Rivalry Week Preview: Don Bosco vs Bergen Catholic

*Originally Posted October 2016*

It’s here….. What you all have been waiting for, it is Bosco week. The long, fearsome rivalry between these two private schools continues this season, this time in Oradell. After Bosco sweeping the series 2–0 last year and knocking BC out the playoffs, the Crusaders will set the stage for revenge.

This is the type of matchup where rankings don’t matter. Bosco could be 0–6 and Bergen 6–0 and it would still be a battle. With that said, Bergen comes in on a one game wins streak and sits at 5–2 on the season. Bosco, on the other hand, is coming off a loss and stands at 3–4. It has been a down season for the Ironmen but they still have threats on both sides of the ball.

Led by Syracuse commit and 3-Star QB Tommy DeVito, the Ironmen will look to upset their arch-rivals. The Senior has struggled so far this season but definitely has the talent to get back on track. The Ironmen don’t have a feature back this year like Malik Bakker, but they still feature arguably the best offensive line in the state. Led by 4-Star Tyler Friday the line is as dominant as ever. 65% of Bosco’s plays this season have been drop backs, so the BC secondary better be ready.

The Ironmen started off 0–3 but have climbed back to 3–4 since then. The defense for Bosco is missing 3-Star Marcus Valdez but still contains 3-Star Kevin Brennan and 3-Star Marcellus Earlington.

Here come the crusaders. After a perfect 4–0 start the kids from Oradell have slipped up in the last three going 1–2 with a struggling victory against Pope John last week. The Crusaders should see a returning Aneas DiCosmo and Erik Massey this game as well as feature back Josh McKenzie. Langanwill play, but one again not at full health. We saw more mobility from the Dual Threat QB last week so hopefully, he takes the next step this week.

The main thing that will need to be watched is the offensive line. A set of positions that wasn’t necessarily struggling in the early season, has been an atrocity in the last three games. If the Crusaders want to win, they need to get a push-up front. As far as the defense goes, they should be amped and ready to go led by Ship Idrizi.

It is going to be a good one, I can tell. See you in Oradell, NJ at 1PM EST tomorrow afternoon.

North Jersey High School Football Playoff Preview

*Originally Posted October 2016*

This weekend kicks off the very exciting North Jersey HSFB playoff! With numerous big-time games being played across the board, even in the first round, there is a lot to cover. Let us take a look at some of the big North Jersey powers.

*Rankings are from MaxPreps

(2) Paramus Catholic (7–2) vs (49) St Joseph’s (Metuchen) (9–0)

Both of these schools are coming into this game having very strong seasons. The Paladins have without a doubt played tougher competition than Falcons, but 9–0 is still impressive. The Paladins will be at home for this one and hope Senior QB Andrew Brito can lead them to victory. I expect big games for Corey Bolds and Johnathan Clark as well as a cruising Paladin victory.

(3) Don Bosco Prep (5–4) vs (47) Seton Hall Prep (2–7)

Prep vs Prep is what this one is. The always fearsome Ironmen take on the Pirates who are coming off of a struggling season. The Pirates are coming off of a loss to Bergen Catholic on the road as the Ironmen are coming off of back to back road victories against SPP and BC. After a struggling start, Toal and crew have bounced back to a very solid 5–4 going 5–1 in New Jersey play. The Ironmen are at home and should run away with this one.

(6) St. Peters Prep (6–3) vs (20) Delbarton (4–5)

The Marauders have played very well this season thus far but will miss their starting QB Johnathan Lewis for the rest of the season as he has gone down with an injury. Even with that said, the Marauders should still be better at every position on the field compared to the Green Wave. It is also at Caven Point, which is a very big aid for SPP. Like the previous three games, I expect to see a victory from the favorite.

