Garnets' Smith: Athlete for all seasons
By Marc Narducci
Because of increased emphasis on specialization, the three-sport athlete keeps diminishing in high school sports.
And that is what makes Haddon Heights senior Nick Smith stand out even more. Not only is he a three-sport athlete, but he's a former four-sport participant.
Smith will open the football season Saturday against Gateway in a Colonial Conference Patriot Division matchup.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Smith is one of the most versatile players in South Jersey. And he's also pretty dynamic with the ball in his hands.
"We expect a lot from him," Haddon Heights coach Ralph Schiavo said.
That's because last year the Garnets received a lot.
In earning first-team all-conference honors as a receiver, Smith had 46 receptions for 676 yards and six touchdowns. As a safety he recorded 50 tackles and three interceptions. For good measure, he averaged 33.8 yards per punt.
Not bad for a former soccer player.
As a freshman, Smith opted to play soccer and saw considerable varsity time on a Haddon Heights team that won the Group 1 state title.
"It was definitely a great experience to win a state title and I had a lot of fun with the team," Smith said.
Yet there remained a void. Smith played some organized football growing up and yearned to return to the sport. So he went out for the football team as a sophomore, and was primarily a JV player.
Smith admits it wasn't an easy decision to switch sports.
"It was a tough choice, especially after winning a state championship, but I think I made the right choice," Smith said.
He would get no argument from Schiavo.
"Last year Nick kind of came into his own," Schiavo said. "He was raw and said he played a little football before high school but it took nearly a year and a half for him to get his feet under him."
Smith has been a varsity basketball player since his freshman year. He also participates in track, and last season and won the South Jersey Group 1 title in the long jump. Smith won with a leap of 22-feet, 3.25 inches.
For good measure he finished third in the high jump at an even 6-feet.
The next week, Smith placed third in the state Group 1 meet in the long jump and eighth in the high jump.
Don't tell him that concentrating on just one sport is the best route to go.
"I think all people should pick to multiple sports, just because you might pick up something from a sport that you can bring back," he said.
He gave track as an example. Besides the jumps, he also runs the 100 and 400 meters.
"I do that to try to get me faster and build up my speed for playing wide receiver and it has really helped," he said.
It also helps him develop stamina, which Smith will need plenty of this season. He also could be on the kick and punt return teams. And in practice he has worked as an emergency quarterback.
Still, nothing excites Smith more than doing his specialty.
"There is no better feeling than catching a ball over the middle and having nobody catch you as you run toward the end zone," said Smith, who indicated he'd like to continue playing football in college. "There is nothing like feeling so free."
It's a feeling he experienced countless times last season and is prepared to do so again in the favorite of his four sports.
Pictured and Article Retrieved from : http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/high_school/20150912_Haddon_Heights__Smith_an_athlete_for_all_seasons.html
JOHN ZIOMEK/Staff Photographer Haddon Heights graduate and Rowan Football QB Dante Pinckney. Wednesday, August 26, 2015
GLASSBORO – Last year didn’t go exactly the way Dante Pinckney had planned.The 2013 Haddon Heights graduate was recruited as a quarterback, despite playing as a wide receiver his first three years of high school.
Rowan’s training camp in 2014 began with Pinckney vying for the quarterback job until a hamstring injury caused him to miss significant time. When he was finally able to practice, he did so with the wideouts. “Last year he was hampered with the injury and got the medical (redshirt) out of it,” coach Jay Accorsi said, “so that was nice that he’s got three more years to play, but I think it gives him a grasp of not only now the quarterback position, but as a wide receiver.”
Last season, the job went to Bill McCarty, who is no longer on the roster. Now it belongs to Pinckney, with three freshmen behind him on the depth chart.
“Well, I’m inexperienced, but I’m pretty confident because I’ve been around the program for a long time,” Pinckney said. “The guys have respect for me and trust me, so I’m pretty confident about it.”
What Accorsi is hoping is that Pinckney learned from his time with the receivers to better understand the position he intended to play. Having the skillset to be a receiver gives the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Pinckney some speed to be a mobile quarterback, but that’s not what the Profs are hoping for from him.
