Building Blocks: 2021 Central Regional High School Football Preview
Jarrett Pidgeon’s first season as a head coach produced mixed results with Central winning its first two games before losing four of their next five and finishing with a 3-4 record. Two of those losses came by a total of nine points and with 15 starters back, season No. 2 for Pidgeon should bring a marked improvement.
Before Golden Eagles fans get too excited there are question marks and some very good players lost to graduation, including All-Shore linebacker Imeer Johnson and others like Nick Sura, Vinnie Dallicardillo, Danny Taris and Brandon Montgomery. However, there appears to be more than enough talent and experience for Central to be considered a title contender in the newly-formed Liberty Division.
Junior JJ Garcia went into summer practice last year in a battle for the starting quarterback spot, which was won by Frankie Farmer, but Garcia still saw plenty of action and started one game while playing in others. In the spring, Farmer reclassified to the Class of 2023 and enrolled at The Peddie School so Garcia will get his shot from the start to run Central’s multiple pro attack under new offensive coordinator Frank Papalia with freshman Deven Sisler backing him up.
There is a solid stable of running backs led by junior Chase Gumbrecht and a trio of seniors in Andre Roggenkamp, Dom Fraulo and rugged Anthony Musso. Seniors Danny Morris and Shane Sajewicz figure to be Garcia’s top targets as they return to head up the wide receiver position, while senior Michael Rappola is back at tight end. Tackle Todd Dudley leads a group of returners on the offensive line along with Peyton Dasti and Nick Rua.
With the exception of losses to Lacey and Southern, the Golden Eagles did not allow more than two touchdowns in any other games. Heading up those returning on defense is Musso, who will line up at both linebacker and defensive end. Junior Logan Brennan is back at a defensive end spot and senior Alex Bechtle returns as a starting linebacker. Defensive end Vinnie Charles, a starter two years ago, returns after missing all of 2020 with an injury. The defensive backfield figures to be very strong and is led by Morris and Fraulo while senior Colin Steimle, who started as a sophomore, returns after spending last season in Florida. Senior Sean Hurley returns to handle both the kicking and punting chores.
While last season was a rough one for all head coaches it had to be particularly challenging for those like Pidgeon, who in his first year had to deal with a pandemic that presented daily challenges outside of Xs and Os. With that experience hopefully behind him he can focus on football and leading Central to their first winning season since 2017.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter)
Offense: Multiple Pro
QB: JJ Garcia, Jr.; Deven Sisler, Fr.
RB: Chase Gumbrecht, Jr., RS; Andre Roggenkamp, Sr.; Dom Fraulo, Sr.; Anthony Musso, Sr., RS
WR: Danny Morris, Sr., RS.; Shane Sajaweicz, Sr., RS.; Tony Brinson, Jr.; Chase Pierce, Jr.
TE: Michael Rappola, Sr., RS; Luke Kryzkowski, So.
OL: Jack Vandiver, Sr.
OL: Sean Williams, Sr.; Aaron Josa, Sr.
OL: Peyton Dasti, Sr.
OL: Nick Rua, Sr., RS; Rudy Rinderer, Jr.
OL: Todd Dudley, Sr., RS
Defense: Multiple 3-4
DE: Logan Brennan, Sr., RS; Trey Mitchell, Jr.
NG: Niko Nasr, Jr.; Aaron Josa, Sr RS; Jack Vandiver, Sr.
DE: Vinnie Charles, Sr.
OLB: Caden Barker, Jr.; Scott Nico, So.
OLB: Jaivon Tate, Jr.; Shane Sajewicz, Sr.
ILB: Alex Bechtle, Sr., RS; Rudy Rinderer, Jr.
ILB: Anthony Musso, Sr., RS; Caden Barker, Jr.
CB: Colin Steimle, Sr.
CB: Danny Morris, Sr., RS
SS: Joe Ruggiero, Sr.
FS: Dom Fraulo, Sr., RS
K/P: Sean Hurley, Sr., RS
Head Coach: Jarrett Pidgeon, 2nd season
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Frank Papalia (offensive coordinator/OL); Danny Higgins (QB); Paul Carrezola (TE/WR, Strength & Conditioning); Kyle Watson (RB); Frank Backle (OL); James Plummer (OLB); Terrance Hardy (DB/Special Teams); Will Wowkanyn (DL); Dennis Pidgeon (Defensive Assistant); Freshman coaches: Walter Karasiewicz, Tommy Koenig; Athletic Trainer: Cassie Dennis.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Anthony Musso, Sr., DE/LB/FB
Musso will be counted on to lead the defense and opposing teams will clearly be on the look-out for him whether he lines up at linebacker or end. On offense, his carries might be limited but when he’s in the game at fullback look for him to help clear space for the speedy running backs in the lineup.
PLAYERS UNDER THE RADAR: JJ Garcia, Jr., QB and Chase Gumbrecht, Jr., RB
It seems more often than not the quarterback position falls under this heading and it’s no different here. Garcia lost out on the starting job last summer but the position is now his and he’ll want to make the most of it. Gumbrecht saw some time at running back in the second half of the season but his carries were limited with a pair of seniors also in the mix. They have now graduated so the junior becomes the main weapon in the backfield.
X-FACTOR: Offensive Line
There is plenty of experience and good size featuring Dudley (280), Dasti (270), Rua (240), Jack Vandiver (290) and Sean Williams (225). They are all seniors and could be the best position group on the team, although the defensive backfield should be very strong as well.
There are several to choose from but Pidgeon is excited about sophomore tight end Luke Kryzkowski (6-foot-3, 205) and sophomore linebacker Scott Nico. Junior Tony Brinson will be in the mix at wide receiver and senior Andre Roggenkamp will get some carries in the backfield.
Friday, Sept. 3 – vs. Hightstown, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 10 – vs Neptune, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 17 – at Freehold Township, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24 – at Raritan, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 1 – vs. Marlboro, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 8 – at Matawan, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 15 – vs. Southern, 7 p.m.