Central Jersey Group 3 Championship Preview: Rumson-Fair Haven vs. Wall
CENTRAL JERSEY GROUP 3 CHAMPIONSHIP
WHO: 2-Rumson-Fair Haven (6-4) at 1-Wall (10-0).
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Wall High School, 1630 18th Avenue, Wall, NJ.
BROADCAST INFO: Streamed live on ShoreSportsNetwork.com and the SSN mobile app.
RUMSON’S ROAD TO THE FINAL: Defeated Delsea, 27-6, in the quarterfinals; defeated Timber Creek, 16-9, in the semifinals.
WALL’S ROAD TO THE FINAL: Defeated Allentown, 49-7, in the quarterfinals; defeated Lacey, 35-18, in the semifinals.
RUMSON’S BEST WINS: 20-14 over Red Bank Catholic, 21-16 over Mater Dei Prep.
WALL’S BEST WINS: 14-3 over Rumson-Fair Haven, 24-0 over Central Jersey Group 4 finalist Jackson Memorial, 14-7 over Mater Dei Prep.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: Rumson is the defending sectional champion and is making its seventh straight appearance in a sectional final. The Bulldogs have won six sectional titles in the last seven years, including last season’s sensational 42-35 victory over Somerville to regain the throne. Rumson then went on to defeat Woodrow Wilson in the inaugural Central/South bowl game. The Bulldogs are 26-12 overall in 18 postseason appearances since 1974…Wall has won four sectional titles in five championship-game appearances with its most recent title coming in 2016 in South Jersey Group 3. The Crimson Knights have made the playoffs 19 times since 1974 and own a record of 18-15.
RUMSON STAT LEADERS
-John Volker, Jr., RB: 139 carries for 692 yards and 6 TDs; 15 rec. for 293 yards and 3 TDs.
-Collin Coles, Sr., QB: 79-for-178, 1,084 yards, 10 TDs, 5 INT.
-Patrick Jamin, Jr., WR: 29 rec. for 419 yards and 2 TDs.
-Peter Crowley, Sr., RB: 276 scrimmage yards and 5 TDs.
-Luke Devlin, Jr., TE: 12 rec. for 152 yards and 3 TDs.
-Gordon Forsyth, Sr., LB: 128 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack.
-Ryan Ruane, Jr., DB: 85 tackles, 4 INTs (2 TD).
-Aiden Moriarty, So., DE: 63 tackles, 12.5 sacks.
-John Lista, So., LB: 76 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles.
-Jack Kelly, Jr., DL: 65 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 INTs (1 TD).
-Von Factor, Jr., DL: 69 tackles, 3 sacks.
-Drew Frankel, Sr., DB: 60 tackles.
WALL STAT LEADERS
-Logan Peters, Jr., QB/DB: 64-99, 1,031 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs; 89 carries for 478 yards and 9 TDs; 36 tackles, 4 INTs.
-Casey Larkin, Jr., RB/DB: 137 carries for 834 yards and 11 TDs; 15 rec. for 274 yards and 1 TD; 34 tackles, 3 INTs (1 TD).
-Matt DeSarno, Sr., RB/DB: 58 carries for 281 yards and 6 TDs; 34 tackles, 1 sack.
-Dale McNally, Sr., RB/DB: 261 scrimmage yards, 5 TDs.
-Blake Rezk, So., TE/DE: 7 rec. for 144 yards and 2 TDs; 3 sacks.
-Charlie Sasso, So., LB: 98 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 TFL, 3 INT, 3 fumble recoveries.
-Colin Riley, So., LB: 61 tackles, 10 sacks, 6 TFL.
-Dean Terry, Sr., LB: 73 tackles, 2 sacks, 7 TFL, 1 safety.
-Will Terry, Sr., LB: 42 tackles, 2 sacks.
-Ian Ackerman, Sr., DE: 66 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 TFL, 2 fumble recoveries.
-Grant Puharic, Jr., DE: 39 tackles, 2 sacks.
The No. 1 team in the Shore Conference will try to complete an undefeated run to a state sectional championship, but to do so Wall will have to take down defending champion Rumson-Fair Haven, a program that has built its legacy on clutch playoff performances.
Friday’s showdown in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 3 championship game will be the second meeting of the season between the two Shore Conference heavyweights. In Week 2, Wall scored a 14-3 win over Rumson which served as the catalyst for what has become a fantastic season. The Crimson Knights would go on to defeat Jackson Memorial, 24-0, the following week and two weeks later took down Mater Dei, 14-7, to ascend to the top spot in the Shore Conference.