(5) Bergen Catholic (6–3) vs (4) St Augustine (9–0)

Now this right here should be a game. The 9–0 Hermits take on the 6–3 Crusaders in Oradell, but this is a game a lot of people have swinging towards the underdog. St. Augustine has dominated almost everyone they have played this season and looked confident in doing so. There also is the smallest gap in the rankings between these two teams compared to the others. The offensive line will play a big factor in this one and will need to set the tone early. The Crusaders best chance to win is if the running game can finally show back up, but we should be in for a good one.

Why no St. Joes (Montvale) coverage?

The reasoning behind me not discussing the Green Knights even though they are a North Jersey power is simple. The Green Knights have elected to play in a much smaller, easier division with the new grouping system. They open up against Pingry, a school that St. Joes is higher nationally than Pingry is ranked in the state. I think you get my point.

I wish every team the best of luck! Don’t forget to be at kickoff in Oradell at 1PM EST Saturday 11/12/16.

Bergen Catholic 2016 Season In Review

*Originally Posted October 2016*

The Bergen Catholic Crusader football season is over, and for the second year in a row they finished at 7–4 and have failed to reach Metlife. Last season they lost for the second time in the season to arch-rival Don Bosco, and this time to St. Peters.

It was a season of ups and downs for the Crusaders. A season that was proclaimed by many, a “rebuilding year” started off more than just that. BC would start off 4–0 but quickly suffer a slew of injuries to valuable players. After the latter happened, that is where the youth and lack of depth started to show. After starting off 4–0, BC would finish the regular season 2–3 and season in general 3–4.

Even in losses, though, we saw the emergence of some breakout seniors and some special underclassmen. Ankaury Camilo and Erik Massey burst onto the scene for BC this year and Ship Idrizi elevated his game to a level I have not seen in HS football before. Young stars in the making like Dylan Classi, Javontae Jean-Baptiste, and Zaakir Faith also laid their impact in their first season starting on varsity. The roster is loaded with talent and a lot of that showed this season.

All in all the season was great. A lot of new faces dominated and stepped up as well as some old ones continued to play well. It was a shame Bergen Catholic couldn’t capture it’s 17th state championship, we will just have to hold off for an another year.

Personally, I would like to thank everyone who has read every column I have put out. Whether you just read one or read them all, you all contributed to my enjoyment of writing them and witnessing the season. We totaled over 50K reads/views throughout the season. This whole experience has been helpful to me as I have grown as a writer both with my content and connections. I would also like to thank personally, Coach Nunz. When I brought the idea to him early in the summer, I had no idea it would go as well as the latter explained. I would like to take him for constantly providing me with info about the team, quotes and much more and not once complaining.

Once again, Thank you.

A fair, Complete Outlook On Sam Bradford’s Career Thus Far

*Originally Posted October 2016*

Sam Bradford was one of the most touted QBs in a while when he came out for the NFL Draft. His tremendous career at Oklahoma all paid off as he was selected #1 by the St. Louis Rams. Bradford is now with his Third NFL team, so how has his career panned out so far?

The Injuries –

It is no secret Bradford has battled injuries through his NFL career, and even at the collegiate level. Out of 96 possible games excluding this season, Bradford has missed a two full seasons worth of 32 games because of injury. He also has played banged or nicked up numerous times. From shoulder injuries to a torn ACL, Bradford has spent a lot of time in the Medical Room, but that doesn’t make him any less of a player.

The Support Around Him –

It’s no secret top draft choice QBs get thrown into terrible situations often, but it doesn’t get worse than Bradford. Bradford was selected by the Rams to start off, a team in a division that has constant contenders and hard nose teams around him. On top of that, his weapons around him were the next to nothing. In 2010, Bradford’s rookie season, his best wide out was the bad, pre-Patriots version of Danny Amendola who would only go for a little over 650 yards that season. His offensive line wasn’t any better. It consisted of a rookie and very unpolished Roger Saffold and at the time, a very sub-par John Greco. At least he had a feasible target at tight end which was Michael Hoomanawanui (Sarcasm). That was it, an atrocious wide receiving core, a very bad offensive line and a tight end who is only relevant because Gronk got hurt and people couldn’t pronounce his name.