“I think we have to be smart with Dante,” Accorsi said. “We can’t expect him to run the ball. We have to protect him and have him healthy for the duration of the year, but I think his feet will help him in some situations where he has that ability.”
Among those watching his back are two gigantic linemen: 6-foot-6 Bridgeton native Sean Henigin and former Buena standout Darryl Guilford, who stands at 6-foot-7. The offensive line has been the biggest surprise to the Profs’ coach in his 14th season, so there’s reason to believe Pinckney’s jersey may remain clean.
“Being that he doesn’t have much varsity experience, I think he’s ready to play based off of practice and our scrimmage in Ocean City,” Guilford said of his quarterback. “He has a lot of confidence in our offensive line and we have a lot of confidence in him. We kind of feed off each other.”
At the helm for the first time as a collegiate football player, Pinckney has high hopes for the Profs, who tied for the best record in the New Jersey Athletic Conference last year at 6-1.
“We’re obviously looking for another conference championship, but we really want an alternate goal of winning it all, Stagg Bowl,” Pinckney said. “We’ll take it one day at a time.”
The D3football.com top 25 poll has the Profs on the outside looking in with 42 votes. No. 25 Muehlenberg had 61.
“We look at all of it as motivation,” Pinckney said. “I’m very excited to get started and show people who we are.”
And, in turn, show who he is. So far, he hasn’t taken a snap at quarterback since his days with the Garnets.
“Now he kind of understands what a quarterback has to do with a wide receiver and see the bigger picture of the offense,” Accorsi said. “Even though last year was very difficult for him, because he was competing for the job and then really wasn’t able to because he was hurt, I think in the overall scheme of things it’s helped his maturity process already.”
Picture and Story retrieved from: http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/sports/2015/08/26/finally-pinckney-takes-turn-qb-rowan/32425563/
ATLANTA- Monmouth University landed three players on the 2015 All-Big South Preseason team while Monmouth was selected to finish sixth in the 2015 Preseason Coach’s Poll.
Redshirt junior John Sieczkowski (Manalapan, NJ/Manalapan) and sophomores Mike Basile (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial) and Alex Thompson (Haddon Heights, NJ/Milford/WVU) were each selected to the preseason All-Big South team. Basile was a First Team selection and Sieczkowski was a second team pick in 2014. Monmouth was the only school to have sophomores featured on the all-conference preseason team.
“It is an honor for Mike, Alex and John to be selected to the preseason all-conference team by the league’s coaches and media members. We are excited to begin camp here in a few weeks in preparation for our second season in the Big South Conference.”
Basile was named the Big South Freshman of the Year after the 2014 season, in which he led the Hawks in solo tackles with 59 stops. He was named Crons Big South Freshman of the Week a record three times and his 78 total tackles was second most in the Big South among defensive backs and sixth overall. The Brick Memorial product started all 11 games, the first Monmouth true freshman to do so since the 2011 season. His 59 solo stops was a 19th in the NCAA and second among league defenders. Basile averaged 8.4 tackles per game in league play in his first season for the Blue & White.
Sieczkowski led the Hawks in tackles with 85 from his outside linebacker position. The redshirt sophomore was second in the conference in tackles per game with 7.7 and fourth in total tackles. The Manalapan product was second on the team in solo tackles with 58, which ranks 20th in the NCAA. The two-year starter has started in 23 straight contests, more than any other current Hawk.
Thompson started 10 of 11 games at center as a true freshman, leading the way for the Big South leader in all-purpose yards, running back Lavon Chaney. The Haddon Heights native was part of an offensive line that helped Monmouth set a new school record in points scored with 322 (29.3 points per game).
Coastal Carolina was picked to win the conference earning 15 first place votes and 139 total points. Right behind them was Liberty with 129 points and six first place points followed by Charleston Southern (106 points) and Presbyterian (72). Gardner-Webb was chosen fifth with 57 points while Monmouth was just four points behind with 53. First year program Kennesaw State was picked seventh with 32 points. Coastal Carolina quarterback Alex Ross was named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Gardner-Webb defensive tackle O.J. Mau was named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Monmouth finished 6-5 overall and 1-5 in 2014, its first season in the Big South. In addition to Basile and Sieczkowski, the Hawks had five other members earn all-conference honors. MU returns nine starters on defense and six starters on offense, including Chaney.
