By Josh Baker
WEST ORANGE, NJ – Preparation for the upcoming season of West Orange High School football has begun, and Head Coach Jim Matsakis already has a few ideas on how the team can excel this fall.
Mainly focusing on “getting bigger, faster, and more disciplined,” Matsakis has a lot to deal with now that six of the team’s top players from last season have graduated, including Thomas Hughes, Michael Giovine, Sebastian Rawles, Vincent DeSantis, Chris Wilson, and wide receiver/defensive back L’trell Bradley, who earned an athletic scholarship to Susquehanna University.
WOHS’ new starting quarterback will be junior Jahmil St. Pierre, though the team will most likely not feature any captains this season. Matsakis just wants to make sure the team works out enough to stay motivated and perform better than its 3-6-1 record from last season.
WOHS’ record from the two previous years were 6-4 in 2016 and 3-7 in 2015.
Matsakis said that he is hoping to improve on “everything. There’s nowhere to go but up.”
Last season, the Mountaineers lost their first two games against Union City and Irvington, respectively. They then won their next two games against Columbia and Bloomfield. They were beaten by Morristown before bouncing back against Barringer, only to lose to Montclair, tie in their last home game against Livingston, and lose the last two games against East Orange and Kennedy.
Matsakis also mentioned that he prefers to model his coaching style more after college coaches rather than professional coaches, particularly Bill Snyder, who built Kansas State football into a legacy after years of disappointment, and had a record last year of 8-5.
The team also has to work around a new schedule, but not for the games. Matsakis said that the order of opponents for them is in the exact same order as last year, which means Union City will be their first opponent this season.
The football field on WOHS campus is currently going under renovations, but the team only uses the soccer field from 6 to 9 in the morning, so they are usually finished before other teams need to use it. This practice schedule will remain the same throughout the summer.
When asked how he builds confidence in his players, Matsakis simply replied, “Workouts. They just gotta work harder.” With this attitude, WOHS has the potential for a successful 2018 season.