The Parsippany Hills football program has churned out some fearsome linebackers over the last 10 years or so. Danny Letts, Vin Lombardozzi and Andrew Cupo were among the best in Morris County during their time as Vikings.
And now, so is Jared Salgado.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pound junior is among the best in all of New Jersey, according to Parsippany Hills coach Dave Albano.
“How can anyone be better at linebacker this year?” Albano said.
Salgado will have to be at his absolute best when Parsippany Hills faces Cranford in the NJSIAA North 2 Group III championship game Sunday at MetLife Stadium at 1 p.m.
Albano believes that the only thing keeping Salgado from being a highly recruited NCAA Division I player is three inches. That’s all.
“He can really run and he is such a great player,” Albano said. “If he is 6-2, 225, rather than 5-11, 225, he is (2014 graduate and former All Daily Record performer) Michael Dogbe (now at Temple University). He’s that good. We’re sending letters to all of the Division II schools because Jared can really play.”
Salgado had a distinguished career playing in the town’s youth organization but missed most of his freshman season due to problems with both ankles. As a sophomore, Salgado was injury free and became an immediate starter — rare at such an established program such as Parsippany Hills.
“After my freshman year, some of the returning kids took me under their wing, guys like Michael Dogbe, Steven Hill, Michael Weiss,” Salgado said. “So my junior year, I felt really confident.”
Last year, Salgado was an impact player when it mattered most. In a 16-13 sectional-final loss to Summit at Kean University, Salgado was one of the best players on the field for either team.
“He really took off last year,” Albano said. “He’s become the quarterback of the defense. Every motion, every formation, he’s calling it out. He calls out everything. I mean, we laugh because we’re waiting for him to say, ‘Guy’s rubbing his nose! Guy’s rubbing his nose!’ But that’s the kind of player he is. He is a coach on the field.”
Added Salgado, “That started last year. I started being boisterous. I wanted to be a leader.”
Salgado doesn’t just talk. He makes plays. He has 60 solo tackles and 87 assists for an astounding total of 156 tackles, including eight for losses and four sacks. He also has two interceptions, has caused seven fumbles, and recovered one.
Salgado’s ability to make plays, as well as his knowledge and leadership qualities will be needed against a powerful Cranford team that averages 40.1 points per game and hasn’t scored under 30 points in any single game this year. Salgado will be joined at outside linebacker by J.D. Keyes and Alex Lerman and inside backers Dylan McDonald and Marco Falivene.
“Cranford runs an offense similar to Auburn’s with a lot of Jet Sweeps, so Jared and the two inside backers will be doing a lot of running,” Albano said. “Cranford likes to get to the edge. They run an offense similar to Roxbury and we did a good job against it.”
Parsippany Hills was able to stifle Roxbury on the way to a 21-16 win in Week Nine. The Vikings need to bring that same defense if they want to come away with the first sectional title in school history. And a lot of that rides on Salgado.
“We need to be aggressive, hit, and play our style of football,” he said.