NB’s Drouet emerges as Bruin standout

When Mike Guasconi took over as the head football coach at North Bergen High School last spring¸ he knew he was inheriting some talented players, in particular a youngster with whom he became familiar during his days as the principal at Kennedy School, a young man named David Drouet.

“We talked from time to time about a lot of things,” Guasconi said of Drouet (pronounced DREW-IT.)

“It helped me a lot, being able to talk to him,” Drouet said. “It helped me that he knew who I was when I was in grammar school.”

Last year, when Guasconi was the freshman coach at St. Peter’s Prep, he took interest in Drouet’s ability.

“He showed some really good signs,” Guasconi said. “He showed some potential there.”

So after Guasconi took the job, he held a team meeting with prospective players, but Drouet, who went to the meeting wearing another school’s clothes, got up and left before the meeting was over, much to the ire of the new coach.

“I knew he was mad,” Drouet said. “That was it. I knew he was right. I knew I didn’t want to bring that environment to the North Bergen football team. I changed my ways.”

Drouet wanted to prove to Guasconi that he was ready to be a big-time football player.

“So every day before practice, I went to the weight room,” Drouet said. “I tried to get something out of every time I went. It helped me a lot.”

“From May, I told him what my expectations were of him,” Guasconi said. “He put on some weight and added some muscle. I could see he was motivated in the weight room.”
Guasconi’s anger set the tone for the coach/player relationship.

“I think it sent a clear message to him where I was coming from,” Guasconi said. “I didn’t know how well he received that message, but I saw it by the way he hit the weight room. He was going to the weight room twice a day. He wanted to go three times a day. That would have been too much.”

Drouet turned the corner and became more focused on being a member of the Bruins. Drouet, now a sophomore, knew that he had an ally in his new head coach and was willing to do anything and everything to please him.

That also meant playing a multitude of positions.

“We’re a spread offense, but we can put two running backs in the backfield and then throw the ball,” Guasconi said. “David can go out as a receiver at times.”

In the first game of the season, Drouet caught 11 passes for 112 yards against Bayonne.

“We move him all over the place,” Guasconi said. “And he’s done well, catching passes, lining up in the slot, lining up at running back. He’s responded well to it.”

“He wanted me to do it, so I did,” Drouet said. “I liked all of that. But I really feel being a running back is my best position.”

Drouet is beginning to feel extremely comfortable at tailback for the Bruins, gaining 100 yards in each of the Bruins’ games against Dickinson, Clifton and Bloomfield.

But last week, in the Bruins’ 35-18 win over Newark East Side, Drouet had his best game, gaining 134 yards on 12 carries and scoring three touchdowns. It’s apparent he’s found a home.

For his efforts, Drouet has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Guasconi has been impressed with the development of the 5-foot-11, 170-pound sophomore.

“I like his versatility and durability,” Guasconi said. “What he lacks right now is the ability to make the big play. But he does make people miss when they try to tackle him. He’s shifty. He needs to finish runs better. He has to get his body leverage down and then he’ll be able to finish runs better.”

Guasconi also likes what Drouet does on the defensive side from his strong safety slot.

“It took a while to find out what his best position was on defense as well,” Guasconi said. “We just let him go and get to the ball. He doesn’t come off the field. He plays all three facets of the game and after that first meeting, I thought he would be standing by me on the sidelines.”

Drouet is glad that Guasconi gave him the chance to carry the ball.

“I’m glad that he had faith in me,” Drouet said. “I believe I can do more. This was just the start for me.”

Drouet knows that the Bruins have a do-or-die game with Union City this weekend. Win the showdown with the neighboring rivals and the Bruins punch their ticket to the NJSIAA playoffs for the 41st time in the 44-year history of the playoffs.

“Let’s see if I can do the same thing,” Drouet said. “I think I see the field better than most players. It was huge for me to get a chance like this. But this is just the beginning. I’m looking forward to having more games like this. This last game gave me a lot of confidence. It’s definitely a good feeling to know I can do this, especially going into the game with Union City.”

And Drouet learned his lesson about not taking anything for granted.

“Never again,” Drouet said. “It was the one mistake I made. It will never happen again.”

“He’s definitely exceeded expectations, especially since he’s just a sophomore,” Guasconi said. “I thought maybe he’d be able to do this junior year. The success he’s attained came sooner than I thought. So I’m pleasantly pleased.”

And Guasconi has the talents of Drouet for two more seasons after this one. It was very influential to the young man to get his head on straight.

“It’s early, but I’d love to play in college,” Drouet said. “The hard work in the weight room does pay off a lot.”—Jim Hague

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