High Hopes at Toms River South
Tradition. We say it every year, win or lose, Toms River South is the best place to watch a high school football game. It goes without saying that when the Indians are good, the excitement doubles.
Well, the 2014 version of this Indians football team has players that you want to go see play. Led by the dynamic Tymere Berry at quarterback, this team, which fell one game short of making the South Jersey Group 4 final last year in a 28-24 loss to eventual winner Shawnee, has high expectations of taking the final step this year and winning their fourth state title in the long history of South football.
The reason why I think the Indians can take that step this year is the steady improvement under fourth-year coach Ron Signorino Jr. The coaches are in place, but the players also make the Indians the favorite. Running back/safety Khaleel Greene is a two-way player who complements Berry very well. He's fast, tough, and aggressive. He was our Player of the Game in South's 42-6 romp over cross-town rival Toms River East. Green picked off three passes, one of which he took 82 yards to the house.
The picks all came in the first half, as the Indians led 35-0 at the break. Only one possession was played by the starters in the second half, as they built a 42-0 lead, and then Signorino let the backups play the rest of the game.
The Indians (2-0) have the offense, but it will be the defense that will determine 2014 and their run to a state title. The move to put defensive end Quintin DeCarlo to middle linebacker this year has paid off tremendously. He's paired with Jaden Kosh at the other inside linebacker spot, and together they could be the best tandem in the A South.
Oh yeah, did I mention that Ron Signorino Sr. runs the defense? His expertise is a very valuable chip on this year's team. There are big games ahead for the Indians. Toms River North this week, then Jackson Memorial and Brick looming in weeks 6 and 8 in the very tough A South division. To quote the head man, "Our mindset is that we're going to compete and be there in the end." Compete they will, but can they finish the job? Get to Toms River South this fall - you won't be disappointed.
Brick Memorial (1-1) won what could have been one of the more exciting games of the week. Kicker Matt Cuppari kicked a 40-yard game-winner with five seconds left to beat Toms River North 16-14 in a Saturday afternoon contest.
The game-winner came after North had taken a 14-13 lead with 51 seconds left on a Mike Husni to Jordan Craig 21-yard touchdown pass. The Mustangs then drove to the North 23-yard line with no timeouts left using toss sweeps. With 11 seconds left, it was decision time for head coach Walt Currie: Do we run another play or kick? The decision was correct: kick it now, and Cuppari delivered.
Junior Tim Santiago looks like he may be the 'Stang quarterback of the future, as senior Joe Hans was hurt during the first half and did not return. Hans and Santiago had alternated in the first game, a 42-0 loss to Brick. Santiago is quick, tough and seems to make good decisions in Memorials's flexbone offense. These traits make Currie very happy. Winless Lacey (0-2) is up next for the Mustangs at home on Friday night.
I took the chartered bus, along with 55 other fans, up to MetLife Stadium to see former Brick Memorial star Garrett Graham and his Houston Texans take on the Giants. Garrett caught 5 passes in the Giants victory, but this was all about Garrett, as he played well and then met the 75 or so friends and family who were there to watch him play. Garrett has always been a quiet and unassuming player who seems to get better each year.
A stellar career at Brick Memorial got him a full ride to the University of Wisconsin, and then a great four years there got him drafted by Houston. Signing a big three-year contract with Houston for $11 million this past offseason has given him stability and wealth. Garrett is still the quiet player he was in high school, but he flips the switch on Sunday and plays loud and hard.
There are not many players from the Shore who play on Sunday, but he is one of them. All the hard work and dedication he has put in has paid off and he deserves all the rewards of that hard work. Have a great season and career Garrett. You make the entire Shore proud.
Friday saw a huge upset win by Central over Barnegat 21-15 in B South. Mike Bickford ran for two touchdowns, and some great defense led the Golden Eagles over the Bengals. Hopefully, this is just a slight tumble by Barnegat, but it was a great win for Central.
Rumson (1-0) finally played after having a Week One bye and won 31-10 over Matawan. All-Shore running back Charlie Volker ran for 105 and two touchdowns, as he left the game early in the third quarter with a leg injury. Sophomore quarterback Mike O'Connor ran for 120 yards and a touchdown in his varsity debut, as the Rumson running game doesn't seem to mind who is running the ball. Rumson looks to repeat in Central Jersey Group II.
Teams in some trouble after 0-2 starts are Matawan and Lacey. These two powers need a 'W' quickly if they want to think playoffs. Lacey gets a team coming off a big win in Brick Memorial on the road this week, while Matawan takes the short ride to a 1-0 Raritan team coming off of a bye week.
Middletown South (2-1) made a huge statement on Friday night with a 41-0 rout over Neptune. Rolling up over 350 yards of offense, while holding the high-flying Fliers to just 140. Running back Cole Rodgers ran for 198 yards and 4 touchdowns in the romp. The Eagles are young and talented and although they may be a better team next year, this year's seniors don't want to hear that. The A North is a tough division with Manalapan (2-0) and Freehold (3-0) currently playing well. The Eagles get an early-season bye this week.
Join us Thursday night for our Investors Bank HS Football Show from Water Street Grill when we talk high school football around the Shore. NewsTalk Radio WOBM 1160 and 1310 AM or ShoreSportsNetwork.com is where you can find us. This week's game of week is Toms River North at Toms River South at 7 p.m. on Friday.