Cardinal McCarrick rookie football head coach Mario Alejandro is facing the riddling challenge of having a roster of only 18 players this fall, but one player he is thrilled to have and will be crucial to any success the struggling Eagles should see on the field is senior Armand Arnaldy.
Arnaldy will take the snaps under center at quarterback this season while he will play strong safety on the defensive side of the ball.
The quarterback position is new to Arnaldy, as it’s his first time playing the position and he is still learning it.
“It’s been a smooth transition,” said Arnaldy, a Woodbridge native. “I’m getting my feet wet. It was challenging at first because I wasn’t expecting to play quarterback, but we needed a quarterback so I just stepped up to the plate.”
It was a decision Arnaldy and Alejandro came to together.
“(Coach Alejandro) was just like, ‘look, it’s your senior year and you would be leading the team – why not take that spot?’ and I said, ‘You know what, you’re right coach,’ ” said Arnaldy. “I’m more of a team player, so I (figured) you know what, let’s just do it.”
“What’s great about him is it’s like having another a coach on the field,” Alejandro said. “He makes good decisions in what he does and he understands what we’re trying to do offensively (and defensively). All the checks and all the audibles the kid has down.”
It’s the defensive side of the ball though where Arnaldy is trying to make a name for himself.
A smart, instinctive, open field tackler, Arnaldy is a dynamic playmaker for the Eagles’ defense with his ability to play in pass coverage along with his capability of helping in run support and playing closer to the line of scrimmage, as he did see a little bit of action at linebacker last season.
Strong safety is where Arnaldy’s future lies, as he has been sending tape out to several schools in hopes of garnering their attention, with in-state Division I FCS schools Monmouth and Princeton along with Division II New Haven at the top of his interest list.
As Alejandro starts to try to change the downtrodden culture of Cardinal McCarrick’s football program, Arnaldy will be a key component in any turnaround his senior season as he looks to leave the program in a better place than it is now.
“Just go out with a bang, that’s everybody’s (mindset),” Arnaldy said. “We’re trying to make a statement and just earn respect. I feel like if we’re treated like little kids and players we’re going to get bullied, and quite frankly we’re tired of it, so we’re trying to leave with a bang and move forward in the (Greater Middlesex Conference).”