Colgan lineman George Neiser (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruitNoVA)
John and George Neiser are part of the foundation at Colgan High School
by Jim McGrath, recruitNoVA
One of the bigger surprises in Northern Virginia prep football last year was the initial success of its newest varsity team, from Charles Colgan High in Manassas. Under coach Steve Baudendistel, the Sharks finished their rookie campaign in the Cardinal District with a 3-7 record, and while the record wasn’t totally unexpected, the offensive firepower of the Colgan offense was. The Sharks averaged almost 31 points per game in 2017, including two outbursts of 55-plus in wins against Osbourn Park (61) and Gar-Field (56).
While the maturation of junior Justin Kapp (1,345 yards, 14 TD’s in 2017) at quarterback is a main factor in the Sharks’ ability to move the ball and score, two of the biggest reasons for Colgan’s success on offense can be found on the right side of their O-line. It is here that the Neiser brothers, George and John, hold down the fort as they keep Kapp protected and able to make his throwing progressions.
Both brothers are sophomores, and as 11th grade, and a new season, looms in the horizon, their work in the trenches is drawing raves from coaches at the next level. John, at 6-2 and 205 pounds, is the smaller of the pair, and plays right tackle. John spoke of the chemistry with the two brothers and teammates at last Sunday’s Clash of the Titans, held at Highland Springs.
“It certainly helps having him next to me,” said John, who is able to spot his brother at right guard, if needed. “We have been playing together since Pee-Wee football about five or six years ago, and it’s good to know what the person next to me is thinking and what he will do next.”
Coming on to a first-year varsity team made the bond all the more crucial.“Hylton and Forest Park are in our area, but by eighth grade, we knew where we would be going,” added John, speaking of Colgan, which is located on Dumfries Road, and opened its doors in August 2016. “It was a challenge starting a team from the ground up.”
But the Sharks melded together quickly. With Kapp, the transfer from DeMatha (MD), at the helm, Justin Bell at running back, and receivers Blake Edwards, Joshua Mumphrey and six-foot-four Kaeleb Carter catching passes, the junior varsity led off the first season with an 8-1 record against district competition, putting the expectations at a high level as varsity play began last fall. Still, in retrospect, John thought they would be better.
“I expected us to be 5-5 and maybe make the playoffs,” and with a year of varsity experience under their belts, John feels that a post-season run is in the cards for 2018.
George, at 6-2 and 295, is a behemoth of a player, large by high school, and most college, football standards. At the Clash, he repeatedly put ensuing defenders on their backsides as a 1-on-1 pass rush drill was held in the Highland Springs end zone.
It was hard to tell during the drill that the lineman with bushy long blonde hair was working on the weak part of his blocking game, if there is such a thing.
“I was always a good run blocker,” said George, “but last year I wanted to work on my pass protection more. I need to lean forward and stay low, and sometimes I didn’t do that last year.”
Like his sibling, John felt that the Sharks were good last year, but saw it as a stepping stone. “We had to learn how to play together, and there were bumps that we had to work out.”
Fortunately, one of the advantages of playing for a new school and team is the overwhelming majority of underclassmen on every athletic squad. Overall, Colgan was blessed with a good football turnout, starting with roughly 90 players, and counting 75 on their roster. Of that number, only “four or five key contributors” will be lost to graduation, according to George.
As the team progresses, so will the visibility of both brothers. This year was their second at the Clash, and they enjoyed the experience.
“It’s more organized this year,” said George. “It’s running along better and everybody knows what is going on.” He was happy to see a “lot of former teammates, from little league and middle school.
“The competition was much better this year,” added John, “definitely a lot better.”
There will be other camps in the duo’s future. Virginia is on the list, as is a return to Maryland, Howard and Shenandoah University. In the meantime, they are mostly in the questionnaire phase of their recruiting, with both drawing interest from Rutgers, UNC, Howard, Cincinnati (George) and Wake Forest.
Next season will be a pivotal one for both the players and team. If the Sharks retain the 45 sophomores from last year’s roster, bonded with a full year of varsity ball, a winning record and post-season activity should be in the cards for the Sharks.
– Jim McGrath