By Jim Hintelmann
Area A Central
MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP – An otherwise successful football season came to a disappointing end last fall for Middletown South when it dropped a tough 21-18 decision to Jackson Memorial in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV finals.
The Eagles, however, still finished 8-3 with a young squad and the outlook is bright for maybe an even better season this year.
“We have a nice group of kids that are fun to coach,” said South coach Steve Antonucci. “They did a good job over the summer preparing for this season. Our defense has been looking great in the pre-season.”
The running game is the strength of the South offense with Cole Rogers returning following a solid season a year ago when he scored 26 touchdowns and rushed for 1,867 yards.
“Cole has great vision and is a slashing type of runner,” said Antonucci. The other tailback is junior Jim McCarthy who scored five touchdowns last year.
Returning to quarterback is senior Matt Mosquera, who is also one of the states’ better kickers, making 14 field goals in 15 attempts.
“Matt is an athletic kid who knows how to run and pass,” said Antonucci. “He’s been outstanding for us.”
Also back on the offensive line are tackle Bobby Burke, center Joe Rutkowski and guards Adam Markmann and Mike Wilson.
Defensively, South will use a 4-2-5 with Burke and Jake Krellin at the ends, Jack Uhrig and Will Gulick at tackle and Dylan Rogers, Kevin Higgins and McCarthy at linebacker. Cole Rogers, Bob Hulse, Lewandowksi and Samson Dube will be in the secondary. South has a tough opener Friday night when it travels to South Brunswick, which handed South one of its three losses last year.
Middletown North had one of its better seasons last year with a 6-4 record including a tough 21-13 loss to South in a game in which it led after three quarters.
With a veteran team coming back, coach Steve Bush takes an optimistic outlook and hopes to pick a few more wins.
“We’re optimistic,” said Bush. “We’ve done well in preseason scrimmages and the kids are getting to be familiar with our system.”
The North backfield is one of the better ones in the area with the rerun of junior quarterback Donald Glenn and running back-linebacker Chad Freshnock,
Glenn, starting his third varsity season, threw for 1,326 yards and 16 touchdowns last season after throwing for over 1,000 yards as a freshman.
“Don is an athletic kid with a strong throwing arm,” said Bush. “He is getting more and more comfortable with the offense.”
Glenn’s main targets will be Brendan Kube and Nick Kisch. Josh Gomez will start at tight end.
Freshnock is a solid player both ways. He led the team in tackles last year and had three quarterback sacks.
The tentative starting offensive line includes Matt Dombrowski, Dwight Wilkerson, Pat McGowan and Mike Hoverson. Defensively, Dombrowski and Jeff Goldfarb start at end with Cory Baliatico and Tyler Vivian at the tackles. Freshnock, Kisch, Don Benoit and Gomez are the linebackers.
Demetrius Redway, Sam Santiago and Marc Cerbo are in the secondary. Kisch will be the punter.
North begins it season Friday when it plays host to Perth Amboy.
Area A Central
Although settling for second place in the Shore Conference A Division Central behind champion St. John Vianney, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional still recovered and went on to win its second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championship with a 21-0 win over Delaware Valley.
Rumson lost a lot from that team including all-time scoring leader Charlie Volker (now at Princeton), but the Bulldogs have more than enough talented players coming back to both make a strong run at the division and sectional championships. “This is a talented team that knows how to win in December,” said Rumson coach Bryan Batchler. “They are hard working and are excited by playing against Matawan in their opener Sept. 18. “We have a lot of leaders on this team and they have been looking very good in our scrimmages,” he said. “They are extremely hungry to win a third straight title.
The key to the Rumson offense will be junior quarterback Mike O’Connor, who rushed for 965 yards and 12 touchdowns while passing for 560 yards and seven more touchdowns.
“Mike has great vision and the ability to make tacklers miss him,” said Batchler. “He is an outstanding player and hard worker.”
Although losing Volker, Rumson still has some good runners in Bryan Hess, Lachlan Hull and Mike Vecchiarelli. Elijah McAllister and John Kingdon will be the starting wide receivers with Henry Gehlhaus at tight end.
Starting tackles will be James Oncea and Nate Raphan with Tim Leonard and either Brian Lawless or Justin Johnson at the guards. Also on the offensive line is AJ Kelly.
Definitely, Rumson will use a “4-3” with Matt Walters, Ian Clarke and Jack Woods at the ends, and Liam Adams and Butchy Clark, who had 9.5 sacks last year, at tackle. Max Pfrang, James Melia and Mike Ruane the probable starting linebackers.
Safeties will be Mike Murdock and Emmett Jennings with Mike Caruso and Griffin at cornerback.
Tom Chapin will handle the punting and kicking duties.
Batchler looks for St. John Vianney and Matawan to be the main challengers in a strong A Central. Rumson will also compete in CJ Group II this season.
Area B Central
With a veteran team coming back from last year’s NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I champions, Shore Regional football coach Mark Costantino is ready for another excellent season. The Blue Devils were 11-1 a year ago.
“I’m very optimistic,” said Costantino. “We’re a little banged up in the pre-season but will be ready for our opening game against Keyport. We have a new turf field that will help our running game, and our defense should be strong once again.”
Leading the offense will be fullback-linebacker Doug Goldsmith, who missed three games last year due to an injury.
