O’Connor hopes to move Mount Olive football forward – Daily Record

8 months ago Comments Off on O’Connor hopes to move Mount Olive football forward – Daily Record

The Mount Olive football program has struggled over the past few years and went looking for a coach to bring stability.

The school didn’t have to look too far to find him.

Flanders resident Brian O’Connor, who lives a few minutes away from the high school, was hired last week. He replaced Jared Luciani, who was 8-21 in three years.

O’Connor met with the players and parents last week and has begun the offseason weight program even though he will be coaching spring track at Wayne Valley, where he remains a physical education and health teacher.

“I’ve been around New Jersey football,” O’Connor said. “I’ve been both a defensive and offensive coordinator. This job is a perfect fit. I live right near the high school and I have two little kids in the school system. I hope when they are old enough, I’ll still be at Mount Olive High School.”

Mount Olive has  gone through some tough stretches since going 12-0 and winning a NJSIAA North 1 Group III championship under Jimm Kramer in 2002. Since that time, the Marauders were above .500 only once (6-4 under Kramer in 2003) and have gone 40-88-1 since 2003 under Jared Luciani, Luciani’s father Garry, two different Kramer regimes, and Colin Eckert.

“One of the things we talked about was bringing continuity,” O’Connor said. “They’ve gone through some rough times. But I’m all in. It’s a great school system and I want to turn things around. We can be great. I just need the kids to buy in.”

O’Connor was an All Daily Record lineman at Hanover Park and played college football at Boston College for Tom Coughlin, who later led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles.

O’Connor had tryouts with the NFL’s Broncos and Vikings and soon found himself playing for the New Jersey Red Dogs before an ankle injury forced him to the sidelines. He began coaching at West Orange as a defensive coordinator (1999-2001).

From there, it was on to a 12-year run at Wayne Valley, where he guided the Indians to seven playoff berths, one trip to a sectional final, and four Northern Hills Conference titles.

But a new principal and superintendent decided to change course and O’Connor was not rehired. The last two years, he has been Hanover Park head coach Gerry Moore’s offensive coordinator. The Hornets scored 731 points in the past two seasons while going 15-6 and qualifying for the playoffs.

“Brian O’Connor will be a huge asset to Mount Olive High School,” Moore said. “He is a coach with great values and really cares for the young men he coaches. Without a doubt, I believe the Mount Olive football program will be very successful under his guidance.”

O’Connor would like to bring in the no-huddle spread offense that has been so successful at Hanover Park the last two years. But he wants his system to fit his players, not vice versa.

“I’ve always had an aggressive philosophy,” he said. “I like a no-huddle, fast-paced offense, but I’ll need to tweak the offense to my players. If I have a good, old-fashioned fullback … I want the offense to fit the personnel.”

O’Connor will use a 4-3 base defense, but he knows that the North Jersey Super Conference Group IV Freedom Division features teams of all types of offenses from Morris Knolls’ Veer in Week One to West Morris’ Wing-T in Week Four.

It all starts today, when he’ll be in the weight room after school. The Brian O’Connor Era opens with Mount Olive traveling to Morris Knolls on Sept. 10.

“If you’re on a sport in the spring, that’s fine,” he said. “If you’re not involved in another sport and you play football at Mount Olive, I want you in the weight room with me.”

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