season opener vs. Millburn at Bonnel Field. Credit: Steve Tober
Jake Zimmerman, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior, comes from a strong athletic background, including his aforementioned grandpa who was a superb basketball and baseball player and coach in his day, or his dad Carl, who was once an outstanding football player at Montclair Immaculate.
Carrying on a tradition that stems from both sides of the family tree, Jake has now moved to the forefront at a key position for one of Essex County’s most consistent gridiron programs.
There have been several outstanding Caldwell QBs through the years, including the 2004 Sideline Chatter Essex County Offensive Player of the Year Andrew Carlough, both Chris and Derek Lawshe, Sonny Puzzo - who directed the Chiefs’ offense in both 2011 and 2012 - and last year’s starter Joe Salter who helped lead the Chiefs to the North 2, Group 2 playoff final.
Zimmerman, like Salter, will be a first-year starter as a senior, and he has earned his place as the opening day signal caller in his final high school season through pure perseverance.
“For Jake, it started last December, not in the summer,
because he worked hard both in the weight room and on his passing,
and has grown both physically and in his leadership abilities
to get to this point,” said Caldwell’s longtime head coach Ken Trimmer.
“We had a staff meeting – and we have a lot of coaches here who confer –
and everybody was in agreement that the best decision for our football team
is for Jake to start at quarterback for us.
It was a decision by our entire staff, with my blessing!”
“I was at a game at Irvington last year and a man standing nearby
asked if Joe Garvey was still around,” recalled the Caldwell senior QB. “Apparently, he had played for my grandfather at Essex Catholic
and he said what a great guy he was,
and it was so nice to hear that from someone who still remembers him today.
He passed away when I was only three or four so, unfortunately,
I didn’t get to know him as well as I would have liked,
but I am proud of all he accomplished in life as an athlete, teacher and coach.”
“I've been playing with most of the guys on our team since flag football days and it would be a great cap off to our high school careers
to have a strong senior season together,” Zimmerman said.
“We may not have as many kids that started last season
as the previous group of seniors did going in,
but we have a bunch of guys with varsity experience,
and I think we’re a bigger team size-wise as well.
Last year’s team had a lot of talent, no doubt, but I think that
this group we have now can have a real good season together as well.”
There are a solid core group of seniors led by quad captains Jake Charpentier (OT-DT), Tom Guiliano (TE-LB), Steve Puzzo (WR-DB) and Nolan Smith (LB-TE) along with other key performers such as running back John Mannion, center Ian Davidson, tackle Darian Andresky, D-end Dwayne Forestal and D-lineman Aulon Haziri.
“I like the potential of our running game, with a really good back in John Mannion along with A.J. Curtiss and a freshman James Miller,” said Zimmerman. “You always need to try and establish the run to help set up the passing game, and I’m confident that we’ll have a solid all-around attack this season.”
- Zimmerman is also an outfielder and pitcher for the James Caldwell baseball team in the spring
- Joe Garvey, who was a standout athlete at both Montclair Immaculate and St. Peter’s College, was best known as the basketball coach at Immaculate, Essex Catholic and West Essex High School, where he also eventually became the high school’s principal
- Zimmerman’s favorite football player is the late Walter Payton - “He was a quiet man, but what a great football player,” the Caldwell QB added
- Zimmerman has worked for several years on his speed and agility with trainer Leon Clark who is based in Montclair
- Because of having problems scheduling a week 1 opponent, James Caldwell, which is in the Liberty Division of the Super Essex Conference, is among the last teams in state to open their season with this Saturday's (Sept. 20) debut action for the 2014 team
- Millburn is coming off a season-opening 36-7 thrashing at the hands of Livingston last Saturday
James Caldwell's 2014 Regular Season Schedule
- Saturday, Sept. 20
Home vs. Millburn
- Saturday, Sept. 27
Home vs. Cedar Grove
- Thursday, Oct. 2
Home vs. Seton Hall Prep
- Friday, Oct. 10
30 Robert H. Harp Drive, Livingston
- Friday, Oct. 17
Underhill Sports Complex: Garfield Place at Burr Road, Maplewood
- Saturday, Oct. 25
Home vs. Weequahic
- Saturday, Nov. 1
Home vs. Irvington
- Saturday, Nov. 8
44 Park Avenue, Nutley
- Thursday, Nov. 22
Sampson Drive, Verona