2014 Shore Regional Football Preview: Back to Work
Shore came up a touchdown short of claiming the program’s fifth NJSIAA sectional championship and third under head coach Mark Costantino when it fell to division rival Point Beach in the Central Jersey Group I final last season, so the rallying cry is predictable heading into 2014.
“We talked about finishing the deal and all that kind of stuff,” Costantino said. “We were this close, so it’s time to get back and finish it off. We expect to win every time we step on the field and we really mean that.”
“After that loss we were really upset, but that next Monday we came back to work and started using it as motivation,” said senior James Bedell.
Shore’s offense averaged 26 points per game en route to claiming the Class B Central division title and reaching the sectional final, but it was its suffocating defense that overwhelmed opponents. The Blue Devils allowed a conference-low 77 points - 6.4 points per game - and return six starters from that unit.
Shore graduated all-division lineman Matt Proto, but returns two starters along the defensive line in its multiple 4-4 base. Senior Dom Liana returns as a starter at defensive tackle while senior Mitch Candido is back at defensive end. Junior Jeremy Redaelli is the other defensive end with senior Robby Fallon and 285-pound junior Steve Fiumefreddo rotating at defensive tackle.
The strength of the Blue Devils defense is at linebacker, where Bedell and junior Doug Goldsmith return as starters. Bedell was an all-division offensive lineman last season and also led the team with 97 tackles. Goldsmith was an all-division linebacker who finished with 95 tackles and four sacks. Candido can also play inside linebacker, and junior Devin McLaughlin will also see time.
“We’re always a defensive-minded team,” Costantino said. “That’s our first goal. We think with Doug and James in the middle we’ll be very effective.”
Senior Ryan Campi is a returning starter at outside linebacker, and the other spot is between junior Alex Johnson, 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior Connor Rempel and senior Jake Monteiro.
Senior Mike Moore is a returning starter at cornerback coming off a season in which he intercepted four passes. Junior Tyreek McCain, a transfer from Neptune, and senior Kyle Masica will also see playing time at cornerback. Junior Jack Britton will start opposite Moore once he returns from a knee injury. Britton had three interceptions last season as a sophomore. The safety is sophomore Matt Pennell.
“I think our strength is linebacker, but we’re pretty good in the secondary too,” Bedell said. “Last year it was our front seven that was our strength, but I think this year it’s a little more spread out.”
Shore will continue to run its traditional Wing-T attack on offense. Campi steps in at quarterback for the graduated Matt Muh, who is now at Bucknell. Campi is more of a running threat than Muh, so Shore has added yet another weapon in the running game.
“He’s a Wing-T quarterback and he has a very good arm,” Costantino said. “Ryan is more of a running quarterback, where Matt was a pure passer. We’re going to run the ball to win, but we’ve been throwing the ball very well in scrimmages.”
Goldsmith returns as the starting fullback after rushing for 736 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore. The team graduated 1,000-yard rusher Brian Miller, but returns Moore at wingback. He’ll be joined by Masica, with McCain and Johnson expected to get playing time.
“The challenge for Doug is that he’s not going to surprise people,” Costantino said. “Last year people didn’t know who he was and all of the sudden he’s lighting people up.”
“I have to be more of a leader this year,” Goldsmith said. “Last year I really had to work for a spot, which was great because I developed a great work ethic.”
Rempel is the tight end with Monteiro also getting time. Senior Cole Barrale returns as a starting wide receiver with senior Chris Johnsen and Pennell in the rotation.
The offensive line has two returning starters with Bedell at left guard and 225-pound junior Erik Graham at right guard. The left tackle is Fiumefreddo, the center is junior Casey Rogers and the right tackle is senior Rob Kondracki.
Monteiro returns as one of the Shore Conference’s top kickers. Last season he went 37-for-39 on extra points while kicking nine field goals. His long of 47 yards was tied for the longest field goal in the Shore last season. He will also be the team’s punter.
Mater Dei Prep is coming on strong and Asbury Park is always a threat, but the top two teams in Class B Central once again look to be Shore and Point Beach. Last season Shore defeated Point Beach 31-0 to claim the division title only to have the Garnet Gulls turn the tables on them in the state final. There’s a great chance they will have to go through one another again to claim another championship. Every game requires focus, but there’s no denying that’s the marquee game on the Blue Devils’ schedule.
“We want to take it one game at a time, but in the back of our minds we have that Halloween matchup against Point Beach,” Bedell said.
Head coach: Mark Costantino, 23rd season
Career record: 142-84-1
Assistant coaches: Mike Whitacre (OL/DL); John Remedios (OL/DL); Pete Vincelli (RB/DB); Bob Biasi (WR/LB); Jack Levy (QB/DB); Martin Mullarney, Joe Rankin, John Vaccarelli (freshmen); Nora McCormick (athletic trainer).
2013 record: 10-2 (5-0)
Big Shoes to Fill: Kyle Masica, Sr., RB
Masica steps into a starting role to replace the graduated Brian Miller, who ran for over 1,000 yards last season
X-Factor: Staying healthy
The one issue that Shore has, like many Group I teams, is depth. A couple injuries could derail an otherwise promising season.
Glue Guy: James Bedell, Sr., OL/LB
A returning all-division lineman and the team’s leading returning tackler, Bedell is the leader on both sides of the ball.
Impact Newcomer: Matt Pennell, So., WR/DB
The 6-foot-1 sophomore will play receiver and start at safety, and is also the team’s backup quarterback.
Pivotal Game: Oct. 31 vs. Point Beach
Unless something unexpected happens, this is the game that will decide the Class B Central division title.