IRVINGTON, NJ – The Irvington Blue Knights want to put behind last year’s 3-7 season.
Led by new head coach Ashley Pierre and an impressive coaching staff, along with a good mix of youth and experience on the roster, the Blue Knights indeed are putting in the pieces of a strong program, determined to get back into state sectional playoff title contention after missing the postseason for the first time since 2011.
“We’re just trying to build this thing, brick by brick, and just laying down the foundation, making sure guys are mentally and physically locked in,” said Pierre, who grew up in Irvington and served as the Blue Knights defensive coordinator last season.
The Blue Knights boast dynamic players on both sides of the ball.
Leading the way offensively are senior quarterback Jyvon “Silky” Brown and junior 6-foot-2 receiver Jasiah Provillon, who both have received football scholarship offers.
Brown, a 6-foot-4 four-year letterwinner, has received offers from Football Championship Series schools such as Stony Brook, James Madison, Monmouth and Texas State. Brown is adjusting nicely to the switch to a pro-style offense from a spread scheme.
“ ‘Silky’ is doing well,” said Pierre. “He is doing what’s asked of him. He’s leading the unit and he’s getting the job done. He’s showing up every day and working hard.”
Provillon is a four-star recruit who is ranked as the No. 10 overall player in the state for the Class of 2018, said Pierre. Provillon already has received offers from major Football Bowl Series schools such as Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Boston College.
Pierre said the Blue Knights have other “under-the-radar” players who will be significant offensive contributors, such as senior 6-foot-3 tight end Nelson Gedeon and senior fullback Tyhmir Lassiter. Gedeon has what it takes to attract collegiate interest, said Pierre.
Senior 6-foot-3 receiver Karon Gray and senior running back Nim Salaam are other key returnees.
The top linemen on offense and defense are seniors Justin Torrain, Taron Gallishaw and Carl Napoleon, and junior 6-foot-5 Lancine Turay, who will play end on defense.
Defensively, look for Lassiter and Salaam to make plays as linebackers, while Gedeon can be a force at end. In the secondary, Provillon will be a safety, while Brown also can help the unit.
Pierre has praised his players, on and off the field.
“We got a good group of kids, good character kids; kids who are disciplined and showing up every day,” said Pierre. “We got a good mix of younger guys and older guys; guys who got a whole bunch of snaps last year; so we’re returning a whole lot of guys on offense and defense and just building.”
PIerre, a 2004 graduate of now-defunct Bayley-Ellard in Madison, who played at Division I University of Rhode Island as a linebacker, has assembled a quality coaching staff. The assistant coaches include Nhemie Theodore, Andre Callender, Kyle Steele, Cory Hardy, Gabe Taylor, Ibn Jihad, Tyshon Gurley, Manny Capers, Lawrence Benders, and Floyd Wilson.
Theodore, an IHS graduate, played at the University of Minnesota as a defensive lineman. He and Gurley will handle the offense.
Callender was one of the best running backs in Seton Hall Prep history. After graduating in 2003, he went on to play at Boston College. Following his collegiate career, Callender signed with the New England Patriots and New York Giants, and played in Canadian Football League for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Pierre and Hardy will handle the defensive duties.
“We got a great group of coaches,” lauded Pierre. “I feel like we have one of the best coaching staffs in the state of New Jersey, with the experience of playing Division 1 football, Division 2 football. The expectations are high for us. The kids understand that. We understood that we had a 3-7 season last year and we’re just making sure we don’t have another 3-7 season this year.”
Team cohesion will go a long way toward achieving their goal.
“We just have to understand where we are,” said Pierre. “We are our brothers’ keepers as coaches and kids. We have to play together and maintain discipline.”
NOTES – The Blue Knights have been reclassified to North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 after being in Section 2, Group 4 for the postseason… Lassiter and Napoleon also are standout IHS wrestlers.
Blue Knights schedule
Sept. 9, at Lincoln (Jersey City), 7 p.m.
Sept. 16, West Orange, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23, Barringer, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30, Nutley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7, at Millburn, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15, Wayne Valley, 1 p.m.
Oct. 21, at Belleville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 29, Passaic Valley, 1 p.m.
Nov. 4, at Wayne Hills, 7 p.m.