Football – Back to Basics: Asbury Park Football Preview
Now on its fourth head coach in the last four seasons, the Asbury Park football team has has no choice but to endure change. The latest coach to take his turn running the show on Sunset Avenue is Tim Fosque.
As a former assistant for the Blue Bishops, his goal is to help Asbury get back to being Asbury.
“The talent is definitely here,” Fosque said. “Most of the skill guys here in camp were major contributors last year and even though we’re young on the line, we’ve got more guys at the position than we’ve had in a while.
“Most of these guys have come up through the ranks and have had some success, so our goal as a coaching staff is to get them back to playing the way they know how and give them the best chance to be successful and, ultimately, win games.”
Last year, Asbury Park suffered through its first losing season since 2006, which is bad news on the surface but recent history suggests there is reason for hope. After going 1-9 in 2006, Asbury Park went 11-1 in 2007 and won the first of three straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I championships.
For history to repeat itself, the Blue Bishops will have to incorporate a handful of newcomers into a team that returns some of last year’s top contributors. The core of the team is a trio of senior skill players and an established junior two-way lineman who will lead an inexperienced-but-promising offensive line.
Senior wide receiver Jaedon Stephens returns after an all-division campaign in which he finished sixth in the Shore Conference with 690 receiving yards on 35 catches – good for 19.7 yards per reception. Even with a handful of playmakers back on offense, Stephens will be the focal point.
“We’re really happy to bring Jaedon back for another year, not just because of the player he is but also because of the example he sets for everyone else in the program,” Fosque said. “He is a leader on the field, he does the right things in practice and in the classroom, and he has a very good work ethic and attitude when he’s out there.”
“I’ve been playing varsity for four years and I understand I’m a leader on this team,” Stephens said. “Last year, we didn’t always have the kind of leadership we needed and now that I’m a senior and we have other seniors who are back, guys have been more focused and doing the things they’re supposed to do.”
Senior quarterback Davon Thompson returns after taking over midway through his junior season and will go back to running Asbury Park’s traditional zone-read, option-style offense after trying more of a spread offense last year under former coach Bill Hill. Thompson has the ability to make plays on the ground but has also shown he can get the ball to Stephens.
“The new offense has been really good,” Thompson said. “I still don’t know why we changed it last year, but it’s looking good again this year. It keeps things simple for the guys on our O-line, and they’re doing a good job of just blocking down and giving us a chance to make plays. That’s what I like.”
“It’s a much simpler offense, and I think it helps to know that teams in the past have won championships here playing a similar style,” junior lineman Calvin Simmons-Carter said. “We have some talented young guys on the line and I think it’s going to help us being in an offense where they don’t have to think too much, and they can just go right after people.”
Senior Charles Sanders returns at fullback and is the most established player in Asbury Park’s backfield. The return to the zone read with more crowded backfields will give Sanders an opportunity to make plays in the running game or clear the way as a blocker. An intriguing addition to the backfield is senior Tyquere Davis, who lost his junior season to a broken femur bone after entering camp with a chance to be one of the Blue Bishops’ playmakers.
The offensive line will be young, but it is also deeper and carries with it a higher ceiling than any other group since Asbury Park’s last championship team in 2011, according to Fosque. Simmons-Carter leads the group up front at guard, along with tackle Jason Deltus – the only senior on the starting offensive line and one of only two seniors listed as offensive linemen on the roster. Among the host of sophomores and freshmen linemen, sophomore Jaylen Paige has stood out as a potential impact starter on the line at 6-1, 270 pounds.
Almost all of Asbury Park’s starters are slated to play both ways, with Simmons-Carter and Deltus on the interior defensive line, Paige at defensive end, Sanders at middle linebacker and Stephens and Thompson in the secondary. Senior Trevor Saunders has also emerged on both sides of the ball at receiver and cornerback, while sophomore Donte Abrams has worked in at wing back and outside linebacker. Junior Cishium Simmons will play tight end and at the other defensive end spot opposite Paige.
“I really like our defense,” Stephens said. “We’ve been playing really physical so far, and I think with the guys we have back, we’re just going to be a faster, more physical group.”
With some key position players back, numbers on the offensive and defensive lines and more stability in the coaching staff, most coaches around Class B Central expect Asbury Park will once again be in the mix in the division race. Shore Regional is the two-time defending division championship and Point Beach is always in the hunt, but with Mater Dei Prep returning only two seniors, there is an opening to move into the top two spots in the division. By getting back to its roots, Asbury Park hopes to fill that void.
“That’s all we think about is the ring,” Thompson said. “We’ve done it before here. We’re together, we’ve got the players and we’re focused.”
Head Coach: Tim Fosque, first season
Career Record: 0-0
Assistant Coaches: Rob Ward, Matt Ardizzone, Nick Ciambrone, Keith Killea, Lamar Davenport, Syron Davis, Paul Zarella, Nancy Saphow (Athletic Trainer)
2014 Record: 2-8 (2-3)
Big Shoes to Fill: Jason Deltus,Sr., OL/DL
The Blue Bishops expect to be better on the offensive line, but that comes with some inexperience. Deltus will be a senior leader among the group along with returning starter Calvin Simmons-Carter.
X-Factor: Tyquere Davis, Sr., RB/DB
After suffering a season-ending leg injury during his junior year, Davis is back on the field this year and Fosque is hoping he can be a big part of the running game as he works his way back to form.
Glue Guy: Jaedon Stephens, Sr., WR/DB
In addition to being Asbury Park’s best player, Stephens is a leader by example, which Fosque expects will be crucial with a fair amount of underclassmen on the roster.
Impact Newcomer: Jaylen Paige, So., OL/DL
Paige will join a new-look offensive line as a sophomore and even without a lot of experience, he can make a big difference at 6-1, 270 pounds.
Pivotal Game: Sept. 11 at Point Beach
We will find out right away if Asbury Park is ready to jump back into the Class B Central race, as the Blue Bishops travel to Point Pleasant to take on a Garnet Gulls team that has been in the division mix for the last few years.