What could have been
Expectations were high for the East Rutherford Cavaliers entering the 2013 season. Despite losing key pieces from the 2012 team, the Cavs were still loaded with talent and athleticism.
However, early-season trouble crippled the Cavaliers as they finished the season a disappointing 4-7, 4-4 SMAC and were left off the state playoff brackets.
“It didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” East Rutherford head coach Clint Bland said. “We wish we could have done better and at least gotten into the playoffs.”
Bland looks back at the beginning of the season and one-point losses to North Gaston and Tuscola.
“If we go back to North Gaston and Tuscola and win those two and possibly R-S, we’re in the playoffs,” Bland said. “I know those games were early but losing two games by one point I was worried those games would sneak back up on us. It’s tough to swallow.”
Those losses coupled with a crushing defeat at R-S Central set the Cavaliers outside of the playoff picture despite a win over Chase to close the season.
“We just had a few bad breaks and shot ourselves in the foot too many times. When you do that you have to pack up and go home,” Bland said. “Most coaches agree that the only way not to go home sad is if you win the state championship.”
Bland and the Cavalier coaching staff gathered equipment Tuesday afternoon and reminded his younger players that there is a next season.
“I just tell the underclassmen that it’s up to them how we do next year,” Bland said. “We just need to try to get bigger and faster and make the offseason count.”
Maybe the biggest returning piece for East Rutherford is sophomore running back Kameron Garrison who led the team in rushing this season.
“Kameron Garrison from Day 1 was a player I was excited about,” Bland said. “He came down, got the parachute and he’s going to work on his speed. He’s not wasting any time.”
With quarterback Austin Hollifield graduating in the spring, DJ Miller is the Cavaliers quarterback in waiting.
“I told [Miller] that as of today this is his team,” Bland said. “We’ll see how he handles that situation.”
Other key components like Calvin Camp and a developing offensive lineman will also be on the 2014 roster.
But for East Rutherford to be successful next season, the recipe is simple.
“You just have to make plays in order to win,” Bland said. “Hopefully we can move on and get better next year.”