DePaul faces tough test against Paramus
DePaul is on a mission to enter its program’s name in the upper echelon of Non-Public powerhouses in the Garden State. To get there, though, the Spartans will have to endure a grueling schedule against the top teams from around the area.
Their tough journey begins on Friday evening, when they visit Bergen County rival Paramus at 7 p.m. in an MSGVarsity.com Livecast showdown.
At first glance, DePaul’s 2012 schedule is arguably the toughest in the state. Coach John McKenna’s team is slated to take on No. 13 Paramus Catholic, No. 1 Don Bosco Prep, No. 14 Pascack Valley and No. 2 Bergen Catholic consecutively after Week 1.
The Spartans, who opened No. 15 in the MSG Varsity New Jersey preseason power rankings, will then host Old Tappan and Tenafly before taking on No. 3 St. Joseph Regional.
If they can come away with some surprise victories in that span, another deep playoff run is in order. Last season, DePaul fell to Immaculata in the Non-Public Group 3 bracket, but with the Central Jersey juggernaut moving down to Group 2 in the wake of the state’s realignment, a shot at St. Joe’s in the final could be in the cards.
Obviously, Red Bank Catholic and Delbarton are clear threats to derail that plan, but that’s not on the Spartans’ minds now. McKenna and company will take a one-game-at-a-time approach, one that should prove to be fruitful for the talented bunch.
DePaul boasts one of the nation’s top two-way performers in defensive back/wide receiver Kiy Hester and a ferocious running back in Joe Moreno. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk will have to step up in his new role, too.
In 2011, when the Spartans finished 8-2, Bednarczyk split time with fellow junior Travis Bligh under center. But Bligh recently required surgery to repair a dislocated knee cap and will miss the entire season.
DePaul’s horses on offense will need to be in midseason form if they plan on cruising past their first opponent.
Paramus has proven to be one of the up-and-coming public school programs in North Jersey over the last few seasons under Dan Sabella. The team has won at least six games in every year since 2006 and produced a surprising 7-4 campaign a year ago.
The Spartans were one of the many teams affected by the NJSIAA reclassification; they moved up from North 1 Group 3 to Group 4. In turn, they will be forced to get past the likes of Wayne Hills, Old Tappan, Demarest, Hackensack and Roxbury, among other sleeper teams, to capture a sectional crown.
Since Paramus plans to be a run-first team, the offensive line – anchored by Dwight Wise, Zack Zysman, Matt Lewis, Joey Binns and senior co-captain Brandon Manosalvas – will be the most important unit.
If that group can prove to be effective, look for Brandon Sebahie and Steven Regalbuto to emerge as top-notch running backs.
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter