Football – Leblo, Defense Key Brick’s Fifth Straight Win over Brick Memorial
BRICK TOWNSHIP – For the fifth year in a row, the town of Brick has been painted Kelly green.
Junior quarterback Jimmy Leblo threw for 153 yards and a touchdown and junior running back Joey Carchio ran for a pair of scores, all while Brick’s defense held Brick Memorial to 140 yards of offense to lead the way in a 27-7 Shore Conference Class A South victory on Saturday afternoon at Keller Memorial Field.
Carchio finished with 62 yards and touchdown runs of 13 and 3 yards, and Leblo tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Anthony Prato. Even lineman Zach Piscope got into the end zone, recovering his teammate’s fumble for a touchdown. It all added up to the Dragons’ fifth straight opening-day win over the rival Mustangs.
Brick Memorial’s triple-option rushing attack, spearheaded by senior fullback Tony Thorpe, managed just 140 yards on 38 carries – an average of 3.7 yards per rush. Thorpe, who has run for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, was held to 50 yards on 15 attempts.
“Everything starts for them with Tony, and if Tony gets going you can have a long day,” said Brick head coach Len Zdanowicz.
“Our game plan was based a lot on stopping Tony,” said Brick junior defensive Cory Englehardt. “We stopped him and came out with the win.”
Slowing down any option team comes down to assignment football, and Brick excelled in staying disciplined. Brick Memorial head just four runs of 10 yards or more, and the biggest, a 25-yard run by David Baez, came on the final play of the game.
“Our defense this week, coach Mac [defensive coordinator Brian McNamara] just said for us to do our job,” Carchio said. “We all did our jobs on every single play and that’s what stopped them.”
Brick’s running game did just enough to keep Brick Memorial honest, but it was Leblo’s dual-threat ability at quarterback which pushed Brick’s offense. Leblo was a perfect 4-for-4 for 80 yards in the first half, including two clutch third-down completions to fellow junior Cole Groschel that keyed Brick’s 13-play scoring drive that put the Dragons up 7-0.
“Jimmy was in the spotlight last year playing on defense, and I never thought [playing quarterback] would be too big for him,” Zdanowicz said. “The kid just takes everything in stride and we thought he was going to play well. He was the master of the broken play today.”
One of those plays came on Brick’s third touchdown when he turned a potential loss into a touchdown by scrambling and finding Prato for the touchdown, putting the Dragons up 20-7 with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.
“I rolled out the opposite way, pump-faked, saw the safety bite and I was like ‘go, go go!’,” Leblo said. “I just stepped back and threw it as far as I could, and it turned out to be a touchdown.”
Brick scored on its first drive of the game, a 13-play, 60-yard jaunt that ended when Piscope fell on a ball that was knocked out of Groschel’s grasp just before he crossed the goal line. The heads-up play avoided a potential disaster and put the Dragons on the board on the first play of the second quarter.
“That’s what we talked about all preseason – finishing plays,” Zdanowicz said. “When kids follow the ball good things happen, and that’s how you get a lineman scoring a touchdown. That’s something we’ll watch on tape and say to the kids, ‘that’s exactly why you follow the ball’. Those are things we preach, and it’s great to see when they execute correctly.”
After stopping Brick Memorial on nine consecutive offensive plays over three series, Brick began another scoring drive from its own 24-yard line. Leblo hit a wide-open Chris Hirtes for a 46-yard gain down to the Mustangs’ 30-yard line, and Carchio finished off the drive by breaking tackles and juking one final defender on a 13-yard touchdown run for a 13-0 Dragons lead with 1:51 left in the half.
A tackle for a 9-yard loss by Najiere Hutchinson deep in Brick territory helped the Mustangs get great field position to start their only scoring drive. Starting at Brick’s 29-yard line, the Mustangs needed just five plays to get into the end zone and trim Brick’s lead to 13-7 with 3:22 left in the third quarter. Thorpe had a 15-yard gain to bring up first-and-goal, and Netterman scored on a 3-yard run when the offensive line surged forward after Netterman was initially stopped short of the goal line.
Brick came right back, however, with a four-play scoring drive to re-take a two-score lead. Leblo hit Groschel for 39-yards on the first play, and two plays later made the touchdown connection with Prato.
Brick’s defense did the job the rest of the way, stopping Brick Memorial on fourth down via a Mike McGuigan pass deflection, and forcing a turnover when Groschel delivered a huge hit on a pitch to cause a fumble which J.T. Carey recovered.
The turnover led to Carchio’s 3-yard touchdown run with 4:22 left, and Carchio then sealed the victory with an interception with just 2:40 to play.
“It was a big confidence-booster,” Leblo said. “We’re ready for Jackson.”
Another intense rivalry for Brick is with Jackson Memorial, and the Dragons will head west to John J. Munley Field next week.
“When you follow this game with Jackson there’s nothing that has to be said to our kids,” Zdanowicz said. “They know what Jackson is and what Jackson stands for. After watching what happened [Friday night] in A South we know it’s a battle every week.”
Brick 27, Brick Memorial 7
Brick Memorial (0-1, 0-1) 0 0 7 0 – 7
Brick (1-0, 1-0) 0 13 7 7 – 27
BT – Zach Piscope fumble recovery in end zone (Jacob Wynkoop kick)
BT – Joey Carchio 13-yard run (kick blocked)
BM – Blaine Netterman 3-yard run (Ryan McCombs kick)
BT – Jimmy Leblo 30-yard pass to Anthony Prato (Jacob Wynkoop kick)
BT – Joey Carchio 3-yard run (Jacob Wynkoop kick)
RUSHING – BM: Blaine Netterman 9-51, Tony Thorpe 15-50, David Baez 1-25, Tyler Sindel 8-22, Najiere Hutchinson 4-3, Team 1-(-11); BT: Joey Carchio 17-62, Jimmy Leblo 11-27, #34 4-8, Jacob Wynkoop 1-(-2), Cole Groschel 2-(-9).
PASSING – BM: Tyler Sindel 0-8-1 0, Justin Hans 0-1-0 0; BT: Jimmy Leblo 7-9-0 153.
RECEIVING – BT: Cole Groschel 3-69, Chris Hirtes 1-46, Anthony Prato 1-30, Christian Malta 2-7.
INTERCEPTIONS – BT: Joey Carchio 1-21.
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.