“He’s a special player,” said Costantino. “We were also first in the Shore in least points allowed last year.”
Matt Pennell will be the stating quarterback while Tyreek McCain, Alex Johnson and Jack Britton will be the top running backs.
Connor Rempel will be at tight end while Duke Russo and, John Teufel will be the wide receivers. Casey Rogers, Steve Fiumefreddo and Erik Graham are the top offensive linemen.
Jeremy Redaelli star ts at defensive end with Devin McLaughlin, Alex Johnson, Goldsmith and Rempel at linebacker. McCain, Duke, Russo, George Notte and Britton are in the secondary.
MATER DEI PREP
Although failing to win a title, Mater Dei Prep’s football team still achieved a breakthrough season a year ago by going 8-3, and new coach Shannon Hoadley looks for another winning season despite losing a good number of talented players including star quarterback Christian Palmer, who set a Shore Conference record with 44 combined touchdowns (throwing and running) last year.
Also gone is running back Tysaun White, who scored 21 touchdowns last year.
“We’re making progress and want to keep moving for ward,” said Hoadley. “I’m very happy with the way the team playing and we’re like a family.”
Replacing Palmer, who is playing football at Salve Regina in Rhode Island this fall, will be Kyle Devaney, who is having a good pre-season.
Devaney’s main target will be Eddie Lewis, who caught eight touchdown passes a year ago.
Also returning are tackles Mario Rodriguez and Shane Mastro, center Alex Mercado, guards Nick Massaro and Juwan Mitchell and fullback John Lubintus. Lubintus also plays linebacker, where he led the team in tackles a year ago.
Other probable defensive starters are Mercado and Mastro at the ends, Kevin Olausen at tackle, and linebackers Jabril Davidson and Massaro. Lewis, Justice George, and John Leverock are in the secondary.
Mater Dei opens the season Saturday when it makes a short trip to Keansburg.
RED BANK CATHOLIC
Red Bank Catholic had a season to remember last year when it won its first state championship in 38 years with a 4520 rout of Delbarton in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group III title game at MetLife Stadium.
This is another season, however, as RBC lost a great deal from last year’s 12-1 team due to graduation and has been hit with a number of injuries in the pre-season, including
Hahn, who suffered a torn meniscus in RBC’s first scrimmage of the season. He might be ready for Friday’s opener against Long Branch.
“I don’t want to discuss injuries,” said RBC coach Jim Portella, who still maintains an optimistic outlook. “We’re trying to get better every day. We’ll be using a lot of sophomores (from last year’s unbeaten freshman team) and will be competitive.”
A brutal scrimmage schedule which included state powers Bergen Catholic and St. Joseph’s of Hammonton hasn’t made it any easier, but Portella believes that will help his team.
“We feel that playing those types of teams with their quickness and athleticism will help us,” Portella said.
The centerpiece of the team is Hahn, whose running, passing and footwork gave RBC the dimension that was needed to overcome the North Jersey Parochial powers that had blocked the way in previous years.
Hahn, who gave a verbal commitment to UConn, completed 81 of 127 passes for 20 touchdowns while rushing for 531 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns. He was also a standout at safety and did the punting for the Caseys. Colin Shaughnessy replaced Hahn at quarterback in the scrimmages.
RBC lost its top two runners, Tommy Spernal and Mike Cordova, by graduation, but running back-linebacker Dylan Murphy has looked good in the pre-season. The top receivers will be Dan Lukawski and Michael Balzofiore.
Liam Smith, a Duke University recruit, and Ryan Oneidias anchor the RBC offensive line.
The rest of the offensive line are guards Bendon Dente and Alex Sargiss, and center Mike Grigg.
Defensively, Smith and Oneidas will be the tackles with Nasir Darnell, Charley Gargiulo and Murphy a good group of linebackers along with Mike Wilen and Joe Hagan.
Hahn, Balzofiore and, Lukawski will be in the secondary while Tom Lang will do the kicking.
RED BANK REGIONAL
Red Bank Regional just missed a winning season and a playoff berth a year ago by finishing with a 5-5 record, but the Bucs might achieve both aims this season with a veteran team returning.
“Things are going smoothly right now,” said Red Bank coach Nick Giglio. “Our first three games are against Wall, Colts Neck and Neptune. After these games we’ll know what we have.”
The strength of the Bucs offense is the passing combination of quarterback Jack Navitsky to wide receiver Sadiq Palmer.
“Navitsky is a fierce competitor who works hard,”’ said Giglio. “He’s a dual threat with his running and has a great burst of speed.”
Palmer caught 38 passes for 748 yards while scoring 11 touchdowns. He is also a standout at safety.
“Palmer is very physical,’ said Giglio. “When the ball is in the air, he goes up and usually gets it.”
The other wide receiver is Jeff Reardon while Sean Naiman is the starting tight end.
Rich Wild and Connor McCarthy are the starting tackles and Tyrik Murad and Colon Young are the guards.
Defensively, Red Bank uses a 4-4 with Naiman and Jack Haytain starting at end.
Ross Zymere and Righteon Johnson at tackle. Fagan Jalen Willis and Reardon are the linebackers while Palmer, Teddy Mitchell and Kevin Jackson in the secondary. and Jack O’Connor will handle the kicking and punting duties.
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