High-SchoolNew-Jersey: Kevin Olsen

Elite 11 Watch: New Jersey star Kevin Olsen

March, 1, 2012
Chris OlsenCourtesy of Wayne HillsWayne Hills (Wayne, N.J.) junior quarterback Kevin Olsen threw for 1,686 yards and 20 touchdowns last year in leading the Patriots to their second consecutive North 1, Group 3 championship.
Throughout this offseason, we’ll spotlight Class of 2013 quarterbacks who have a shot at making the Elite 11 finals in July. This week we profile Wayne Hills signal-caller Kevin Olsen.

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For someone like Kevin Olsen, it probably seems as if his future was lined up long before he uttered his first word. His dad is the long-time football coach at Wayne Hills, his brother Greg is a tight end for the Carolina Panthers, and his other brother Christian was a quarterback at Virginia.

But as Olsen's dad puts it, his youngest son doesn't just play quarterback; he is a quarterback.

"I like that he has the attitude and make-up of a quarterback," Chris Olsen said. "A lot of kids play quarterback or want to be a quarterback, but when you find a kid who can pass the ball -- not just throw it -- and have the little intangibles out there, that's special. And that's Kevin."

It certainly doesn't hurt that Kevin has had the privilege of training with the Chicago Bears during Greg's days with the team, all while gleaning tips from offensive guru Mike Martz and star quarterback Jay Cutler.

"One of the the biggest difference between Kevin and other players is that he's got the advantage of having his two older brothers play at high levels," Chris Olsen said, "so he's seen a lot, heard a lot and been to a lot of places. Those are all contributing factors to him progressing so well."

Olsen showed the fruits of these experiences last season. Despite directing a run-first offense, the junior and ESPNU 150 Watch List signal-caller completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 1,686 yards and 20 touchdowns in leading the Patriots to their second straight North 1, Group 3 championship.

As Olsen prepares for his upcoming senior season, he took some time to talk about his past success, notable pedigree and what it takes to be an elite quarterback.

ESPNHS: What was the key to your team winning its second straight title?
Olsen: We work extremely hard at Wayne Hills. We're in the weight room everyday, we practice hard and there's no playing around. We're here to win and it's nice to see our hard work pay off.

ESPNHS: Personally, how did the second championship compare to the first one?
Olsen: The first time was great, but this year was definitely better for me personally. I thought I played a bigger role than when I was a sophomore. I helped carry the team a little more and was able to make a couple big throws when we needed it.

ESPNHS: What are your strengths as a quarterback?
Olsen: I'm good at the quick game. I've got down the three-step drop and can throw it deep. I've also gotten good on play-action passes where I can get the corners or safeties to jump. I can also play in the shotgun.

ESPNHS: What are some things you are working on improving?
Olsen: I want to improve my strength as a whole, which will help my arm strength. I also want to work on my footwork and just my overall understanding of the game.

ESPNHS: What's it like having your dad as your high school coach?
Olsen: I like it. Some kids may say they hate it, but I like it a lot. I feel like I have an edge compared to other guys because my dad can give me little hints at home that other guys might not get from their coach.

ESPNHS: What's it like to have brothers who have played in college and the NFL?
Olsen: It's awesome. Having the two of them go through Wayne Hills and be superstars and then play major college football makes me feel like it's something I can also achieve.

ESPNHS: What type of advice have they given you about playing at the next level?
Olsen: They say get to know the coaches, get to know the place. They said it's important to get a feel for the players and how they interact with each other. You want to make sure it's a place where you'll enjoy being for the next four years of your life.

ESPNHS: What are some memorable experiences you've had being with your brothers in college or NFL environments?
Olsen: I've been in a lot of college locker rooms and I've also been in the Bears and Panthers locker rooms, meeting some of the players. When Greg was in Chicago, I had a good relationship with Jay Cutler. We would text back and forth and he'd give me some tips like my brothers do.

ESPNHS: What was your experience like at last year's Elite 11 regionals?
Olsen: I went to the ones in Orlando and Penn State and they were both awesome. I really liked getting to know the guys and learning new things. Everybody has a way of teaching, so you take a little bit from the guys and put it into becoming the total package as a player.

ESPNHS: What would it mean to you to be selected to the Elite 11?
Olsen: It would be tremendous. I can tell from the TV show that it's hard. They give you a playbook and say you have to know it, and if you don't, it's going to show. That's a big challenge, but a good one to have.

ESPNHS: How many offers have you gotten and where does your recruitment stand at this point?
Olsen: I've gotten roughly 25 offers from schools like Stanford, Miami and Florida State. I've seen Miami and Florida State, but I feel like I need to see more schools before I can figure out which schools I like and want to put on my final list.

ESPNHS: What else do you have planned for the offseason?
Olsen: Just working hard on those things I mentioned, like footwork and arm strength and my body weight. I'll be throwing with my teammates, getting back into the flow so we can win as many games as possible. Hopefully, we can get another state championship and go out on a positive note.

