Minutemen season concludes unexpectedly

Jackson McCrae '23, Managing Editor

On November 5, the Minutemen football team’s season came to an end, following a shocking loss to eighth-seeded Lenape. The Minutemen got off to a blazing hot start, starting 4-0. Led by head coach Mike Schatzman, and senior captains Jo’Nathan Silver, Nah’mere Graves, Quamir Land, and Vinny LaRosa, the team ended the season as the first seed in their division with a 6-2 record in the regular season, before falling to Lenape the first round of the playoffs.

The Minutemen annihilated Egg Harbor Township in their first game, walking away with a 46-14 win. Egg Harbor Township had no answer for Township’s rushing attack, as the Minutemen scored all their touchdowns on the ground. Sophomore QB Jared Dzierzgowski had three rushing TD’s, while Graves had 107 yards and two TD’s, and Silver and sophomore RB/LB Giuliano Scavetta both pitched in a TD.

The next week the Minutemen took on Rancocas Valley and won handily, 28-6. Dzierzgowski threw a TD to Silver, but the Minutemen once again won by using their run game. Dzierzgowski had two more TD’s running the ball, and Silver ran for 132 yards and a TD.

The Minutemen’s next opponent was Clearview and it was a repeat of the first two weeks, a 30-7 rout. Silver once again led the way with 126 yards and two TD’s, while Dzierzgowski and junior Mike Lotsey Jr. each ran one in.

The Minutemen took on Cherokee next, a South Jersey powerhouse, and escaped with a 21-14 win in an overtime thriller. Graves had the Minutemen’s two TD’s in regulation and after a crucial sack by junior Nate Leone, the Minutemen forced OT. Again it was Graves who punched in the go-ahead TD, and soon after Graves led the way on the fourth down stop to secure the win.

However, the Minutemen’s hopes of an undefeated season were dashed by Kingsway the next week, falling 21-14. Land hauled in a 52-yard TD from Dzierzgowski, and Silver ran one in. However, up one point late in the game the Minutemen defense just couldn’t keep Kingsway out of the endzone, and a successful two-point conversion was the nail in the coffin.

The next week was the polar opposite of the Kingsway game, as the Minutemen controlled the game from beginning to end, beating Williamstown 42-7 in the homecoming game. It was another dominant game on the ground, with Silver ending the game with 202 yards and two TD’s. Graves and senior Tracy Marshall both added in another TD on the ground, while sophomore Logan Perez caught a 52 yard touchdown from Dzierzgowski.

The Minutemen continued their domination the next week, shutting out Eastern in a 33-0 win on senior night. Dzierzgowski threw a TD to junior Matt Bonsall and ran for 136 yards and two TD’s as well. Silver added 96 yards and ran for a TD and Perez chipped in a TD too.

The Minutemen picked up a second loss at the hands of St. Joseph’she following week, in a 31-21 loss. Dzierzgowski threw for 103 yards and one TD to Lotsey Jr. Silver ran in a TD, and Scavetta took a St. Joseph’s fumble the distance for six points. However, the Minutemen were unable to overcome a slow start, going down by fourteen points in the first quarter.

Despite having two losses, the Minutemen still entered the playoffs as the one seed, set to play the eighth seeded Lenape. In an OT thriller, Dzierzgowski ran for two TD’s, and Silver added 117 yards and a TD. However, Lenape escaped with a 24-21 win, following a game winning field goal.

One term emerged watching the Minutemen play this season: bully ball. With the exception of the second half against Kingsway, the Minutemen defense has been stifling, and the Minutemen can run the ball on anyone they want. However, Coach Schatzman says the abundance of running plays is not a predetermined gameplan, saying, “The game dictates what you do as an offense, we were in control, for specifically the first three games, where we didn’t really have to air the ball out, especially in the second half.”

While the hot start was a surprise to some Township fans, that’s not the case for the players, as Land said, “We put in work during the preseason and summer camp it’s really showing how hard we worked.”

While Washington Township football has historically been associated with domination, in the past few years they haven’t played at a level synonymous with the Minutemen’s reputation. However, the Minutemen appear to be back, but Graves said they’re not satisfied, saying, “we have to keep doing better and better, and try to go higher than any Township team has before.”

There has also been a noticeable energy shift from the team. This has not gone unnoticed by Silver, who said, “last year the seniors really connected the team in a special way, and that carried onto this year. We really have a special bond with our whole entire team.”

While the captains have had a massive impact on the field, Coach Schatzman has seen their impact off the field, saying, “They’ve been leaders in school, they’ve been leaders in the locker room,” and that they’ve been, “perfect examples of hard work and being committed.”

While the unexpected ending disappointed many fans, the momentum from this year’s team is something Coach Schatzman and the returning Minutemen will look to carry forward in future seasons.