Football – Top-Ranked Middletown South Rolls Past Red Bank Catholic
By Ella Brockway - Student Contributor
RED BANK – If there’s a textbook way to open a season, Middletown South followed it in Friday night’s 49-14 Shore Conference nondivisional win over Red Bank Catholic at County Basie Field.
Senior running back Maxx Imsho was a jack-of-all-trades for the top-ranked Eagles, finishing with 65 rushing yards on just two attempts, two catches for 20 yards, a fumble return for a touchdown, nine tackles and one interception.
“I love playing the game no matter where I’m at,” said Imsho, who was named a first-team All-Shore defensive back last season. “I just want to win the game and be an asset to the team so we can do our job together.”
The defending North Jersey 2, Group IV champions and the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 lived up to expectations. The game was also Middletown South’s first in the Class B North after moving into the division this fall from the Class A North.
“We knew that everyone thought pretty highly of us (coming in), but we lost a lot of seniors, so we had some stuff to prove,” said senior quarterback and Holmdel transfer Aneesh Agrawal. “I think we proved it pretty well, and we made a statement. So 49 (points), that looks pretty good to all the other teams.”
Agrawal threw for 108 yards and finished with two touchdowns in his Middletown South debut. Agrawal was one of the many seniors on this team who will step up this season to fill the holes left in the squad by key members of last year’s championship team. The Eagles lost quarterback Matt Mosquera, running back Cole Rogers and SSN Defensive Player of the Year Dylan Rogers to graduation, and lost senior first-team All-Shore linebacker James McCarthy for the 2016 season to an ACL injury sustained earlier this year.
“These seniors are just a bunch of competitors who know how to win,” said head coach Steve Antonucci, who led the Eagles to their thirteenth straight win. “It’s still a work in progress and we’re still trying to fill those holes and spots, but we’ll evaluate the film and see where we go from there.”
Red Bank Catholic, playing its first game under recently-returned head coach Frank Edgerly, got on the scoreboard first on a 5-yard pass from junior quarterback Tommy Lang to senior wide receiver Max Hazard on the opening drive of the first quarter. Lang split the quarterback duties with sophomore Steve Lubischer, until Lubischer exited the game with an arm injury midway through the third quarter.
Less than five minutes after the first score, the Eagles evened it up on a 34-yard run from sophomore running back Anthony Summey. Summey recently joined the Eagles after spending the preseason practicing with Red Bank Catholic, where he had transferred after playing the 2015 season at St. Joseph Regional in Montvale.
“He’s been great since he got here,” Antonucci said of Summey. “Our guys here want to win football games, and if Anthony can help us win football games, he’s going to be a great part of this.”
The deep Middletown South running game was on display Friday, as the Eagles lined up four different players at running back—Summey, Imsho, senior Samson Dube and sophomore Jayme Petrillo—who, along with Agrawal, combined for 239 total rushing yards.
After two touchdown runs from Agrawal and Imsho, and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Agrawal to senior Jeremy Joyce, the Eagles went into halftime with a 28-7 lead. Antonucci, however, admitted that he was worried about what his team’s momentum would be like to start off the second half.
“When you’re up 28-7 at halftime, your tendency is to just go in there and relax and get overconfident,” he said. “I thought we came out flat and needed to get back in the game, but then the defense made a great play and we got the momentum back.”
The second half was all about the Middletown South defense capitalizing on Red Bank Catholic turnovers. Midway through the third quarter, Imsho returned a fumble 30 yards to the end zone to put the Eagles up 34-14. A turnover on downs by RBC led to a successful Middletown South drive to begin the fourth quarter, capped by Summey’s second touchdown run of the night. The win was sealed when senior defensive back Ryan Ruziecki intercepted Lang's pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.
“We’ve got to give it up to (defensive coordinator Al Bigos),” said Imsho of the defense, which held the Caseys to 190 yards of offense. “He just gives us the whole schemes of everything, and he knows what’s coming in and out of every play.”
Red Bank Catholic will face Middletown North on September 16 in another competitive B North meeting. Middletown South will go on the road to Ocean (1-1, 0-1) next week in a matchup of two preseason Top 10 teams.
Midd South – Anthony Summey: 20-117, Maxx Imsho: 2-65, Aneesh Agrawal: 8-41, Samson Dube: 3-11, Jayme Petrillo: 1-5, Ben Kinsella: 2-0, Total: 239 yards
RBC – Zack Bair: 13-50, Tommy Lang: 7-(-8), Steve Lubischer: 5-22, Jaden Key: 1-7, Logan Whelan: 1-2, Nick Brusca: 2-8, Billy Guidetti: 3-17, Total: 81 yards
Midd South – Aneesh Agrawal: 14-24-1-108, Brendan Donlon: 0-1-0-0, Total: 108 yards
RBC – Tommy Lang: 4-13-2-40, Steve Lubischer: 3-4-0-31, Jaden Key: 1-1-0-38: 109 yards
Midd South – Maxx Imsho: 2-20, Samson Dube: 4-25, Robert Zega: 4-17, Jeremy Joyce: 3-24, Ian Porter: 1-4, Total: 100 yards
RBC – Brandon Lombana: 3-56, Max Hazard: 4-59, Zach Bair: 1-(-3), Total: 112 yards
Midd South – Maxx Imsho 1-0, Ryan Ruziecki 1-30
RBC – Matt Ansell 1-2
1Q: RBC – Tommy Lang 5-yard pass to Max Hazard (Ryan O’Hara kick)
1Q: Midd South – Anthony Summey 34-yard run (Chris Kaldrovics kick)
2Q: Midd South – Aneesh Agrawal 5-yard pass to Jeremy Joyce (Chris Kaldrovics kick)
2Q: Midd South – Maxx Imsho 48-yard run (Chris Kaldrovics kick)
2Q: Midd South – Aneesh Agrawal 4-yard run (Chris Kaldrovics kick)
3Q: RBC – Steve Lubischer 5-yard run (Ryan O’Hara kick)
3Q: Midd South – Max Imsho 30-yard fumble return (kick failed)
4Q: Midd South – Anthony Summey 27-yard run (2-point conversion successful)
4Q: Midd South – Ryan Ruziecki 27-yard interception return (Chris Kaldrovics kick)