Kards hope for improvement on gridiron


The Kearny High School football team posted a 3-7 record last year in head coach John Kryzanowski’s first year as head coach.

Some might think that winning three football games at a perennially downtrodden program such as Kearny would be worthy of a parade in his honor, but Kryzanowski, who took over without the benefit of a progressive weight training program, certainly deserves kudos for a job well done considering the circumstances.

“We’ve had a full offseason,” Kryzanowski said. “The kids all know what to expect from me. We had good attendance at our morning weight training sessions with a good group coming in. All things considered, things went pretty smooth in the first year. We now have to build on what we did last year. We have a good coaching staff that has been working with the kids, guys that go above and beyond what they have to.”

With that, Kryzanowski believes that the Kardinals will be better than 3-7 this season.

“You always hope to have a better year,” Kryzanowski said. “We have to pick up where we left off, finish games better where we should have won. We have to pick up some of those games that were close. Every game is a challenge. We do have a favorable schedule.”

So can it be that the Kards could actually attain the unthinkable and earn its first-ever trip to the NJSIAA state playoffs? There are only a handful of teams in the state that have not qualified for the state playoffs since the system was implemented in 1975.

Kryzanowski said that it makes perfect sense to put the idea in the players’ heads.

“It’s always a goal,” Kryzanowski said of the state playoffs. “I know the kids want it. They’re hungry for it. It’s in the back of their minds, but it’s always a motivator. It would be nice to be the first team to go. So, yeah, we put it in their heads. The goal is there. It’s a big motivation for us.”

So does Kryzanowski believe it can actually happen, that the 41-year-old albatross can be removed from the collective neck of the entire program?

“Yes, I do,” Kryzanowski said. “We have great camaraderie on this team. There are no cliques. They all work together in everything. They always work hard together and have good practices. We have good players, even some new ones, who will help us. I believe it can happen.”

Sophomore Travis Witt (6-0, 190) is battling junior Joe Rosa (5-9, 160) for the starting quarterback job. Witt is an outstanding athlete with a huge future.

“It’s fairly even,” Kryzanowski said of the quarterback battle. “At this point, I can’t pick one. Travis is still a kid who is learning. Joe is a fine leader. It’s a tough choice to make. It comes down to who stands out the most.”

The Kards have a plethora of players at running back, but none are proven. Junior Rauly Cordero (5-5, 135) has the most experience, but Rauly can’t take the pounding every down, even when he’s not carrying the ball. Senior Tyler Camacho (5-10, 170) and juniors Thomas McAndrew (5-8, 160) and Rodriquez Henriquez are also in the mix at running back.

When the Kards look to throw, they’re going to depend on sure-handed pass catchers that include junior Diego Torales (6-2, 170) and newcomers like Carlos Colon (6-2 170) and Xavier Goya (5-9, 170).

Senior Ronny Fonseca (6-2, 185) spearheads a young and inexperienced line. Senior Xavier Heim (5-11, 230) is a guard, but he’s in a battle with junior Michael Vythilengam (5-7, 150) and senior Gabriel Dos Santos (5-10, 220) for playing time. Junior Paul Fadeski (6-2, 240) keeps everyone together at center.

Defensively, the Kards play a 4-4 alignment.

Fonseca and Dos Santos are the defensive ends, with senior Luis Velez and Fadeski at defensive tackle.

At linebacker, the Kards feature seniors Ozzy Obales (5-11, 170) and Chris Vieira (5-9, 150).

Torales and Camacho are the cornerbacks with Witt and Rosa at safety.

Kryzanowski likes his team in the second-year as a head coach.

“It’s good to be around in the mix,” Kryzanowski said. “I like the way they line up for each other. It’s a good group to be around. I hope to stay around for a nice while.”

The Kards open their season next Friday night, Sept. 9, at the home field at 7 p.m.

However, the Kards have been limited in practice by construction trucks that are making improvements to the school. One of those eliminations can’t be this football team, which has worked so hard in the offseason, getting ready.

“The school needs to be done,” Kryzanowski said. “There are no questions or doubts about that. We’re just hoping for the best.”


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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”