Football: Contender Status: 2017 Point Beach Preview
After reaching the Central Jersey Group I semifinals last season with a team comprised mostly of juniors, Point Beach is looking to make another championship run behind a standout senior class that has helped define the program over the last four years.
Head coach John Wagner has a philosophy that puts freshman and sophomores into varsity situations in order to get them ready when it’s their time. This current group of seniors is a great example of that, as many are three- and four-year starters that bring a wealth of experience to the table. It’s one of the reason’s the Garnet Gulls have high expectations for 2017.
“We have a lot of seniors and juniors this year, and a lot of kids that grew into their bodies and are a lot stronger,” said senior Luke Frauenheim. “Everyone got a lot better form last year. You can really see the improvements.”
Coming off a 6-5 season, Point Beach returns six starters in its Delaware Wing-T offense that averaged 20.5 points per game last season. Frauenheim is back for his third year as the starting quarterback to lead a veteran backfield that includes returning starters Chris Webber and Sean Gould, both seniors, along with juniors Connor Smith and Anthony Luongo and sophomore Aidan Conway. Webber, Gould and Frauenheim figure to be the primary ball carriers, but all will rotate in at both fullback and wingback.
Frauenheim ran for 704 yards and six touchdowns last season while Webber had 402 yards and three touchdowns. Frauenheim also threw for 986 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“Luke has a great football IQ and he’s passing that off to where we now have more than one person on the field with a good football IQ,” Wagner said.
“Weber is a kid that is really determined this year,” Wagner said. “He had a great offseason in the weight room and has gotten himself into great physical condition.”
The tight end is three-year starter John Nista with senior Jean Verrier also at the position. Senior Josh Yates started as a sophomore but did not play last season. He is back this year and will start at wide receiver along with sophomore Jason Sherlock and senior Johnny Langeveld in a rotation.
Two starters are back among a group of seven offensive linemen that will rotate at all five positions to keep everyone fresh. Junior Tristan White and senior three-year starter Tony Lipari are the returning starters, while senior Sean Gross saw limited action last year. Sophomore Liam Buday, senior Mike Iuliano, junior Matt VanSchoick and senior Brandon Poole round out the group.
“Offensively we have some really good-sized backs, and we’re telling our linemen if they can get their footwork down and get a piece of the guy in front of them, our backs are strong enough to get it up and through the hole,” Wagner said. “And we have some quickness on the outside, for sure.”
In Point Beach’s 5-3 odd defensive front, the same players that will rotate on the offensive line will also do so on the defensive line. Senior Nick Melito will also be in the mix. White and Lipari are returning starters.
Frauenheim and Webber are returning starters at linebacker and will be joined in the rotation by Buday, Smith, Langeveld and Conway. Webber will also play the outside linebacker/defensive end position along with Nista, a returning starter, and senior Jimmy Sherlock. Yates will be the free safety and Gould is a returning starter at cornerback. Also rotating in at corner will be Langeveld, Conway and Verrier.
As evident by Point Beach’s positional groupings, Wagner wants his teams to be versatile and unpredictable.
Gould will be entering his fourth year as the Gulls’ kicker, and is coming off a junior year where he hit four field goals with a long of 37, and converted 30 of 31 extra points. Verrier will serve as the punter.
Mater Dei is in a league of its own as the lone non-public school in Class B Central, but the competition among the other five public schools should be fierce. All five made the playoffs last season with Asbury Park winning the Central Jersey Group I title. It was an all-Shore final four in the bracket, and there’s a good chance it breaks that way again.
“We’re excited to see how we’ll square up against everyone,” Frauenheim said. “Shore is going to come right at you, Keyport is going to come right at you, Asbury is going to spread you out, Mater Dei is going to spread you out. Either way, we’re confident.”
“Our division is the toughest Group I in New Jersey, and it’s always the Shore teams,” Webber said. “We’ve seen these teams so many times that we all know what we’re about. It’s about who can stop who, and I like our chances.”
At a Glance
Head coach: John Wagner, 7th season (32nd overall).
Career record: 44-21 (194-113-2 overall).
Coaching staff: Jeff Bower (RB/DB); Rich LaDuca (OL/DL); Mike Pellicane (WR/DB); Brendan Neary (OL/DE/frosh); Mike McGee (WR/LB/frosh); John Seip (team manager); Cali Whedon (athletic trainer).
2016 record: 6-5 (1-4).
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Josh Yates, Sr., WR/DB
Yates played as a sophomore but didn’t come out for the team last year. He’s back as a senior and will be at wide receiver where Connor Kells was a downfield threat and an All-Division selection last year.
X-FACTOR: Staying healthy
Point Beach has the talent to contend for a championship, but as with most Group I schools can’t afford injuries to key players.
GLUE GUY: Luke Frauenheim, Sr., QB/LB
Even at a small school, Frauenheim is the rare four-year starter who plays quarterback and linebacker. Point Beach has a lot of offensive weapons, but Frauenheim is the one who makes it all come together. He also made 82 tackles on defense.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Jason Sherlock, So., WR/DB
A lot of players could fit in this space, but we’ll go with Sherlock. He’ll will be in the rotation at cornerback and wide receiver.
PIVOTAL GAME: Sept. 9 at Keyport
The Red Raiders defeated Point Beach twice last season, including in the Central Jersey Group I semifinals. The Garnet Gulls have been eagerly waiting for a rematch and will get their chance at revenge in Week 1.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.