Camp Confidential: No. 5 Erasmus Hall
MSG Varsity will visit the top teams in New York City during preseason camps and will unveil our preseason power rankings each day leading up to opening kickoff. In today’s edition of Camp Confidential, we take a look at No. 5 Erasmus Hall.
LAST SEASON: 9-4 (Lost to Lincoln in PSAL City Championship final)
HEAD COACH: Danny Landberg (11th Year)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS:RB Kahlil Lewin, RB Curtis Samuel
OUTLOOK: With the big names all graduated, the Dutchmen will rely on an unheralded group in hopes of making it back to the PSAL Championship Division title game at Yankee Stadium.
For a team that was quickly tagged by many with the dreaded “talented, but inconsistent” label early in season, Danny Landberg’s squad still managed to win where it counted, making it all the way to the final before falling to Lincoln.
Much of that success had to do with the big-time contributions of the uber-talented senior class, anchored by All-American Wayne Morgan, now a freshman at Syracuse.
“It’s different because I feel like the team really belonged to those guys,” Landberg said. “With this new group, there isn’t anyone that really stands out from the crowd like Wayne. Winning will have to be a collective effort this season, but I feel that these guys have strong character and are ready to write a brand new story.”
To say that the Dutchmen heavily relied on Morgan would be an understatement. Outside of his technical label of quarterback, the dynamic athlete was such a threat because of his unparalleled athleticism and ability to play both sides of the ball. When you remove a player with so much significance from an offense, the game plan will inevitably change.
Landberg acknowledged as much, saying that his team will have a different identity; one more focused on balance on both sides of the ball.
“Everybody will have to take on the burden and that makes you stronger because they all have to be more accountable for each other,” Landberg said. “I think it builds team camaraderie and forces guys to compete more as well because they know there isn’t that one guy that separates himself from the rest just yet.”
“It’s going to be a struggle without Wayne, but we have other athletes ready to step up and work hard,” said junior running back Kahlil Lewin.
Outside of the understandable remorse that comes with losing in a championship game, last season was a benchmark for Erasmus as it was their first foray into said territory.
“I’d be remiss to say that it hasn’t bothered me when I wake up in the morning sometimes, but it’s that hunger that keeps you going,” Landberg said.
While the quarterback position is still undecided, Lewin is the clear-cut choice to take over the running back duties from graduated Shaquell Jackson.
“He [Lewin] is going to ground and pound,” Landberg said. “His strengths are his vision and his balance and his ability to get out of tight places. He’s got the strongest legs that I’ve had on a running back in a long time and he’s been a part of our program since he was a little kid. He proved himself in the city championship and we just feel like it’s his turn.”
“It feels like an honor after seeing Shaquell do his thing for years,” Lewin said. “I’ve learned from him and competed with him and it’s made me better. I don’t take starting lightly and I’m ready to prove myself.”
Landberg also had praise for junior running back and slot receiver Curtis Samuel.
“Curtis is our up-and-coming junior who already has offers from Syracuse, Rutgers and Virginia,” Landberg said. “He is a tremendous athlete who can make every kind of play. He can run the ball in the middle and he can catch any ball outside. He’s got amazing speed and he got bigger this year. He’s gained two inches and 10 pounds of muscle over the summer, so I hope that carries into the season.”
The new PSAL scheduling guarantees difficult games, right from Week 1, but Landberg isn’t concerned at all, knowing his team will respond.
“Tough teams make you better,” Landberg said. “It’s better for us to not take anything for granted. People will be gunning for us, but we’ll be gunning for them just the same - together as a group.”
Sept. 8 at Curtis
Sept. 15 vs. Dewitt Clinton
Sept. 22 at Campus Magnet
Sept. 29 vs. Midwood
Oct. 7 vs. Boys and Girls
Oct. 13 at. Fort Hamilton
Oct. 20 vs. Lincoln
Oct. 27 at Thomas Jefferson
Nov. 2 at Tottenville
Check out our No. 4 team Monday at 10 a.m.