RED BANK - Red Bank Catholic's players and coaches have insisted all season that they don't pay attention to the rankings, but on Friday night the Caseys played like a team that wanted to send the message that it should once again end the season as the Shore Conference's top-ranked squad.

No. 1 RBC drilled No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven 45-0 at Count Basie Field to win the Class A Central title and hand the Bulldogs (10-1, 5-1) their first loss of the season by beating Rumson for the 11th straight time in their Thanksgiving rivalry. It marked RBC's 33rd straight victory against Shore Conference competition, and gave the Caseys (10-1, 6-0) their fourth straight division title and their seventh in the last nine seasons. RBC now leads the all-time series against Rumson 31-24-6.

It also served as their final argument to be No. 1 in the debate against No. 2 Manalapan, which has a chance to be the Shore Conference's only undefeated team this season if it wins its first state title by beating Hunterdon Central on Dec. 8 in the Central Jersey Group V final.

Top-ranked Red Bank Catholic made its final argument to remain No. 1 with a 45-0 win over No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven to hand the Bulldogs their first loss and win the Class A Central title. (Photo by Scott Stump)

Senior tailback Larry Redaelli wrapped up a brilliant career with 159 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 20 carries as RBC rolled up 353 yards on the ground against a Bulldogs' defense that had only given up more than 14 points in one game all season.

"There's been a lot of questioning of whether we're No. 1 or not, but I think we made our statement,'' Redaelli said.

"We've been such a close team ever since freshman year, and to finish out with a win against our rival feels amazing,'' said senior fullback/linebacker Frank Olmo.

RBC's defense held Rumson to 109 total yards, including a season-low 47 yards on 13 carries by junior tailback Charlie Volker, the Shore Conference's leading rusher. Volker still became the first Bulldogs' running back to ever go over the 2,000-yard mark in his 2 1/2 quarters of work before being pulled when the game was out of reach. Rumson will look to regroup when it faces undefeated Weequahic in the Central Jersey Group II final next Saturday at Kean University in search of its second state title in four seasons.

"They have a state game next week,'' said RBC senior linebacker Ryan Schoer. "We hit (Volker) a couple of times, so we didn't think they wanted to keep giving him the ball. He is a great player, but we did a good job tonight."

The Caseys were coming off a 28-7 loss in the Non-Public Group III semifinals to state power St. Joseph-Montvale, a nationally-ranked squad that was the consensus No. 1 team in the state, although the Green Knights were stunned by Don Bosco Prep in their Thanksgiving game on Thursday.

"I think it's really difficult to come off a game like that, not just because of the disappointment, but because of the physicality of that game,'' RBC head coach Jim Portela said. "It took a lot out of us, but the kids practiced hard this week. We like winning this game, it's important to us. It's important to set the tempo for the next year, and it's important for the young guys to give this to the seniors."

"Especially losing last week, if we lost this week, it would haunt us forever, so it feels great to end it on a win like this,'' said sophomore quarterback/safety Eddie Hahn, who had a pair of touchdowns.

The Caseys dominated from beginning to end, shaking off a goal-line stand by Rumson's defense at the 2-yard line on the opening possession of the game to score on their next possession. Redaelli ripped off a 31-yard touchdown run as Notre Dame-bound senior tackle Quenton Nelson cleared the way for a 7-0 lead with 4:05 left in the first quarter.

They pushed the lead to 14-0 with a six-play, 71-yard drive, with the big play coming on a 41-yard run by Redaelli after a great lead block by Olmo. That set up Redaelli's 1-yard touchdown run with 5:19 left in the second quarter.

After the defense forced another Rumson punt, the Caseys tacked on a 28-yard field goal by senior Pat Toomey for a 17-0 halftime lead. RBC outgained the Bulldogs 213-58 in the first half, as Redaelli ran for 145 yards on 16 carries before the break.

RBC forced a three-and-out by Rumson to start the second half and then picked up right where it left off, driving 50 yards in three plays to take a 24-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown run by Hahn that followed a 33-yard run by Olmo. Hahn then made it 31-0 on the second play of the Bulldogs' ensuing drive when he snared his first varsity interception and weaved his way 45 yards for a touchdown with 7:22 left in the third quarter.

Redaelli added a four-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to balloon the lead to 38-0, and then junior running back Tommy Spernal, a Rumson resident, sped for a 40-yard touchdown to cap the scoring as he finished with 75 yards on only two carries.

With the exception of the loss to St. Joe's, RBC scored at least 35 points against every other team it faced this season, and its closest games were a pair of 28-point wins over Middletown South and Immaculata. The Caseys not only staked their claim to the No. 1 spot they have held for three straight seasons, they also made an argument as the best RBC team ever. They set a school record with 479 points this season for an average of 43.5 per game.

"We just wanted to go to the next level,'' Redaelli said.

"I tell you what, I've been fortunate to be around some good (RBC teams),'' said a diplomatic Portela, who was the defensive coordinator before taking over as head coach in 2009. "A lot of the guys from those past great teams are here, so I don't want them to start fighting with me on the way out, including my son (former lineman Jimmy Portela)."

While the Caseys lose an outstanding senior class, they return FBS prospect Jamie Gordinier at linebacker/defensive end, a rising star in Hahn, another talented and deep group of linemen led by junior Ryan Kroeger, standout junior safety/running back Mike Cordova and more.

"We're excited about next season, and we know the coaches will have us prepared just like they did this year,'' Hahn said. "Next year we want to win states."

Box score

Red Bank Catholic 45, Rumson-Fair Haven 0

.                                 RBC            RFH

First downs                 15                6

Rushes-yards          33-353          32-91

Passing                   5-7-0              3-14-2

Passing yards           31                 18

Fumbles-lost            0-0                 0-0

Penalties                  0-0                  0-0

Rumson-FH (10-1, 5-1)   0  0  0   0 - 0

RB Catholic (10-1, 6-0)   7 10 14 14 - 45

Scoring summary

Redaelli 31-yard run (Toomey kick).

Redaelli 1-yard run (Toomey kick).

Toomey 28-yard field goal.

Hahn 12-yard run (Toomey kick).

Hahn 45-yard INT return (Toomey kick).

Redaelli 4-yard run (Toomey kick).

Spernal 40-yard run (Toomey kick).

Individual statistics

Rushing - RBC: Redaelli 20-159, Olmo 3-62, Cordova 3-10, Hahn 2-18, Spernal 2-75, Murphy 2-23, Johnson 1-6. RFH: Volker 13-47, Zohn 2-(-1), Caruso 1-7, Reeves 6-20, O'Connor 1-(-4), Culver 2-6, Walsh 6-14, Dunphy 1-2.

Passing - RBC: Toomey 2-4-0 1, Hahn 3-3-0 30. RFH: Caruso 2-11-1 14, Dunphy 1-3-1 4.

Receiving - RBC: Golden 1-12, Olmo 1-3, Cowley 1-(-2), Smith 2-18. RFH: Hewitt 1-3, Zohn 1-11, Reevey 1-4.

Interceptions - RBC: Hahn 2-55.