School: Wayne Hills (Wayne, N.J.)
Position: QB
Class: 2013
2011 Team Record: 11-1 (won second straight North 1, Group 3 title)

2011 Stats
Completions-Attempts: 124-205 (.605)
Yards: 1,686
TD: 20
INT: 6

Brandon Parker covers high school sports for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Five Days of List-Mas: NJ's underclass football stars

December, 13, 2011

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: The top underclassmen in high school football.

The state championships are over and the Class of 2012 had their run, but it’s never too early to start looking at the impressive players in the Class of 2013 and beyond. Who’s going to rule the gridiron in New Jersey next season? We give you the early rundown of who to watch for.

5. Alquadin Muhammad (JR), Don Bosco Prep, DL
Credentials: Led Ironmen to national title and sixth straight Non-Public Group 4 crown, offers from Notre Dame and Oklahoma

4. Nadir Barnwell (JR), Piscataway, QB/DB
Credentials: Led team to second straight North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 title, offers from Florida and Rutgers

3. Kevin Olsen (JR), Wayne Hills, QB
Credentials: 1,686 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, Led Patriots to second straight North Jersey Section 1, Group 3 crown, has 15 offers including Georgia, Stanford and Florida State

2. Jamauri Bogan (SO), Union, RB
Credentials: 2,260 rushing yards, 25 touchdowns, 2011 Gatorade State Player of the Year

1. Jabrill Peppers (SO), Don Bosco Prep, DB/RB
Credentials: Led Ironmen to national title and sixth straight Non-Public Group 4 crown, ESPNHS All-American

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas

Tomorrow: POWERADE state hoops rankings

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Final New Jersey football rankings: Don Bosco Prep is No. 1

December, 5, 2011
There's no need for a playoff or BCS in this year's high school football campaign; Don Bosco Prep is the clear No. 1. The Ironmen cemented their claim on the top spot with a 42-14 win in the against Bergen Catholic in this weekend's Non-Public, Group 4 title. The outcome marked the Ironmen's sixth straight state title and second POWERADE FAB 50 national crown in the three years.

The defense led the way in the finale, intercepting four passes and racking up seven sacks. RB/DB Elijah Shumate scored twice and had a pick-six in his final high school game.

*North Bergen also made it a memorable season, knocking off previously unbeaten Montclair on the final play of the North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 title. Debray Tavarez pulled down a 22-yard touchdown pass as time expired to give the Bruins their first title and coach Vin Ascolese a win in the final game of his 50-year coaching career.

*Wayne Hills overcame the absence of nine of its players (suspended after being charged with aggravated assault) to knock off Old Tappan, 15-12, in the North Jersey Section 1, Group 3 title. The Patriots used a 25-yard pass from Jeff Gignac to Kevin Olsen to secure its second straight crown.

*Eighth-seeded Piscataway overcame the odds and a tough opponent in Elizabeth to cop its second straight North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 crown with a 41-34 win. Tevin Shaw had a career effort, rushing for a school-record 304 yards and three touchdowns, including the decisive score with 17 seconds left.

Here are how the final state rankings after a wild championship weekend:

1. Don Bosco Prep 11-0
Cemented top spot in state and nation with 42-14 win against Bergen Catholic in Non-Public, Group 4 championship.

2. St. Joseph (Hamm.) 10-0
Capped dominant season with 51-0 win against St. Mary. The Non-Public, Group 1 champs allowed 19 points all season.

3. Bergen Catholic (Oradell) 8-3
The Crusaders once again fell to rival Don Bosco Prep in the Non-Public, Group 4 title by the count of 42-14. Two of three losses came at the hands of nation's top team.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly New Jersey football rankings

New Jersey football championships preview

December, 2, 2011
There will be championships galore across the Garden State this weekend. Here are five contests to keep a close eye on:

Don Bosco Prep vs. Bergen Catholic
We've seen this before in last year's Non-Public, Group 4 title game and about two months ago. And even though Don Bosco has won both matchups (along with its last 45 games overall and the last five titles), we all want to see this one again. Bergen Catholic gave the Ironmen their greatest challenge this year, bringing a lead into the fourth quarter before falling 33-22 behind late turnovers. The Crusaders have seen great growth since then, as QB Jon Germano has emerged as a big-time passer while the defense continues to be solid. Thing is, with each passing week, the Ironmen seem to get better and find a different playmaker. Plus, while both teams beat St. Joseph (Mont.) and Paramus Catholic, the Ironmen did so in a much more convincing manner behind its suffocating defense. Regardless, this one should be another classic.
My pick: Don Bosco Prep 34, Bergen Catholic 30

Wayne Hills vs. Old Tappan
Here's another rematch of last year's North Jersey Section 1, Group 3 final, when Wayne Hills ran back a kick return for the decisive TD in the final minute. This year's tilt could be just as thrilling with offensive firepower at a plenty. Wayne Hills boasts talented junior QB Kevin Olsen and do-everything player Andrew Monahan, who is expected to play despite being charged with assault a few weeks back. For Old Tappan, arguably the state's top offensive prospect in Devin Fuller makes the Golden Knights a threat to score on every play.
My pick: Old Tappan 28, Wayne Hills 27

