Monroe anxious to tend to its unfinished business

Falcons have high hopes coming off last year

By richard jerome
Staff Writer

By richard jerome
Staff Writer

Monroe head football coach Jim GriffinMonroe head football coach Jim Griffin

Last year the Monroe Township High School football team went 4-6 and fielded one of its most competitive clubs in recent years.

Now, with a mix of youth and experience, head coach Jim Griffin sounds the theme for this fall’s campaign.

"We like to put a phrase on what we’re about as a team," he said. "This year, it’s ‘unfinished business.’ Last year we had a shot at a winning season but kept ourselves from doing it. Now we want to win the close ones, and even break the school record for victories, which is six."

Monroe, which opens on Saturday against New Brunswick, will once again be a run-oriented option team, although Griffin says he plans to throw the ball a bit more.

That will fall on the shoulders of senior quarterback Jeff Jiminez (5-9, 165) who is quick and has a good arm.

As for the other offensive players, senior center Matt Cuzzo (6-1, 240) is a returning starter, Tim Payne (6-3, 265), another senior, is the strong guard, and junior Mike Goff (6-3, 250) plays inside tackle. At the other tackle is 5-9, 200-pound senior Jon Luberecki.

Griffin will rotate at split end with seniors Chris Lajiness (5-11, 175) and Nick Pennisi (5-8, 155).

Among other seniors, 6-1, 175-pounder Ken Feldman is at wideout and place kicker, Jaryd Schick (6-1, 170), a first-year footballer, will be a receiver, while Matt Sweeney (6-1, 205) mans the tight end slot, Bill Baker (5-11, 250) plays guard, and Vin Rizzo is at fullback.

Also in the backfield are sophomore Jarred Jiminez (5-8, 180) at tailback, wingback Mike Phelps (6-1, 215), wingback-linebacker Bob Bartocci (5-10, 180), and Chris Greengrass (5-8, 170) plays wingback and tailback.

On defense, Payne and Goff are the ends, Jim Allinder (5-11, 190) plays nose tackle, and along with Bartocci, the linebackers include Phelps, senior Matt Criss (5-9, 190), Rizzo, Luberecki, and juniors Jake Lanzone (5-7, 155), Wes Traskiewicz (6-0, 175) and John Yorke (5-8, 180).

Lajiness is in the secondary, along with Feldman, junior Rafet Kolenovic (6-0, 170), Pennisi, Greengrass and Jeff Jiminez. Another cornerback is junior Travis Johnson (5-9, 155).

Assisting Griffin this fall are Ray Ruiz, Tom Tramaglini, Jim Hunt, Ron Herrick and freshmen coaches Andy Elko, Gary Snyder and John Bergbauer.

The Falcons face a tough Greater Middlesex Conference White Division schedule once again this fall, with a pair of tough out-of-division games also on the slate against Spotswood and South River to close out the season.

Monroe has enough talent returning to make a run at the school record for wins, and perhaps more.