Team, 1st-Year Coach  Salvage Shortened Football Season

Team, 1st-Year Coach  Salvage Shortened Football Season

Frankie LoPresti, Staff Reporter

The 2020 high school football season was a season unlike any other. With the Coronavirus pandemic, the season was originally in jeopardy as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was hesitant about starting up scholastic sports. The governor finally decided on Aug. 17 that the seasons would go on, but the start dates would be pushed to October. This meant that the number of football games to be played would be shortened.

Warren Hills was limited to just eight games, with one being cancelled due to virus issues concerning the opposing team. The varsity’s overall 2020 record ended up as 3 wins and 4 losses, with a divisional record of 0-3.

First-year Head Coach Marcus Gurdineer was very happy about how the team performed.

“The football team demonstrated that they had much resolve and competitiveness throughout the course of the season,” he said. “Through the ups and downs on the field or off the field, they kept a positive attitude and a consistent work ethic.”

When it came to the level of confidence the team possessed, Gurdineer explained, “The program overall had much to deal with throughout the course of the year and through it all they had a high level of confidence, considering the circumstances. They had to learn a new head coach, a new system for all three parts of the game and through all of it they were excited to compete each week.”

The Blue Streaks experienced a rough start, going winless in their first three games.

They would lose 41-13 versus Mount Olive to open the season. Quarterback Kevin Farrell, a senior, completed 6 of 14 attempted passes, for 173 yards. One pass would be completed for a touchdown, but one pass was intercepted. Junior Jon Lainez rushed 15 times for 50 yards. Junior Lucus Fritton rushed twice for 2 yards and a touchdown. Receiving-wise, senior Tucker Gabrich nabbed 4 receptions for 127 yards and a TD. Fritton would record 1 reception for 12 yards and sophomore Justin Daniel would catch one pass for 34 yards.

The Streaks lost their second game 21-14 at South Plainfield before suffering a 41-0 loss against Somerville.

The Somerville game would become a turning point for the Streaks, as they began to accumulate a “streak” of wins and show signs of improvement. They would win 27-13 at Parsippany and beat Belvidere in front of the Blue Streak faithful at home. This streak would come to an end, however. after a heartbreaking 8-7 loss at Plainfield.

The anger from the 1-point robbed victory would explode in one of the most anticipated matchups of the 2020-21 Blue Streak football season, at home against county rival Hackettstown. The Streaks would be relentless and show no signs of weakness against Hackettstown during their dominant performance in a 40-7 rout. Farrell threw 16 completions on 17 attempts for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rushing-wise, Lainez carried the ball 20 times for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gabrich rushed 7 times for 55 yards and a touchdown, and senior Ricky Lewis ran 3 times for 15 yards and a touchdown. Fritton ended with 7 receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown. Senior Marcel Walls recorded 3 receptions for 36 yards and had 6 receptions for 89 yards.

“The biggest expectation is to focus on the process–the details and not to worry about the results,” Coach Gurdineer said. He referred to the process as film, practices, off-season training, and adapting to the new system. 

When asked about players that could rally the team when it was down to continue fighting, he singled out two players for special praise. 

“[Senior] Eric Wian was always a fighter for us this year,” Gurdineer said. “He played with 100% heart every game, and I also cannot leave out [senior] Ashton Sozanski, who very rarely came off the field.” Coach explained that both players “fought snap in and snap out to give us a chance to win.”

Gurdineer stated that there were several players he could acknowledge, but overall the team itself was always resilient, no matter the circumstances. Gurdineer indicated that he is very confident and wants to continue changing the overall culture and attitude of the team.

“We want to continue to improve our culture and our dedication to one another,” he said, “through preparing all off-season, to grinding through the summer sessions, and battling every minute of the season together. Schemes are successful because the teams believe in them and they are dedicated to learning the little details that make you that much better than your opponent. That is our focus–develop winning habits now to win in the fall.”

Coach Gurdineer has high hopes for the next season.

“We did not finish with the win/loss record we may have desired, but we found much to build on moving forward in the future and are proud of what we accomplished this fall.”