MONROE TWP. After the Shawnee offense scored on its first play from scrimmage Friday night, Williamstown High Schooll offensive line coach Mark Suk called his five guys together.
“When they scored that first touchdown, he said ‘We got it,’ ” offensive tackle Nick Chamberlin said. “He said ‘We have to score, we got to drive down the field, we got to answer.’ ”
The O-line answered, paving the way for a monster 17-play, 78-yard scoring drive on its first possession — including two fourth-down conversions on the ground to tie the game.
The Braves front five never eased up under the direction of Suk, who has been coaching at Williamstown for 28 years. The offense finished with over 350 yards rushing against the two-time defending South Jersey Group 4 champions in a convincing 49-17 road win.
“He’s committed to the sport, he’s committed to the background of the sport,’’ head coach Frank Fucetola said. “He just works with these kids. …The sacrifice he makes being with these kids around the clock.
“He constantly emphasizes the technique part of the game, the little things, and that’s what I like.”
There’s a high level of respect for Suk.
“He’s meant a lot to me. He’s one of the best coaches and people I’ve been around,” said Chamberlin, a senior right tackle and three-year starter. “He really pushes you and makes you work hard. I learned a lot from him. He’s good at spotting what you’re doing wrong and fixes the mistakes.”
“He stresses the techniques,” added Jake Chamberlin. “You can get a little step wrong and he’ll make sure you get the right step. He stresses everything, the head position, too.”
In the season-opening win, Suk’s O-line opened some serious holes. Eriq Mercado rushed for five touchdowns, while quarterback Rich Stanzione and Joseph Early combined for nearly 275 yards.
“I was very pleased, but there’s always room for improvement,” Suk said. “These kids have the potential to be a really good offensive line. They’ve got to keep working and pay attention to detail.
“I saw a lot of good things out there for that first game against a well-coached program. These kids came ready to play.”
Suk started coaching and teaching at Williamstown in 1987 for Jim Ranniello after graduating from Rowan University, where he was an offensive lineman.
“I always wanted to be a coach,” said Suk, a health and physical education teacher who also served as Williamstown’s head coach for one season in the mid-90s. “When I got hired, I really fell in love with the school. I really enjoy every minute here.
“I tell my guys the game is played with a lot of heart and determination. I keep it consistent with a lot of hard work.”
Kevin Callahan; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org