The private school preview
The 2012 local private football season has more question marks and could provide more drama than any year in recent memory.
The Fieldston Eagles, the five-time defending champions, will not play in its usual league for the first time in recent memory. The Horace Mann Lions will try to build on their rebuilding season last year while the Riverdale Falcons will try to follow up last year’s 8-0 season under the direction of a new coach.
Below, the three coaches get in the trenches about the year ahead.
Last year’s record: 8-0
Coach Lance Ramer
Lance Ramer has no illusions about what it means to take over the reigns as head coach of the Riverdale Falcons.
Ramer is not only taking over a team that had a perfect record last season — often beating its opponents by large margins — he is also taking over a program with a legendary history, with several titles under the late coach Frank Bertino.
Ramer, however, seems to be using both the perfect season and storied tradition to bolster rather than undermine his own tenure at Riverdale.
“I am honored to be the head coach at Riverdale,” said Ramer. “I am hoping to have the chance to meet the Bertino family soon and see what Frank was like and how he coached the game.”
Ramer spent eight years coaching and teaching mathematics at the Montclair Kimberley Academy. His first four years were as defensive coordinator, the last four as head coach.
As a coach and math teacher, Ramer more than understands that the core of last year’s undefeated team has been subtracted from this season’s roster. Gone are quarterback Russell Johnson, running back Mark Walsh, receiver and defensive back Armando Perez and lineman Brian Toth.
“It’s hard to replace a 8-0 team,” admitted the new coach.
But Ramer prefers to focus on the positive. The roster is not huge, but respectable-sized, with 33 players, including eight seniors and 12 freshmen.
“Our strengths are our speed and our athleticism,” said the coach.
Players to watch include junior quarterback Jaime Weisfelner, who will also play linebacker.