Business as Usual: RBC tops Midd. South for its 31st Straight Conference Win
RED BANK — Given how dominant Red Bank Catholic has been over the past few years, it would seem easy for the Caseys to overlook some regular season games.
But when the playoffs represent a different level of competition and intensity, focus needs to sharpen on a weekly basis. And with Middletown South coming to town, staying on course wasn't a problem.
The Caseys, ranked No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, won their 31st consecutive Shore Conference game with a 41-13 nondivisional victory over No. 8 Middletown South on Friday night at Count Basie Field. Senior running back Larry Redaelli ran for 230 yards and four touchdowns, going over 1,000 yards on the season, while the RBC defense forced four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions by junior Mike Cordova.
“Personally, I love the rivalry of it and the crowd when we play Middletown South,” Redaelli said. “And we know we have to keep it going week after week. We have to keep working hard and preparing for those big teams that are coming.”
Those ‘big teams’ are the Caseys’ potential opponents in the Non-Public Group III playoffs - St. Joseph-Montvale, Pope John XXIII, Delbarton and Immaculata - and RBC (7-0) knows how well it does in the postseason is what it will be judged on. Taking care of business in the regular season is just part of its preparation.
“We realize we can dominate some teams, but we have to realize what our goals are and that’s to be the best in the state,” Cordova said. “We remind each other of that every day, and we go out and compete as hard as we can.”
Cordova also scored on a short touchdown run that was set up by one of his interceptions. Sophomore quarterback Eddie Hahn, who again split time with senior Pat Toomey, ran for a 35-yard touchdown. Senior Christian Wagar and junior Nick Lubischer also had interceptions. RBC’s coverage was great all game in holding Middletown South senior quarterback Kyle Brey to 56 yards on 5-of-17 passing.
“(Brey) is a very good quarterback, and we were concerned,” said Caseys head coach Jim Portela. “We thought he was the guy we needed to stop from having his best night. We didn’t have to blitz a lot tonight because we were covering so well.”
“We know they are athletic and talented, and our secondary is young right now,” Cordova said. “We worked on their tendencies, and we were able to jump some routes and get some picks.”
The Eagles (4-3) were able run the ball effectively against RBC’s defense, however, with senior Jeremy Concepcion leading the way with 137 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries as part of a 200-plus yard game as a team.
Right from the start, however, it was all Red Bank Catholic. The Caseys drove 64 yards in seven plays to open the game, and took a quick lead on a seven-yard run by Redaelli. Toomey’s extra point made it 7-0 just 3:30 into the game.
Red Bank Catholic would add to its lead midway through the second quarter and begin to pull away. Starting at the Middletown South 48, the Caseys needed just four plays to reach the end zone and take a 14-0 lead on Hahn’s 35-yard touchdown run and Toomey’s extra point.
Later in the quarter, Cordova’s first interception gave RBC the ball at midfield to begin a drive that would yield its third touchdown. After the interception, Hahn connected with Connor Smith for 20 yards, and one play later Redaelli broke free from 30 yards out for a touchdown and a 20-0 lead after the extra point was no good.
“We kept going up the sideline and every time I got the ball it felt like there were nine guys already there,” Redaelli said. “We keyed on that and caught them over-pursuing, went to the weak side and it opened up.”
The final score won’t necessarily reflect it, but Middletown South did a lot of positive things on both sides of the ball. First and foremost was its running game, which got the Eagles on the board late in the first half. On second down from the 30, Concepcion got loose on a 68-yard run down to the RBC 2-yard line. Two plays later Concepcion scored from one yard out, and Matt Mosquera’s extra point made it 21-7.
Any momentum the Eagles may have seized was quickly wiped out, however, as the Caseys answered with a touchdown of their own in the final 1:52 of the half. A short kickoff and 30-yard return by Cordova gave RBC the ball at Middletown South’s 36-yard line. On third down Redaelli broke another long run, this one from 35 yards out to make it 27-7 RBC at the half.
The Caseys quickly extended their lead in the second half when Cordova picked off Brey and returned it 39 yards to the one-yard line before taking a handoff and scoring himself on the very next play. Toomey’s extra point gave RBC a 34-7 lead 1:05 into the second half.
The finishing touch came late in the third quarter. A Middletown South punt backed the Caseys up at their own 11-yard line, but Redaelli found daylight on the first play of the drive for an 89-yard touchdown and a 41-7 lead. The run put Redaelli over 200 yards rushing and was his 22nd touchdown of the season.
“Larry’s fast but he’s also incredibly strong, and that helps a lot,” Portela said. “He can wear on you a little bit. He hasn’t had games where he’s had to carry it a lot but you get up around 20 carries like today and you see runs like that 89-yarder.”
Middletown South added a 5-yard touchdown run by sophomore Cole Rogers as time expired to get to 41-13.
The Caseys face Monmouth Regional next week before the postseason begins. The Caseys entered Friday in fourth place in power points in Non-Public Group III, but well behind Delbarton (109-81) and only one point ahead of Immaculata, which beat Montgomery (4-4) on Friday night. At this point the Caseys can only worry about the teams in front of them as they look to continue their winning ways heading into the playoffs.
“We feel like we can get better and we haven’t played our best,” Portela said. “We’re no different than any other team that’s undefeated. They’re high school kids, and you have to harp on them. We know everyone wants to take us down and we have the playoffs coming up. Keeping them focused isn’t hard. They know they need to be prepared.”
No. 1 Red Bank Catholic 41, No. 8 Middletown South 13
|Middletown South||Red Bank Catholic|
Middletown South (4-3) 0 7 0 6 – 13
Red Bank Catholic (7-0) 7 20 14 0 – 41
RBC – Larry Radaelli 7-yard run (Pat Toomey kick)
RBC – Eddie Hahn 35-yard run (Pat Toomey kick)
RBC – Larry Radaelli 30-yard run (kick failed)
MS – Jeremy Concepcion 1-yard run (Matt Mosquera kick)
RBC – Larry Radaelli 35-yard run (Pat Toomey kick)
RBC – Mike Cordova 1-yard run (Pat Toomey kick)
RBC – Larry Radaelli 89-yard run (Pat Toomey kick)
MS – Cole Rogers 5-yard run (kick not attempted)
Rushing – MS: Jeremy Concepcion 22-137, Drew O'Connell 8-41, Cole Rogers 3-41, Kyle Brey 7-17, Nolan Peerless 1-(-3); RBC: Larry Radaelli 20-230, Eddie Hahn 4-50, Tommy Spernal 8-17, Frank Olmo 1-9, Pat Toomey 1-8, Mike Cordova 1-1.
Passing – MS: Kyle Brey 5-17-4 56; RBC: Pat Toomey 5-6-1 36, Eddie Hahn 2-9-0 32, Mike Cordova 0-1-0 0.
Receiving – MS: Nolan Peerless 2-40, Spencer Peerless 3-16; RBC: Connor Smith 3-35, Trevor Cowley 2-17, Christian Wagar 1-14, Mike Cordova 1-2.
Interceptions – MS: Andrew Wisialko 1-0; RBC: Mike Cordova 2-39, Christian Wagar 1-15, Nick Lubischer 1-0.