HERMITS WILL LOOK TO SENIORS LIKE BRADY SMALL TO LEAD THEM BACK INTO CONTENTION
We all lived in a world turned upside down in 2020 and for the first half of 2021 because of COVID-19.
Your age, race, creed, gender didn’t matter. The coronavirus affected every walk of life.
Sports were hit hard. Many high school leagues were canceled or played a limited schedule.
In New Jersey most sports played a limited schedule with no playoffs.
It was deemed to make the best of a bad situation for seniors.
Junior two-way lineman Brady Small of St. Augustine Prep in Richland, NJ talked about the environment
“It was a little rough in the beginning,” Small said. “It took a lot of getting used to between the different protocols, being spaced out, things like that. But I think our school did a great job making sure we all had our temperatures checked, making sure we were socially distancing and we were wearing masks.”
Small said he and his teammates in general understood why these measures were being taken.
Even though young people had little chance of dying from the effects of COVID-19, they could contract the virus and bring it home with them, affecting those more susceptible to the virus.
“We did these things so that we could still do the things we need to do to perform on the field like train in the weight room, things like that,” Small said. “Weight room at the time was just limiting a certain number of people at one time,” he said. “Other people had to be on the turf doing different things. Our staff, our coaches, trainers, did everything they could and did a great job to help our team do the things we needed to do to have a season.”
The Hermits finished the 2020 season with an overall record of 4-3, 1-2 in West Jersey - American League play.
“Our record was not what we wanted” Small said. “Obviously our goal was to go undefeated. But that’s just going to fuel our fire for this year.”
Since millions of Americans have received the vaccine, COVID infections and fatalities have declined significantly nation-wide. There is every reason to be optimistic that there will be a full season of games, playoffs and people in the stands.
Small, who says he is a shade under 6-foot-2 and now tips the scale at 280 pounds, said the Hermits are ready to return to a full schedule.
“We want to come in, take one game at a time and don’t take any game for granted,” Small said. “We want to come in hot and keep it rolling.”
Small listed several teammates he believes will make key contributions for the Hermits this fall including Gavin Kennedy OT (6-5, 300), Rob Adamson (6-2, 280), Christian Collot LB (6-3, 225), Vince Isom DL (6-0).
On offense, Small says he expects head coach Pete Lancetta to play him at guard.
“On offense, I take the same approach I take on defense,” Small said. “Just beat the man in front of you, just destroy him. I play the game very physically. I always have, even as a little kid. That’s just how I was taught to play. I was taught to play physical, tough, nitty-gritty football. I try to bring that to my teammates every day. That’s so we can be the toughest, nastiest offensive line in the area so no team wants to step on the field with us and compete.”
On defense Small believes Lancetta will move him around across the whole front.
“I start off at D-end,” Small said. “But I play all over. We do a bunch of different schemes. You’ll see me at the five-tech, which is the outside shade of the tackle. Then you’ll see me over top of the guard in the three-tech. Then you’ll see me inside. You’ll see me hop all over the place depending what matchups we want to get into at certain times.”
That Lancetta would feel secure moving Small around speaks well for the 18-year-old who reports he has received offers from respected programs such as Kent State, Army, Navy, University of Pennsylvania, Lehigh and Georgetown.
“I definitely pride myself on my versatility,” said Small, who lists Giants Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley as his favorite current NFL player. “I can play every position on the offensive line as well. I can snap (the football), I can play tackle. Last year I had to make a change from guard to tackle when Big Jake (Ketschek) went down (knee). I had to play left tackle. I know all the plays.”
Small said the more positions a player can handle gives the coach more reasons to lean on you.
“I feel like knowing all the spots makes you more valuable, helps you in the long run,” Small said. “You always have to have a plan B.”
Obviously these have been tough times. Teachers and coaches are showing their experience as mentors by keeping their classrooms and teams together and focused. There are also other people who can have an impact on student-athletes.
Small may not be aware of this but he has a supporter on the Hermits sideline in Dr. Thomas A. Dwyer, MD, an Orthopedic surgeon and team volunteer doctor.
Dr. Dwyer talked about what area athletes faced this year with regards to COVID-19. He also talked about Small and his contributions to the Hermits program.
“The Student Athletes of 2020 have overcome many challenges this past year,” Dr. Dwyer told Footballstories via email. “They have persevered through unparalleled obstacles and developed outstanding opportunities to enhance their physical & mental well-being, which will serve to better prepare them for their futures. As team physician for St. Augustine Prep, it is both an honor and privilege to care for these athletes. I have watched Brady Small develop as a leader, by example, both on and off the field. I congratulate him on his hard work & dedication as a standout student athlete with offers from numerous D1 football programs. I wish Brady much success in college and I look forward to the upcoming 2021 season!"
These adults can help mold their students and players into responsible adults down the road. Small was asked if he is aware how much of an influence his coaches may have on him as he goes through life?
“Definitely,” Small said without hesitation. “Coach Pete, me and him are very close. I’m close with the whole coaching staff. Coach Pete teaches in the school so I see him every day, multiple times a day. He is always in the weight room because he teaches the lifetime fitness class. That is a lifting class for the freshmen.
“I’m always down there,” continued Small, who lists wide receiver Victor Cruz and linebacker Lawrence Taylor as his favorite former Giants players . “We’re always talking football or if I need any advice about life or anything, whether it’s my business class anything…he knows everything. He is always there for me, he always has been. He is definitely the best coach I’ve ever played for.” *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii