Deonte Roberts leads inexperienced Erasmus Hall football
For the past few years, Erasmus Hall had some big names on the high school football scene in Wayne Morgan and Curtis Samuel. This year is different with 19 freshmen and sophomores and the biggest name belonging to the Rutgers-bound Deonte Roberts, a middle linebacker who won’t be contributing to the offense.
Despite Erasmus Hall’s (E-Hall) status as underdogs, something head coach Danny Landberg fully embraces, they’re still expected to be an elite team.
“We had a Batman in Wayne Morgan, we had a Superman in Curtis Samuel and now we have the X-Men,” said Landberg. “It’s a team of guys [who] are good and we feel that they can get the job done.”
That’s the strategy at E-Hall this season — instead of one amazing player, the Dutchmen have a team full of talented athletes.
“It [doesn’t] matter to me that we’re young. It only matters that we’re better,” junior receiver Jahsen Wint said. “It might be a lot of new guys, but they were talented last year. They were just backing up more talented people. A year has gone by and we’re more developed, more mature. We should be one of the top teams again.”
With Roberts leading as a sort of on-the-field coach, the defense will be the strong point of this team. Wint will also play cornerback, and Tysene Foster, Tre Shon Black and Aaron John are expected to play big roles as well. The hope is that the defense can carry the team until the offense becomes more settled.
“The defense will actually help out with the offense because we’ll give them time to get accustomed to things as the season goes on,” Roberts said. “We have a lot of tough guys that are physical, and we expect to keep teams from scoring against us.”
Offensively, E-Hall is expected to stick with a similar offense it has used in the past, though they could potentially be more of a pass-first team with talented receivers, including Kefa Cort, Keon Gravenhise, Wint, Jahquel Webb and Qadash Lee.
The Dutchmen will stick with their two-quarterback system with sophomore Shockoune Bobbitt and junior Aaron Grant both taking snaps. The backfield will have Shavar Brathwaite leading the way with other players, likely including a few of the receivers, being mixed in as well.
“We’re not going to change too much about what we do,” Landberg said. “We might favor guys at certain positions, but as far as the system goes, we’re going to stay the same.”
The goal is still clearly set on a return trip to the Public School Athletic League finals at Yankee Stadium, but with so many freshmen and sophomores on the roster — more than any other team Landberg has coached — he is willing to admit things are different this year. There is less of a focus on teaching them on the field, and they are spending more time watching film instead.
“A lot of these guys have never had that pain of losing that gives you the hunger you need to be the best,” Landberg said. “With this team I’m doing a lot more teaching. We’re not hitting as much in practice, it’s more of showing them film so they understand what we’re asking of them and why we’re asking them to do it.”
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