The 2015 season kicks off at home against Holy Cross on Sept. 5, 2015. Visit MonmouthHawks.com for ticket information.
Article and picture retireved from :
The Haddon Heights Football Community is pleased to announce that the following seniors; Doug Yuen, Kyle Pierce, Jimmy Givens, Cologero Macolino and Quahdir Perry plan to pursue both their academic and football careers in the NCAA. Doug Yuen will attend Division II Virginia Weslyan and compete for a linebacker or fullback position. Kyle Pierce will attend Division III Wesley and compete for an outside linebacker position. Jimmy Givens has been accepted into the nursing program at Division III Widener and will compete for an offensive line position. Colagero Macolino will attend Division III Moravian College where he will study Pre-Law and compete for the long snapping position. Quahdir Perry will attend Division III Wilkes University and compete for a fullback position. “This senior class were freshman when I first took over at Haddon Heights. I’ve seen them grow from teenagers to fine young men. I’m very proud of these guys for not only choosing to play football at the next level but more importantly, continuing their education. I’m proud of all of our seniors. They are always invited to comeback to talk to our underclassmen,” said Head Coach Ralph Schiavo. The Haddon Heights Football Garnets would like to congratulate all seniors and wish them luck in their future endeavors.
Garnet assistant coach, Paul Palmer, is on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot. Coach Palmer rushed for 4,895 career yards at Temple University and ended his career as the leading rusher in school history. Coach Palmer was the runner up to Vinny Testaverde in the 1986 Heisman Trophy award and was drafted 19th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. Currently, Coach Palmer coaches running backs and linebackers for the Garnets as well as performs as an analyst for Temple football radio. The Garnet football family could not be prouder of Coach Palmer and wishes him luck.
James DeMartini was a 4 year varsity starter for the Garnets football team and played on the 2012 team that went 7-3. James performed all facets of the kicking game for the Garnets for all 4 years and went 40 for 42 in extra points in his senior year. However, it was his punting that the coaching staff felt had Division 1 potential. James also played Varsity baseball as a pitcher and right fielder.
After graduation, James attended Bridgton Academy located in Bridgton Maine for a post graduate year. This gave him time to catch up with his peers both physically and academically without using a year of college eligibility. While playing for Bridgton, James served as their kicker and punter against numerous Division 1 and Division 2 JV squads such as; Yale, Brown, Holy Cross and Navy Prep. It was playing in the New England region that exposed James to the University of Maine coaching staff.
However, in order to firm up his Division 1 eligibility, it was recommended that James attend Dean College in Franklin Massachusetts. Dean is a 4 year college but their sports programs play under the NJCAA which consists of over 200 colleges from around the country. While at Dean, James was named First Team All-Conference with a punt average of 39.5 yards, a long punt of 75 yards and 19 punts being downed inside the 20.
Off the field, James achieved the new academic eligibility requirements that were put in place in 2013 for college transfer students. In order to transfer to the NCAA Division 1 level, James needed to maintain 2.5 GPA and earn an Associate’s Degree. James achieved both of these requirements which lead to the offer from the University of Maine. James hopes to become the team’s starting punter this coming season. The University of Maine Black Bears will open their season at Boston College on September 5th. The Black Bears will also be facing off against Villanova at home on October 31st.
The Colonial Conference announced the 2014 Patriot League All Conference Selections.
