By Steve Ruman
After a two-year hiatus from the postseason, Warren John F. Kennedy returned to its usual playoff form last year, finishing 9-2.
With 16 returning lettermen and 13 seniors on its roster, JFK should again be in the hunt to play beyond Week 10.
In addition to a veteran unit on the field, the Eagles sport one of the area’s most experienced coaching staffs. Dave Pappada and his crew boast a combined 200 years of varsity coaching experience.
Running backs Carl Zallow and Royal Smith, and wideout Zach Watt give the Eagles blazing speed at the skill positions.
“We definitely want to get the ball in their hands,” Pappada said. “They are playmakers and they have experience. They know what to do when they get their touches.”
The Eagles need to fill a void at quarterback and it appears senior Mike Roscoe will get the call.
“Mike has been impressive — he can both run and throw,” Pappada said. “Our concern is depth at the position. We’re really searching for capable backups.”
An experienced offensive line — featuring Chandler Diles, Mac Blank, Jimmy Misocky and Austin Munno — should provide good protection.
“We feel good up front,” Pappada said. “This is definitely one of our strong points.”
The Eagles improved defensively as the season progressed. Pappada is hopeful the trend will continue.
“We figured some things out and the guys realized how much a good defense can translate into success,” Pappada said.
Diles, Matt Mariani and Caleb Stroup will supply stability and experience up front. Austin Munno will anchor the linebackers along with Chandler Samargia and Alex Leveto. Both seniors missed much of 2012 with injuries.
The Zallow brothers (Carl and Chad), Watt and Dante Munno will provide the secondary with plenty of speed.
Senior Eric Bofenkamp has already earned three letters, and is regarded as one of the area’s top kickers. The Eagles’ return men will be the same athletes who provide the firepower on offense.
“We’ve always preached that special teams is one-third of the game,” Pappada said. “It’s that important. Our special teams have some holes to plug. It will be a work in progress throughout the season.”
Expectations never change for JFK.
“We strive to win a league title, get to the playoffs, and make a serious run at a state title,” Pappada said. “That’s been our goal going into every season for the past 25 years and that’s our mindset going into this season.
“We have our work cut out for us. We have some big holes to fill and we have a tough schedule. But we also feel good about the guys we have. We’ll head into the season filled with confidence.”
Solid numbers (49 players), a strong returning class and a move to Division VII should put the Eagles in a prime position to play into November.