Highlanders look to improve on the gridiron in 2014
'Program has been taking big steps forward' according to coach
BY JOSH LASHLEY
WEST MILFORD — When the West Milford High School football team takes to the field for preseason practices and scrimmages, they do so knowing full well of the treacherous schedule that awaits them this fall. But, they also do so with the purpose of improving in every aspect of the sport with the idea of building momentum toward the moment when they run onto the field for their first game at home versus John F. Kennedy Paterson on Friday night, Sept. 12.
Last season, the Highlanders had a 3-7 overall record and they are hungry for more victories this year.
“Our program has been taking big steps forward over the past two seasons,” West Milford head coach Don Dougherty said. “Our team’s motto this year is ‘keep climbing.’ We have the ability to win games and need to continue to build our competitive edge each and every day on the practice field. We have a strong group of leaders, from the coaching staff to the players. Each practice has been very competitive which will make us a better team in the end. Each player understands they have a role and take pride in being a West Milford football player.
“We look to continue to build tradition, character and commitment. The expectations in all aspects of our program have risen.”
Key returning student-athletes to the Highlanders’ varsity roster this season, according to Dougherty, include Noah Provenzano (senior, defensive back/wide receiver), David Zeppitelli (senior, defensive back/wide receiver), Jadrien Travieso (senior, offensive line/defensive line), Liam Lakardis (senior), Erik Ostlund (senior, linebacker/wide receiver), Corey Curran (senior, defensive Back/wide receiver), Tim Mickens (senior, defensive back/wide receiver) and Austin Hopler (junior, defensive back/wide receiver).
Newcomers looking to produce for the varsity squad this year include Nik Bakalain (senior, running back), Nick Lisa (junior, linebacker/offensive line), Anthony Pelligrino (junior, tight end/ outside linebacker) and Matt Perez (junior, offensive line/defensive line).
“We as a staff coach our players to be leaders no matter what grade they are in,” Dougherty said. “Our five captains - Provenzano, Mickens, Travieso, Lakardis and Zeppitelli - will be called upon to be our top leaders. They have been great role models for our team throughout camp and we look to have that continue through the season. All five players have been with the program for all four years and have earned their teammates' respect. Our younger players have also stepped up and are stepping into more leadership roles as the season has progressed.”
The Highlanders compete in the Big North Conference Independence Division.
“We are in the middle of the pack right now in a very tough division,” Dougherty said. “There have been two (NJSIAA) State titles from two teams in our division, to prove how tough the schedule is. We have games at which we feel we can win and look to compete to win each week. Pascack Valley (2013) and Ramapo (2012) have won state titles and are preseason favorites to win the division.”
2014 West Milford Highlander Football Schedule
Date Start Time ( Place/Opponent Location
Thurs 09/04 6 p.m. vs Clifton McCormack Field (Scrimmage)
Fri 09/12 7 p.m. vs Kennedy McCormack Field Youth Night
Fri 09/19 7 p.m. @ Lakeland Lakeland High School
Sat 09/27 1 p.m. vs Pascack Valley McCormack Field
Thurs 10/02 7 p.m. @ Wayne Valley Wayne Valley
Fri 10/10 7 p.m. vs Passaic Valley McCormack Field HOMECOMING
Sat 10/18 1 p.m. @ Bergenfield High School
Fri 10/24 7 p.m. vs Ramapo McCormack Field Band Senior night
Fri 10/31 7 p.m. vs Tenafly McCormack Field SENIOR NIGHT
Fri 11/07 7 p.m. @ Northern Valley Demarest High School Northern Valley Demarest High School
Fri 11/14 or 11/15 Open Date May be home or away
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