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Princeton-bound senior quarterback Zach Keller (18) returns to direct the offense for Seton Hall Prep's otherwise young unit on field. (Photos by Richard Morris/SHP)
Senior Connor Merklinger (2) is a hard-driving running back to watch for Pirates
First-year coach Vito Campanile has been energetic presence on SHP sideline
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SHP returns just two starters on offense but those two are very integral parts of what the team does in its Multiple Pro attack led by Princeton commit Zach Keller (6-5, 210), the senior quarterback (141-of-229 for 1,883 yards, 16 TDs, 5 Int in 2014) and sturdy senoor running back Connor Merklinger (5-7, 185), who had 65 carries for381 yards and 5 TDs in ’14.
“Zach’s knowledge of the game is through the roof and it’s like having another coach on the field,” said Campanile. “Connor is an experienced and very capable back, and we feel we have a good stable of backs which should help us in terms of depth at the position.”
Compact (5-6, 140) and quick senior Tyree Chapman is another of the talented running backs to watch, while the key wide receivers to keep an eye on include junior Dwayne Warren (6-2, 190) and senior James McGuire (5-5, 150).
Two other running backs who could impact are junior Mike Mughetto (6-0, 170) and exciting freshman Jonathan Alvarado (6-1, 215), who was a state champion caliber 8 th grade wrestler last winter.
Key offensive linemen to watch are junior tackle Josh Kaminski (6-4, 250) and promising sophomore tackle Jamie Petrovick (6-2, 240).
New line coach Chuck Granatell, formerly of Don Bosco Prep, has done a solid job so far molding together young units on both sides of the ball.
“It’s great having Chuck here and we’ll see just how far we’ve come so far in terms of line play on Sept. 5,” said Campanile. “I will say it’s a promising group of young guys and we will hopefully continue to see good progress each and every week out.”
Defensively, working out of a 4-3 set, the Pirates will look to veteran senior end Rory Schlageter (6-3, 225) to help lead the guys up front, while the one starter back is senior linebacker Ben Mara (5-8, 185).
“Ben gets after it that’s for sure,” said Campanile. “We believe we’re a defense first football team and we’ll be hard-hitting group as well.
“We should have good depth there as well and being 2-deep on ‘D’ should be one of our strongpoints moving forward.”
Alvarado (D-lne) and Mughetto (safety) will also boost the Pirates’ unit of resistance.
The kicking game should be solid with senior Eddie Guiltinan.
“We’re into our game week prep and we’re preparing the best way we can to get ready for Union City,” said Campanile. “I couldn’t be any happier with my coaching staff, the great people here at Seton Hall Prep who have been so supportive of what we’re trying to do, and the high caliber of young man we have here to work with.
“How successful we can be on the field remains to be seen, but I know we’ll continue to work hard each and every week to come.”
PIRATE PADDER- Campanile was 47-17 in six seasons at Westwood winning back-to-back North 1, Group 2 playoff championships…SHP finished 6-4 last fall (5-1 in the SEC-American) under veteran coach John Finnegan, who resigned from his post this past winter…SHP has not won a NJSIAA playoff title since 1985 and has lost five straight playoff contests in Non-Public, Group 4…Vito’s football-savvy family includes brother Nunzio who is the head coach at Bergen Catholic…The Pirates’ coaching staff includes former SHP players John Merklinger Jr., who is Connor’s older brother; Max Ruiz, Kevin Sampson and Robert Paxson.
SHP 2015 Regular Season Schedule:
Saturday, Sept. 5 at Union City, 1 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 11, at Columbia, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 19, at St. Peter’s Prep (Cavan Point), 2:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 2: vs. Caldwell, 7 p.m., at West Orange HS
Friday, Oct. 9: vs. East Orange Campus, 7 p.m., at West Orange HS
Saturday, Oct. 17, at Montclair, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 24: vs. West Essex, 1 p.m., at West Orange HS
Saturday, Oct. 31: vs. Bloomfield, 1 p.m., at West Orange HS
Saturday, Nov. 7, at West Orange, 7 p.m.
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Seton Hall Prep has very solid returning veteran defensive end in Rory Schlageter (44)
Hard-hitting senior Ben Mara (46) is an integral part of 'D' with his play at linebacker
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