Lyndhurst ready to make statement with veteran grid squad
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer Scott Rubinetti knew that his Lyndhurst High School football team was much better than the 4-6 record the Golden Bears produced a year ago.
“We had a chance to be at least 6-4,” said Rubinetti, who is in his third season as the
head coach at his alma mater. “We were a much better team at the end of the year. The kids bought into everything we had to say and knew that they were building for the future.”
Rubinetti watched 10 seniors from last year’s team graduate last June.
“When a Group I program loses 10 seniors, you would think it would be devastating,”
Rubinetti said. “We had every one of those seniors in the mix last year. But we were also able to get most of our returning kids a chance to play and I think that’s really paid big dividends now. Just the little details are easier when kids understand what you’re doing and why.”
Rubinetti is fortunate to have junior quarterback Danny Kesack (6-2, 195) returning. The talented Kusack learned on the fly a year ago as the Golden Bears’ starting signal caller and worked on getting better in the off-season with a very famous tutor, namely former Giants Super Bowl MVP and current CBS broadcaster Phil Simms.
“I knew Phil from my days of coaching at Ramapo, where I coached his son (Chris),” Rubinetti said. “I called Phil and told him that we had a special quarterback. So Danny spent the whole offseason working with Phil three days a week. Phil was gracious to give of his time to work with Danny and they worked on all the passing routes together, the deep ball, the out route. Danny became more disciplined with his game.
It was really a blessing, because he’s now very sharp.”
The Golden Bears return all of their starters in the backfield as well, in senior Danny
Nahra (5-11, 195), who has fully recovered from knee surgery last year, senior Marc Carrier (5-9, 170), who emerged out of nowhere last year to become a go-to back, and junior Bobby DeMarco (5-10, 180), who is a product of the famed DeMarco football family in Lyndhurst.
“We’re lucky to have good depth in the backfield,” Rubinetti said. “It’s turned out that
we now have three very good running backs.”
Rubinetti said that he’s devised plays to have all three in the backfield at the same time.
“They can also rotate and it’s good that they can also catch the ball,” Rubinetti said.
The fullback is sophomore Ian Cairns (5-7, 180), whom Rubinetti described as a “tough kid.”
The wide receiver duties are being shared by seniors Jeremy Schaefer (6-0, 170) and Bes Hoti (6-2, 190) and junior Kyle Pollio (6-1, 175), the basketball standout who came out for football for the first time this season.
Senior Thomas Hayes (6-2,210) returns to his starting position at tight end.
The offensive line features four returning starters in senior tackles Joe Catena (6-0, 240) and Mike Martin (6-3, 250), junior guard Nick Galvez (6-0, 260) and senior center Juma Saleh (5-11, 215). The only newcomer to the mix is junior guard Nick Coviello (6-2, 295).
“We’re really happy with the experience we have in our line,” Rubinetti said. “We have
good skilled people back, but we’re really happy to have the line back. The backs have
the speed, but the linemen create the space.”
Defensively, many of the same personnel turn around and go after the football.
Hayes is a standout at defensive end and he’s joined by junior Dominic Rega (6-4,
245). Galvez, who was a defensive dynamo last year, is back at defensive tackle, joined by senior Mike Cuccareese (6-0, 280).
Catena, Cairnsm, Nahra and DeMarco are all linebackers, with Hoti and senior Sebastian Perez (5-8, 160) at cornerback.
Carrier, who was a cornerback last year, has been moved to safety this season, joined by junior Marcus Brandon (6-1, 180).
Needless to say, the hopes are very high in the land of the Golden Bears. The hopes are
so high that Lyndhurst could actually be shooting for an NJSIAA state playoff appearance, the program’s first since 1997.
“There is no room for error if we want to play in the state playoffs,” Rubinetti said. “We know our league (the NJIL Meadowlands A Division) is very tough with teams like Becton, North Arlington and Secaucus. We have to fight for our wins. But I think
we’re in the hunt for the playoffs. We have to play better down the stretch of games and we know that. But the chance is there. We’re going to be so much better this year and we’re setting our goals for the state playoffs.”
The Golden Bears open their 2011 season with a trip to North Arlington to face the
neighboring Vikings on Friday night, Sept. 9. The Vikings won last year’s showdown,
32-15. Chances are that the Golden Bears don’t exactly forget that setback.