By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
More than a month ago, Casey Goff was named the new head football coach at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ. He’s the school’s third head coach since Eric Hamilton retired in 2013.
Goff came to the Ewing campus from Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio.
“I’m originally from Northeast Pennsylvania,” he said. “I’ve lived in the Allentown (Pa.) area for a few years and my brother is still in the Allentown area. I’ve got a lot of family in the Cherry Hill area, so it was big for me to get closer to my family. But also closer to what I’m familiar with. I’m an East Coast guy in terms of where I want to be, and the type of kids I want to be around. This is where I feel at home.”
He has bounced around in his 14-year coaching career. Goff most recently spent one season as the Defiance head football coach.
He guided the team to a 5-5 record, their best season since 2010.
“It was a lot of work that we put in as a staff,” he said. “The kids worked their tails off and they bought in to what I wanted to do. They bought into my vision, along with the coaching staff’s vision. They played for one another, which is a big part of what we’re going to try to instill here, and make sure the kids understand the team aspect, and everything they do is for the guy next to them. It’s not about the individual.
“This is the ultimate team sport, so we put a lot of work into that program at Defiance and changed the way we were doing things, as far as practicing, operating in the weight room, and getting the kids to believe in the fact that they can compete with anybody. We went 5-5 and we were 16 points away from going 7-3. We did a tremendous job with that program. If you pay attention to Defiance, they are going to do some big things out there, because those kids bought in and are there for one another.”
With every head coach, there is going to be changes. However, Goff is insisting that team will improve on the 2-8 record last season under interim head coach Rocky Hager. Hager is Goff’s new defensive coordinator.
“Well, I’m going to do everything I can to win football games,” he said. “A lot of that is going to be on me – putting things I’ve done in the past in place and what I’m familiar with. I want to crank up recruiting and make sure we’re not losing kids across the border. I want to do a tremendous job of keeping kids home. If they’re the top kids in the State of New Jersey, we need to be keeping them and making sure they understand everything that we have to offer here at TCNJ. So, that and also making sure we’re developing kids in our own program.
“In watching film, I think that has been done. I think the coaches have done the best job doing that. I’m going to tweak a little bit of that process – a little bit of the things we do offensively and defensively. Hopefully, we become a little bit more productive, but we’ve got to be extremely useful at the recruiting end, and making sure we secure a lot of the State’s talent. Also, I want to get into Eastern Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and Delaware.”
Since Hamilton’s departure, the team has gone 13-26 During this time, their best record was 5-5 in former head coach Wayne Dickens first-year with the team in 2013.
“There’s always going to be changes,” Goff said. “You have to make changes as a new head coach. You can’t do everything the previous guys did. Even if it worked like magic, I have to be me. It’s awesome having Coach Hager on the staff and he’s been a tremendous help. I think he’s going to do amazing things; he’s got a wealth of football knowledge and even more ahead of him. You better believe I’m going to lean on him, but I have to run my program my way. If I didn’t do that, kids would see right through it, because they would see that I’m trying to be someone else and not myself. Of course, There’s always going to be changes.”
The student-athletes have already seen the changes that Goff has put in place, as they’re a week into camp. Yet, while the practicing has begun and the first scrimmage is on Wednesday night, Goff does not lean on any mantra’s for his team.
“There’s no quotes, there’s nothing,” he said. “If I’ve got one thing, and the one thing I’ve tried to express at Defiance, and what I’m going to try to express here is our kids need to understand a simple concept: Be better. Everyday is a new day to be better than you were the day before. Every rep is an opportunity to be better than the previous rep. And we want our kids to be better students and better football players. That’s what we work for – it’s a simple concept, but it’s a concept that I don’t think kids pay attention to. Too often, kids go through the emotions, but they don’t realize every time that sun rises, you have a chance to do something better than before. That’s kind of the limit for me. We push team and we push doing things better. I’m more a ‘Be about it than talk about it’ guy.”
Goff is already familiar with the New Jersey Athletic Conference. He previously spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Cortland State.
“Coach [Eric] Jendryaszek, our offensive coordinator, played on that team at Cortland State in the NJAC,” he said. “I’m very familiar with this conference. There’s a lot of good football played in this conference and I’m excited for this challenge.”
