Every season is a rebuilding year for the River Dell Golden Hawks football squad which has continually said farewell to upwards of 20 athletes each June following graduation. But come fall, the thoughts of rebuilding are long gone and replaced by how can the rising team improve on the prior season.
This year will be no different as the Hawks will look to their rising seniors and underclassman to fill the gaps left behind with the loss of Mike Monopili, Chris Fasano, Sean Boland, John Budka, Lenny Smith, Alex Derner, Ryan Callahan and many others.
Entering his ninth year as head coach, DJ Nimphius (64-24) will turn to his 54-athlete roster, led by returning starting quarterback Tim Barnes who notched 738 passing and 94 rushing yards during his junior year as the Hawks playcaller.
Joining Barnes on the offense will be seniors Kevin Barry, Chris Allingham, Ryan Duran and Austin Berninger, and juniors Eric King, Max Cepeda, Dan Chrstiman and Chris Melusi.
A heavy senior class will carry the defense behind Eric Banks, Christian Desanctis, Anthony Nastasi, Steve Luca, Bob Wopelhorst and Brandon Martinez; while senior Ben Shapiro steps up on special teams as a first-year kicker moving over from boys soccer.
The one thing that may hurt River Dell is that while the team is senior-heavy on the roster, not all of the gridiron squad saw consisistent playing time last season and half of the roster is comprised of new faces from the junior and sophomore classes.
The Hawks enter their 2012 campaign ranked 1,677 nationally and 45th in the state and will open their season against the West Essex Knights who trounced the Hawks, 32-14, in last in the Meadowlands squandering an early lead due to costly turnovers.
And with this season comes the Golden Hawks shift to after the NJSIAA's May decision to moved the Hawks out of Group 2. The move, will again pit River Dell against familiar rivals Jefferson, Mahwah, Pascack Valley, Ramsey and West Essex, while adding into the mix Bergenfield, Garfield, Lakeland, Morris Hills, Ramapo, High Point, Indian Hills, Sparta, Tenafly and West Milford.
River Dell 2012 Schedule
- Friday, Sept. 7, 6pm against West Essex
- Friday, Sept. 14, 7pm at Mahwah
- Friday, Sept. 21, 7pm at Dwight Morrow (Englewood)
- Friday, Sept. 28, 6pm against Westwood in 3rd Annual Bird Bowl
- Saturday, Oct. 6, 3pm at Ridgefield Park
- Friday, Oct. 12, 6pm at Pascack Hills
- Friday, Oct. 19, 6pm against Indian Hills
- Friday, Oct. 26, 6pm against Ramsey
- Friday, Nov. 2, 6pm at Fort Lee