BELLEVILLE - While the NFL is on the edge of finally agreeing on a contract, area residents can get their fill of football on Saturday when the New Jersey Spartans open up the 2011 season.
The Spartans, filled with area football players, will be playing smash mouth football as they take on the Tri-State Bulldogs on Saturday at 6 p.m. A mini-concert will be held at 2 p.m. and the pre-game is at 5 p.m.
New Jersey,which has played top notch football since 2007 in Major League Football, has been one of the top teams in the league, either in the playoffs or just outside of it.
The Spartans will be looking to get back into the playoffs this season with the first opportunity against the Bulldogs. In the preseason New Jersey was 1-1 with a victory over rival New York and a loss to Hudson County.
But on Saturday it will be for real for New Jersey playing at Belleville Municipal Stadium.
The Spartans include a group of players who play college football, players looking to get back into college football and those who just love the game.
The Spartans will be combining an aggressive, quality defense with a spread offense. "We're hoping to get 20 points from our offense and our defense can do the rest," said Kevin Moss, the head coach, one of the founders and the president of the team.
For Moss and the Spartans they play a 4-2-5 defense. "We're aggressive and a hard hitting team," said Moss. "We've been one of the best defensive teams in the league the last couple of years."
According to Moss the linebackers are sort of hybrid defensive backs as they can patrol both areas.
As part of their top-ranked defense, the Spartans are led by linebacker Jose Renderos (jersey number 58) who has been on New Jersey for four years and has led the team in tackles for the last two years. Another top linebacker as part of this quality corps is Claros Maximiliano (4), who played at Secaucus High School. The top defensive back is strong safety James Wright (3) who played football at Barringer High School.
The offense is highlighted by a good crop of running backs including their top two backs in Christian Guzman (9) and Eddie Feliciano Junior (8).
According to Moss, Guzman and Feliciano are "1 and 1A" in terms of his rankings for running backs.
Feliciano Junior is a Belleville High School graduate who played a year at FDU-Madison and could not afford school so he moved to Bergen Community College that does not have football. “I really missed football,” said Feliciano Jr., who sat out a year of playing football.
Feliciano Jr. is part of a family combination, as he gets some help from his father, Eddie Feliciano, who is also an offensive guard on the Spartans as part of rare father-son combination. "It feels good and my dad has always been supportive," said Feliciano Jr. "It's an extra comfort to have him on the team."
The son said that his father wanted to come out for the team to show that his football days are not over and the 40-year-old showed that he is not done. "He thought he could give it a try and see how he stacked up with the younger guys," said his son.
Feliciano Jr. was recruited by Moss who was his offensive coordinator at Belleville High School. "He has a great worth ethic and a big heart," said Moss about Feliciano Jr. "He is a very talented runner."
In Guzman Moss has a tough hard-nosed runner. "He's a power back and hard to take down," said Moss who compares him to one of the top running backs in NFL history. "He breaks a lot of tackles and he's very physical. He's a Jim Brown-esq type of back. He just runs people over."
The other running backs include Brandon Morales (23) and Raheem Martin (32). The lone fullback on the team is Joe Krowska (31).
Handing off the ball to this group of running backs will be Mike Kohler (5) who played for Scotch Plains High School and is an owner of the fiber optics company. "He's very cerebral and has a very big gun of an arm," said Moss. "He is very consistent and an accurate passer.” Kohler's top targets could be a couple of Belleville High School graduates in David Barber (80) and Timothy Roberts (83). "He's an electric receiver and a very good kick returner," said Moss about Barber who added about Roberts. "He's a quality slot receiver in the Wes Welker mold."
The first step for the Spartans to get back to the playoffs will be the Bulldogs as part of a 10-game regular season that includes teams throughout the tri-state area.
For more information on the New Jersey Spartans and since and season ticket information check out the website, http://www.njspartans.com/ or call 973-SPARTAN (772-7826).
New Jersey Spartans Regular Season schedule
(Home games at Belleville Municipal Stadium, Passaic Avenue)
July 23 Tri-State Bulldogs, 6 p.m.
July 30 at Brooklyn Mariners, 7 p.m.
August 6 New Jersey Broncos, 6 p.m.
August 13 at North East Pennsylvania Miners 7 p.m.
August 20 at Philadelphia Steelers, 7 p.m.
August 27 New Jersey Lions, 6 p.m.
Sept. 3 Bye week
Sept. 10 at Jersey Wolves, 6 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Arbutus Big Red, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 Philadelphia Phoenix, 6 p.m.
Oct. 1 Jersey Wolves, 6 p.m.
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