By Steve Tober / sidelinechatter.com
The Chief's first-year starting quarterback, senior Jake Zimmerman, is seen with his head coach Ken Trimmer outside the team fieldhouse shortly before a recent practice as the Chiefs prepare for Saturday's
season opener vs. Millburn at Bonnel Field. Credit: Steve Tober
WEST CALDWELL - Joe Garvey would be proud. In fact, the renowned longtime Essex County coach and official will probably be looking down from that big blue playing field high above in order to watch his grandson start at quarterback for James Caldwell in this Saturday’s season opener for the Chiefs vs. Millburn (1 p.m. at Bonnel Field).
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,
For Zimmerman, his lineage that includes a well-known and highly-respected grandfather who he unfortunately didn’t get a chance to know very well, is something he’s quite cognizant and proud of at the same time.
Chief's quarterback Jake Zimmerman (second from right) is surrounded by three of his experienced Chiefs senior teammates, from left, two-way tackle Jake Charpentier, center Ian Davidson and tight end-linebacker Tom Guiliano. Credit: Steve Tober
“I was at a game at Irvington last year and a man standing nearby
For Zimmerman it’s time to etch his own mark as a high school senior and he’s certainly looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“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
Caldwell has gone a combined 52-17 the last six seasons alone, while reaching three North 2, Group 2 playoff finals (including winning the title in 2008), and advancing to the semifinals in the other three years.
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.”
CALDWELL CHIEF CLIPPINGS
A football Saturday at Bonnel Field remains an event.
James Caldwell's 2014 Regular Season Schedule
Last season's starting QB for Caldwell, Joe Salter, also earned his first-team role for first time as a senior and helped lead the Chiefs to the North 2, Group 2 playoff final. Credit: Glenn Kross