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Julian Spain (3) is a power runner who is back among veterans set to lead Seton Hall Prep in a new season. (Photo by Richard Morris/SHP)

Seton Hall Prep Faces Tough Schedule
With Union City & St. Peter’s Prep Early
By Steve Tober

WEST ORANGE- The story line surrounding Seton Hall Prep this football season is how well will the Pirates be standing after the first three weeks of the season, which include a season opener at powerful Union City next Friday (Sept. 5) and then a week 3 home showdown (Sept. 20) with nationally ranked St. Peter’s Prep.

“How we stand – both in terms of wins and losses and health-wise – after those three games is huge because we really don’t have as much depth as we’ve had in the past,” said SHP 12th-year head coach John Finnegan, whose team was 7-3 last fall. “We have a good club, but injuries at key positions could be very problematic for us.”

The Pirates return a veteran quarterback in junior Zach Keller (1,095 yards passing and 11 TDs in 2013) and have a potentially dangerous ground attack spearheaded by power back Julian Spain (72-331 yards, 6 TDs) and shifty junior Connor Merklinger, who missed last season due a leg injury.

A valuable receiver should be slot back Vincent Nisivoccia, who had 42 receptions for 360 yards and 3 TDs last season. Nick Alvarez, a veteran safety in the defensive secondary, could emerge as another contributor at running back.

The line is led by major college recruit Jared Southers (6-5, 285), who has colleges such as Rutgers and Temple hot on his heels as an offensive tackle. He missed all of last season after suffering a broken foot in a pre-season scrimmage.

Other linemen to watch include guard Sean Gilhooley (6-0-245), guard-defensive end Ryan Faber (6-1, 230) and two-way tackle Jake Baker (6-1, 240).

Offensively, SHP fans will see a new look to the attack as the team will be multiple after running a Wing T for the past 11 seasons.

“We changed from the Wing T because our quarterback is very good and we have good receivers,” said Finnegan. “Zach also has a lot of experience after being a starter as a sophomore.”

Defensively, along with Alvarez in the secondary, another valuable contributor will be cornerback Jack Colleran. Linebackers to watch include Kevin Steward, Christian Marini and Sean McLaughlin

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