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Toms River East and Toms River South Meet in a Cross-Town Showdown Friday Night

For 10 years, Toms River South has been the third-best team in its own town, but the Indians are looking to change all that on Friday night.

Toms River East is aiming to keep things just the way they are.

Toms River East will try to keep the upper hand it has had since 2002 against cross-town rival Toms River South when the teams meet on Friday night. (Photo credit: Bill Normile).

It will all unfold at Toms River East in the Shore Sports Network Game of the Week, which will be live on the radio on 105.7 “The Hawk’’ f.m. and streamed online at www.1057thehawkfm.com. Toms River South (2-3, 2-2) has not beaten either Toms River North or Toms River East since beating Toms River East in overtime in November of 2002. Since then, the Indians have lost 18 straight to their cross-town rivals, but they enter Friday’s game having knocked off Jackson Memorial for the first time in more than a decade with a 12-7 victory last week.

Toms River East (1-5, 0-4) is coming off a 28-27 loss to previously winless Brick, so the Raiders will be looking to pick up their first Class A South win at the expense of their rival. The Raiders are giving up an average of 32 points per game, and they will have to deal with a Toms River South rushing attack that has picked up steam by the week in the triple option offense under head coach Ron Signorino Jr., who was the offensive coordinator at Toms River East in 2002 when the Indians last beat their rival.

Junior Otis Kearney leads the way with 484 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on a whopping average of 9.9 yards per carry, and he is coming off a 250-yard, two-touchdown rushing effort in the win over Jackson Memorial. Kearney is just one of several weapons for the Indians, as Khaleel Greene has rushed for 360 yards and a pair of touchdowns on an impressive average of 9.2 yards per carry. Sophomore quarterback Tymere Berry also is a dangerous runner, with 223 yards rushing and four touchdowns. As a team, the Indians have already rolled up 1,296 yards rushing on an average of 7.5 yards per attempt for a dramatic improvement in their second year under Signorino.

The main issues for Toms River South have been finishing drives and avoiding turnovers, as the Indians are averaging 19.6 points per game despite their gaudy rushing statistics. When Berry does go to the air, it’s often for a big play, as he has thrown for 323 yards on an average of 15 yards per completion since taking over for injured starter Trevor Signorino. Berry’s main target downfield is junior Darius Hart, who leads the team with 12 catches.

It will be up to a Toms River East defense led by senior linebacker Pat Gallagher, sophomore linebacker Ryan Wood and junior defensive back Jerry Caporale to limit the rushing attack and force Toms River South out of its comfort zone and into obvious passing downs.

On the other side of the ball, Toms River East enters with an offense that has come alive after a slow start. The Raiders have scored an average of 27.7 points per game in their last three games after averaging only 12.7 points per game in their first three games. Much like Toms River South, Toms River East has a three-pronged rushing attack featuring Caporale, Gallagher and leading rusher Matt Gudzak, a junior.

Gudzak has rushed for a team-high 491 yards on an average of 5.5 yards per carry along with four touchdowns, and Caporale, who plays quarterback, is right behind him a 429 yards and four touchdowns. Gallagher has chipped in with 228 yards rushing and five touchdowns, including a three-touchdown performance in the Raiders’ lone win against Howell.

Looking to slow down that running game will be an improved Indians’ defense led by leading tackler Giovann Achurra, who has 56 tackles. Hart and Kearney are also impact players on defense with 47 tackles apiece.

 

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