Ramapo Football: 2022 Season

Coach Defazio congratulates the team on their 48-7 win over Wayne Hills

Kendall Schmidt, Staff Writer

Football is a major aspect of Ramapo’s culture and school spirit. With over 28 playoff appearances and 12 sectional titles from 1974-2021, Ramapo is notorious for the strength of its football program. The high-energy environment at the games is unmatched. The program would not be as successful as it is without the positive reinforcement from the student section, as well as the aid from the cheerleaders and the marching band. Unfortunately, the team faced a lot of adversity with the loss of Coach Gibbs, a beloved member of the Ramapo community. To remember his name, a celebration was hosted on Friday, October 7th to formally rename the turf field to “Drew Gibbs Field”. His preaching of the words “as one” will live on, and the students, players, and fans will always remember his impact on the program. Despite these times of turmoil, the Raiders have truly risen to the occasion, demonstrating their resilience and strength by taking down many very talented teams in the county. This past weekend, Ramapo beat the number one seed, Northern Valley Old Tappan with a final score of 30-22. After a 2- game losing streak, Ramapo has come back with vengeance and will face off against their rivals, Ridgewood, this coming Friday. The current record stands at 5 wins and 2 losses. The team is currently ranked 7th in NJ Division North Group 4 and 48th in the state of NJ (maxpreps.com).
Ramapo welcomes Michael Defazio as the new head coach for the team. Defazio reflects on his time with Ramapo’s football program:
“Everyone here has been so welcoming and supportive and it is very easy to see how and why Ramapo Football (and all of the sports programs here) have been so successful.”
Defazio grew up in Morristown NJ and attended Delbarton High School. As an all-star athlete, he played both football and baseball at Columbia University where his devotion to the game began. He began his coaching career at KIPP NYC College Prep High School, where he coached baseball and football, and was a physical education teacher. With more experience, he then became the Director of Player Personnel at Columbia, where he oversaw recruiting endeavors for the football team. In terms of accolades, in 2019, he was awarded the National Finalist Double-Goal Coach Award by an organization known as the Positive Coaching Alliance. Ultimately, through a series of interviews, the Board of Education and other pivotal members of the Ramapo football community, realized he is the best candidate (Dionisio). Not only does Defazio have his heart set out on winning and taking home championship titles, but he also believes in being a mentor to his athletes. He wants to develop young men into hard working leaders and teammates with good morale and sportsmanship. In terms of future expectations for the team going forward, Defazio states that he expects:
“Great effort, great attitude, and that we play together.”

The program owes much of its success to its group of diligent seniors that are both leaders and companions to the underclassmen. The senior captains are Jack Grusser (quarterback), Ethan Moran (running back), Ben Robinson (wide receiver), and Rocco Otazu (defensive lineman). In NJ Division North Group 4, Harvard commit, Jack Grusser is ranked as the #1 quarterback with over 1039 throwing yards. Ethan Moran has over 690 rushing yards, placing him on the leaderboard of the best running backs in the area. Ben Robison is one of the leading touchdown scorers with over 402 receiving yards. Rocco Otazu leads the defense with 11 tackle assists and 13 total tackles just this season. Other names worth mentioning include Will Scordato, who has over 434 receiving yards, Matt O’Brien, who leads the defense with over 42 tackles, Jack Dentz, who has the most sacs, and Matt Bedrin, who has the most interceptions (nj.com). All of the seniors have contributed greatly to the team, whether it be through earning statistics, or simply being devoted, team players. Captain, Ben Robinson states:
“I am so proud of how far we have come. I am sad to be leaving such a hardworking group of people”

Ultimately, after taking down many great teams, there is no doubt that the Raiders will work their way to the playoffs in Metlife Stadium. We wish the team the best of luck in the rest of their season. Go Po!