2019 All-Shore Gridiron Classic Preview
What: 42nd annual Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic
Live updates on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Bob_Badders
When: Friday, July 12, at 7 p.m.
Where: Bresett Stadium at Long Branch High School
Tickets: $10 at the door
Broadcast information: The game will be streamed live on ShoreSportsNetwork.com with Matt Harmon and Ed Sarluca calling the action. The broadcast will be archived on ShoreSportsNetwork.com immediately following the game.
All-time series: Monmouth leads Ocean, 22-18-1.
Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame inductees: Manalapan head coach Ed Gurrieri and longtime Shore Conference referee Bob Zampelle will be inducted at halftime.
Rosters, coaches, Hall of Fame bios, game facts and more: Click here for view the official gameday program.
Game breakdown: Monmouth County is coming off a 28-14 victory in last year’s game when Freehold quarterback Ashante Worthy accounted for 155 total yards and two touchdowns to earn MVP and give Monmouth its second straight win. After losing three straight Gridiron Classics from 2014-2016, Monmouth has a chance to make it three in a row and tie the record for the longest winning streak in the Gridiron Classic’s 42-year history.
Rumson-Fair Haven head coach Jerry Schulte and his staff of Bulldogs assistants will lead the Monmouth County all-stars along with Freehold head coach Dave Ellis, Wall head coach Tony Grandinetti, Manalapan head coach Ed Gurrieri and Asbury Park head coach Tim Fosque.
Ocean County is coached by Brick head coach Len Zdanowicz, several of his assistants as well as Pinelands head coach Matt Fuller and Lakewood head coach L.J. Clark.
Monmouth County is deep at several positions and enters the game as the favorite. Long Branch’s Marc Dennis will likely see most of the playing time at quarterback with Freehold’s Matt Krauss and Shore’s Gil Goldsmith also expected to get some reps. The backfield also includes Keansburg’s Liam Riecks, Holmdel’s Dean Gallo, Howell’s Gerard Urso, Keyport’s Devin Wollner, Asbury Park’s Quadir Lawson, Shore’s Jack McCrae and Matawan’s Devin Williams at running back and Mater Dei Prep’s Brandon Jones at fullback.
Dennis was a Shore Sports Network First Team All-Shore selection last season for his outstanding play at both quarterback and defensive back, and he has plenty of weapons to have a big game through the air. Red Bank Catholic’s Jaden Key (First Team All-Shore), Ocean’s Alex Bryant, Freehold’s Quincy Davis, Long Branch’s Matt Clarke (First Team All-Shore), Manasquan’s James Pendergist, Freehold’s Jake Hurler, Monmouth Regional’s Dayshawn Porter plus Krauss (First Team All-Shore and Goldsmith give Monmouth County a very impressive group on the outside that will test Ocean County’s linebackers and secondary.
Up front, Monmouth County will employ Howell’s Matt Jacobs, Manalapan’s Nick Holowach, Long Branch’s Raúl Rivera, Manasquan’s Alec Wells, Middletown South’s Brady Smith, Rumson-Fair Haven’s Ethan Ardolino, Wall’s Brady Scott, Shore Regional’s Sam Aromando and Keansburg’s IJustice Tucker.
Monmouth’s County’s defense looks to be a tough unit to score on, particularly because of its excellent corps of linebackers. SSN First Team All-Shore selections Luke Arnold of Long Branch and Steve Cmielewski of Red Bank Catholic lead a ferocious unit that also includes, Rumson-Fair Haven’s Christian Lanzalotto, Red Bank Catholic’s John Columbia, Ocean’s Ryan Moran, Neptune’s Najiere Hutchinson, Raritan’s Justin Acevedo, Middletown South’s Matt Tardy plus Williams and Jones.
The defensive line of Monmouth County features a great collection of pass rushers with Manasquan’s Dylan D’Anton and Art Foreman, Manalapan’s Da’Shon Tayler, Rumson-Fair Haven’s Kenny Rainey, Freehold’s Alex Verardi, Middletown North’s Steven Holler and Shore’s Vinny DiMaio.
In the secondary, Monmouth County has SSN First Team All-Shore selection Devin Blount of Long Branch, Asbury Park’s Kharod Young, Wall’s Dylan Richey, Colts Neck’s Colin Campbell, Red Bank Catholic’s Anthony Romano, Long Branch’s Billy Levy plus Key, Bryant, Pendergist, Krauss, Porter, McCrae and Goldsmith.
If it needs a clutch field goal, Monmouth County also has three of the top kickers in the Shore Conference on its roster with First Team All-Shore selection Colin Taptich of Freehold Township, Manalapan’s Jack Dematteo and Hurler.
Ocean County’s strength looks to be on defense with playmakers at all three levels who will look to slow down Monmouth County’s offense. Manchester defensive end Eric Cowan and Barnegat defensive tackle Anthony Grimes lead a defensive line that also includes Central’s Troy Warren, Lacey’s Quint Kearns, Lakewood’s Tye Pierce, Brick’s Zach Piscope, Jackson Memorial’s Sean Sharo, Southern’s Liam Andersen, Toms River East’s Liam Meakem and Toms River South’s Kenny Johnson III.
Brick’s Richie Tallmadge, an SSN First Team All-Shore selection, leads an impressive group of linebackers for Ocean County along with Barnegat’s Brian Ewan, Jackson Memorial’s Joe Maffei and Chance Benjamin, Point Boro’s Bobby Cooper, Central’s Anthony Rivera, Lacey’s Greg Chadwick, Southern’s Joe Guglielmo and Point Beach’s Connor Smith.
Monmouth County’s group of wide receivers is very good and it should be a great matchup against an Ocean County secondary that has several playmakers. Brick’s Mike McGuigan tied for the state lead with seven interceptions last season while teammate Cole Groschel is a versatile player in the defensive backfield. Central’s Isaiah Johnston, a hard-hitting safety, is another one to watch in the back end. Southern’s Point Boro’s Kyle Komanitsky, Barnegat’s Sean Madej and Brick Memorial’s Jeff Lavarin round out the secondary.
Pinelands’ Garrett Brown will get the start at quarterback and figures to see most of the playing time. As he did for Brick, Groschel will probably get some plays at quarterback, as well. The running backs are Pinelands’ Evan Burton, Barnegat’s Charlie Cotton, Toms River South’s Sam Akinlolu, Jackson Memorial’s Leo Shimonovich and Southern’s Joe Guglielmo.
Expect a big play or two out of Central wide receiver Darius Martorano, who led the Shore in receiving touchdowns (10) and was second in yards (670) and receptions (42) last season. Groschel is another very good option for Brown out wide along with Toms River North’s Aaron Craig and Will Marsh, and Jackson Memorial’s Tyler Brito. Cowan and Smith will be the tight ends.
The offensive line has Barnegat’s Phil Gogarty, Tim Lauterbach and Joseph Lauer, Central’s Derric Esporrin, Jackson Liberty’s Michael Chmura, Southern’s Sean MacGillivray, Lakewood’s Kevin Rodriguez, Pinelands’ Jacob Lucas plus Pierce, Piscope and Sharo.
Brick’s Jake Wynkoop will be the kicker.
Prediction: This isn’t like last season when Monmouth County had an embarrassment of riches on offense along with a very good defense, but this Monmouth squad is solid in all areas and should be fairly balanced offensively. There hasn’t been a ton of fanfare surrounding Ocean County’s defense, but it’s a very good unit from top to bottom. Defenses usually have the advantage in the Gridiron Classic because there’s less to learn during the week of practice, so that’s something to think about. Still, I think Monmouth wins a close game to make it three in a row.
The pick: Monmouth County
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.