When Pete Angus decided to retire as the West Morris golf coach after last season, assistant coach Mark Schartner was poised to step into the top spot.
Schartner, who doubles as the boys’ basketball coach at West Morris, had an extensive background in golf during his high school days at Smithtown High School on Long Island.
“We won two conference championships, the league and the county championships when I was in high school,” Schartner said. “I always loved the game of golf. I played competitively through high school. I would still get out to play, but I have two kids at home now. … I had to learn how golf works around here in Morris County and how I would be able to give advice to young golfers so they could take the advice into play in a match.”
However, it didn’t hurt Schartner to inherit three of the top golfers in Morris County, all of whom are playing together from the outset of a season for the very first time.
Senior Tommy Hayes has been the staple of the Wolfpack program for the last three seasons, earning All Daily Record first-team honors last spring. Hayes also plays basketball, so Schartner had “a strong comfort level” with him. Senior Matt Ferriero has had moments of brilliance during his high school career, first at Pope John where he started and after transferring to West Morris.
“Matt is putting the ball better and his feel around the greens looks good,” Schartner said.
West Morris was bolstered by the return of senior Blake DiPaola, a former All Daily Record honoree who left to play at a Florida golf academy last year.
The Wolfpack’s top three could all play competitive golf in college. Hayes has already signed on to play golf at Fordham in the fall. Ferriero is headed to Notre Dame, where he may try to walk on. DiPaola “may go to prep school until he winds up somewhere good down south.”
“To have three kids like that is a blessing,” Schartner said. “They all want to beat each other. They never want to lose. It’s a constant competitive battle when they play against each other. Competitiveness is good in golf, especially because all three are such good golfers.”
For example, DiPaola shot a 34 (for nine holes) against Montville and a 37 against Parsippany Hills. Hayes carded a 36 against Montville and a 39 versus Parsippany Hills. Ferriero had a 39 against Montville and a 38 against Parsippany Hills.
The Wolfpack has also been aided by the play of senior Zack Barkovich. Junior Connor Davis, a transfer from Kinnelon, rounds out the Wolfpack contingent.
“I had Zack in class when he was a freshman and I knew he was a golfer,” Schartner said. “Maybe somewhere else, he’d be a No. 1, but not with us. He’s a solid No. 4 with us.”
The Wolfpack will get an idea just how they stack up with the rest of the Morris County elite Monday, when they play in the annual High Bridge Hills Golf Tournament with schools like Morristown, Roxbury and sister school Mendham. West Morris is also a solid contender for team honors Thursday, when the annual Morris County Tournament tee off at Flanders Valley. One might think that the Wolfpack might have a home course advantage as well, but only Hayes regularly plays at Flanders Valley. The other two travel the circuit.
“I really like our chances,” Schartner said. “They’re all playing well even though it’s early in the year. To have three kids like we have and if Zack can put up a solid score, we’ll be right there. I know in the offseason, the kids were pointing toward (the MCT) and now here it comes. I don’t have to talk to them about it. It really was the best time for me to walk into a talented team like this. I have to pinch myself. I thank Pete every day, because you don’t get something like this often.”
Once again, Chatham is proving to be a worthy opponent and a possibility to earn a chunk of the county and state sectional titles in the weeks to come.
Junior Matt Gentile, who earned All Daily Record First Team honors last spring, started off the 2015 season strong with a 37 against Randolph and 38 against Park Regional.
Sophomores Alex Chin and Connor Sullivan and freshman Connor Harrington give veteran head coach Todd Ervin something to smile about. Senior Chris Nicholson is another strong Chatham ball striker.
The Lubba triplets of Pequannock have started off their seasons in solid fashion, winning dual matches against Parsippany Hills and Kinnelon.
Brett Lubba shot a 37 against Parsippany Hills and Griffin and Travis Lubba were just one shot back of their brother.
The Golden Panthers are the defending NJSIAA Group I champs out of the Tournament of Champions, so the pressure is on for a repeat.
Can’t stop the Colonials
Morristown has the area’s best golfer, Evan Quinn, but the Colonials are proving to be more than just the Mighty Quinn in the early going, especially after defeating Delbarton by three strokes last week to improve to 7-0.
Quinn is his usually brilliant self. He won the medal at the Blue Devil Invitational in Westfield last Saturday, firing an 18-hole round of 1-under 71. Quinn was three shots better than runner-up Will Voetsch of Delbarton, who carded a 74.
Luke Haralampoudis has been spectacular for Morristown, shooting a 37 against Livingston, a 37 against Seton Hall Prep and a 39 against local rivals Roxbury and Morristown-Beard. Jack Mongey and Steven Strambi have also been playing solid golf for the Colonials.
Carley Hopton, who more than held her own against both boys and girls has decided to forego her senior year at Madison and attend the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida.
Morris County Top 10
1. Morristown (7-0)
2. Delbarton (0-1)
3. West Morris (2-0)
4. Chatham (4-0)
5. Pequannock (4-0)
6. Mendham (5-0)
7. Kinnelon (3-1)
8. Madison (4-1)
9. Kinnelon (3-1)
10. Jefferson (3-1)