Hawthorne HS Logo

 By:  Keith Idec

Football: No. 19 Hawthorne

Last year’s record: 5-5

Final ranking: Not ranked

Marquee game: vs. Glen Rock, Sept. 18

Best assets: Versatile senior QB Ryan Vanderwerf produced roughly 1,400 yards of total offense in Hawthorne’s final six games last season, once he became eligible following his transfer from DePaul. The Bears’ backfield also includes senior RBs Rashawn Byfield, who missed four games with a shoulder injury last season after rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 10 TDs as a sophomore, and Abdullah Elailla. Senior Davius Bunch, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound tackle who has attracted attention from FCS programs, is among three returning starters on Hawthorne’s offensive line. Senior MLB Mike Dietrich, also the Bears’ starting center, made 106 tackles last season and evolved into their defensive leader.

Biggest concern: Depth. Hawthorne has less than 30 players on its varsity roster and most of 15th-year coach John Passero’s starters play on both sides of the ball. The Bears have more than enough returning talent to make their first playoff appearance since 2012, but like most small-school programs, must remain healthy to do so.