Central’s Justin Fumando, Long Branch’s Dan George to lead respective counties in All-Shore Gridiron Classic
In just two seasons, Central Regional head coach Justin Fumando has established himself as one of the top young coaches in the Shore Conference by leading the Golden Eagles to consecutive seven-win seasons for the first time in 23 years.
Central went 7-3 this past season and won a share of the Class A South division title, and Fumando was selected as the co-Coach of the Year in Class A South. Another honor was bestowed upon him when he was selected to lead the Ocean County squad in the 41st Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic.
“When you get put for this it means your peers nominated you, so it’s an honor to be able to do it,” Fumando said. “I think we did a great job putting together a squad and the coaching staff is a great group of guys who want to come out here and compete and have a lot of fun.”
In Fumando’s first season the Golden Eagles went 7-2, and last season they backed it up with a 7-3 campaign that included an NJSIAA playoff berth in the South Jersey Group IV bracket and a 6-1 division record to tie Brick Memorial for the A South crown. Central’s run-heavy offense featured the Shore’s fifth-leading rusher, Kavon Chambers, behind a physical offensive line that included guard Brandon Voss and tight end Blake Horgan. Central’s defense was one of the best units in the Shore, finishing tied for sixth at 14.3 points per game. Free safety Neil Harrington a team-high 101 tackles, linebacker Ryan Emmets made 93 stops and strong safety Jonathan Gonzalez had 72 tackles to lead the way. Vance Pelino tied for 11th in the Shore with eight sacks while defensive end Troy Warren tallied 60 tackles and four sacks. Cornerback Jonathan Banks had a team-leading four interceptions.
Fumando will have his Central Regional coaching staff with him to guide the Ocean County all-stars, including Chris James as the offensive coordinator and Jarrett Pidgeon as the defensive coordinator. The Golden Eagles will be represented by eight players in the All-Shore Gridiron Classic: Voss, Harrington, Gonzalez, Banks, Emmets, Horgan, running back/linebacker Lino Delgiudice and kicker Shane Black.
Fumando is 14-5 in two seasons at Central for the program’s most successful two-year run since going 16-4-1 in 1994 and 1995.
Fumando is a 2000 graduate of Middletown North High School and played collegiately at Kean University where he was a defensive lineman. Following graduation, he was the defensive line coach at Kean for four seasons before joining the coaching staff at Manalapan. He spent three seasons with the Braves, joined the staff at St. John Vianney for one season, and then went back to Manalapan from 2011 through 2015. He was the defensive coordinator when the Braves captured the Central Jersey Group V title in 2014.
Fumando’s No. 1 goal is to prepare Ocean County to beat Monmouth County, but he also wants to make sure the players recognize the opportunity in front of them while savoring a week that will last a lifetime.
“I think the two biggest things you get out of this are, No. 1: it’s an honor to be nominated to play in the game,” Fumando said. “It means you’re viewed as one of the better players in the Shore Conference and the Shore Conference is viewed as one of the toughest conferences in New Jersey football.”
“The second thing you get out of it is the relationships you’re going to build with guys who used to be your opponents and are now your teammates. There are friendships you’re going to make this week that will go on forever.”
In his 21 seasons as a head coach, Dan George has experienced the full range of emotions associated with coaching high school football. At the end of the 2017 season, it was pure euphoria.
In one of the most epic NJSIAA sectional championship games a Shore Conference team has ever been a part of, Long Branch defeated Freehold and record-setting quarterback Ashante Worthy, 43-42 in overtime, to win the Central Jersey Group 4 championship. After Juwan Wilkins tossed a touchdown pass to Pasa Fields Jr. in overtime to pull the Green Wave to within a point, George elected to go for the two-point conversion. Wilkins connected with Elijah Sherin in the right flat for the winning points to deliver Long Branch its first state title in 18 years.
Long Branch finished the season 9-3 for its most wins since 2012 and finished second in Class B North behind Red Bank Catholic. The Green Wave had one of the top offenses in the Shore Conference, finishing 11th in points per game at 27.5. Wilkins had a tremendous year at quarterback by throwing for 2,053 yards and 22 touchdowns with a 64% completion percentage. Sophomore running back Jermaine Corbett’s emergence was key to the teams’ offensive balance and he finished with 1,422 yard and 14 touchdowns. Long Branch’s depth at wide receiver was among the best in the Shore with T.J. Fosque hauling in 37 passes for 704 yards and 11 touchdowns, Fields catching 50 passes for 585 yards and 6 touchdowns and Matt Clark finishing with 27 receptions for 327 yards and two scores. The Green Wave also had University of Pittsburgh recruit Kaymar Mimes at tight end.
Long Branch’s defense was No. 12 in the Shore allowing 18 points per game. Mimes led the way with 87 tackles and 10 sacks while junior linebacker Luke Arnold was third in the Shore with 131 tackles. Kyle Smith added 78 tackles and 5.5 sacks, Jah Kwan Gordon had 55 tackles and 5.5 sacks, Sherin had 77 tackles and Marc Dennis added 74 tackles. Defensive tackle Kevin Cerruti made 61 tackles and was also the team’s top offensive lineman.
George was selected as the Class B North Coach of the Year by his peers and now, for the first time, he will serve as Monmouth County’s head coach during the 41st Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic, adding another memory to his long and successful career. Long Branch will have six representatives in the game with Wilkins, Fields, Fosque, Sherin, Smith and All-Shore defensive back Kevin Porch suiting up for Monmouth County.
"If it was earlier, I probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much," George said. "I think high school football in the Shore Conference is in a really good place with the relationships between coaches and kids – they are just good people. You enjoy the different kids and the personalities, especially the kids you play against every year. They are so respectful and so polite – I really believe it makes you feel good about the future of the country. I know it sounds corny, but there are just a lot of really good kids. I know the kids I coach are really good kids and then you get to see the other kids. You’re coaching the best of the best and it’s not just as football players."
George was an assistant coach at Red Bank prior to landing his first head coaching job at Ocean Township in 1997, but the school and town George will be forever linked to is undoubtedly Long Branch. George was a two-sport athlete for the Green Wave along with his brothers Billy, Alex and Tommy, his son, Nick, and nephews Billy and Jake. This fall will mark George’s 20th season as Long Branch’s head football coach. He has a 143-82-1 career record with two NJSIAA sectional titles (1999 and 2017) and four Shore Conference division titles. George has also been the Green Wave’s wrestling coach since 2000, compiling over 400 career victories and winning three NJSIAA Group 2 championships, six NJSIAA sectional titles, five NJSIAA district titles, three Shore Conference Tournament titles and eight division championships. He also coached three individual state champions. Additionally, he has been the head boys track and field coach for several years.
George is a 1983 graduate of Long Branch High School where he played football under head coach Jack Levy and wrestled under head coach Chuck Rutan. He wrestled collegiately at Ohio State University, graduating in 1988. He is a member of the Long Branch High School Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame and at halftime of the All-Shore Gridiron Classic will be inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame.
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