Monday Rewind: 11/28/11
The Thanksgiving rivalry games brought about some surprising scores and record-setting performances as all but five Shore Conference teams wrapped up their seasons this past week.
The biggest upset belonged to St. John Vianney, which knocked off Central Jersey Group II finalist Matawan, 35-8, in a Class A Central game for its first win over the Huskies since 2006. Senior quarterback Anthony Carlucci threw a pair of touchdown passes to game MVP Anthony Pante and fullback Anthony Ambrose added two touchdown runs to help the Lancers finish 5-5 in their first season under head coach Andy Carlstrom.
Pante concluded an outstanding season, as he finished with 39 catches for a school-record 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns. Matawan, which had four defensive starters suspended for violation of school rules, will try to regroup as it faces Rumson-Fair Haven on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Rutgers Stadium in search of its second CJ II title in three seasons.
Several teams set school records for wins in a season with victories in their Thanksgiving game, led by No. 1 Red Bank Catholic, which blanked No. 2 Rumson-Fair Haven, 21-0, to finish a school-record 10-1. The Caseys beat the Bulldogs (10-1) for the ninth straight season, holding them to 110 total yards. Senior quarterback Ryan Spahr threw a pair of touchdown passes and sophomore running back Larry Redaelli churned up a career-high 139 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries in his first varsity start in place of injured 1,500-yard rusher John DiStefano.
“We treat this game like a Super Bowl,” said senior two-way lineman Joe Coscarelli, the Shore Conference Defensive Player of the Year candidate who had another punishing game up front. “It’s awesome every year and to play in this last game was very emotional. To come off that loss to Delbarton and come out here and win 21-0, I’m very proud of my team.”
Another team getting to 10 wins for the first time was Manalapan, which rolled to a 42-16 victory over Marlboro for its 10th straight win. Senior running back John Sieczkowski ran for 206 yards to give him 2,115 for the season, beating the previous school record of 2,053 set by Josh Firkser last season. The Braves also clinched their second straight outright Class A North title with the win, capturing their 12th straight divisional victory. Manalapan can make more school history this week when it takes on Sayreville at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Rutgers Stadium in a bid to win its first Central Jersey Group IV title.
Point Beach edged Shore Regional, 14-12, for a school-record eighth win to finish second in Class B Central behind Asbury Park. Senior Cody Coleman ran for a score and Nick Zegar returned his own blocked punt 45 yards for a touchdown to help the Garnet Gulls finish 8-3. It also marked Point Beach’s first win in a Thanksgiving game since 1996.
Barnegat routed winless Pinelands, 63-0, to set its own school record with its seventh victory while also wrapping up its first outright Class B South title in its six-year program history. Senior David Smithman ran for 170 yards and four touchdowns to lead the way.
Wall clinched the outright Class C Central title with a 16-6 victory over rival Manasquan, as senior Tyler Block booted three field goals and senior tailback Jim Guiliano ran for a score. Senior quarterback Steve Cluley had 197 total yards of offense to conclude a strong career. It marked Wall’s first division title since 2007 and its first outright division title since 2001.
“I couldn’t be more happy right now,’’ Cluley said. “Not only division champions, but beating Manasquan to get it feels great. The whole season I felt like we were getting dissed a little bit, so it’s nice to come out and show everyone that we’re the real deal.’’
The most exciting win belonged to Neptune, which held off Asbury Park, 29-28, in a nondivisional game between two teams playing for state championships this week. The Scarlet Fliers’ defense stopped Asbury Park on fourth-and-goal with just over a minute remaining in the game to seal the win. Senior quarterback Jaheem Woods scored on a 2-yard run set up by a great catch by junior wideout Geoff Fairbanks with 6:46 left in the game and an extra point by Elijah Peavy made it 29-28. Fairbanks also caught a 16-yard touchdown pass, and senior fullback Jazzmar Clax added a 1-yard touchdown run. Neptune led 22-6 in the first quarter, which also included an interception return for a touchdown by defensive back Sekou Harris.
Sophomore quarterback Robert Barksdale ran for one touchdown and threw for another, and senior wideout Tahj Hammary ran for one score and caught a touchdown pass. Senior Amir Conover scored a 49-yard touchdown to put Asbury Park ahead, 28-22, early in the fourth quarter before Neptune took the lead back.
Adding to his school record was Colts Neck senior running back Victor Scalici, who ran for 346 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-27 win over Howell to cap a 6-4 season. It was Scalici’s second straight game with a school-record five touchdowns, and it gave him 1,693 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns for the season, both school records. In the loss, Howell senior wide receiver Brandon Yaegel finished his season with 89 catches for 1,255 yards, both Shore Conference records. Senior quarterback Ryan Davies also became the first Shore Conference quarterback and just the fourth in history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season in the loss.
Two teams that had tough seasons ended on a high note, as Toms River East surprised rival Toms River North, 29-17, despite entering the game with one victory. The Raiders had not scored more than 18 points in a game all season, but came alive in the finale as senior Mario Steriti returned from injury after a four-game absence to run for two touchdowns, and senior Matt Guarnieri added two touchdowns.
In Monmouth County, Mater Dei Prep avoided a winless season by beating Keansburg for the second straight year. The Seraphs picked up a 35-29 win thanks to four touchdowns by senior quarterback Jesse Meyer. Long Branch also finished strong with a 19-7 comeback win over Red Bank to finish 5-5 after having started the season 0-5.
Point Boro topped Central 41-34 in a wild game thanks to 185 yards and three touchdowns from senior fullback Jack Vitale. In the loss, senior tailback Kalyph Hardy went over the 2,000-yard mark for Central with 105 yards and three touchdowns.
Several other teams maintained the upper hand in their short Thanksgiving rivalries as Raritan remained unbeaten against Holmdel with a 28-0 victory, while Jackson Memorial improved to 4-0 all-time against Jackson Liberty with a 28-14 win. Ocean also beat Monmouth 34-26 thanks to four touchdown runs by senior Greg Moore to maintain its dominance over the Falcons, and Middletown South blanked Middletown North 21-0 for its 11th straight win over the Lions.
Freehold beat Freehold Township 13-7 for its second straight win in a rivalry that was renewed last season, and Toms River South held off Lakewood, 28-20, in the Shore’s oldest Thanksgiving rivalry.