The Rams tried drafting talent with Greg Robinson, Stedman Bailey, and Tavon Austin, but none of them panned out. Lastly, Bradford had a new Offensive Coordinator almost ever year in St. Louis, so a new system almost every season when he came to camp. He had no room to live and grow rather than scrap everything from the previous year(s).

The talent around him in his second gig with the Eagles wasn’t any better. He arrived post-LeSean McCoy, DJax, and JMac era and was dealt an unsettled locker room and organization. His best WR was second-year player Jordan Matthews who just provided Bradford with nothing but dropped passes and frustration. DeMarco Murray was brought in to Philly to pair up with his old Oklahoma teammate, but that didn’t work out either.

Murray ended up having his worst career season and was benched for Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles. Now part of it was his fault, but the offensive line in front of Bradford once again wasn’t great. Jason Peters was once again banged up and so were other parts of the line, and Jason Kelce continued his huge drop-off. The Eagles fans also aren’t the most tolerable bunch in the league either.

How He Has Actually Played –

Unlike social media and mainstream sports media outlets would make you believe, Bradford hasn’t been terrible, or even bad. Take a look at him compared to some QBs considered above average.

  • *Stats exclude this season*

Bradford is evidently the best one here, even if you just look at the numbers. If we take a deeper look at the film and talent around him, Bradford is the best quarterback here and it isn’t even close. Flacco has had a phenomenal offensive line in front of him as well as a very good Steve Smith and Torrey Smith to throw too. Kamar Aiken has also proven he is no slouch. Blake’s offensive line is still better than anything Bradford has worked with but I will admit it isn’t elite. However, Bortles has one of the best receiving cores and one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are both 1,000-yard receivers and Pro Bowl candidates as well as tight end Julius Thomas. Like mentioned before, Bradford has had a piss poor OL his whole career and never a 1,000-yard wideout. These aren’t the only QBs either, proclaimed “stars” like Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton are also not superior to the former #1 pick.

Bottom Line –

Whether you agree Bradford is not better more than half of the starting NFL QBs is your prerogative. I have filled this column with nothing but facts and evidence but it is your choice to swallow it. The bottom line is that Sam Bradford is not an NFL bust. He may not be an elite QB, nor a top choice one, but he is pretty damn good at what he does when he is on the field.

This year he has been given an opportunity to shut everyone up as he is finally surrounded with a roster that has some talent on offense in the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, Bradford once again was dealt the short end of the stick with Adrian Peterson going down, but he continued to light up the Packers defense on Sunday Night Football. Bradford would go 22/31 which is a 71% completion percentage as well as 2 TDs and 286 yards with a 121 Passer rating on Green Bay. That is a spectacular performance no matter who you are, then you take into account he was asked to do no more than manage the game, not take it over. No doubt it will be tougher without AP now, but Bradford can finally show what he has been capable of his whole career this season.

Interview w/ The Ringer’s Shea Serrano

*Originally Posted October 2016*

So let me explain first how this happened. I was looking for a way to really get my site that you are reading this on poppin’. I had some good ideas and some good article ideas but none of them stuck out like an interview. I didn’t wanna go small, I could have gotten a top recruit or CFB player like I usually do, but I wanted someone big time. So I said why not hit up fellow Hispanic writer Shea Serrano to produce something dope(mostly on his end, I’m whack).

Well, he responded, I went to get a new pair of pants, shot him a few questions, he put some dope words down to respond to them and now we are here. So below are some questions answered by New York Times Best Selling author, Shea Serrano. We did this for G-Baby.

Nick Gonzalez: How do you like working at The Ringer so far, and what is your favorite part?

Shea Serrano: I like it a great deal. The people who work there are all very talented, so it’s very intimidating to me to know that I have to try to keep up with all of them. That’s probably my favorite part, though: silently competing against all of the other people there because I want to be better than them. I want to be the top person. I want it to be unquestioned. I have no idea how to actually make that happen, I just know that I want it to happen. I mean, how do you beat Molly McHugh or Chris Ryan? How do you beat Jonathan Tjarks or Lindsay Zoladz? How the fuck do you beat Sean Fennessey?

