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Verona head coach Manj Singh carries belt for Hillbillies who won Group 2 Linemen's contest at Jets 7-on-7 in Florham Park where he had opportunity to spend quality time with quarterback Connor DeMasi. (Photos by Mike Perry/MyVerona and Jeff Stiefbold)

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And, while the ‘Billies graduated an all-time great at wide receiver in Monmouth University-bound Zach Garmont (school-record 87 receptions for 1,327 yards, 7 TDs), there are still a number of offensive weapons that Demasi or McEnerey can turn to with experienced pass-catchers such as seniors Jesse Wagner, Gianluca Checchetto and JP Alfano, along with talented juniors in Jayden Nigro, Dean Algieri and Sal Santos-DiTrani.

Wagner demonstrates strong leadership qualities, while Checchetto is coming off a solid junior season when he had 21 receptions for 223 yards and a TD.

Nigro is described by Singh as ‘a Swiss Army Knife’ with his ability to play a number of roles, including wide receiver and running back.

Junior Bodie Maisano, who had 122 carries for 737 yards and 4 TDs last fall, returns as a productive running back, while others to watch at that position include senior Tristan Newman, sophomore Nick Nazaratto and junior transfer Finn MacAvoy, who makes the move down Bloomfield Avenue from nearby Montclair Kimberley Academy where he was a 2-way starter in 2023.

Up front, among the O-linemen to watch are senior co-captain Michael Girgis and his fellow two-way tackle, junior Dean Palmer, along with the anchor of the O-Line in senior center Joel Gonzalez.      

Defensively, middle linebacker Maisano is coming off a sophomore season when he recorded an amazing total of 173 tackles (including 99 solo stops), while Alfano, a D-End or outside linebacker, had 90 tackles, and Algieri, who is set to return at outside backer, recorded 88 tackles.

Santos-DiTrani had 105 tackles and 2 interceptions at cornerback last season, while Checchetto and Wagner (each with 52 tackles) were other productive performers in the ‘Billies secondary.  

“There is no doubt that there are a lot very good athletes here,” said Singh. “Our job as coaches is to maximize that talent and help make this a very good football team which we believe we can definitely do.”

NOTES- Singh’s offensive coordinator is Chris Ferrara with Brown, a former Columbia High School assistant, serving as the team’s DC…Among other members of the coaching staff are former Verona standouts Matt Riccotelli and Jim Crawford, while the team’s quality control and analytics coach is Jon Chevalier, who is the one member of last year’s varsity staff who has returned….former Verona head coach Kevin Batty, who was not rehired after last fall’s season, is now an assistant coach at Mahwah. He guided the ‘Billies to a perfect 12-0 season in 2019, including both the program’s last sectional playoff championship and a North, Regional Group 2 championship…Along with working in the real estate field, the 47-year-old Singh is also the director of flag football for Montclair Centercourt located in the bubble behind Walnut Street in Montclair…Former Verona all-state tight end and ex-Notre Dame and NFL standout Anthony Fasano paid a visit with the kids at a session of the Verona youth football camp held at Sellitto Field….Verona football is hosting its first Hillbillies Shootout 7-on-7 on Wednesday, July 24 (see information below)...Singh's Glen Ridge teams went 6-5 in 2023 and 5-5 in 2022 in his two seasons at the helm. The 1996 Montclair graduate had also spent time as an assistant coach at both Don Bosco Prep and St. Joe's of Montvale.

Verona’s 2024 Regular Season Schedule:
Thursday, Aug. 29, vs. Jefferson, 7, at West Orange
Friday, Sept. 6, vs. Kinnelon, 7
Friday, Sept. 13, at Cedar Grove, 7
Friday, Sept. 20, vs. Newark Collegiate, 7
Saturday, Sept. 28, at Central (Shabazz Stadium), 1
Friday, Oct. 4, at Hoboken, 6:30
Thursday, Oct. 10, vs. New Providence, 7
Saturday, Oct. 19, at Glen Ridge, 1
Friday, Oct. 25, vs. Shabazz, 7  

Follow Steve Tober on 'X' (formerly Twitter) @Chattermeister

Verona players raise trophy after winning among Group 2 Linemen during Jets 7-on-7 in Florham Park. In the second photo are, from left, Logan Knoetig, Daniel Frenklakh, Joel Gonzalez, Michael Girgis and JP Alfano. Hillbillies' Manj Singh confers with assistants Chris Ferrara and Jon Chevalier at the Jets facility (Photos by Mike Perry/MyVerona)

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