Navitsky Tosses Two Touchdowns to Lead Red Bank Past Wall 20-7.
WALL -- On a beautiful Friday night for football the programs from Wall and Red Bank high schools came together to kick off their 2015 football campaign, and it was the Bucs who pulled out a 20-7 Shore Conference Class B North victory.
Wall entered its second season under head coach Dan Curcione, bringing together a formidable defense and a high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Matt Cluley, who rushed for 621 yards and passed for 1,080 in his junior season. This season Cluley was looking forward to working with new offensive coordinator Chip LaBarca Jr., who comes over from Brick where he held the same position the past two seasons.
However, the senior's season may have taken a major blow when he broke wide for a 15-yard run and was taken down from behind, and during the tackle Cluley put his right arm out to break his fall. For the next five minutes, the crowd at stayed silent as the quarterback laid on the ground in pain. When he got to his feet and both sidelines clapping for him, you could tell it wasn't just a stinger as the trainer helped Cluley protect the arm.
'It is too early to tell the extent of the injury, but Matt suffered an elbow injury early in the first quarter," said Wall head coach Dan Curcione.
Red Bank immediately took advantage of the loss of the heart and soul of the Knights offense. The Bucs turned up their defensive pressure led by cornerbacks Matt Reardon and Teddy Mitchell and middle linebacker Sadiq Palmer, who combined for six interceptions of Wall sophomore quarterback Eddie Scott. Red Bank's defense kept the young quarterback on his heels the rest of the game, forcing seven turnovers.
"When you play against ag ret player like Matt you have to bring your "A" game," sad Reardon, who had two interceptions and five tackles. "You haver went to see a play like him go down, but we had to stay focused and continue with our game plan, and we did a great job tonight."
Offensively, Red Bank (1-0, 1-0) was able to execute its game plan to near perfection. The Bucs came in to this season wanting to establish their ground game to complement their vertical passing game. Senior quarterback Jack Navitsky's running ability was on display Friday night along with senior tailback Alim Godsey as the Bucs' offensive line seemed to open holes for the backfield pair at will. The running game also opened the passing lanes for Navitsky, who found Reardon on several occasions including the game's first touchdown.
After stumbling out of the gate in the first quarter the Bucs went to work in the second half. With Wall driving, Palmer made the first of his two interceptions by picking off Scott at he 15-yard line. This enabled the Bucs offense to finally get to work as they marched down to the Wall 12-yard line, and with 6:25 remaining in the half Navitsky found Reardon in the flat for a 7-0 lead.
They would hold serve against a struggling Wall offense, and with time running out and the Red Bank offense sitting at the Wall 30-yard line with three seconds remaining, Bucs coach Nick Giglio sent in O'Connor, who hit a monster 47-yard field goal that made it just inside the left upright to put the Bucs up 10-0 at half.
Red Bank would capitalize on another Wall turnover and this time Navitsky would find Palmer out wide to march in for another score, putting the Bucs up 17-0 late in the third quarter. Red Bank seemed to be playing on a different level then their counterparts, who were having trouble keeping their key players on the field. Wall's R.J. Janeczek, Shane Richey and Sean Larkin were all big parts of keeping the Knights in the game when Cluley went down, but all three suffered from cramping for most of the second half.
"I cannot speak for Wall, who is a great team, but from day one of summer workouts my boys came into training in shape and ready to work," said Red Bank head coach Nick Giglio. "In my seven years here this is the first group that has pushed each other at every level from conditioning runs, in the weight room and positional drills. I preached to them that the first couple of games they need to be prepared for humidity and cramping and to do their best to keep their bodies ready."
Wall found some momentum with its ground game late in the third quarter Sophomore Chevesse Covin put together consistent wide receiver sweeps and carried the Kinghts 80 yards for their lone score. With just under in a minute into the fourth quarter, Covin rambled his way into the heart of the Bucs defense and reached across the goal line to cut the lead to 17-6, and senior kicker Nick Maciejewski added the extra point to make it 17-7.
It was not a perfect game for the victorious Bucs, but was nevertheless important to get the first win of the season. With Red Bank finishing 5-5 last season and just missing out on the playoffs, they know they need to take care of business against their first three opponents in Wall, next week at home against Colts Neck and the following week at Ocean.
"We know what we missed out on last season but we are not living in the past," Reardon said. "We have a great core group of guys here and know that we can not look ahead. We have to take care of the next play and take one game at a time."
"These guys are on a mission and it started tonight," Giglio said.