Blue Bloods: Shore Regional’s 2014 Team Among the Program’s Best Ever
UNION - Shore Regional isn’t a football program short on history.
The Blue Devils have been one of the state’s most consistent small-school teams, and they have the championship rings to back it up. So it was particularly telling when head coach Mark Costantino heaped a certain kind of praise on them after their latest title, a 42-12 win over South Hunterdon in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I championship on Saturday at Kean University.
“You came here and had a perfect game today,” Costantino said as he addressed his team following their sixth sectional championship. “This is unbelievable. You’re one of the greatest teams we’ve ever had.”
Coaches say a lot of things in the heat of the moment, but Costantino’s claim that this is an all-time Shore Regional team is accurate. The Blue Devils polished off an 11-1 season with a 30-point win in the state final. Only Shore’s 35-0 win over Asbury Park to win the Central Jersey Group II title in 1981 looms as a more dominant effort, and that team finished 11-0 as the only undefeated team in program history.
Part of Shore’s tradition is its Delaware Wing-T rushing attack, which it has been running seemingly forever. Combine that with a physical defense, and it’s no secret how Shore plans to win. On Saturday the Blue Devils had every phase of their game working. The offense ran 56 rushing plays and churned out 344 yards while scoring five touchdowns. The defense held South Hunterdon to 1.9 yards per carry. They forced four turnovers and won the field position battle. That’s how Shore chalks it up every season, and this season it nearly batted 1.000.
Saturday’s championship victory was a microcosm of Shore’s entire season. Junior fullback Doug Goldsmith led the way with 139 rushing yards on 28 carries, while senior Kyle Masica added 75 yards and two touchdowns, junior Tyreek McCain had 66 yards and a touchdown and senior Mike Moore had 55 yards. Shore rarely threw the ball this season, but quarterback Ryan Campi found the end zone on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Moore.
That’s how it’s been all season for Shore. Goldsmith was a star in the making as a sophomore and projected to be a 1,000-yard rusher this year, but injuries cost him the early part of the season. During his absence a solid committee formed in his place, and he still ended up running for 806 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games. In running for almost 3,000 yards as a team, Shore finished the season with three runners with at least 500 yards and three more with 250. Six different players scored at least four rushing touchdowns.
Defensively, Shore was at another level this season. Led by standout senior linebacker James Bedell, the Blue Devils allowed a Shore Conference-low 61 points and registered a school-record six shutouts. They blanked Central Jersey Group II finalist and defending champion Rumson-Fair Haven, 13-0, to christen their new Thanksgiving rivalry game and blasted a nine-win team in the sectional final. They were the only team to hold Mater Dei Prep’s record-setting quarterback Christian Palmer in check during a 14-8 win. Not even mighty St. Joseph-Hammonton had that kind of success against the 44-touchdown machine.
Shore’s only loss came in Week Four, 16-7 to a Dunellen team that reached the North 2, Group II final. The Blue Devils didn’t have Goldsmith for that game and senior kicker Jake Monteiro was injured. He missed a pair of field goals in that game. It’s a game of “what-ifs,” but this year’s Blue Devils were a team that, when at full strength, executed to perfection.
The Blue Devils accomplished all this with a major chip on their shoulders. They had reached the Central Jersey Group I title game in each of the last two seasons, only to walk away stunned both times. In 2012 it was a 23-17 double overtime loss to Florence. Last season it was a 12-7 loss to division rival Point Beach one week after beating the Gulls 31-0. This season there would be no letdown. They opened the playoffs with a 49-0 wipeout of Point Beach, then topped Middlesex 28-13 to reach their third straight final. They took the lead 2:59 into the sectional final against South Hunterdon and never turned back.
Costantino knew he had a team that would compete for a sectional title back during the preseason, but - even with injuries - things came together at a rate better than anyone could have expected.
“You never think about that kind of thing, but we were just looking to keep it rolling,” Costantino said. “This is what Shore Regional does.”
“Coach Cos has coached for over 20 years, and for him to mention us with one of the best; just to be in that category is a great feeling for all of us,” Goldsmith said.
The numbers don’t lie, and soon the championship rings will be sized and delivered to make it official. The 2014 version of the Shore Regional Blue Devils will go down as one of the greatest teams in program history.