Brick enter this season with momentum on their side.
They won three of their final five games last season and finished at 3-7.
“Our kids finished strongly as they never gave up,” coach Rob Dahl said. “We got on a pretty good streak and the boys proved they could play in this division (Class A South). We got back to playing Brick football. We have a group of boys who are disciplined and play hard-nosed football.”
“We never have the biggest or fastest players, but our boys play with heart and discipline and try to get the job done. Last year, I did not get it done. This year, we have changed a lot of things.”
One change deals with the team’s mental approach.
“We are instilling a lot more discipline,” Dahl said. “The boys know they will be held accountable for the smallest mistake they make. We’re seeing a much more disciplined team at this point than we saw last year.”
There’s also an emphasis on reducing turnovers.
“There’s more emphasis on ball security,” Dahl said. “There is more emphasis on paying attention to detail. If someone does not pay attention to detail, there will be a consequence to pay.”
Brick has a new starting quarterback in junior Carmen Sclafani, a transfer from Toms River North, where he played for coach Chip LaBarca Jr., now the Green Dragons’ first-year offensive coordinator and receivers coach. LaBarca Jr. is Sclafani’s uncle.
“A lot of the terminology in our system is the same Carmen experienced at North,” Dahl said. “He can beat you with his feet and obviously at throwing the ball. He can throw 50 yards and run it 70 yards. He has the ability to make plays — even when something might not be there. Evern if there is a broken play, he can still make something out of nothing.”
Dahl said Sclafani has the respect of his teammates.
“Our kids really took a liking to him,” Dahl said. “Brick football has always been about putting in the work and he made it through our summer workouts. That gained him a lot of respect.”
Sclafani has improved since last season.
“He looks faster and is much more poised in the pocket,” Dahl said. “He’s throwing the ball much better down the middle.”
Junior Joe Phillips, who was the club’s starting quarterback for the first four games last season, gives the Green Dragons a productive wide receiver. He played the final six games at wide receiver.
“Joe is what you would call a program player,” Dahl said. “He’s the prototypical player every coach enjoys coaching. He’s a yes coach, no coach type of player. He has shown he has speed after he catches the ball. At 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, he’s our fastest player.”
Senior Matt Ulufanua will lead the defense at nose guard.
“He sets the tone on the defensive line,” Dahl said. “He’s an impact player.”
Brick will display an aggressive 4-2-5 defense.
“We’ve always been a defense that has relied on kids outhustling other teams and swarming to the ball,” Dahl said. “We’re putting a big emphasis on that. We want 11 players to the ball. We tell our kids, ‘Play defense. Do your job.’ Last year, we had guys who tried to do everyone else’s job and not theirs.
“This year the emphasis is, ‘Do your job.’ “