State of the Program: Emerson football forges ahead in face of 'co-op' talk –

Emerson is disregarding all the discussions about a possible “co-op” with another school and staying focused on football.
The Cavos have 20 players on their roster, six months after the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference and New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association denied a request to form a co-op program with fellow Group 1 school Park Ridge.
“The kids who are here are excited to be here, they’re working hard, and they can’t wait,” Cavos coach Nick Calandrino said. “They’re excited about playing Friday nights on our field, in their jerseys, with their friends. And that’s what we’re focused on.”
Emerson has more experience than the team that last year went 2-5 in the NJIC Union Division, a developmental division for programs struggling with participation.
Notably, the Cavos return senior quarterback Matt Coyle to their Pro I attack.
“Our offense was pretty good last year, and we have some good guys back,” said Calandrino, whose team last year totaled 110 points. “We just want to control the ball, get first downs, be smart, a ball-control offense.”
Emerson has captured one sectional title since the NJSIAA introduced sectional playoffs in 1974. In 1983, the Cavos captured the North 1, Group 1 championship with a 21-7 victory over Saddle Brook.
Emerson is 31-32 in its first seven seasons under Calandrino, and that came after an 0-10 start in 2015. The Cavos’ best year under Calandrino was 2017, when they went 8-2 and qualified for the North 1, Group 1 playoffs.
Emerson allowed too many points last year (198) to challenge for a winning season and its 30-front defense needs to reduce that number.
The Cavos should have a better defense with several starters returning.
“We just want to improve,” Calandrino said. “We have a lot of starters back, our defensive backs and defensive line especially, so I expect them to be strengths for us. We gave up some points last year, we made some mistakes, so we’re looking to be mistake-free and not give up any big plays.”
The Cavos will only go as far as their two-way veterans can take them. Like all small schools, they need their veterans to stay healthy to remain competitive. Last season, injuries hurt them. If healthy, they should surpass last year’s two wins.
They have three seniors who will be stepping into bigger roles: linebackers Jeff Rezebala and Jake Sanchez, and TE/LB Thomas Mulligan.
“We lost some good players from last year,” Calandrino said, “but we also have, overall, more experience than we had last year.”
Sept. 9: at Weehawken
Sept. 16: vs. Wallington
Sept. 22: at Palisades Park/Leonia
Sept. 30: vs. Harrison
Oct. 14: vs. Elmwood Park
Oct. 22: at Bogota


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