High School Football as a Friday Night Diversion
It's been said many times over the years that sports are a diversion of the norm.
This is sometimes hard to understand when you read about the senseless violence in our neighborhoods, the way an illness takes down a loved one, or when you leave the gas station after spending $70 to fill your gas tank.
Yes, life challenges us everyday. We look for some type of outlet for a few hours, before we get back to the daily grind. This is where Friday night football and sports comes into our lives. For us in the Shore area, kids compete on the field, students cheer on the sidelines and the band entertains the fans. This is our diversion, this is our passion.
On a week which saw 14 Shore area teams on their bye week, let's focus on the 3 big games of the weekend.
Point Pleasant Beach(5-0), took a huge step towards the B-Central championship, with a blowout 54-20 win over Asbury Park. John Wagner's Gulls ran for 306 yds. on the night with Junior RB Jack Tighe(158 yds. and 2TDs) and another Junior, Kyle Samaritano(2TDs and a KO return for a TD), leading the way.
There was much motivation in the Gull minds as they took the home field against the Bishops. The last thing the players saw as they left the locker room was last year’s score of 54-6, which the Bishops laid on the Gulls in the semi-finals of CJ Group 1 playoffs. Lets credit the offensive line with great push all night and throw in the leadership of Soph QB Jake Fioretti and the tough running of Andre Cochran and you have a team that wants to make some noise in the States this year.
Some big games are coming for the Gulls, perhaps none bigger then a Turkey Day matchup with Shore Regional. Before that one is played, there will be two weeks of playoff games for Beach and another possible game with Shore, who play in same Group.
The problem the Gulls will have is not to get caught looking ahead. There is a game at Keyport, which is already setting up as a huge trap game for the Gulls.
Game 2 takes us to Toms River and the home of the Griffins of Monsignor Donovan.
They have been one of the surprise feel-good stories of the year, as Dan Duddy has the Griffs believing they can win a championship. Led by Senior RB Grant Klimek and Virginia bound O/D lineman Brad Henson, the Griffs have sole possession of first place in the B-South after their 28-14 win over Point Pleasant Boro.
A big non-divisional game with undefeated Rumson takes place in two weeks after winless Pinelands host the Griffs this week. After those two, it's back to back conference games with Central and Jackson Liberty.
It won't be easy, but its doable for Mon. Don. They seem to have settled in on QB Vincent Grosso as their field general and he has played well. His 50 yard TD pass to Dante Pagano gave them a 12-7 lead that they would never relinquish. Kevin Ortiz then took one to the house to the tune of 84 yards and then Grosso put it away, with a 60 yard run for a TD with 5 min. left in the game.
Vinny Gross is a nice story and takes me back to my coaching days at TR East, when his dad Gerry, was a hard nosed tough LB for me on defense. The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree.
QB Ryan Cieplinski-Brick Mem.
The shot heard around the Shore occurred in Brick. The Brick Memorial Mustangs unleashed an offensive barrage on the previously unbeaten Neptune Fliers that made everyone in the Shore stand and take notice. The final was 40-28, in a game that was as thrilling and stunning as the final score indicated.
Stang QB Ryan Cieplinski ran the Spread slot option to perfection as he piled up 348 total yards(232 yds. Passing and 116 rushing and 5 TDs). Spreading the ball around to 4 different receivers, Cieplinski hit Soph WR Karl Kumm for a 75 yarder, to start the scoring on the 2nd play from scrimmage, and the offensive fireworks began. Junior star Mike Basile was a marked man by the Flier defense and Cieplinski didn't use him much in the 1st half. Kumm, Soph Joe Hans and Junior RB Nick Costa(85 yds.) all had big games for the Mustangs.
Basile also made a big impact in the second half, as he totaled 95 yds. of offense. Costa also had the biggest play of the game, to start the 2nd half, when he returned an interception 45 yards for a TD, to tie the score at 28, and the Stangs never looked back.
The Fliers provided their own fireworks on offense, led by Sr. QB Agee Patterson, who threw for 272 yds. on the night and also ran for another 53.
It's hard to talk about defense on a night when there was nearly 850 yards of offense by both teams, but it was the second half adjustments by Pete Brennan and the Memorial defensive coaches who might have had the biggest impact on the night.
They shut out the high-powered Flier offense in the second half with a variety of stunts and blitzes and sacked Patterson 5 times, after not getting to Patterson at all in the first half. Leading the sack pack was Junior DT Jake Lombardo, with 3. Also standing out was senior Corner Brandon Martinez, who had 2 huge pass break-ups in the 2nd half. As well as the offense played, and they played great, it was these adjustments that helped the Mustangs stay undefeated at 5-0.
While a big power point game, the Stangs must re-focus, because they have a huge A-South contest at TR North, on Friday night. North played the Fliers pretty tough in a pre-season scrimmage earlier in year. The Fliers get a winless Red Bank team to recover against. Both of these teams will be heard from come playoff time, with Neptune looking to repeat as CJ Group 3 Champs.
Week 6 Top Ten:
1-RBC(5-0)- Romp over Freehold last week, travel to Holmdel(3-2) this week.
2-Brick Memorial(5-0) When you beat the #2 team, you replace them in top ten..
3- Manalapan(4-0) Idle last week, cone back with East Brunswick.
4- Lacey(5-0) Lions keep rolling along, pounding teams in their path. They are averaging 46.6 points per game after their 54-0 win over Manchester.
5- Neptune(4-1) Still a top 5 team and still the favorite to win CJ 3.
6- Rumson(4-0) Bye week to get healthy. Get winless and struggling Raritan this week.
7- Middletown South(3-1) Eagles are a good team, bidding their time till Oct. 26th matchup with RBC.
8- TR North(3-1) Bye last week, but in attendance to watch this weeks challenge--Brick Mem.
9- Southern(3-1) Bye week, now a big one with Lacey on the road on Sat.
10- Point Beach(5-0) Welcome to the Top Ten and well deserved.
Just outside looking in: Long Branch(4-1) Shore(4-1) Colts Neck(4-0) Matawan(3-1)
Join us Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Water St. Grill in Toms River as Beach HC John Wagner and Central HC Vinny Casale join us and talk HS Football.
Can't come down? Listen on 105.7 FM or on the internet on shoresportsnetwork.com Friday night football takes us to Central as the Bengals of Barnegat travel to the home of the Golden Eagles.