Knowing he inherited a player of Matt Olivo’s caliber, not to mention the addition of three key transfers, made rookie head coach Casey Ransone’s transition to St. Joseph much easier.
“It kind of puts your mind at ease knowing you have a kid like him to rely on,” Ransone said of the senior running back and defensive back.
“He’s a kid that shouldered the load as a junior, and I know he’s going to be able to do that this year as a senior, taking it to a new level.”
Olivo was a one-man wrecking crew, racking up 1,112 yards rushing, 677 yards on kickoff and punt returns and 306 yards receiving. In addition, he led St. Joseph with 101 tackles, including 54 solo hits, and seven interceptions.
“He’s lived up to (expectations) and then some,” Ransone said of his first impressions of Olivo. “Matty is an incredible football player. You can put the kid anywhere on the field and he’s going to be successful.
“He’s been everything and more than what I expected. Obviously, he’s a huge part of what we do. We are expecting a lot of big things from him.”
Olivo helped lead the fledgling Falcons to a 5-5 record in just their second full varsity season last year.
Ransone, who previously served as an assistant at Elizabeth, replaces Bob Molarz, who left for East Brunswick earlier this year after building St. Joseph from the ground up.
Despite the graduation of several key performers including quarterback Chris Blades, first-team All-Area kicker Bryan Rafano and linebacker Matt Greene, quality still remains at St. Joseph, especially with the addition of three transfers.
Two-way lineman Nick Krimin (Cardinal McCarrick), wideout/defensive back Breein Tyree (Rutgers Prep) and receiver/free safety Javon Hicks (Arthur L. Johnson) will complement Olivo and five other returning starters.
Tyree, playing football for the first time, is the younger brother of former South Brunswick star Javon and a cousin of New York Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree.
“Each one of them brings something a little different to the table,” Ransone said. “Javon comes with a plethora of varsity experience.” “He comes from a great program and is an incredible leader on the field. Krimin brings size. He’s very athletic and runs well. Breein is off the charts athletically. He’s still young as well, learning how to play football.”
Tyree and Hicks will take some pressure off Olivo, who will benefit from an experienced offensive line that features four returning starters and newcomer Jethro Pepe, who has already earned a full scholarship offer from the University of Delaware.
“I think (the line) is going to be one of our strengths,” Ransone said.