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It is all hands on deck for Wall’s group of receivers

September 8, 2011

WALL — The wide receivers on the 2011 Wall High School football team are not at all concerned that opposing teams, specifically opposing secondaries, may think the Crimson Knights took a step back at the position following the graduation of 2010 standout Kyle Janeczek.

In fact, the group looks forward to people taking them lightly — almost as much as they look forward to proving those people wrong.

“Last year, Kyle [Janeczek] was not known going into the season, so people may not have thought too much about our receiving core [prior to 2010], ” senior wide receiver Harry Paytas said before practice Tuesday afternoon. “People may look at us the same way this year, but I think we are talented this year, with more depth.

“I feel like, this year, we are going to spread the ball around well,” he added.

It is undeniable that Janeczek was Wall senior quarterback Steve Cluley’s number one target last season. During a 7-4 2010 campaign, in which the Crimson Knights reached the NJSIAA semifinal, the the two teammates connected for 32 completions, totaling 929 and 11 touchdowns. When they Crimson Knights needed a big play downfield, it was Janeczek who’s name was called.

With Janeczek now playing as a freshman for the Lions at The College of New Jersey, Cluley will have to put his faith in a new crop of players. After seeing the effort the group put in during off-season workouts, it is a truth that doesn’t have Cluley concerned in the slightest.

“I trust them completely. I know they worked hard all offseason,” said the quarterback. “I know it will all come together.”

Receptions and experience are two completely different things and Wall does bring back many key targets to the gridiron that Cluley will be sure to recognize.

Seniors wide receivers Conor Mulholland and Paytas and senior tight end Derek Gardner will be three players Cluley will look for downfield. Wall head coach Chris Barnes feels the intelligence and veteran makeup of the trio will allow the Crimson Knights to execute their X’s and O’s with much precision.

“Harry, Conor and Derek’s experience is big for us,” said Barnes. “It allows us to do a little bit more before the snap of the ball as far as making decisions, because of their experience.”

Mulholland, a player who came on strong at the end of last season including many key receptions during the playoff run, is looking forward to contributing as early as week one this Saturday, when Wall opens up the 2011 regular season on the road against Lacey Township.

“It is very exciting to have the opportunity,” said an enthused Mulholland. “With Steve [at quarterback] and with the offense line we have this year, we are going to have plenty of time to throw the ball.”

Paytas agreed with Mulholland that the experience of the offensive line will make things easier on the players at the skill positions. The offensive line consists of five seniors, all of whom have at least a year of varsity experience under their belts.

“It’s huge having an offensive line like we have to give Steve the time to get the ball off,” added Paytas. “Without them, we would have no receiving game.”

With all the time he will have to throw — compliments of the solid offensive line — Cluley will be looking for a first-year member of the program, senior Jordan Petitta.

Petitta has a similar story to Janeczek, as he will be coming out for football for the first time his senior year. Like Janeczek, Petitta’s main focus up to this point has been playing basketball for the Crimson Knights.

Barnes and the Wall football family can only hope the 6-foot-4 Petitta can have the same impact Janeczek did in his one year with the team.

So far, so good, according to Barnes.

“Having Jordan step in like he has has been a nice plus,” said the head coach. “He adds a little bit of a threat with his height and athletic ability.”

It remains to be seen how the numbers will pan out this season, but coming into 2011, Barnes likes the way his group of receivers looks heading into the matchup against the Lions Saturday.

“We feel good with where we are at right now,” said the coach. “We are happy with our development over the course of the offseason.”

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