ORANGE, NJ (updated Thursday, Sept. 8, 3:19 p.m.) – When it comes to this season, Orange head coach Randy Daniel has one word.
That’s the rallying cry for the Tornadoes, who are determined to end the season with a state North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 playoff championship.
The Tornadoes have become a perennial playoff contender under Daniel, who is entering his 21st season at the Orange helm. But in those great years, they have always seem to come up short. In 2014, they lost by one point, 35-34, to eventual champion Parsippany Hills in the quarterfinals. Last season, OHS started 6-0, before finishing 7-3 after losing to Ridgefield Park in the quarterfinals.
This year’s team is more experienced.
“We got a lot of returning starters,” Daniel said. “Last year we were young and this year we got a lot of returners. We have a lot of returnees on offense and defense.”
The key two-way players to watch are sophomore receiver/defensive back Nyquee Hawkins, senior running back/linebacker Tyrese Harris, junior linebacker/center Mahkye Boswell, and senior linebacker/running back Umar Jenkins.
Hawkins, the son of OHS assistant football coach Carlos Hawkins, already has received offers from UConn and Penn State. Hawkins also has received interest from Tennessee.
The team is looking for a new quarterback after two-year starter Taree Ward-May graduated. As of Sept. 1, Daniel said three quarterbacks were battling for the starting job: 6-foot-3 junior newcomer Quasean Waite, sophomore George Crespo (5-10) and junior Askari Garner (5-9). Daniel is looking for consistency on offense, led by an effective ground game.
“Hopefully, we can establish a good running game,” he said.
Senior slotback Dequan Battles also is a proven receiver.
Defensively, other leaders include senior linebacker Joseph Hoschama, senior tackle Ezechiel Conserve and junior defensive back Lou Thompson.
As for the special teams, Daniel hopes to see significant improvement.
Making the playoffs is something the Tornadoes expect. But the goal is to win it all. “That’s a given. We figure we are going to be there,” said Daniel about the playoffs. “We’re just trying to finish it. Everybody has to do their job; don’t worry about what everybody else is doing, just do your job. Do what you are supposed to do; be consistent. The main thing is we got to finish the deal.
“We got to go all out. Everybody has to be in. We all got to be all in. I think we have a chance to have a decent season. But we have to finish it.”
NOTE: Carlos Hawkins was a senior captain/inside linebacker on the 1997 OHS football team, which was Daniel’s second team.
Sept. 9, Ferris, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16, at Mahwah, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23, at West Essex, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30, Passaic Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8, at Barringer, 1 p.m.
Oct. 15, Nutley, 1 p.m.
Oct. 21, at Parsippany Hills, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28, Central, 7 p.m.
Nov. 5, at Chatham, 1 p.m.