Moving Jon Gerhartz from quarterback to tailback was a logical maneuver for new East Brunswick head coach Bob Molarz.
The veteran mentor, who enjoyed tremendous success at Carteret before building the St. Joseph program from scratch into a .500 club in just two full varsity seasons, succeeds New Jersey State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Marcus Borden.
Unlike Borden, who ran the option for most of his 30 seasons at East Brunswick, Molarz has installed a multiple I offense in which Gerhartz will be the feature back.
“I thought initially that it was so different for him that he was going to struggle, but he’s a quick study and I would say in the last two weeks since we started camp you could see the light went on,” Molarz said. “He figured out what the offense is about, where the seams are and I think the transition now is almost complete. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning everything.”
With other promising skill position players, opponents should not expect Molarz to depend exclusively on the durable and athletic Gerhartz perhaps as often as he counted on workhorse back Matt Olivo to carry the football for St. Joseph last season (Olivo averaged more carries per game than any GMC rusher).
“Last year I always had the opportunity to have the ball in my hands,” Gerhartz said. “I got to make decisions on the field. This year, it’s up to the coach. He gets to rely on me a little bit more. I have to be prepared whenever he calls on me.”
Gerhartz was East Brunswick’s go-to-player a year ago, directly responsible, whether on the ground or through the air, for 38 percent (154 of 407) of the team’s plays from scrimmage. He amassed 845 all-purpose yards, even catching two passes, for an East Brunswick squad that finished with a 2-7 record.
An outstanding track and field athlete – Gerhartz has run the 100, 200 and 400 meters and various legs of the mile relay – the senior looks forward to returning to his roots. Gerhartz, who has played football since he was 5 years old, spent much of his youth as a running back.
“I am able to utilize my speed a lot more,” Gerhartz said of lining up out of the I formation. I’m able to have better vision coming out of the backfield, seven yards off the ball. You can really see what’s happening and really take time to make the necessary cuts to get in open field.”
Gerhartz, who realizes any running back’s potential rests with those in the trenches, said Molarz has focused much of his attention in training camp on the offensive line.
“Coach Molarz is doing a great job of teaching the necessary skills for our line,” Gerhartz said. “We have a good amount of big bodies this year. He’s getting them to know the offense and know the system well.”
Gerhartz, who rushed for 585 yards and two touchdowns on 110 carries last year, said he looks forward to being a downhill runner.