Bernards High School’s football team is faced with overcoming the loss of several dynamic graduated stars as it seeks to win back-to-back Mid-State 38 Union Division titles, but the presence of senior Mike St. Onge will make that task easier.
A three-year letterwinner and second-year starter, St. Onge is not only a fantastic offensive lineman and linebacker, but his presence as a leader and great football mind should make trying to replace the likes of quarterback Devin Ray, slot receiver and Courier News Offensive Player of the Year John Maddaluna III, linebacker Jon Diamond and linemen Zach DeLeon and Greg Bolton that much easier.
“I’m spoiled to have a linebacker that reads as well as he does and understands that’s how you play high school linebacker,” Bernards coach Jon Simoneau said. “He won’t get fooled, and that’s great. He won’t make a technical mistake, whatsoever. I’m the defensive coordinator, but you can also list him as the co-defensive coordinator. His football IQ is right up there with his school IQ, which is off the charts (4.6 GPA).”
“It’s a great honor to know that he (Simoneau) has that trust in me,” said St. Onge, who is the grandson of former United States Senator and Knicks NBA Hall of Famer and Princeton great Bill Bradley. “And it’s also something I love to do. I like knowing that I’m an important part of the team and to know that I’m trained and given my insight to my other linebackers, so that if I do get hurt, they have the power to take over from where I left off.”
St. Onge’s versatility and willingness to do whatever it takes to help his team win is also invaluable. While he is the starting left tackle, St. Onge is also capable of playing anywhere, as he proved when he jumped over to center filling in for an injured teammate in a big game against Belvidere late last season. The senior also has the ability to play all three linebacker positions in Simoneau’s defense, and, undoubtedly, anywhere else on the field, if necessary.
“If I took him and put him in a spot, I know he’s going to get the job done and I know he makes everybody else around him better,” Simoneau said. “When you have a small senior class and you’re trying to do something very big within your group of kids to be one of those groups to ever turn in three winning seasons, you need someone like that now as we go through the transition.”
“I try and teach them (the underclassmen) that it’s not good enough just to know your own position,” St. Onge said. “You have to know the man next to you and the man on the other side of you. You have to know every linebacker position and every D-line position. Wherever you play, you should know every single thing that every person has to do on the play.”