By Jim Hintelmann |
RED BANK – While the North Jersey Non-Public football powers seem to be the dominating teams, there are plenty of other talented teams also in the NJSIAA Non-Public 3 playoffs, and top-seeded Red Bank Catholic proved that it belonged with the best of them Saturday night.
Unbeaten RBC (9-0) rolled to an impressive 27-0 victory over Pope John XXIII (Sparta) to get to the finals of the NJSIS- SA Non-Public 3 playoffs for the first time since 2014.
RBC will play another Shore Non-Public 3 power, Mater Dei Prep, over the Thanksgiving weekend at MetLife Stadium for the overall Non-Public 3 title Nov. 24. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. Third-seeded Mater Dei upset No. 2 DePaul (Wayne), 28- 23, to earn a chance to play the Caseys.
Pope John XXIII (2-8), playing in the North Jersey Super Football Conference where it lost to state powers Bergen Catholic, St. Joseph’s (Montvale), DePaul, Don Bosco, St. Peter’s Prep and Delbarton, was expected to be a major test for RBC despite its record. Its lone wins were over Saint John Vianney (33-12) and Seton Hall Prep (30-20).
“Most of the attention was given to their schedule and North Jersey football,” said RBC coach Frank Edgerly. “That motivat- ed us because we thought it was disrespectful to the teams we play down here. Long Branch, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional and Red Bank Regional also have excellent teams.
“We came in here tonight with a chip on our shoulders and wanted to make a statement,” he said. “We felt that we did. We moved the ball very well on a cold night. When you look at the whole picture, we played very good defense.”
RBC did it very quickly, scoring on its second play from scrim- mage after a short Pope John punt rolled dead on the Lions’ 39.
Quarterback Steve Lubischer passed 20 yards to M.J. Wright, then Billy Guidetti, who rushed for 156 yards in 19 carries, dashed 11 yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
“I want to give credit to my offensive line and the other guys blocking for me,” said Guidetti. “Mater Dei is a great team and I think this says a lot for Shore football. It’s awesome to have two Shore teams playing for a state championship.”
Pope John’s best threat came later in the first period when an interception gave the Lions a first down at the RBC 18, but the Caseys defense held and a 37-yard field goal attempt was short.
RBC scored on its next possession after stopping Pope John on a fake punt at the Lions’ 42. Lubischer passed 17 yards to Steve Cmielewski on the first play and then Cmielewski scored on a 7-yard run three plays later for a 13-0 lead.
RBC made it 20-0 late in the third quarter on a 6-yard keeper by Lubischer after Guidetti set it up with a 38-yard run.
RBC ended any hopes of a Pope John comeback when Lubischer passed over the middle to junior tight end Kevin Bauman for a 41-yard touchdown.
“Their quarterback (Nick Hroncich) was all over the place,” said linebacker John Columbia, one of the many defensive standouts in the game. The RBC defense sacked Hroncich six times in the game.
“It doesn’t matter what their record was,” said Columbia. “We just did our jobs on every play and that’s it.”
RBC stayed with a running game most of the time, rushing for 215 yards. Lubischer was only five-of-seven for 93 yards.
“We knew that they were going to be gearing up to the pass- ing game,” said Edgerly. “It was a physical game on both sides, but we expected it.”
A win by RBC over Mater Dei would give the Caseys their first perfect record since the 1960 team went 8-0. However, the NJSIAA football playoffs weren’t started until 1974.
RBC defeated Delbarton, 45-20, to win its only overall state championship in 2014. That team missed a perfect season when it lost an overtime regular season game to Jackson Memorial.
This article was first published in the Nov. 15-21, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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