Youth will be served this season with New Brunswick High School’s football team.
A year removed from his first season at the Zebras’ helm which saw the program end a 26-game losing skid, head coach Castor Losada has assembled a roster full of players dedicated to the program — something that wasn’t the case under the previous regime.
At the core of the rebuilding process is a group of eight talented sophomores that will, according to Losada, make a significant impact from day one.
“You can talk football to them and they understand,” Losada said. “Most of them have been playing Pop Warner together for years, and they know what makes each other tick. The learning curve has not been an issue. It’s been getting them used to the speed of the varsity game.”
The group compiled a 7-2 record last season for New Brunswick High’s first freshman team in several years. This year, New Brunswick will add a middle school team of 35-40 kids.
“I’ve never had this many young kids,” said Losada, who previously held assistant coaching stints at Snyder, Plainfield, Weequahic and Newark Central. “And it’s not just the number of guys, it’s their character. I know barring extreme circumstances they’ll be here for the next three years. Their dedication and commitment to the program’s offseason program was terrific. They (sophomores) didn’t miss a day all summer, including 21 practices and lifting. The level of commitment and love for the game and wanting to do well at New Brunswick is special.”
Not so long ago a perennial state playoff qualifier, New Brunswick captured state titles in 2003 and 2006 and has produced 20 Division I players since 2000 including former NFL wideout Dwayne Jarrett and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Jonathan Casillas.
“These kids are cognizant of the success this program has had, and they want to bring back the tradition of not so long ago,” Losada said.
While Losada refuses to single out any one of his super sophomores in particular, he believes the foundation is in place for an improved season this year and beyond.
“I think it’s realistic that we can compete in every game,” he said. “They’ll take their lumps along the way in the beginning, but we want to finish the season strong. I honestly believe if we stay healthy, the transition period won’t be as long as some people may expect.
“Coming off a one-win season, we know we’re not going to win a state title but the goal is to finish .500. Anything better than that we’ll take as it comes. Our schedule has teams we match up well with.”
Although his group of talented sophomores might get the spotlight, Losada is leveling all his players on equal footing.
“From top to bottom, everybody is in the same fight for a position,” he said. “We’re not going to baby anybody. Everybody is on an equal playing field.
“Even if you’re an all-state wideout, you’re nothing without a quarterback or blockers. This season we’re all about stressing the team game, and we can only win if we’re all working together.”