By Jim Hague
When John Dubuque took over the head football coaching duties at Belleville High School last year, there was not a lot of time for preparation. Dubuque took over late and it took a while for the Buccaneers to get used to Dubuque’s system and coaching style.
After enduring a 3-7 first season in 2011, the Buccaneers are poised to be an improved group in 2012 in Dubuque’s second campaign.
“It’s probably the biggest plus I have coming into this year,” Dubuque said. “We can hit the ground running this year. I’ve had them for an entire year now. They know what I expect of them and they know what to expect of me.”
And speaking of expectations?
“I’d have to say the expectations are pretty high,” said Dubuque, whose team opens the 2012 season with a new wrinkle, facing archrival Nutley in the first game instead of the last game on Thanksgiving Day. “We no longer look at ourselves as being the doormats of the SEC (Super Essex Conference). It gives us a chance to be competitive right away. We’re on a more competitive level and that’s good. We have a good team, filled with good kids. We’re excited to get things going.”
The Buccaneers have senior Miguel Cosme (5-11, 175) as their starting quarterback. Cosme was a starter at defensive back last year, but has handled the transformation to starting signal caller very well.
“He does everything you ask of him and more,” Dubuque said.
Junior Carlos Ruales (5-8, 160) is the starter at running back. Ruales strictly played defense last year as a safety, but he is also making a fine move to be a key role in the offense.
“He’s doing everything necessary,” Dubuque said. “Carlos is still working hard to learn his role.”
Senior Pedro Acevedo (5-9, 160) is another key performer in the Belleville backfield. Acevedo did see some playing time at running back last year.
The Bucs do have a lot of talent at the receiver position in a pair of seniors, namely Aaquil Ingram (6-1, 220) and Shaq Richards (5-11, 175).
Ingram is a big target for Cosme and is a physical presence all over the field. If you watch the Bucs play this season, you’ll definitely notice Ingram. He stands out.
Richards is a four-year varsity performer for the Buccaneers, having played a host of different roles over the years. He’s now settled in as a receiver.
“He’s like our coach on the field, because he’s been around so long,” Dubuque said of Richards. “He’s shown a lot of promise so far in our practices.”
The Buccaneers utilize wing backs in their offense, so that means playing time for a pair of juniors in Daniel Espinal (5-7, 150) and Oscar Rosado (5-9, 160).
The Bucs’ offensive line has some decent size and strength, led by senior guard Will Padilla (6-0, 215), who is a returning starter.
Sophomore Nick Nardachone (6-0, 230) and junior Jeremy Feliciano (5-11, 200) are the tackles, with senior Aldo Martinez (5-9, 250), senior Nate James (6-2, 265) and junior Sergio Cosme (5- 10, 275 and no relation to the quarterback) all battling for time at guard.
The center is junior Joshua Marte (6-0, 235).
Defensively, Dubuque is getting more kids involved and would like to go two-platoon as much as possible.
The defensive ends are seniors Nick Costa (6-0, 175) and Ray Aguerto (5-8, 165), with James and Martinez manning the defensive tackle slots.
Senior Brandon Huaman (5-10, 185) is a force to be reckoned with at linebacker, joined by Acevedo and Padilla.
The secondary features the veteran Richards along with Ingram at safety, with Espinal and Rosado at cornerbacks.
Dubuque is ready for the season to begin and he doesn’t mind that it’s rival Nutley to kick it off.
“I love it,” said Dubuque, who will host the rivalry game this year at “Doc” Ellis Field. “It’s a great way to open the season. We’ll have about 8,000 people here under the lights. How cool is that? There will be a tailgate barbecue before the game. We’re bringing a lot of our alumni back. It’s going to be exciting. I embrace the fact we’re starting the season with our rival. This time, it counts. There are a lot of key points to playing Nutley to start the season. We’ve been gearing for it all summer long. How could you not get pumped up for that one?”
And as for the remainder of the schedule, the Bucs travel to Jersey City in Week Two to take on St. Anthony. No question, Belleville will know a lot about how they will stack up early on.
“We’re ready,” Dubuque said. “We’re in a much better position than we were last year.”