2014 Red Bank Regional Football Preview: Ready for the Challenge
By Art Gordon - Shore Sports Network contributor
For a team coming off a 1-9 season and facing a rugged Class B North schedule that includes the addition of the Shore Conference's No. 1 team and a returning sectional finalist, Red Bank is approaching the challenge with a positive attitude and a new approach.
“Every year up and down the Shore Conference, teams look at rebuilding or have just finished being rebuilt,'' said head coach Nick Giglio. "Great seasons can happen all the time. We come off last year's season with a little disappointment, but instead of sitting here crying about what should have or could have happened, we decided to accept last year and build off it. We were a little bit disappointed and surprised that many of our kids did not handle the adversity of last year, so that is why we made it a point of identifying the quality kids that will lead us this year."
Red Bank lost four games last year by eight points or less and started six sophomores. The Bucs will start this season with seven juniors and one sophomore starting on both sides of the ball.
The main theme that is repeated by the staff and players is "demand more." Everyone is focused on accountability, as their goal is to record their first winning season since 2004 and win their first division title since 1977. This was addressed at the exit meeting before summer vacation and continually repeated during practices.
“We need to expect more from each other, from teammates, coaches, parents, community and everyone,'' Giglio said. "You can’t be satisfied. You can always get a little more from everyone. It’s a back-and-forth thing. They give more, and they in turn will want more back. We have to learn how to win, and we can when we find the quality kids that want to give us more, and we think we have those kids this year."
“If you think you are doing good you can always do more, and when your teammates see that, they will also do more,'' said junior lineman Ricky Wild.
The improved attitude has been preached by the team's leaders.
"We pointed fingers last year instead of stepping up and taking responsibility,'' said senior running back Jimmy Ferrogine.
"We can always get an extra rep for everything we do - on the field, in the classroom and in the weight room,'' senior running back Trevor Riley said.
The Bucs, who have 50 players out for the varsity team, will operate out of a shotgun Wing-T with a little bit of spread offense included. They will try to use their athleticism to their advantage and hope to play fast in an attempt to improve a unit that averaged only 11.5 points per game last year.
Red Bank has one of the best returning wide receivers in the Shore Conference in junior Sadiq Palmer, an All-Division selection as a sophomore, as a primary weapon on offense. Lining up at the other wide receiver will be junior Matt Reardon, who also returns with experience. Dual threat junior Jack Navitsky will be at quarterback after starting four games as a sophomore and splitting time in four other games.
“I will have a chance to make plays with my ability to run and throw,'' Navitsky said. "We are trying to get our playmakers the ball in space so they can make plays."
Riley, who comes into camp healthy this year after battling injuries all last season, will try to take some of the pressure off the passing game. He injured his shoulder the first day of practice last year and never fully recovered while also having to alter his running style.
“I danced too much last year instead of being the downhill runner I used to be,” Riley said.
Ferrogine will play at many positions due to his versatility and athleticism, primarily at running back and tight end, where he will share time with junior Sean Naiman, a returning starter.
“I can fill many positions and this will allow the young kids the chance to step up,'' Ferrogine said.
Up front, senior Zach Carrano has moved from left tackle to center, a crucial position in an offense trying to play with a high tempo out of the shotgun. Seniors Kevin Burke, Matt Karr and junior Colin Young will handle the guard and right tackle positions, with Wild, a returning starter, moving to left tackle.
Defensively, they will continue to employ a 3-3-5 stack look so that they can take advantage of their athleticism when facing a host of spread attacks. Last year they played many of their opponents tough, but could not find a way to finish, but they feel they have the ability to do that this season.
The three down linemen will be juniors Matt Cressen and Tyriik Murad along with Ferrogine, who will also step back and play linebacker in certain packages. The linebackers will be sophomore Chris Outterbridge and juniors Brian Fagan and Alim Godsey. Palmer also returns at safety and will be joined in the secondary by Riley, Reardon and and junior Teddy Mitchell.
Red Bank will open the season with a Friday night home game on Sept. 12 against Wall as part of a Class B North schedule that now includes rival Red Bank Catholic and Colts Neck, who were realigned into the division. The Bucs hope to get their first win ever under the lights on their home field and have upgraded their scrimmage schedule in hopes of matching their style of play with who they will face during the season.
“How we do in those scrimmages should give us an idea of how we will be able to handle our schedule,'' Giglio said.
“We have a difficult schedule but we are looking to compete,'' Ferrogine said. "We have worked real hard in the off season and know it will pay off with a 'W' (in the opener). We can’t wait."
Head coach: Nick Giglio, 6th season (13th overall)
Career record: 42-88
Assistant coaches: Cory Giddings (off. coord.); Steve Turner (TE); Shane Bigelow (OL/DL); Phil Greene (RB/LB); Jerett Sanderson (WR/DB); Jeff Mauro, Matt Norman (freshman); Brian Chamberlain (quality control); Christina Emrich (athletic trainer).
2013 record: 1-9 (1-5)
Big Shoes to Fill: Jimmy Ferrogine, Sr., RB/TE/DE/LB
Ferrogine will look to be a playmaker at defensive end to keep the production going at that spot after the graduation of Dylan DeVita, who was an All-Division selection by the coaches last season. Ferrogine will be playing all over the field for the Bucs this season, so he will be a crucial factor in Red Bank's success.
X-Factor: Trevor Riley, Sr., RB/DB.
Riley battled injuries all of last season, so a full season with him healthy gives Red Bank a physical, downhill runner in the Wing-T and an experienced returner in the secondary.
Glue Guy: Jack Navitsky, Jr., QB
Navitsky showed flashes of his potential as a sophomore and has become a leader as a junior. He will be counted on to boost an offense that was Red Bank's Achilles' heel last year, and his chemistry with Palmer in the passing game could help the Bucs make a big leap forward.
Impact Newcomer: Chris Outterbridge, So., RB/DB.
Outterbridge looks to be another weapon in the running attack and also should see time in the secondary.
Pivotal Game: Sept. 12 vs. Wall.
Coming off a one-win season, it's all about the season opener, and the Bucs will be at home under the lights against the Class B North-rival Crimson Knights.