Garnets who were recognized:
First Team All Conference
Kyle Pierce-Defense (Linebacker)
Tariq Miller-Defense (Cornerback)
Roman Massi-Offense (Running Back)
Billy Ray-Offense (Lineman)
Nick Smith-Offense (Wide Receiver)
Second Team All Conference
Eric Wood-Offense (Quarterback)
Haddon Heights Senior Kyle Pierce has been selected to participate in the Adam Taliaferro All Star Game. "We're very happy to have Kyle represent the Garnets in this game. He is the latest in a line of very good Garnet players that have played in the game", said Head Coach, Ralph Schiavo. Past Garnet players that have played for Coach Schiavo and played in the Taliaferro Game include Nick Lundholm, Dante Pickney, Alex Thompson and Spencer Goodman. All of these players currently play NCAA football for their respected schools. Kyle will play defense for the White Team. The game, which has all star players from Camden, Burlington, Gloucester and Salem counties, will be played at Rowan University on Friday July 1st @7p.m. Tickets cost 10 dollars and can be bought directly from Kyle.
This year Haddon Heights High School’s 2015 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 7th at Tavistock Country Club. We will be inducting two former Garnet Football players into the Hall:
Derek Armah (1999) - Derek was a 4 year starter in football and 2 year captain. He was selected to 1st Team All Conference and 1st Team All Group II in his junior and senior years. Derek also received the Iron Man Award his senior year. He helped lead the team to a 9 win season and a Colonial Conference Championship his senior year. Derek was awarded a full scholarship to Wyoming University where he was a four year starter and captain. While there, he became their leading rusher. After college, Derek played one year professionally in the Arena League in Raleigh before the league temporarily folded.
Andrew Groff (1970) – A 4 year football player, who also played basketball, baseball and cross country. As a lineman, Drew received the William B. Priest Memorial Outstanding Lineman Award. In 1969 he was also selected to the Suburban All Star Team, All Group II and All South Jersey with 1st team honors. After graduation, Drew attended Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina where he played football all four years.
HADDON HEIGHTS — At 13 months old, Cameron Robertson was diagnosed with a very rare form of liver cancer. The official medical diagnosis was hepatoblastoma, a form of cancer only one in a million people contract.
Fifteen years later Robertson is cancer free. But it didn't come easy. He battled for years to get to where he is.
From the time of his diagnosis through 1998 Robertson had to undergo 15 rounds of chemotherapy. He also endured three surgeries in which he lost 80 percent of his liver.
"It doesn't matter to me, I want to be an athlete, I don't plan to drink alcohol anyway," Robertson said with a smile.
And what an athlete he has turned out to be.
Robertson a resident of Haddon Heights holds two school records in swimming, one in the 400 and 200 free relay. For years, Robertson was a competitve swimmer. But now he is ready to take on contact sports.
This fall Robertson will be the kicker and punter for the Garnets as they compete in Colonial Conference football.
For Robertson, getting here took a lot of work.
"I know what I need to do to be here, and I will work to achieve it," said Robertson. "I have my mom come out and video me, then go home and analyze the video to make sure my mechanics are correct."
Robertson knows how to ensure his mechanics are on track.
Last spring when he decided he wanted to kick for the football team, he went to San Diego to get specialized training. Robertson spent a week at Kicking World and was trained by owner Brent Grablachoff, a New Jersey native and four-year starter at Montclair State from 1999-2002.
Robertson has several people he credits as being his inspiration including his parents and grandfather. This season, he has a very special person to look up too. His cousin is Trey Burton who is wearing No. 47 this preseason for the hometown Philadelphia Eagles. Burton, a University of Florida product, is trying to win a roster spot as a tight end. Roberston already has his Burton jersey and has been at Eagles training camp to show his support.
"It is amazing that he beat the odds and is even out there, he is here every day working hard", said Assistant Garnet coach Paul Palmer. "If he helps us win by getting some field goals and putting points on the board it will be great for our team, but it is even better for him because he worked so hard to get here", Palmer went on to say.
Off the field, Robertson has decided to pay it forward. He is an official ambassador for Alex's Lemonade Stand helping to raise money for cancer research.
The Garnet kicker, who can hit 40-yard field goals and 50-yard punts, has another unusual quality: he is a left-footed kicker.
Look for Robertson and the rest of the Haddon Heights team as they open the season at home against rival Paulsboro on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 1 p.m.
Click on the link below to see the names and schools of our players that went on to play college football since 2010