball as a rookie.
Did you Know?
Saint John Vianney’s defense put up back-to-back shutout victories last season, defeating Monmouth 30-0 and Manasquan 32-0.
|Friday 8/25||Hammonton (@Ocean City)||1pm|
|Saturday 9/30||@Long Branch||1pm|
|Friday 10/13||Colts Neck||7pm|
|Friday 10/20||@Asbury Park||6pm|