Elizabeth vs. Piscataway
At the start of the year, most wondered what was wrong with Piscataway, as the defending North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 champs lost two of their first three games. But the Chiefs have recovered in a major, letting loose an aggressive defensive attack that's produced five shutouts this year. The Chiefs are also explosive on offense behind QB Nadir Barnwell. Elizabeth doesn't have Piscataway's size, but it has the talent and speed, anchored by RB Elijah Hughes (21 touchdowns).
My pick: Piscataway 31, Elizabeth 24

Summit vs. Madison
It's been 24 games since Madison lost a game. The last one? A 23-14 playoff defeat at the hands of Summit. Of course, the defending North Jersey Section 2, Group 2 champs would like nothing more than to avenge that loss, but that will be easier said than done. Summit's offense has been nearly unstoppable this year, averaging 43 points a game during its 11-0 campaign. Madison has the defensive ability to thwart such an attack, though, as the Dodgers have given up less than 10 points per game and shut out their last two opponents. Which unit will bend in this intense matchup?
My pick: Madison 27, Summit 20

St. Joseph (Mont.) vs. Delbarton
Never mind St. Joseph's blowout loss to Don Bosco Prep. It's a new week and the Non-Public, Group 3 championship is at stake. But the Green Knights' foe this weekend is also formidable in 11-0 Delbarton. The Green Wave's defense has been stifling this year, barely allowing 11 points per game. Likewise, the offense has been solid behind RB Jamie White (1,334 yards and seven scores). On the other side, St. Joseph is certainly battle-tested, facing the likes to Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco Prep this year. Take away those two losses and the Green Knights have given up just 81 points in nine wins. But while Delbarton might not be of the caliber of the top two teams in the state, its firepower and success could be too much for the Green Knights.
My pick: Delbarton 27, St. Joseph (Mont.) 23

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Wayne Hills, St. Joseph (Mont.) battle in Week 8 New Jersey football

November, 4, 2011
St. Joseph (Mont.) is in the middle of the octagon. Of course, the No. 9 Green Knights are a football team, not MMA fighters, but with the schedule they have to finish up this season, win or lose, they'll be beyond battle-tested.

Three weeks ago, it was No. 3 Bergen Catholic (a 30-17 loss). Last week, it was a talented Pascack Valley squad (a 42-3 win). And this weekend, it's No. 2 Wayne Hills for the finale.

The Green Knights will look to QB Spencer Aukamp, who has shown great athleticism from the pocket while totaling 13 touchdowns this year, and his favorite target in Ricky Jeune (five touchdowns) to lead an offensive attack that will need to be explosive to keep up with Wayne Hills.

After almost literally playing lights-out football in their first five games by outscoring opponents 185-7, the Patriots have survived upset bids from Ramapo and Ridgewood in the last three weeks. The Green Knights definitely provide their biggest test to date, meaning key players like QB Kevin Olsen (932 pass yards, 16 TDs) and WR/KR Andrew Monahan (11 total TDs) will have to step up even more.

But since the offenses for both teams are proven, defensive play will be the X-factor in this contest. In the Patriots' two close contests, the opponent hung with them early by shutting down their offense. Likewise, in the Green Knights' lone loss, they had to play keep-up after falling behind early.
My pick: Wayne Hills 28, St. Joseph (Mont.) 27

Sayreville vs. Piscataway
After a slow start, both of these teams ride into this matchup on lengthy win streaks. There have been some classic battles since these two started playing in 1995, as chronicled in this Star-Ledger story. I don't expect anything less in this year's bout.
My pick: Sayreville 17, Piscataway 14

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.
Results as of Saturday, Oct. 8

As I said on Twitter this weekend, if you're the No. 6 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, it's best to avoid Don Bosco Prep. Before it was Mission Viejo (Calif.) that fell 35-7 to the top-ranked Ironmen. This past weekend, it was St. Edward (Ohio) that lost 38-7 to Don Bosco Prep in surprising fashion.

Granted, even though the Ironmen have proven to be on another level, they weren't the only Jersey teams who found success this past week. Bergen Catholic showed its resolve in a 48-26 comeback victory against a solid Friendship (Washington, D.C.) team. Likewise, Wayne Hills and East Orange put together shutout victories (again).

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 5-0 (1)
The Ironmen flexed their muscles as the nation's top-ranked team, easily beating St. Edward (Ohio), 38-7. With their out-of-state slate behind them, the Ironmen will finish out the season with Jersey squads. Following a much-needed bye week, they will face Passaic Tech on Oct. 21.

2. Wayne Hills 4-0 (2)
Another week, another shutout for the Patriots. This time around, they blanked Paramus 38-0 behind three touchdowns by Kevin Olsen. Next up: Ridgewood.

3. Bergen Catholic (Oradell) 3-2 (3)
The Crusaders beat their second out-of-state squad of the year, downing Friendship (Washington D.C.) 48-26 behind Jon Germano's five touchdowns. The schedule doesn't get any easier, as a matchup with No. 6 St. Joseph (Mont.) is next.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly New Jersey football rankings.