ROBBINSVILLE – With so much creativity and dangerous spreading formations, the Robbinsville football team presents an offense that is never easy for teams to counter.
The 2021 version will be particularly powerful since the Ravens have a deep and diverse group of running backs.
Head coach Andrew Patterson has brought in Kem Homnick from Eastern Brunswick to be his new running backs coach this season, and he will oversee senior four-headed monster Tien-Amir Siplin, senior Nick Migliaccio, senior Christian Martini and junior Matt Surtz.
“I basically told him that he inherited the most veteran, biggest and most battered backfield in the county,” Patterson said with a laugh.
Siplin has run for 1,189 yards on 215 carries with 13 touchdowns as one of the region’s most accomplished players in more than two college seasons (but shortened in 2020). Migliaccio is a solid full back, Martini adds speed and Surtz is a powerful downhill runner who will also play a tight end at 205 pounds.
This is good news for Robbinsville who just finished another solid season at 6-1. The Ravens are 15-2 over the past two years and have a seven-game home streak since 2018.
The success is expected to continue with a new starting quarterback starting senior Dave Updegraff.
A third-year college player and team captain, Updegraff served as a viable replacement in 2020. He brings pocket-smartness, good mobility and a strong arm. His replacement will be the second Luke Hanuscin.
“We don’t miss much of a beat,” Patterson said. “He’s really in his element. He’s been playing the job for a while. It has been in our system for four years.
It will certainly help Updegraff as Robbinsville returns two key playing receivers in seniors Matt Vingara and Jaylen Gundy. Junior Nate Aromando, the younger brother of former quarterback Andrew Aromando, will play wide receiver X and junior Timmy Dininno will complete the Ravens’ four-receiver sets. The fifth receiver to watch out for could be junior Luke Esposito or second Grayson Hopkins, who is new to college.
The challenge for Robbinsville will be to upgrade its relatively new offensive line. The Ravens replaced four starters – three who now play in college – with junior left tackle Erik Weigand, junior left guard Jordan Ammirata, junior center Cam Burns and either junior Jake Brades or junior Hunter Shipley in right guard.
Robbinsville has actually grown in size on his offensive line despite losing veteran experience.
“We’re a little bigger up front, but fast communication is the thing that worries me right now to make them play together, make all the calls properly, know what they’re seeing up front,” Patterson said. . “Is it an odd front, an even front, which is coming, where is the double team going?” Stuff like that. “
Defensively, Robbinsville should have a solid secondary again with Vingara, Gundy, Aromando, junior Cole Cifrodelli and possibly junior John Sanchez working in the mix.
Up front, Weigand and sophomore Sebastian Leigh are the defensive ends. The interior will be a rotation with stars such as Shipley, Brades, Ammirata and sophomore Richard Esterly.
The top linebackers are Surtz, Migliaccio, junior Dylan Cifrodelli, junior Cam Burns and potentially Aromando as well.
“I think our secondary is probably the strongest unit we have out there defensively in terms of athleticism and experience. Even going into the two depth lineup… we’ll lose a bit, but it’s still going to be a solid secondary, ”said Patterson. “I would say (defensive coordinator) Brian Snell has high school defensive handling stuff that you don’t see people running around in high school on a regular basis with blankets and stuff like that. We will disguise the covers and send people to different places. “
In the kicking game, the Ravens feature one of the best in the area with senior Shawn Updegraff. He currently has offers from colleges recruiting him as a bettor. He sports a strong leg of his foot as he scored four field goals last season and scored 29 more points in his career.
It all adds up to what should be another fun year in Robbinsville. The program has nearly 60 players in total and has benefited from a more normal offseason even though the pandemic persists.
“We were ready for voluntary lifts, conditioning and practice and 7v7s starting at the end of June, so it was very normal,” said Patterson. “The team looks good.”