By Steve Tober / SidelineChatter.com
Senior Dom Magliaro will be feature back for West Essex in Wing T as the Knights make big move up into the SEC American Division this fall Credit: Glenn Kross
NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - On paper the move up into the rigorous Super Essex Conference-American Division for a Group 3 team that just graduated 17 of 22 starters might appear to be a bit of a reach. However, when that program happens to be West Essex, which has been one of the county’s strongholds for the last decade and a half, the possibilities are intriguing indeed.
The Knights, coming off a 10-1 season, are now ensconced for the next two seasons with Group 5 powers such as Montclair and a Non-Public, Group 4 in Seton Hall Prep, battling in one of the state’s more challenging divisions.
“It’s an enormous challenge, and maybe the biggest challenge we've faced
West Essex's fourth-year head coach Chris Benacquista realizes that there are big challenges ahead in rigorous SEC-American
Credit: Bill Allen
The Knights, who open the season on Friday night, Sept. 6, with an independent road game at Delaware Valley, return just one starter – guard Roberto LoCascio – on offense, and four defensive starters in linebackers LoCascio and Dom Magliaro, end Marc McDonald and cornerback Luke Magilaro, Dom’s twin brother.
The Magliaros are veteran varsity football, basketball and baseball players at West Essex and have the type of experience that can set the tone for a somewhat green squad in terms of varsity reps.
Dom Magliaro was a big playmaker for West Essex on both sides of the ball in 2013
Credit: Glenn Kross
“Luke is an athletic player at quarterback and has really developed
West Essex must replace a splendid backfield that graduated last June, including quarterback Matt Thies and running backs Peter Norton and Joe Scaglia; however, there are several intriguing pieces to fill some of those key roles, including the versatile Luke Magliaro stepping in as the team’s starting QB and brother Dom assuming the role of the featured left halfback in the Wing T ground-oriented attack.
McDonald, a rock-sold 6-2, 230-pounder who led the team in sacks last fall and is a superb wrestler in the winter, could emerge as a top football player in the county this fall with his powerful running at fullback and ability to dominate at times at defensive end. Monmouth and Bucknell are among the schools already showing interest in the Knights’ strongman.
West Essex's Marc McDonald (42) is a superb two-way performer for the Knights as they look to reload during first season in the SEC-American
Credit: Glenn Kross
LoCascio is another splendid all-around athlete as he has been a superb wrestler and lacrosse player for the Knights through the years in addition to being a 4-year starter in football. LoCascio, the Magliaros and McDonald will serve as quad captains for the 2014 Knights.
Other key players to watch include cornerback-wide receiver Michael Panzarino and wide receiver John Agolia.
On the very plus side for West Essex is the fact the program continues to attract great numbers with 84 players in the upper three grades this fall including 26 seniors. There are also 25 freshmen out for that team.
“We feel we have the depth in numbers to compete at a high level,
West Essex traditionally draws strong student following for its Friday night football games at Travis Field in North Caldwell Credit: Glenn Kross
West Essex's 2014 Regular Season Schedule