Last year, a trio of talented seniors led the Hackensack Comets to a 6-0 record in league play and helped the northern New Jersey High School advance to the North I Group IV State-Championship played at Giants Stadium.
Current Scarlet Knight Davon Smart was one of these seniors and the engine behind the Comets' offensive attack last year. Smart, one of the top RBs in the state of New Jersey, totaled 1072 yards on 145 carries, including 15 TDs last year. Smart added a pair of blistering performances against Paterson Catholic and Randolph, by rushing for 246 and 233 yards, respectively. In the State Championship game, despite playing with a broken hand, Smart managed to rush for 107 yards.
The pipeline Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano has established to Hackensack High School is alive and well. For the second year in a row, Hackensack High School has sent their top RB to Rutgers (Jean Beljour, see below, was a member of the 2004 class).
2004 Rutgers-signee Jean Beljour visiting his former Hackensack HS teammates [Click on image for larger size view]
The Comets' owe much of their success last year to current D-I football signees and former teammates in the Hackensack defensive backfield Danny Oquendo and Alex Pierre. Pierre led the Comets with 86 total tackles, including 1 sack and 3 fumble recoveries. Oquendo, the Comets' defensive stalwart last year added 82 total tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 interception.
Below, we will embark on a Spring Preview of Hackensack High School, introducing you to the Comets' top returning players and their prospects beyond.
One of the top reasons why Hackensack will not miss a beat next year is So. RB Marcus Hunt. Hunt, who split time with Davon Smart in the Comets offensive backfield last year, rushed 72 times for 378 yards, including 7 TDs. Hunt also split wide this past year where he caught 17 passes for 185 yards and a score.
At 5-foot-10 and 180-pounds, Hunt will take on the feature back role starting his Jr. season at Hackensack. An athletic specimen, Hunt will be a future D-I player and as a So. is already receiving interest from several schools.
Hackensack's captain this year will be the team's starting right guard, Sr. Jonathan Bari. At 6-foot-2 and 260-pounds, Bari combines good size and quickness from the guard position.
Bari's most impressive attributes are his knowledge of the game and his outstanding classroom performance. Throughout his nearly three years at Hackensack High School, Bari's two lowest grades are a pair of Bs. His Advanced Placement and Honors courses, including an outstanding 3.9 GPA make Bari an impressive Ivy League candidate, both on the field and in the classroom.
At 6-foot-1 and 300-pounds So. Andre Looby made an impressive showing on the Comets defensive line last fall. As a sophomore, he totaled 34 tackles and 3 sacks as a part-time starter, a role he will relinquish this coming year as he is expected to become one of the mainstays on the Comets defensive line.
Looby's impressive size make him a legitimate D-I recruit that we will definitely have to keep an eye on during the upcoming season. Indeed, Looby is currently receiving interest, while still only a sophomore, from over 40 schools.
Antonio Powell, was a reserve defensive lineman last year. Despite honoring the majority of the playing time to the outgoing Comet seniors, Powell, like Looby, made an impressive showing. Powell totaled 14 tackles and 1 sack in part-time duty. At 6-foot and 268-pounds Powell has impressive size that should allow him to grab the starting role this upcoming year.
Despite the abundance of offensive talent, Kenneth Cooper, received significant playing time behind Smart and Hunt, in the Comets offensive backfield last year.
Also a sophomore he totaled 59 carries for 378 yards, including a pair of 100+ yard performances versus Paramus and Eastside, 102 yards and 123 yards respectively. At 5-foot-7 and 155-pounds, Cooper will make the switch to the defensive side of the ball this year, something not at all new to the young Comet standout. Last year, Cooper managed 18 solo tackles as a CB, 26 total, in addition to 5 QB sacks.
Ausar Walcott is a name that high school fans, both local and national, should make a note of. Although only a freshman, Walcott, has already blossomed physically, now standing at 6-foot-1 and 175-pounds. As a freshman he played in 4 games for the Comets, registering 14 tackles while playing behind D-I signee Danny Oquendo. Walcott, who is still growing into his body, is the State Champion in the 400-m. Though only a sophomore, Walcott will start both on the offensive (WR) and defensive (S) sides of the ball.
Already, this impressive athlete, despite being only a single year removed from the eighth grade, is receiving mail from a number of schools, including Penn State, Boston College, West Virginia, Syracuse, Connecticut, and his state school, Rutgers. In the years to come, Walcott will become a household name that eastern college football fans will become quite familiar with.
Though quite early in the recruiting process for many of the Comets detailed above, Rutgers is being listed as a possible college destination by all.
Led by Head Coach Ralph Dass and Defensive Coordinator Gordon Whiting, Hackensack High School, much like many of the nation's top programs, are not forced to take a step back after the graduation of several of their marquee players. Indeed, today's Comets are young, athletic, and boast tremendous talent at several key positions. Quickly becoming recognized as a program that simply plugs in new players for departing ones, Hackensack High School is ready to make another strong push at the state title in 2005.
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