Per­se­ver­ance pays off for Yel­low­jack­ets se­nior line­man

Newark Post - - SPORTS - By JON BUZBY JonBuzby@hot­

It came as no sur­prise that the con­sen­sus No. 1 team in the state came into Ne­wark last Fri­day night and eas­ily han­dled the 2-6 Yel­low­jack­ets, just as the Mid­dle­town Cava­liers have with the ma­jor­ity of their op­po­nents this sea­son.

Mid­dle­town’s only loss came in Week 7 against IMG Academy, one of the top teams in the coun­try. Last Fri­day night, the Cava­liers came out of the gate a bit slow as one might ex­pect af­ter re­turn­ing from their trip to Florida, but the Cava­liers quickly got back on track and cruised to a 41-3 win.

De­spite Ne­wark’s strug­gles this sea­son in the wins col­umn, when the coaches look back on the sea­son, they will find sev­eral pos­i­tives that came out of the 2018 cam­paign. One of those is cer­tain to be hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to see se­nior line­man Nate Sercejl earn his way into the start­ing lineup mid­way through the sea­son and shine once there.

The coach­ing staff spoke highly of Sercejl early in the sea­son, say­ing that he is “great for the pro­gram” and al­ways works hard dur­ing prac­tice, most notably as a mem­ber of the demon­stra­tion team. The past two weeks, Sercejl got the ex­pe­ri­ence of prac­tic­ing against the demon­stra­tion team and im­pressed the coaches enough to earn a start in the Yel­low­jack­ets’ Week 7 game against Ap­po­quin­imink.

“I went into prac­tice ev­ery day know­ing that I might not be able to play that much on Fri­days, so I made prac­tice as fun as pos­si­ble for my­self,” said Sercejl, who, for as much fun as he has in prac­tice, is se­ri­ous in the class­room and as a re­sult car­ries the high­est GPA on the team. “I would try to be the first one off the ball, or hus­tle to the ball dur­ing scout team de­fense be­cause that would help the team for the game at the end of the week.”

Sercejl’s per­for­mance in his first start was good enough to earn a sec­ond one against top-ranked Mid­dle­town, which boasts one of the best de­fenses in the state.

“Nate has done a great job phys­i­cally and men­tally hold­ing his own against var­sity de­fenses,” fel­low line­man Alex Aviles pointed out. “He’s been pa­tient wait­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to show what he can do and has re­sponded well to be­ing thrown into the fire mid­sea­son.”

Now that he’s en­trenched into a start­ing role, Sercejl ad­mit­ted to ad­just­ing his ap­proach to prac­tice and how he will men­tally ap­proach the re­main­ing games.

“Fi­nally be­ing in the hud­dle on Fri­day nights makes it very im­por­tant that you pay at­ten­tion in prac­tice so you can play mis­take-free in the game,” Sercejl ex­plained. “Play­ing with­out worry of mak­ing a mis­take makes it eas­ier to give it your all ev­ery play.”

Now that he’s start­ing on Fri­day nights, Sercejl plans to en­joy ev­ery minute of the fi­nal two games of his high school ca­reer.

“Fin­ish­ing the sea­son know­ing that this is the last time I’m go­ing to play foot­ball is go­ing to im­pact how I play,” said Sercejl, who plans to at­tend col­lege and ma­jor in sports man­age­ment. “[I want to] end the sea­son on a good note and a cou­ple of wins, be­cause the team has dealt with a lot of ad­ver­sity this year.”

Divi­sion 2 foes re­main

Ne­wark wraps up its 2018 cam­paign on the road against a cou­ple of Divi­sion 2 op­po­nents when they travel to Bay­nard Sta­dium for two con­sec­u­tive weeks to face Delaware Mil­i­tary Academy and St. El­iz­a­beth.

DMA (5-3) is rid­ing a twogame win­ning streak and sit­ting on the fence right now as to whether or not it will qual­ify for the eight-team Divi­sion 2 tour­na­ment. The Sea­hawks are ap­proach­ing this Week 9 game as a huge op­por­tu­nity to earn a win and the six play­off points that would come with beat­ing a Divi­sion 1 op­po­nent ver­sus just one point if they were to lose.

The Sea­hawks fea­ture a multi-di­men­sional of­fense led by se­nior Co­rahn Al­leyne, con­sid­ered by many to be the most dan­ger­ous player in the state. A 2017 all-state se­lec­tion on both sides of the ball and spe­cial teams, Al­leyne has scored just about ev­ery way pos­si­ble dur­ing his ca­reer and is so lethal on punt and kick­off re­turns that op­po­nents have stopped giv­ing him the op­por­tu­nity. The last team that thought they could stop him on a kick­off paid for it as Al­leyne re­turned it 80 yards for a touch­down in DMA’s 34-24 loss to Arch­mere in Week 6.

“We’re go­ing to need to con­tain him from the out­side and push [his runs] back in,” Ne­wark se­nior cap­tain Day­ton Swan­hart said. “I be­lieve our in­side guys can make plays for sure, we just need to give them the op­por­tu­nity.”

Ju­nior quar­ter­back Joe Deal and sopho­more wide re­ceiver Dior Boyd give DMA an aerial as­sault that the Sea­hawks haven’t had in re­cent years, mak­ing them even more dif­fi­cult to de­fend. Speak­ing of de­fense, in its five wins, DMA’s de­fen­sive unit has given up just 20 to­tal points.

Kick­off on tonight is at 7 p.m. at Bay­nard Sta­dium.

The Buzz from the Hive will be posted on­line each Mon­day morn­ing dur­ing the high school foot­ball sea­son and also in Fri­day’s print edi­tion. It will in­clude some game anal­y­sis and ex­clu­sive quotes from Ne­wark High foot­ball coach Barry Zehn­der and se­lect mem­bers of the team af­ter they’ve had a chance to watch game film, eval­u­ate their per­for­mance, and be­gin prepa­ra­tion for the next game.

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