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Bloomfield's veteran head coach Mike Carter (left) is joined by one of his senior leaders, linebacker-running back Carlos Afful during the recent North Jersey Super Football Conference Media Day at Clifton Stadium. (Photo by Gene Nann-nannphoto)
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The 5-5 final ledger was certainly a major step up from the previous two seasons when Bloomfield finished 2-8 in both 2013 and 2014. Those less-than- auspicious campaigns followed a banner 2012 season when the Bengals finished 9-3, reaching the North 1, Group 5 playoff final where they lost to heavily-favored Montclair in a heartbreaker at MetLife Stadium , 16-13, in two overtimes, while playing without their best player, quarterback Mike Carter, Jr., the coach’s son and namesake, who was out with an injury.
The relative success of last fall plus an infusion of athleticism throughout the roster are the reasons that the Bengal players and coaches believe this fall could be a winning campaign with everyone on board having definite playoff aspirations.
Although the team graduated its starting quarterback in the explosive Eli Simmons along with a top running back in Quaran Mason and a very good lineman in Lowell Kelly-Gamble, there is more than enough still on board to make 2016 a special season.
“We have a lot of depth at several positions and we plan to move the ball around to a number of people because we have that type of versatility among several players,” said Carter. “Defensively, we should also be solid, with kids who want to hit and are determined to stop the opposition’s offense.”
Among the running backs to watch along with Afful are seniors Zavion Stevens and Brandon Fernandes, who both saw considerable action last fall, while seniors Khair Bowman and Joey Giliberti, juniors Michael Williams and John Ridley and sophomore Joe Orsita add considerable depth at the position in the multiple look attack that coach Carter and his staff present.
The leading candidate for the starting quarterback job appears to be senior Ryan Mondo although there is depth at the all-important position with Giliberti, Ridley and sophomore Kyle Tice.
The wide receivers who figure in the game plan include seniors Jared Dockett and Myles Toppin and promising sophomores Will Robinson and Brandon Holt. The tight ends are led by Carter’s other talented son, Danny Carter, who will see reps along with fellow senior Al-Samaad Henderson, who is a versatile athlete having also seen time as an offensive tackle. Others to watch at tight end include juniors Ahmad Peoples and Joe Bumpus.
Looking to nail down jobs on the offensive line at tackle are senior Ron Vincent, junior Joe Pentz and sophomore Xavier Gulley. At guard are seniors Addison Valencia and Liam Johnson and junior Mike Abraham. The center position sees a returning starter in Chris Lazard with Nate Rodriguez also vying for playing time as an anchor on O-Line.
Defensively, lining up at the ends will be Henderson, Johnson and Valencia, while the tackles include Vincent, Pentz and senior Terrence Cobbertt Jr.
At linebacker are Carter, Fernandes and Afful, while the defensive backs include senior Ke-Vone Hall along with Bowman, Toppin and Williams.
The kicking duties look to be shared by junior Marcus Wolf and senior Victor Saccaro.
“This team has a bunch of really good guys who genuinely like working hard together for a common goal,” said Coach Carter. “The chemistry and talent are there and now it’s up to us to go out and win football games together.”
Bloomfield’s 2016 Regular Season Schedule:
Sept. 9 at Columbia
Sept. 16 vs. Nutley
Sept. 23 at North Bergen
Sept. 30 vs. West Orange
Oct. 7-8: Bye
Oct. 14: vs. Livingston
Oct. 22: at East Orange
Oct. 28: vs. Bayonne
Nov. 5: at Morristown
Nov. 24: at Montclair (Thanksgiving)
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Bloomfield coach Mike Carter will look to direct Bengals to winning season in 2016 after team went 5-5 last fall after two straight losing seasons. (Photo by Glenn Kross)
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