Msgr. Donovan-Jackson Liberty is the Shore Sports Network Game of the Week
After a long and storm-filled two weeks for the Jersey Shore, Shore Conference football returns this weekend to hopefully provide a welcome distraction from all the adversity faced by so many families.
On Saturday night, The Shore Sports Network will be bringing the Class B South showdown between Monsignor Donovan (5-2, 5-0) and Jackson Liberty (5-2, 4-2) to you live on 1160/1310 a.m. and streaming it live right here on shoresportsnetwork.com. The game at Monsignor Donovan kicks off at 6:30 p.m., and the host Griffins can clinch the outright Class B South title with a victory. They have already clinched no worse than a tie for their first division title since 1993 and have secured their second straight state playoff berth in Non-Public Group III.
Jackson Liberty has already clinched its first state playoff berth in the history of its program, which began in 2007. With a win over Monsignor Donovan, the Lions will guarantee their first winning season in program history. Also, the two head coaches go back a long way, as Jackson Liberty’s Tim Osborn and Monsignor Donovan’s Dan Duddy both played at Brick for the legendary Warren Wolf.
The Griffins have not played since a 36-0 win over Central on Oct. 26, and Jackson Liberty has had the same layoff since outlasting Point Boro 38-31 in overtime to secure a playoff spot in Central Jersey Group IV. Both teams will look to shake off the rust while trying to build some momentum for the first round of the state playoffs a week later.
Monsignor Donovan has been unbeatable inside the division, mainly thanks to a triple option offense featuring a strong 1-2 punch in quarterback Vinny Grasso and fullback Grant Klimek. Grasso has 494 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the ground in seven games, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Klimek leads the team with 737 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 5.8 yards per carry. The Griffins’ big-play threat is Kevin Ortiz, who is averaging 10 yards per carry on limited carries and had a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win over Central.
Jackson Liberty’s offense has come alive late in the season after Osborn moved standout sophomore Matt Castronuova from wide receiver to quarterback two games ago. In his two starts, Castronuova has rushed for 335 yards and seven touchdowns combined in a pair of victories. Defenses now worried about Castronuova’s running ability have also opened things up for running back Bruce Almodovar, who had 148 yards rushing in the win over Point Boro. The Lions have scored 63 and 38 points in their last two games after averaging 14 points per game in their first five games.
It is expected to be an emotional weekend across the Shore Conference, as players try to return to a familiar place in the wake of all the damage. The proceeds from the gate will be going to hurricane relief efforts. Drawing students from numerous Ocean County coastal towns, Monsignor Donovan has had several players whose families are trying to recover from hardship, so the game is a welcome reprieve from stark reality.