by Mike Pavlichko
Manville finished 2017 with a 7-2 record, and things were looking good for the Mustangs.
Angelo Drake was all ready for his sophomore season, and the opener against rival Bound Brook in 2018. And then the unthinkable happened: He broke his forearm making a tackle on a kickoff.
History repeated itself in the 2019 season opener. Same team, same play, same game.
You’ve got to be kidding.
Any other player who’s not a legitimate threat to play on Sundays might have packed it in. But not Angelo Drake.
Instead, “he never missed one day,” says head coach Pat Gorbatuk.
“He took on the role of assistant coach, helping set up practices, running drills and mentoring young players.”
He was voted a team captain as a junior, because he was – as Gorbatuk explained it – “every player’s favorite teammate.”
Listen below to Angelo Drake and his head coach, Pat Gorbatuck, talk about Drake’s model leadership for the young Mustangs:
Honorable mentions for the Leadership Award go to Nasir Williams of Roselle Park, and Shawn Patterson of Linden.
After not playing the 2018 season due to low numbers in the program, Williams – a senior – rushed for over an average over 100 yards per game in six games this season, also logging more than four tackles a game on defense. His 1.4 TDs per game were 30 percent of the team’s offense. Head coach Greg Dunkerton says Williams stayed with the program and continued to excel despite the lack of team experience, playing through injuries, and at times with as many as six sophomores on the field. He says Williams made it his goal to instill a sense of “Panther Pride” in his younger teammates.
Patterson – a senior at Linden – was a three-year starter on the offensive line, and in 2018 helped paved the way for 3,100 yards of total offense – 2,384 on the ground and 778 in the air. Coach Al Chiola says he first met Shawn in his 6th grade social studies class, where he told the coach he couldn’t wait to play football for Linden. Chiola says after a COVID shutdown, Linden had the option of playing No. 1 Woodbridge with just 2 days of practice, or taking the week off to prepare for Cranford the following week, when Williams said, “Coach, let’s play. We just want to play football.” Chiola says Williams only missed three snaps his entire varsity career.