Sayreville coach George Najjar discussed replacing Delon Stephenson by committee, the dual threat of quarterback Isaiah Cureton and more.
Q. Sayreville has made 17 consecutive NJSIAA playoff appearances and last year won its second straight Central Group IV title. To what do you attribute the program’s consistency?
A. It has to do with just the kids buying into the program and the mentality and the tradition that we have here. They are able to fulfill expectations of the previous classes. These kids, they move on, but the young kids see what’s being done by the seniors and the other kids. They try to uphold the tradition and the work ethic. Their commitment and dedication to the program is all instrumental in trying to maintain that high level.
Q. How did former starting quarterback Mike Carey’s unselfishness and the skills of his successor, Isaiah Cureton, who posed a double threat as a runner and passer, help Sayreville down the stretch?
A. With Mike Carey understanding what we were trying to do and being team-oriented, and Isaiah creating another aspect for us offensively with his athletic ability and versatility, that allowed us to do things that we weren’t able to do earlier, and certainly freed up other guys to expand the offense. It kept the defense honest in many ways and that allowed us to exploit different parts of the defense that we might not have been able to otherwise.
Q. Sayreville graduated six two-way stars? How will those losses impact your team, particularly on defense?
A. The two things I think we lost were experience and cohesiveness. They played together for a couple years. Our secondary is three quarters back, we have to fill in two linebacker spots and (Thomas) Spiecker and (Bryan) McMahon are back up front. So, we lost parts of each level of defense. But I think having those experienced kids back allows us to break in young kids. Hopefully they will be able to help develop the young kids as they become ready as the season goes on.
Q. Delon Stephenson, the Home News Tribune’s 2010 Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Area selection again a year ago, graduated with 3,532 yards from scrimmage and 52 touchdowns in his career. How do you replace him offensively?
A. Delon’s touches are going to be spread out. (Isaiah) Cureton will carry part of the load, (Zeke) Perkinson will carry the load, (Deion) Miller will carry some of the load, (Mike) Carey – now that he’s a running back – will be getting the load, Miles Hartsfield will be getting the load, and Jon Bacero, as a split end, will be catching some passes. We are hoping that we are versatile enough, and I guess segmented enough to give everyone an opportunity to be a part of this.