Homecoming: Varsity Football

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Rena Salsberg , Staff writer

“Like every Homecoming, we are going to be fired up and super focused,” Varsity Football Defensive Coordinator Ron Beller said. “At the same time, we have never played this team before, so it’s going to take a total team effort in all three of the game phases to compete.”

Team member Sam Spector (11) is confident that the team will have a successful rest of the season. “We weren’t satisfied with our record last year, which inspired people to work over the offseason and get better and stronger, and impacted the talent on the team this year,” he said. 

The team dynamic has played a prominent role in their success, Matthew Jacobson (12) said. “Having trust in each other and having strong friendships makes the team play much better,” he said. The team also spends time with each other outside of school and after games, bringing them even closer with one other, he said. 

The team faces Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA) tomorrow at Homecoming. The game will be the first time the Lions ever played MKA, but they have played similar teams in the past, so they have an idea of where they stand and what the competition will be like, Jacobson said. “Based on the success of MKA, it’s going to be a pretty challenging game.”

In addition to looking into MKA’s track record with other teams that the Lions have played, the team watched videos of MKA’s games to get a feel for how they play, Spector said. “We are definitely looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd, and we hope for a big turnout,” he said.

To prepare for Homecoming, practices have become more intense, Spector said. “We want to get the [offense and defense line] more riled up than they have been and to be more aggressive and attack the other team,” he said.

Varsity Football coaches Matthew Russo and Beller have played a large role in preparing the team mentally and physically for the game, Jack Mogelof (11) said. “Coach Russo is really trying to light a fire inside of each player and get them to play to their full potential,” he said.

As a coach, Beller aims to provide every player with the most positive experience that they can have, he said. “If we do that, then we can establish some lifetime memories and life skills that they can carry on with them for the rest of their lives.” 

Although it is important to consider that this is one of the most significant games of the year, it’s crucial to treat it like every other game, Jacobson said.

The goal for this season for the entire team is to make the MIFL B playoffs, Jacobson said. “It is still up for grabs right now, but I think as long as we do what we know we are capable of doing, we should be in a good spot.”

No matter the score of the game, Beller is proud of his team.“To me, it’s not about wins and losses, but it’s about really controlling the approach, controlling what we can control, but more importantly, as a coach, teach life skills that [the players] can carry on throughout their lives,” Beller said.