In the Mid-State 38 Watchung Division, where talented quarterbacks are plentiful, North Hunterdon senior Marc Monks might be the most overlooked.
Monks, Montgomery’s Chris Chugunov, Ridge’s Conor Hughes and Immaculata’s Izzy Sanders were among the top nine in the area last year in passing yards. Chugunov, Hughes and Sanders — who played at Franklin last year before transferring to Immaculata — assisted their teams to the NJSIAA playoffs.
Monks missed doing it for North Hunterdon.
North was 3-5 at the playoff cutoff date with wins over NJSIAA sectional playoff qualifiers Linden and Watchung Hills. The Lions finished 5-5 by beating Bayonne and rival Voorhees, a North 2 Group III qualifier.
Once again, the Lions look capable of ending streaks of futility of having a winning season (last time in 2002) and making the playoffs (last time in 2006).
Monks is good enough to help make it happen as his breakout game against Watchung Hills proved when he threw for a school single-game record of 368 yards in a 34-31 win.
“I needed that game to come out of my shell,” he said.
He ended with 1,378 and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions and has the right personnel around him to improve on it. Senior wide receiver Mike Magalski (11 catches for 154 yards last season); senior tight end Sam Follansbee (five catches for 42 yards) and tight end Mike Zandanel (three catches for 64) are all back for the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder to target.
“He is very accurate in terms of throwing the football, which is very hard to teach,” North Hunterdon coach John Mattes said.
Monks spent part of the summer visiting colleges — Assumption, Coastal Carolina, Rutgers and Stone Hill among them. He also worked hard at improving, focusing on footwork, running and accuracy. Coach John Mattes figures Monks just might add a running game to his profile.
“I know who they are,” said Monks of his divisional rival quarterbacks. “I feel like there’s always a competition when it comes to quarterback. Most teams are judged by their quarterbacks.”
The feeling among some of Lions is that team unity wasn’t a strength in 2012, but Monks said the team has been attentive to drills during instructional coaching sessions and practice has had intensity. The objective for Monks was emphatically shared by assistant coach Charlie Heidecker.
“Monks,” the coach said pointing at North’s new scoreboard. “You have one job this season — light up that scoreboard.”