My other favorite part of working there is that it’s great to work at a place where you can just blindly trust the leadership because you know that the main goal they have is to just make some cool shit. I like that a lot. It’s very comforting. For example, there’s this whole process your articles have to go through before they get published where they pass through the hands of a couple different editors. Were it a group of different people, I’d probably be real nervous about that. I’d be scared that the story I turned in was not going to be the story that got published. But all The Ringer editors are, like, on the same brain wavelength or whatever. It’s super smooth and easy and it’s just, like, you get the edited version of your story and it’s better than when you turned it in. It’s cleaner. It’s clearer. But it still sounds exactly like you wanted it to.

Nick Gonzalez: What would you say to young aspiring writers trying to make a name for themselves?

Shea Serrano: I would say a bunch of things, chief among them being: do dope, original shit. Don’t do all the same shit everyone else is doing. You’ll never make your way out of the muck if you’re doing what other people are doing. Think on it like this: Let’s say that a big thing happens during a football game, right? It’s a thing that needs to be written about and is going to be written about. And so you end up taking the same angle to write about it that Robert Mays takes or Danny B. Kelly takes. There’s no chance I’m going to read your thing when I can read theirs. You’re never going to win that competition, not even if you happened to be some undiscovered talent who was a better writer than those two guys. You can’t compete against those known commodities and expect to win more times than you lose. The only way you can get your name into the mix is if you’re forcing people to have to read your stuff, and the only way you can do that if is if you’re writing about the stuff in a new, exciting way. If you’re the only person on the internet who took ANGLE X to write about a story, then if someone wants to read ANGLE X about that story then they have to read you. So just try to do that as often as you can.

Nick Gonzalez: Who is your favorite rapper of all time?

Shea Serrano: Rap is too fluid of a thing to assign an all-time favorite. It depends on the mood I’m in. Currently, my favorite rapper is Kendrick Lamar, but that’s because I’m listening to him while I answer these questions. 45 minutes ago it was YG. Two hours ago it was Selena, who absolutely rapped on “Techno Cumbia.”

Nick Gonzalez: Who is your favorite NBA player of all time?

Shea Serrano: That’s a much easier question. Give me Tim Duncan.

Nick Gonzalez: Lastly, Favorite type of Spanish food?

Shea Serrano: I’ma go with a bean and cheese taco. If I was only allowed to eat one food for the rest of my life, it’d be that, so I guess that makes it my favorite.

His twitter, @SheaSerrano

His Medium/Ringer author page, Shea Serrano

Buy his bestselling book here.

Does Your Vote Really Matter Towards The U.S. Presidency?

*Original Post Date: November 8th 2016*

Every election year the following debate strikes, “Does Your Vote Really Matter”. With the increasing population in the US growing, the way voting works leaves many less political savvy people confused. To understand if your vote really matters, we must break everything down.

How Does The “Electoral College” Work?

The American citizens elect a new president every four years per-say, but it is not directly.

In the November of an election year, each U.S. state plus Washington D.C. holds an election for the president. All eligible citizens may vote unless you have committed a felony or are restricted because of something prior.

At a poll center, voters receive a ballot. They fill in who they would like to cast their vote for and submit it. Although the president isn’t the only thing to vote for, we will we just stick with that.

The outcome of the voting via citizens determines who the slate of electors, hence ‘electoral college’ will vote for in that state. The amount of electors a state has depends on the state’s population. The amount fluctuates every now and then, but as of 2016 California leads the way with 55. The majority of the time, the aforementioned electors vote for the person that was decided via popular vote, but sometimes not. If the latter were to happen, these are called “faithless electors”. Although they don’t happen often, if and when they do, they have little impact because it is still a two-thirds voting process.

So does it matter?

