As they approach the end of their high school careers, two of South Brunswick's brightest stars will be taking their talents to the next level in 2013.
South Brunswick High School baseball standouts T.J. Perkowski and Sean Keenan signed collegiate letters of intent last month after anchoring the Vikings for the past few years.
Perkowski, an outfielder and pitcher who is also the quarterback for the Group V state champion Vikings, will be headed to Rutgers University in the fall where he will continue his baseball career for the Scarlet Knights.
"T.J. is probably one of the most versatile kids we've ever had. He can do it all," said assistant coach C.J. Hendricks. "His ability makes heads turn. But the humility with which he does it stands out the most. He doesn't walk around like a big man on campus. He comes to freshman games just to watch. He stays after practice to get extra reps with the guys that need it. It's a testament to the job his parents have done with him in the attitude and maturity he brings. We're going to miss a player like T.J. that's for sure."
For Perkowski, heading to Rutgers was a natural choice in that it allowed him to stay close to his roots.
"Rutgers is a great university and I love the feeling of being able to stay close to home," Perkowski said. "Going to South Brunswick with the coaches all committed to us, we committed to each other to try and win every day. The coaches did a great job making us student athletes and that allowed us to reach college baseball status."
Keenan, an infielder and pitcher, will be heading a little further away from home at Marist. But his impact on the program will resonate in South Brunswick for years to come.
"Sean has been the type of player we've seen from the the grassroots level. I had him as a freshman and then saw his role on the varsity grow," Hendricks said. "His growth and maturity are what stands out to me. Sean has been a pleasure to coach and is the type of kid everyone wants on their team in the way he goes about his business. I'm so proud of him and he's going to be a tremendous addition to their program. He instilled the value of hard work in our younger players and a lot of them look up to him."
Keenan said he chose Marist because it appealed to him on various levels on and off the field.
"When I took a visit to campus, I really liked the coaches and it seemed like a good fit academically," Keenan said. "They told me I have a good chance to come in and get significant playing time my freshman year. It just seemed like a perfect fit."
Before they move on however, Keenan and Perkowski still have unfinished business at SBHS in the spring. After a year in which the Vikings went 15-8, Keenan was picked First-Team for the Red Division and the GMC as an infielder. Perkowski was First-Team for the division as an outfielder.
"This year anything short of a GMC championship or state championship would be a disappointment," Keenan said. "It would be a great accomplishment, but it's something we could definitely accomplish."
As they approach the final chapter in their Viking careers, Perkowski said the the path that led them to where they are is what he will look back at with the most pride.
"The most rewarding thing for me is that I've been able to be with my teammates since we were 8-years-old, with friends like Sean Keenan," Perkowski said. "It's been amazing. I've been able to share such a great time in my life playing baseball with everyone I've grown up with."
Watching two of their top players getting ready to continue their careers is a bittersweet moment for the SBHS coaches, as their pride is mixed the fact that two cornerstones of the program will need to be replaced.
"For the last four years we've had the pleasure of coaching those guys," Hendricks said. "They are the pillars and foundation of what we try to surround our players with. The positive attitude and philosophy of hard work we try to surround our players with is based around T.J. and Sean."