By Joseph Staszewski
St. Francis Prep returns to the top tier of the CHSFL after being demoted to the second division three years ago and the Terriers have no intention of going back.
The Terriers are a Class AAA team again after two straight, unbeaten regular seasons behind a core group that has since graduated. They were picked 12th out of the league’s coaches in legendary Coach Vince O’Connor’s 62nd year at the school. This season’s players want to maintain the program’s level of success and take it a step further by winning a playoff game after failing to do so the last two seasons.
“We all want to keep that standard of the last couple years that they set,” senior linebacker Ricky Posch said. “They set the bar high. We want to keep it where it is and we want to move the bar higher.”
St. Francis Prep will certainly have the weapons in a more balanced offense to do so. Senior quarterback Robert Einersen takes over the starting job after splitting time with William Gluck early last season. The mobile Einersen believes he is more prepared to be a leader this year.
He and the Terriers plan to spread the ball around after working primarily through star running back Justin Guerre and receiver Michael Hartgrove last season. Last year’s No. 2 back Marquis Gordon, a senior, will now be the primary ball carrier. Speedy senior Stephan Monfort and powerful fullback Samuel Jules will aid him in the backfield.
SFP sees senior receiver Brandon Ewing as ready for a breakout year because of his speed. Classmate Billy Nelson will also be looked at to make an impact. He and the rest of the skill players will work behind an experienced offensive line that returns tight end Anthony Pravata and tackle Kyle Fitzpatrick and adds Nick Zovick.
“Our spread offense is going to be a little more up-tempo this year, more quarterback runs, get everyone in the backfield involved instead of just handing it to Justin,” Einersen said.
The Terriers feature a strong linebacker core led by Posch and Francis Cole, who also splits the kicking duties with his brother Brendan. There will be plenty of new faces around them on defense. Senior Peter Ko steps in at corner back and Ben Lim has impressed at safety in the preseason. William Kobel will see time at linebacker and defensive back.
Despite some of the lack of experience, St. Francis Prep assistant Coach Richie Carroll believes his kids are still holding themselves to a higher standard because of the success the program has had the last two years. It has built a culture of winning the kids are buying into.
Doing that consistently at the AAA level is no easy task, however.
“You can feel it amongst the players,” Carroll said. “They understand we are asking more of them and they are stepping up.”
They understand there will be growing pains early, but they also don’t want to see any more steps back for the program after. They and the guys who came before work to hard to get it back into the league’s top division.
“This is what they wanted us to be for years,” Gordon said. “They have been talking about it since I was a freshman to be AAA. Now we are finally here and we have to prove ourselves.”