Even with the above stated, it is still hard to take in. Your vote still matters very dearly, but it really depends on where you are located on the map.

States that lean or are dominant to one party

I hate to put it like this, but bluntly, your vote really doesn’t matter. If you live in California and vote third party, republican or not at all, the Democratic party is still going to win Cali. The reason for this is because there is enough whole-hearted, dedicated Democrats that will go out there and vote in California, to the point where your vote means less.

The above is increasingly true in other states like Texas, New York, Mississippi, Alabama, and Illinois. So essentially, the majority of these states your vote does not really matter, but you still should exercise your right regardless.

Swing States

This is where the debates really happen and where everything really does matter. In states commonly referred to “battlegrounds” like Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada, and Iowa, every single vote matters. Because of the way to above electoral college works, every vote still matters because even just ONE more vote in that state could mean your candidate gets the electors he or she needs.

An example of this is the ever so commonly referred to 2000 election. Al Gore and George Bush headed into one of the tightest races in American history that night, and Al Gore came out on top — or did he? Al Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 votes in 2000, but Bush won the election. The reason for the latter is because Bush narrowly edged out Florida which awarded him 25 votes, which put him over Gore by 4.

The Answer

The answer is that it goes back to the famous saying of “Location, Location, Location”. It really just depends on where you are located.

So, if you haven’t learned anything from this article, just know this. Regardless of where you are located, or who you vote for, you might not see it but your vote still matters. Your vote matters because it is a given right by the Government so you should do everything in your power to exercise it.

I’m with both hers.

My personal viewing point is that if I could vote since I live in New York I would vote for Jill Stein. If I lived in a swing states I would progressively vote Hillary.

Debunking Myths, Is Tom Brady A System Quarterback?

*Originally Posted October 2016*

Tom Brady former Michigan Wolverine and late 6th round pick has had a lustrous career. From 4 super bowl wins to two NFL MVPs, there is no doubt he is one of the greats. Although he is widely considered the best QB ever, a lot of that has come into question lately with the recent performances of his backups. With all the dominance the Patriots have displayed without Brady, without Gronk, the current question is that what if Tom Brady is a system QB? Well let’s get into tackling this hot take, but not hurting Tony Romo’s back in the process.

Bill Belichick Without Tom Brady In New England

The sorcerous head coach Bill Belichick would take over for the New England Patriots in 2000. In his first season, Bill would underperform to his standards going 5–11, but for good reason. It was his first season and his system was yet to be installed, nor were his methods of dominance. His QB during this season during this year was Drew Bledsoe and his stats were as follows: 58.8% Completion % 3291 Yards 17 TDs 13 INTs and a 77.3 rating, below average stats but a decent year under a new system for a QB that was always nothing more than average.

Tom would take over for Bledsoe in the following season after an injury, and it would be lights out. The Pats would win 3 SuperBowls until Tom went down again. The year is 2008 and incomes 7th round pick, former USC backup Matt Cassel. After tearing his Achilles in the first game of the season, Cassel would step in for Brady and dominate.

In 16 games played and 15 started, Cassel would go 11–5 with the following stat line of 63.4 Comp. % 3693 Yards 89.4 Passer Rating 230.8 YPG 21 TDs 11 INTs. This time above average stats for a QB in his FIRST YEAR starting and another former late round draft pick. After this Cassel would go on to receive a $10M annual salary from the Kansas City Chiefs, at the time making him one of the highest-paid QBs in the NFL. Matt has been cut numerous times since then, and traded and has accumulated 25 wins 39 losses with a 76.9 Passer Rating since leaving NE.

Incomes 2016, where Tom Brady is suspended for four games, and the Patriots 2–2 and 1–3 to start the season bets are the new things in Vegas. The Jimmy Garoppolo fans have also come out of the clearing and proclaimed he will be greatness, which he was. In 2 games played for the Patriots before getting injured Jimmy would put up a line of 71.19 Comp. % 496 Yards 119 Passer Rating 4 TDs, that’s some of the best numbers I’ve ever seen in that type of span. Quite frankly, I don’t think Tom Brady has ever done something similar in a similar span.

