The Verona High School football program has been a tradition since the 1940s, but this year the tradition starts two weeks earlier than usual: The season opener is Friday night, August 26, at home. With a brutal early schedule ahead of the program, the team has been training intensely throughout the summer.
The team started the offseason in June, with weight room at 7 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. This included benching, squatting, and other exercises devised to increase strength. However, in order to install plays, team members practiced independently on Monday and Wednesday nights and trained with the training company Elite.
At the beginning of the six-week program, Elite measured the speed and strength of the players. Upon installing a new warm-up, the team would split, with one half practicing drills on the field and the other half lifting. These seven a.m.workouts continued throughout July, improving the team’s work ethic and increasing athleticism. When the camp concluded, the group shifted to practicing from 7 to 11 in the morning, Monday through Saturday.
Verona has been active, participating in 7 on 7s with Butler, Livingston, and Ridgefield Park. The Hillbillies have also partaken in a scrimmage with New Providence, where the team played an actual football game for the first time. This was also the first time Connor Demasi, the new starting quarterback, took the field, replacing record holder Cael Zebrowski.
August practices included warm-ups, special teams, and individual positional training, as well as team drills and exercises. Head Coach Kevin Batty, when asked about the team’s summer preparation, responded, “I think the team has worked extremely hard. I am very pleased with the work ethic of the team.” This is not unusual for a town such as Verona, which has a staunch regional reputation for hardworking players and coaches.
The first game will be played against the Morris Hills Knights, a division three school. For reference, Verona was recently shifted to division one due to a small roster. The game will take place at 7 p.m. on the VHS upper field. The key players in the game will include #5 Logan Colon (linebacker), #51 Andrew Boyle (center, defensive end), #7 Alex Rodriguez (wide receiver, cornerback), and the aforementioned #10 Connor Demasi (quarterback).