Brooklyn, N.Y.: Madison varsity football team has enjoyed tremendous success over the past three seasons, excluding the COVID-19 abbreviated spring campaign, in which it posted a 3-3 record.
The Golden Knights have won three consecutive PSAL Bowl Conference Championships (2018, ’19 and ’21) and have not lost a game since New Utrecht beat them, 28-20, back in September 2019.
So, Madison moved up to A Conference this season, where it has been more than holding its own, as it is off to a 5-0 start, with four shutouts to its credit, and currently sits in second place with 775 power points.
“The program was building up to compete on the City level when it was winning on the Bowl level,” said Nick Nugent, who co-head coached junior varsity along with Jamil Thomas for a number of seasons. “So, moving up to the A Conference is not that much of a big deal.”
But the Golden Knights’ success did not happen overnight. They have built their present-day winning ways from the ground up, with solid junior varsity squads feeding varsity, as the coaching staffs have taught and guided them along the way.
In fact, several of the now-varsity seniors were on Nugent and Thomas’ team as freshmen. Plus, varsity head coach Tommy Salvato has done a specular job of getting the best out of his players that Nugent said he finds through local youth football leagues.
“The seniors right now were on my JV team when I was head coach of JV,” said Nugent, who is now linebacking coach/recruiting coordinator at ASA College. “I helped bring in the kids, he (Salvato) coached them up and made them accountable.”
As for the 2022 Madison squad, it is loaded with numerous gifted players such as seniors Amir Cameron, Mikai Johnson, Silas Otero, Asim Martinez, Jesse Monti and Favyan Mayas.
Plus, juniors Tamel Morgan, Quadir Mceachin and Aaron Ellis.
Cameron is the starting quarterback who moved back to Marine Park, Brooklyn, after the eighth grade from Teaneck, New Jersey, and has attended Madison since his freshman year.
“We got lucky with him. He fell into our laps,” said Nugent, who is a Brooklyn native and 2004 Madison football alum. “He’s having a heck of a year. He led the team to a Bowl Championship (last year).”
Johnson, a receiver/cornerback, who tore his ACL last year, has shown no signs of the injury this season, Nugent noted, as he has been playing lights out football.
“He is one of the best players in the city, in my opinion,” he said. “One of the best all-around athletes on the team, if you ask me. One of the fastest kids I’ve seen. He can play college football.”
Free safety/receiver Otero, whom Nugent said is a “hard-hitting player who can block and tackle. He’ll put you on your back. Silas is very physical player.”
When it comes to offensive linemen, Nugent said 6-foot-3, 275-pound Morgan possesses a tremendous amount of potential.
“I think he’s going to go D1!” he exclaimed. “Salvato is good at developing offensive linemen since he was one back in the day.”
Mceachin, a 6-foot, 185-pound inside linebacker/halfback, caught the winning touchdown in the Golden Knights’s season opening 18-14 victory versus Midwood. But his future seems to lie on the defensive side of the gridiron.
“He is a tough tackler,” Nugent said. “He has D2 potential. He fills gaps and is a good run stopper.”
Nugent said Ellis is “more of an all-around linebacker who can run, cover and blitz.”
Then there is slot receiver/cornerback speedster Monti, running back/strong safety Martinez and a much improved 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive tackle in Mayas.
As for the foreseeable future, Nugent believes Madison can successfully compete with the top teams in the A Conference.
“I think Madison can consistently be a top four team for the next few years.”
For now, the Golden Knights take on Fort Hamilton on Friday at 3:00 p.m. in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
— Jerry Del Priore
Photos: Coach Nick Nugent