Westfield High’s football team knew as their coaches did before the start of last season that 2012 would likely be a tough haul.
Only two full-time starters returned from the previous season’s North 2 Group IV playoff team with two more who became starters after injuries. A lack of competition for spots was another issue coach Jim DeSarno faced as the Blue Devils prepared for a brutal Mid-State 38 Delaware Division schedule that opened with eventual North 2 Group V champ Elizabeth.
The program’s concerns were realized. Westfield didn’t win until Week 7 when it surprised Bridgewater-Raritan 37-21 and was beaten 10-2 by Scotch Plains-Fanwood two weeks later — the delay caused by superstorm Sandy. Westfield then lost a consolation game to J.P. Stevens and finished by beating winless Plainfield 30-16 on Thanksgiving Day.
Westfield finished 2-8.
But there were two or three areas where positives developed, A solid group of receivers was one of them.
The play of brothers and wide receivers Dylan (senior) and Sean Elliott (junior) and tight end David Kane (senior) was a sign of better times ahead. All three are back with plenty of other returners around them and senior quarterback Chris Hogge’s strong arm to reach them.
“We’re really excited about the prospects,” said Sean Elliott.
The Elliotts have different games and personalities with Sean being the more outgoing; Dylan more the quiet one. Dylan was also the more downfield threat, catching 41 passes for 627 yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns. Sean had 31 receptions for 336 yards.
“That’s how we fell into it,” said Sean, referring to his older brother making more downfield plays. “We are the same size and have similar speed.”
Dylan said he’s run a 4.78 for the 40.
“That’s just the way it is,” said Dylan of the brothers’ roles. “It’s pretty cool (being receivers with his brother).”
The two were linemen for most of their pre-high school days in the Westfield PAL, but have comfortably transitioned into fine receivers.
“They are prototypical wide receivers; good speed and run good routes,” DeSarno said. “Those guys know they have to do more than just run routes for us.”
The Elliotts and Kane will have to be successful if the Blue Devils are to return to where they were before last season. DeSarno arrived in 2006 and the Blue Devils didn’t have a losing season until last year.
The team had success in 7-on-7 drills with Cranford and Roselle Park. The Elliotts and Kane were among those who worked with Hogge and there was competition for starting spots in practice.
“I’m expecting to have a big senior year,” said Dylan Elliott, referring to both his team and himself.