Whether it’s on the field or in the classroom, the Pope John XXIII Regional High School football team is striving to excel in 2023.
The Lions have the talented student athletes to get the job done this year.
Pope John is scheduled to begin its regular season Saturday, Aug. 26 at home versus Newark Collegiate.
On Saturday, Sept. 2, the Lions are set to welcome Seton Hall Prep.
“Personally as their coach, I want the boys to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.39 again,’’ head coach Dom Gaston said. “I want them to continue to put academics first and ‘Be an honor to the Father.’ “
Among the key returning varsity players are seniors Chris Dietrich (quarterback), Joey Walton (linebacker), Justin Platt (offensive line), Charlie Mulligan (wide receiver), Zac Cusick (free safety), Dan Platt (corner back), Joe Smart (defensive end), Jack Morgese (kicker and punter) and Sir-Paris Jones (linebacker) and juniors Tylik Hill (running back), Tyler Houser (linebacker), Wes Johnston (wide receiver and outside linebacker), Jarrod Cofrancesco (offensive line) and Dan O’Leary (offensive line).
Promising newcomers include senior Johan Bars (tight end); juniors Andrew Sanchez (corner back), Joe Pappa (defensive line), Damen DeFazio (defensive line) and Peyton Fox (wide receiver); and sophomores Prince Joshua (wide receiver) and Akei Griffin (corner back).
Leadership could be an important component in favor of the Lions this season.
“This year we will be leaning on our whole senior class for leadership,’’ Gaston said. “There are twelve seniors in the 2024 class and they all lead in very unique ways. They are a close-knit bunch that holds the standard of Pope John and sets the expectation for all the underclassmen.’’
Pope John finished the 2022 season with an overall record of 4-6 and the team now competes in the Super Football Conference United White Division along with DePaul, Delbarton, Paramus Catholic and Hudson Catholic.
“Pope John football is set to shock our (NJSIAA) state bracket,’’ the coach said. “We finally have some depth at key positions and a competitive roster size compared to our counterparts. We are contenders in our division. In our conference and state bracket, every game is a tough game. There is no off week.’’
Pope John football is set to shock our (NJSIAA) state bracket. We finally have some depth at key positions and a competitive roster size compared to our counterparts.” - Dom Gaston, head football coach, Pope John XXIII Regional High School