The first-year Lions head coach believes the NJAC is one of the best Division III football conferences in America.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I don’t know how you can argue against it, especially if you look at the additions of Wesley, Salisbury and Frostburg State a few years back. Christopher Newport has a short football history, but a long history of winning. I’m familiar with Christopher Newport, because of my time at Washington and Jefferson, as we met them in the first-round of the playoffs. There’s just a lot of winning here with the Rowan’s and the Montclair’s, who have been well-established in this conference. We want to rival those teams, and the teams they brought in have enhanced that.”
During camp, every potential starter will have to earn his spot. Goff is considering every position open.
“I’m a firm believer in the best 11 players will play,” he said. “I’ve watched film, but I don’t care. That doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters to me is the guys, who show up and are ready to go, learns our system and is ready to go in the system. Honestly, I don’t care where you’re from, what you look like or what you did in high school. I also don’t care what you did in your previous three years here. If you come in with the attitude that I’m a start and that I should have the right to start; there’s a good chance a young player is going to come in and take your job.
“We’re going to put the best football players out there. I’m going to make it crystal clear to this team, so the guys understand that. They’re going to get nothing but honest feedback from me. I’m in the business to put the best team out there that has earned the right to be out there. They earn that through work and not through time put in previously. They will earn it by the quality time put in.”
Coach Jendryaszek and Goff have a history together. This is their third stop together.
“Coach Jendryaszek was at Cortland State when I was there,” Goff said. “He was an All-American offensive lineman for us. Coach Jendryaszek and I then worked together at King’s College for three-years. After his playing days at Cortland, he went on to play some indoor football in the IFL, then went back to Cortland and coached a few years. Then, he moved on to King’s and was their offensive coordinator for five-years. He’s a guy with experience and he’s a guy that I trust. He’s a guy that I know will execute on the offensive side of the ball, so Coach Jendryaszek and Coach [Donny] Klein, both full-time guys, will run the offense, while Coach Hager and I will run the defense.
“On offense, I want to be multiple. I want to have the ability to do a variety of things with a variety of looks. I also want to be able to execute out of all of those looks. That’s all that I’ll give you right now.”
Goff will lead his players onto the field for the first-time on Friday, Sept. 1 at Lions Stadium. They’ll face non-conference opponent, FDU-Florham Devils.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s going to be awesome, especially to do it under the lights. Actually, my first game as a head coach at Defiance, it was actually under the lights. We were actually at Baldwin Wallace [University in Berea, Ohio]. It’s a cool environment to do that. Now, to be able to that at my home field, I’m excited for that. I’m ready to go and get things rolling.”
One thing Goff will not commit to just yet is playing tougher non-conference opponents. Coach Dickens wanted to play the best – and even scheduled then No. 1 Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks in a home and away series.
“Let’s see where we are,” he said. “Let’s see where we build this thing. Right now, we have a home and away scheduled with FDU. That’s our non-conference opponent, but it didn’t happen when we played Wisconsin-Whitewater. Beyond that, I’m just focused on beating the teams that are on our schedule. We’ll let the pieces come together and see where we take this thing. Hopefully, we’re playing those quality teams in the playoffs one day. Within our conference, we’re playing the best when Wesley comes into town, or we go down to Glassboro to face Rowan. We feel like we’re playing the best. When it comes to the out-of-region teams, our job is to get into the playoffs and play those top teams.”
TCNJ hasn’t made a playoff appearance since the 2007 season. They went 9-3 that season and defeated RPI in the first-round of the playoffs. Their season came to an end with a 59-7 loss to the Mount Union Purple Raiders.
“That’s our goal,” he said. “I want to win. I want to win right away. I know a lot of people are looking at this as a process, but we’re not looking at this as we’re giving up on this season before it starts. We’re trying and want to win football games. Obviously, it’s a process and you want to bring in your guys and enhance recruiting. We are going to do our best to win right now. I think we have good quality kids. I think Coach Hager and Coach Klein did a heck of a job in recruiting. We’re going to try to win football games beginning Sept. 1. I’m not looking into it as we’re writing off this season. That’s bullsh*t. I want to win ball games and that’s what I want to do here.”
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