Well the Jimmy G sensation is over because it’s on to the next one. Garoppolo would be sidelined for 4–6 weeks in week two against the Dolphins with an AC joint injury. Incomes 3rd round pick, former Florida and NC State QB Jacoby Brissett. Brissett. Jacoby wouldn’t let the Pats nation down either putting up another very good line for a first career start against another very good team. Brissett’s line this past Thursday vs the Texans was as follows: 60.71 Comp. % 195 Yards 81.7 Passer Rating + 60 Rushing Yards and 1 TD, very good stats for a mobile QB even in this first game starting as a rookie.

On top of all this, the average margin of victory without Brady since he took over as the starter? +15.9 in 2008 and +12 in 2016 without him, an average of a little over two touchdowns. Some teams don’t even have a two touchdown margin with their starting QB. Let’s also keep in mind the Patriots let the foot off the gas this season against the Dolphins and beat my NFC SB pick, the Arizona Cardinals week one.

So yeah, the Patriots are 14–5 without Tom Brady playing majority the game and are still pretty damn good.

The System itself, does it affect QB Play?

Since the hiring of Bill Belichick as head coach in 2000, the Patriots have run a modified version of the Erhardt-Perkins system. Ron Erhardt and Ray Perkins were both assistant coaches for New England during in the 1970s. Since Foxborough isn’t the warmest destination, they needed a way to move the ball down the field that wasn’t just running, which was very predictable back then.

The answer was a system designed score fast, take the lead and keep it. This is something the Patriots execute VERY well to this day. Four-times Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants would adopt this system as well. It enjoyed decent success in its beginnings as most teams weren’t an able to move the ball as fast, so running out the clock was useless.

The NFL would transform into more of a pass-oriented league so the system was modified. Bunch and five wide sets became much more common and the run became useful to set up the pass but also be apart of the passing game.

For this to work to its fullest, the Patriots need/would need a few things. Quick wideouts to get open and that can catch in traffic, hence Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Deion Branch and more. They would need a duo of backs, one to pound it and one to come out the backfield and a QB who was accurate, not a gunslinger but accurate.

If you have been following football for the last five years, you would know Bill Belichick has executed every single one of these things to its fullest, even without Brady as seen above. So, back to the original question, does it affect QB play?

Yes and no. Obviously, a non-NFL QB couldn’t do well in it, but the evidence is there that multiple NFL QBs have succeeded in it and have been nothing before or after doing so. See Chart Below.

So as you can tell, the system is really contoured to making the job easier for QBs and now when you add an elite coach like Belichick, the numbers tend to surge, i.e. Brady and Cassel. Garropolo and Brissett have also contributed to this but in a way to small of a sample size. The Patriots are also notoriously known for getting players out in space getting them the ball rather than launching it deep, something to attribute to QBs passing success with very good completion %. The lack of TDs is also explained by being a predominant run team in the red zone.

So is Tom Brady really a system QB?

There is a very fine line between a system QB and a very good QB. Tom Brady does not embody a system QB. He is without a drop of doubt a top 3 quarterback, but whether you view him higher is your prerogative.

Tom Brady has all time numbers across the board in every stat and in every season, Belichick might put him in spectacular positions to make those throws, but he still has to have mechanics. Is Bill a major factor in Brady’s success? Without a doubt, but that doesn’t make him any less of a player. Maybe Peyton Manning got the short end of the stick coaching wise compared to Brady, but he had the upper hand talent-wise. Joe Montanna had Bill Wash as the signal caller and Jerry Rice to throw too, but no one knocks him? Now I’m not saying Tom Brady is the definitive GOAT QB after giving you 1000 words how he could be the product of the system. My point is that Tom Brady has had help along the way and Belichick is phenomenal, but Brady is still one of the greatest to touch a football.