by Andrew Garda
Collin Callahan did play some slot receiver last year, but spent a lot of 2016 on special teams. Despite that, head coach John Fiore said the staff knew they had a special guy way back when Callahan was a ninth-grader.
“His freshman year, in our first seven on seven, I put him in with Danny Webb and all those guys,” head coach John Fiore said after the 49-7 victory over Passaic Tech Saturday. “Danny was a freshman too. They both caught touchdowns and two point conversions. We always knew CC was special.”
Fiore says it’s hard to say who’s best, because the receiver position has been so deep.
“Tysean [Williams] is special. DJ [Williams] is special, [Charles] Murphy’s special, John Auletta’s special, Josh Crawford’s special. It’s hard.”
Given how he worked his way into his position, it should come as no surprise that Callahan seemed less impressed with his six-catch, 187-yard day than anyone else.
“Being on the same page as my teammates and having team chemistry, that’s all I really cared about,” he said after the game. “Yeah, I made big plays but our team, as a whole, was on the same page and that’s why we executed and scored so many points.”
You don’t win games by turning over the ball, especially against a team with the explosive offense the Mounties have. If the Bulldogs didn’t know that before, they do now. PCT turned the ball over a whopping four times compared to MHS’s single fumble. The Bulldogs fumbled three times and threw one interception.
Two of the fumbles by Passaic Tech would end up turning into MHS points — one on a fumble recovery run back for a touchdown for Walter King and the other turning into a short drive that Tarrin Earle finished off with a short run for a score. The interception was run back to the 9-yard line, which led to a Danny Webb 9-yard touchdown run.
The Mounties play a 4-4 defense, with the hiccup that they might drop a linebacker to safety whenever they need to. That means some of their defensive backs will play both positions, something that’s only possible because the secondary is so versatile.
“In the secondary we’ve got five, six guys deep again who are all just unbelievable athletes,” Fiore said. “You saw Walter King’s scoop and score, Tysean [Williams’] interception, Jaire Gray, making tackles. They don’t even throw to DJ’s [Williams] side.”
The secondary can cover as well, which allows the front line enough time to get after the quarterback. This week, the result was a pair of Marcus Crowell sacks and several tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a PCT offense that never got going.
Scouting Report: Livingston
The Mounties have played Livingston three times in the previous four years and beaten them by a combined score of 145 to 13. It’s foolish for MHS to be complacent about this game, though, because that is how you lose games you should win.
Offensively, the Lancers (1-1) are comfortable both running or passing the ball. They most often line up in shotgun formation, with the quarterback away from the line of scrimmage, often with a single back next to him. When the quarterback is in shotgun, he’s thrown 78 percent of the time in the first two games.
If the Lancers aren’t in shotgun, they often have the quarterback under center with a single back directly behind him.
If they do that, they are probably running, something they’ve done 71 percent of the time this season.
Senior running back Tyrell Garnes has been consistent carrying the ball and is the lead back, someone the Mounties will want to keep an eye on. He runs the ball well, but isn’t terribly elusive nor does he look like he’s going to run away from the speedy Mounties defense in the open field. Further, he doesn’t always sustain blocks in pass protection, which is an issue, given that the Lancers offensive line doesn’t appear to be very sturdy.
That puts pressure on junior quarterback Jack Ernst as well. He can throw the ball well enough, but with many high school quarterbacks, the deeper the pass the less accurate the throw, and Ernst is willing to take a shot downfield which means the Mounties secondary has to be aware.
That said, given that the offensive line allows plenty of pressure, Ernst seems to have a tendency to rush his throws, so even short passes can be an adventure.
That line is the biggest issue for the Lancers offense and something the Mounties can exploit.
Expect the defensive line, especially Marcus Crowell, to have a field day.
Defensively, the Lancers like to load up the line. They typically ran a 5-2 defense — meaning there are five defensive linemen and two linebackers — with four defensive backs against Millburn, while against Randolph they started off in a 5-3 with one less defensive back.
You can bet they’ll stack as many players as possible at the line to try and contain Danny Webb, but if they use three defensive backs, that leaves a lot of room for Tarrin Earle and his receivers to cause havoc. On the other hand, running four defensive backs means somewhere in the interior — either on the defensive line or at the second level where the linebackers reside — is vulnerable.