Spotswood coach Andy Cammarano explained why his run defense will be much improved from last year and how his team will look to replace the graduation of three captains and more.
Q. You graduated three team captains and two-way starters including hard-nosed quarterback Dean Vitale. Where will you look to replace the leadership and character that Vitale, Dylan Lawless and Justin Hamann brought to your team last season?
A. I think it’s hard to replace those guys. I told this senior group in a meeting in early August, ‘Remember how they (graduated seniors) treated you? They didn’t get down on you, they encouraged you’ and I think that attitude has rolled over to these guys. Captains Jack Messeroll, Dominick Maseli, Alex Christian and Corey Brown all have different personalities, but they’re all leading by example now. And since they were in the huddle since they had to step in and play last year, it’s not hard because they know how it needs to be done. This group went to South River on opening day last year and beat them for first time since 1980 at their place. The four senior captains were voted by the team. They’re the type of kids you want to be leading from the front and when you’re doing the right things people follow you.
Q. Your team was hampered by injuries last season, especially with the loss of fullback Justin Hamann. What steps have you taken, if any, to try and avoid the injury bug this season?
A. We don’t have walk-throughs. We go over everything in the summer without pads and now that we’re in pads, we use them. It’s logic. If everybody knows what their doing, it makes practice a verb and not a noun. We scrimmage in practice and go best on best. We’ve been practicing at full speed and I think it curtails any iffy stuff (referring to injuries). We also have a lot of bodies who can come in and play at a moment’s notice. Everybody plays. We don’t have a full-time scout team. Six different running backs run jet sweep in practice because it’s going to be hot the first month of the season and we’re going to need guys who can play. We have two entire offensive lines because we train two offensive lines. We’re training depth and applying the depth so we can be set up for success. This is the most set up we’ve been since I’ve been here. We have everybody’s mind straight. A work day is a work day. How can you be physical on Saturday if your not physical during the week? I’m focused on how I can get my kids meaningful reps in practice.
Q. Your defense had a difficult time stopping the run last season, including being exposed by Metuchen’s Errol Lindo for 256 yards on 45 carries. How do you intend on stopping the run this season.
A. We have some different defensive alignments. We’ve spent time on run fixes and hitting shields. We’ve really paired down the amount of stuff we’re trying to do and focused on playing good team defense and getting the big guys up front involved. We moved Alex Christian from linebacker to defensive end because we want our defensive line to be more active, get off blocks and attack. We used to let runners bleed through to the linebackers. People will see us in different alignments. We have some go-getters in the secondary that like to attack the ball. Normally we’d play a little cover 3 and sit back, but not this year.
Q. What are your expectations for this team and what should we expect to see on a game-by-game basis?
A. A team that’s versatile. I told the kids that we’re not going to be conservative, we’ll be opportunistic. We’re going to take advantage of our depth. We’re going to run the football, cause matchup problems and play team defense. There’s no reason why you can’t beat everybody you play on any Saturday if you come out and do the right things. We feel like we’re cresting here and doing the right things. I tell the kids it’s what you put in every day, like a piggy bank. Keep putting into it. We’re keeping our heads down and doing the right things. We will still have things to work on tomorrow, but our expectations are high.