Wall’s greatness lies in its consistency and the fact that it gets important contributions from so many players. Standout juniors Logan Peters and Casey Larkin garner many of the headlines but the Crimson Knights are not 10-0 without key performances from up and down the roster. The aforementioned Peters and Larkin lead a balanced offense that averages 31.1 points per game from their quarterback and running back positions, respectively. Both are dynamic players with Peters having thrown for 1,031 yards and 12 touchdowns on 65 percent passing and rushing for 478 yards and nine touchdowns. Larkin has rushed for 834 yards and 11 touchdowns on an average of 6.1 yards per carry and is also Wall’s leading receiver with 15 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown.
Supplementing Wall’s offense are senior running backs Matt DeSarno and Dale McNally, senior wide receivers Gus Setteducato and Mike Galos, junior wideout Matt Dollive and sophomore tight end Blake Rezk. DeSarno stepped in for Larkin after he tweaked an ankle in Wall’s semifinal win over Lacey and ran for a career-high 99 yards and two touchdowns. Up front, Wall’s offensive line features senior Jack Wolter and junior Eddie Vanwoudenburg along with sophomore Max Oakley as the tackles, senior Ian Ackerman and junior Grant Puharic at guard and sophomore Brian Byrne at center.
Opposing Wall’s offense will be a Rumson defense that has allowed 15.8 points per game this season and has limited its last two opponents only one combined touchdown and 13 total points. The Bulldogs were tasked with replacing many of their starters from last season but have remained one of the top defenses in the Shore. Senior Gordon Forsyth moved from defensive end to linebacker and has delivered an excellent season with 128 tackles, including double-digit tackles for loss. Junior defensive lineman Von Factor was an impact player as a sophomore and has continued to make plays behind the line of scrimmage with 69 tackles and three sacks. Junior safety Ryan Ruane has 85 tackles and four interceptions and along with senior cornerback Drew Frankel leads the Rumson secondary.
The Bulldogs have received big contributions from many first-year, full-time starters like junior defensive lineman Jack Kelly, sophomore linebacker John Lista, sophomore linebacker Ryan McKay and sophomore defensive end Aidan Moriarty. Rumson has not allowed more than 22 points in any game this season.
While Rumson’s defense has been a model of consistency, the same cannot be said about its offense. The Bulldogs are averaging 20.7 points per game but it has been hit and miss throughout the season. Rumson mustered only a field goal in a 14-3 loss to Wall in Week 1 and suffered the same fate in a 20-3 loss to Middletown South in Week 6. That was followed up with a 22-16 loss to Jackson Memorial where Rumson had just 120 yards of offense.
The ingredients are there for a big game, however, starting with junior running back John Volker. The talented back has rushed for 692 yards and six touchdowns and caught 15 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns. He has the power to run defenders over and the speed to run away from them. Senior quarterback Collin Coles has thrown for 1,084 yards and 10 touchdowns against five interceptions with his top target being junior wide receiver Patrick Jamin, who has 29 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns. Coles will also look the way of junior tight end Luke Devlin, who has three touchdown catches on the year. Also in the backfield are senior Peter Crowley and sophomore Geoff Schroeder. Crowley has 276 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns on the season and Schroeder filled in nicely when Volker missed a game, rushing for over 100 yards.
Putting up points against Wall’s defense will be a challenge, however. The Knights are yielding a paltry 9.3 points per game this season and have held seven of their 10 opponents to one or fewer touchdowns. Linebacker Charlie Sasso got the rare call to start as a freshman last season and did not disappoint, and now as a sophomore is a candidate for conference Defensive Player of the Year with 98 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions, 5 tackles for loss and 3 fumble recoveries. Another sophomore, outside linebacker Colin Riley, played a lot as a freshman and has emerged as one of the Shore Conference’s top edge rushers with a team-leading 10 sacks. The Terry Brothers, twins Will and Dean, at linebacker along with senior Jaden Carasquillo plus Ackerman, Rezk and Wolter in the trenches comprise a strong front seven. McNally and Larkin are the cornerbacks with Peters and DeSarno as the safeties. Peters has a team-high four interceptions while Larkin has two, including one returned for a touchdown.
As always it will come down to which team executes best on Friday night, but given the fact the teams have already played each other this season, it will be interesting to see what adjustments are made and what bearing they have on the final outcome.
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.