When Mark Reardon took over, his mission was quite simple.
“We wanted to be able to compete at the highest level because that’s who we play,” said the St. Augustine Prep football coach. “The schools that we play in the playoffs are nationally ranked, play national schedules. It’s a huge bonus to be in this group. We love to play a St. Joe Montvale; a Bergen Catholic, Don Bosco Prep.
“At the college level you want to win a national championship, and at the high school level you’re trying to win a state championship because that’s the highest level of achievement.”
Four years into the project, the Hermits have arrived.
The top seed in Non-Public Group 4, St. Augustine (8-0) will host eighth-seeded St. Joseph (Montvale) in a first-round game Friday night. It’s been a long process getting to this point and the Hermits want to take advantage of the situation.
“It’s a really big opportunity to make a statement around the state,” senior linebacker Jim Brady said. “We’ve learned so much from Coach Reardon and the staff these four years. To finally put something together this year makes it special.
“The key has been that our team is the closest it’s ever been. We hang out on weekends, we sit together at lunch and watch film. I’ve never been with a more dedicated team than this one right now.”
St. Augustine has been extremely effective on both sides of the ball all season. The Hermits are averaging 441 yards of offense per game, with sophomore running back Kyle Dobbins leading the ground attack.
Dobbins has rushed for 1,296 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also has two receiving TDs.
Senior quarterback Jose Tabora has completed 75-of-113 passes for 1,304 yards and 16 TDs. Senior Dan Pavlik has five TD catches, while junior Ezekiel Ennis has four to go along with five rushing touchdowns and a kickoff return.
They’re averaging 46 points per game.
“We’re real excited and just can’t wait to play,” Tabora said. “We’ll be prepared.
“This has been a goal since I’ve been at the Prep. It’s given us something to work towards and now it’s finally here. This is a big opportunity to take advantage of what we’ve earned.”
Defensively, the Prep has allowed just 55 points all season. Brady leads the team with 98 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Quinn Dolan has 63 tackles, eight tackles for loss and seven sacks, while Dean Kolonich has 70 tackles.
Dante Enos and Joshua Daids are right there with 62 tackles apiece.
“What makes us most proud is that we can accomplish what (the coaches) ask us to do,” Brady said. “When they give assignments, they expect us to do it. They trust us and that helps motivate us, too.”
Now it comes down to doing what got the Hermits here – playing physical, sound football.
“To get a home game is a big deal for our kids,” Reardon said. “Getting into the playoffs for us wasn’t going to Medford or Voorhees. It was driving three hours. People who normally see you play don’t get to in the biggest game of the year.
“We wanted this for the kids because they have worked so hard to get it. We have a group of 12 kids (seniors) that stuck it out the last four years. Some played more than others, some get more notoriety than others. But no one is more important than the other. They showed up to work week in and week out. Now we just have to go out and do what we do.”
Kevin Minnick; (8560 486-2424; email@example.com
Don’t miss a thing
Download our apps and get alerts for local news, crime, weather, traffic and more. Search “Courier-Post” in the app store or use these links from your device: iPhone app | Android app | iPad app. And be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook!