GLEN RIDGE, NJ – Each year, it seems that Glen Ridge faces the problem of not having a sufficient amount of players on the roster.
And it gets worse and worse for the Group 1 school.
Last year, the Ridgers had approximately 33 players. This year, that number is down to about 30.
However, as long as the team stays healthy, head coach Duke Mendez feels confident that his Ridgers will be competitive, week after week, despite the tough opponents on the schedule.
The Ridgers’ offense returns several key players, led by quarterback Tyler Liddy and running back Joe Marchesano, both senior captains Liddy last season passed for 1,460 yards and 13 touchdowns with only seven interceptions to earn Second Team honors on the All-North Jersey Super Football Conference-National Red Division. Liddy also will serve as the punter.
Marchesano made All-NJSFC-National Red First Team last year after rushing for 522 yards on 149 carries for three TDs and catching 21 passes for 173 yards and one TD. Marchesano also will take over as the place-kicker.
Liddy has plenty of capable receiving targets. They include experienced seniors David Weissenberger, Avery Hackett and Jose McCallen-Villafane; and juniors Tyler Strong, Simon Low and Simon Hana.
The offensive line is a work in progress. The guards are senior captains Max Auborn and Kieran Moran. The tackles are seniors Phil Meng and Jack Olczak, while junior Marshall Hendrian is the center.
“We’re real thin on the O-line,” said Mendez, whose team is coming off a 3-7 playoff campaign. “(But) we have nice skill kids. We should be decent enough if we get some time to throw the ball.”
Defensively, Auborn will lead the unit from his inside linebacker position. Auborn posted a team-high 97 tackles to go along with five sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one safety, and one interception to earn First Team accolades on the All-NJSFC-National Red last year.
Moran is the other inside linebacker.
The D-line consists of Meng and Olczak at the tackle spots and sophomore Brendan Easter and Hendrian at the end positions.
The secondary comprises Strong, Marchesano, Weissenberger, Low, sophomore Jackson Crutchfield and Hackett.
The Ridgers hope to qualify for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. But the schedule isn’t easy. Mendez cited six tough opponents: Butler, Cedar Grove, Verona, Weequahic, Shabazz, and Hoboken. Weequahic and Shabazz battled for the Section 2, Group 1 title last season, with Weequahic prevailing. Hoboken won that section title in 2015, while Verona was the Section 1, Group 1 champion that same season. Butler had six wins by the playoff cutoff, but came up short in gaining a postseason berth last year.
Nevertheless, the Ridgers remain focused on their goals, and that includes avoiding injuries.
“We want to compete and win the conference, and make the state playoffs again and stay healthy,” said Mendez.
This year marks Mendez’s 26th overall season as the Glen Ridge head coach. He was the head coach of the Ridgers from 1985-95 and will enter his 15th year in his second stint after returning in 2003.
GRHS lost to Hoboken in back-to-back seasons in the playoffs in 2014 and 2015.
Sept. 9, Butler, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16, at Newark Collegiate Academy, 1 p.m.
Sept. 23, at Montclair Kimberley Academy, 1 p.m.
Sept. 29, Cedar Grove, 2 p.m.
Oct. 7, Verona, 2 p.m.
Oct. 13, at Weequahic, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20, at Shabazz, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28, Immaculate Conception of Montclair, 1 p.m.
Nov. 3, at Hoboken, 7 p.m.
Records for the past three years
2016: 3-7 (Section 2, Group 1 playoffs, lost to Shabazz, first round)
2015: 5-5 (Section 2, Group 1 playoffs, lost to Hoboken, first round)
2014: 5-5 (Section 2, Group 1 playoffs, lost to Hoboken, first round)