Article | NHS Football Season Review | 2018
Football Season Review 2018
By: Louie Pasculli
Despite coming off an exceptional season in 2017, the outlook on the 2018 season for the Nottingham high school football program was still yet to be determined. Finishing 2017 well above average with a 8 - 2 record, the Northstars only two losses came at the hands of the two playoff caliber teams. After a disappointing postseason loss, NHS football lost a lot of seniors with the graduating class of 2018. The abandonment of all 5 offensive linemen and important members of the NHS secondary forced the coaches to make tough executive decisions. Head coach Jon Adams along with assistant coaches Ross Maddalon and Milo McGuire, decided to change the offense to be more suited to their personnel and the defense was to be totally revamped. The combination of these adverse situations only fueled critics to write stories and make predictions about how poorly Nottingham football was going to be in 2018. Disregarding these assumption made by the media and continually unfavorable conditions throughout the season, Nottingham was able to stay together and pull of a very impressive 2018 campaign.
Going back to the early days of weight room in the frigid months of winter, two important mantras; no drama and family, were implemented in the minds of everyone who participating in the football program. These two mottos would play an important role in the upcoming football season. As the days went on and the team scampered through the grueling, monotonous offseason weight room sessions, these teachings only got stronger. When more players joined the program due the ending of winter or spring sports, the group got larger and began to look like a determined team. The beginning of summer started the transition from getting better physically to getting better mentally. There were murmurs and whispers in the organization about the upcoming change that was to take place for the 2018 season. As the start of practices and ultimately the season neared, the well put together coaching staff of NHS let the players in on the secret.
The power offense from years past was simply a thing of the past. This newfangled offensive would require speed and deception. Designed to confuse defenses and create situations where Nottingham’s superior athletes have the advantage. Making the run game more perimeter based and the pass game more home run-like, Jon Adams and Co. chose to change to the read option offense. Despite some challenges coming with the change, the option offense would be a healthy switch for the upcoming season. The defense was also new and improved. From running a 4 - 3 in 2017 to a 3 - 4 in 2018, things were looking up. Although the adjustment wasn’t going to be easy and the coaches knew that and were willing to work. The roles of each individual were altered and ultimately the dynamic of how the entire defense worked was now different. Teaching it to about 45 some-odd high school kids and making sure they have a full understanding of it was the hard part.
In the summer the learning began. An emphasis on repetition, attention to detail, and execution, guided how the practices would go. Meetings, packets, slide shows, and binders all aided the understanding of the new system. As the season drew closer, so did the work load for the Nottingham Northstars. More and more was being put in to the defensive packages and plays for the offense, all while staying quiet about the change to surprise unlucky teams who don’t scout. This would provide for a good season for the seemingly underrated Northstars.
Not only was the local media predicting NHS would do poorly, but they had bigger problems. Head Coach Jon Adams blew out his knee just months after receiving the injury on the other knee. The reoccurring injury would keep Adams sidelined for most of the upcoming season. It was up to the two assistant coaches, coach Ross Maddalon on offense and Milo McGuire on defense to guide the team to a winning season, and looking back, they did just fine.
The first scrimmage NHS would play in was against Ewing. They are a group 4 school with more kids than Nottingham. Since the scrimmage was ten plays on O then ten plays on D there was no final. Nottingham showed they could move the ball and capitalize on big plays all while their defense remained a force to be reckoned with. This would help boost their confidence for their next scrimmage… Randolph. The first half would be played like a typical varsity game then JV would take the field afterward. They are a big school, about an hour and fifteen minutes north of Nottingham. The bus seemingly had an impact on the Northstars performance as they started the game sub -par on both offense and defense. They adjusted to the poor start and began to amount some offense prowess. They would ultimately come up short at the end of the first half. This game would provide good experience in the newly designed run game while giving the defense a taste of what's it like to face a big team, much like those NHS will see in the playoffs. This would be the last game Nottingham would play before the start of the season. Everyone was ready for the first game of the year, being that it was against NHS’s biggest rival… Steinert.
Nottingham walking out of the locker room to take the field against hometown rival Steinert. Led by QB Logan barber #3 and middle linebacker Jerry Andaluz #2.
Just days before the season opener, the team received some bad news. Coach Jon Adams had blown out his original knee again. It was the third time in eight months Adams suffered the same injury, which is very unlikely and absurd to think about. This was hard for everybody knowing how much coach Adams cares for his program and how much he misses it being out with the injury. One could say it gave Nottingham a little extra to play for as they out lasted Steinert in what was a defensive battle in the first half. The first time the new offense would be displayed in a game that mattered, they did well. Due to NHS pulling away from their bitter rivals the final score was 20 - 6 . The momentum from the big win at Steinert carried over into the next week. Being the underdogs despite being at home, NHS football went out and defeated a solid Morristown team. Thanks to a walk off field goal by slot back and kicker, Alix Oge, Nottingham came out victorious yet again. The offense starting to click as well scoring 21 points in the first half. The next game wouldn't go so well for the Northstars. Trenton High, a group 5 team, got the better of Nottingham winning 30 - 0. The less the offense scored the more the media began to critique it. This would prove to be incorrect as the offense was fine.
The Northstars won the next three games relatively comfortably. The average score in that time period was 24 - 2. The defense giving up only one touchdown in that span, a pretty good feat considering the totally revised defense. After these big victories that quieted the critiques and further boosted the moral lever of the Nottingham Northstars, they were sitting pretty at a nice, above average record of 6 - 1. Their next two opponents would be the biggest tests of the season. Nottingham was barely in the playoff bracket at this point so wins would push the football program to a solid playoff position yet again. Notre Dame was the second to last game of the season and powerhouse Allentown waited after ND. Both games would be at home which was in the Northstars favor. Allentown being a harder opponent than Notre Dame, Nottingham wanted to secure a playoff spot with a win over a local team then further cement it when they finish off the season with Allentown. Unfortunately for NHS, that isn’t how things would play out. Notre Dame had NHS’s number on that day and came out on top with a 35 -14 victory over the Northstars.
Failing to beat Notre Dame did not help Nottingham’s cause as their chances of making the playoffs were still in jeopardy. In addition, they had to face one of the toughest teams they would see all year. The severity of the situation and still doubting critics didn't faze the team at all as they took care of Allentown is surprisingly easy fashion. The final- 26 -24, was closer than what the Northstars would have liked it to be, but there was not an ounce of a doubt anywhere to be found around the stadium that day.
Proving everyone wrong, using a new offense and defense that worked, and making the playoffs was only thought of the members of the team at first. When NHS actually went out and did it, then made a solid belief into a reality and made everyone believe they could do it.. because, well, they did. Going in to the playoffs was NHS had a tough road to the championship. The first team they would play was a higher seeded Holmdel. They were a good team that ran the same offense as NHS. They too were over an hour drive from Nottingham High school. Holmdel first offensive play was a HB dive that went about 70 yards for a touchdown and the Rams didn’t look back from there. The final score was a whopping 42 - 0 and probably could have been more.
The Northstars didn’t show up that day, but a blunder like that shouldn’t take away from the tremendous season they had as a whole. Like previously stated, adversity, the media, and other disadvantageous factors didn’t stand in the way of Northstar football making the most of what they could for the 2018 season. Building of the success they had NHS plans to grow into the new offense and adapt to the changes made on defense. They want to continue to shock and surprise as well as build on a junior class that has witnessed three playoff appearances in a row and are hungry for a postseason win. And Nottingham would not be in the position they are in entering the 2019 season if it wasn’t for belief in two things; no drama and family.