Chasing Consistency: 2022 Central Regional High School Football Preview
True to their nickname, the Golden Eagles got off to a flying start in 2021 by winning their first six games before losing their last four. However, with a 4-0 record Central did claim the Liberty Division title and their reward for that is a move up to the Colonial Division with Toms River North, Southern, Long Branch, Middletown North, and longtime rival Lacey. That and breaking in many new starters would seem to be a huge obstacle but third-year head coach Jarrett Pidgeon will lean on team leaders to drive success as he continues to build a program that will produce a consistent winner.
Of course, returning the leader rusher in the Shore Conference is a good place to start and senior Chase Gumbrecht was nothing short of spectacular last season. He ran for 1,825 yards (8 yards per carry) and scored a total of 26 touchdowns. Gumbrecht did have the benefit of a senior-laden offensive line and this season Central will have five new starters. How quickly they develop as a unit could be the key to success this fall.
Sophomore Michael Germanario (5’11, 200) will center the group with junior Giancarlo Saitta (5’11, 205) at one guard spot and sophomore Adam Onello (5’11, 230) holding down the other. Junior Chris Galifi (6’2, 250) is the right tackle while seniors Jack Bentivegna (6’, 225) and Arnas Bredelis (6’1, 200) should both see action at left tackle. Bentivegna did start a few games last season so he brings back some experience to the unit.
Who will hand the ball off to Gumbrecht and fellow running backs Brandon Jones (Jr.) and Nick Ruggiero (Soph.) is a promising sophomore in Deven Sisler (6’4, 195). He saw some action as a freshman and while short on experience is high on potential. Senior Jahaziel Garcia was the primary quarterback last season but will likely see most of his action at receiver along with seniors Tony Brinson and Chase Pierce, who both started games during their junior campaign. Back at tight end are seniors Caden Barker and Rudy Rinderer.
The defense will feature some familiar faces as all but one of the projected starters are seniors with junior end Scott Nico (6’3, 220) the lone underclassmen and a returning starter. He will be joined up front Trey Mitchell (6’1, 240), Lincoln Haughton (6’2, 195), and returning starter Cosmo Zaccaro (5’11, 230). Jaivon Tate is back at linebacker along with Rinderer and Barker. Steven Tapia and Tony Brinson will hold down the cornerback spots while Chase Dudley (Sr.) is the strong safety and Dave Ferreria (Jr.) and the versatile Garcia will see action at free safety.
Graduation has taken SSN All-Shore kicker/punter Sean Hurley, who was a huge weapon for the Golden Eagles. Replacing him will be junior Evan Brounstein at kicker and Zaccaro at punter.
Pidgeon is happy with the work ethic the Golden Eagles have shown and believes leadership and culture are among the strengths of the program. They will need all of that and more against a challenging schedule that in addition to their Colonial Division rivals includes games against Howell, Brick, and Brick Memorial.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter)
Offense: Multiple Pro
QB: Deven Sisler, So.
RB: Chase Gumbrecht, Sr., RS; Brandon Jones, Jr.; Nick Ruggiero, So.
WR: JJ Garcia, Sr., RS; Tony Brinson, Sr., RS; Chase Pierce, Sr., RS
TE: Caden Barker, Sr.; Rudy Rinderer, Sr.
LT: Jack Bentivegna, Sr. RS; Arnas Bredelis, Sr.
LG: Giancarlo Saitta, Jr.
C: Michael Germanario, So.
RG: Adam Onello, So.
RT: Chris Galifi, Jr.
Defense: Multiple 3-4
DE: Trey Mitchell, Sr.
DE: Scott Nico, Jr., RS
DT: Cosmo Zaccaro, Sr., RS
DT: Lincoln Haughton, Sr.
LB: Caden Barker, Sr.
LB: Jaivon Tate, Sr., RS
LB: Rudy Rinderer, Sr.
CB: Steven Tapia, Sr., RS
CB: Tony Brinson, Sr.
SS: Chase Dudley, Sr.; Nnameka Amenchina, So.
FS: Dave Ferreria, Sr.; JJ Garcia, Sr.
K: Evan Brounstein, Jr.
P: Cosmo Zaccaro, Sr.
Head Coach: Jarrett Pidgeon, 3rd season
Career Record: 9-8
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Frank Papalia (Offensive coordinator/OL); Bill Wilde (QB); Billy Kvalheim (WR/TE/Special Teams); Thomas Koenig (RB); Frank Backle (Asst. OL); Danny Higgins (Off Asst.); Jeff Schmidt (Defensive Coordinator, ILB) James Plummer (OLB); Will Wowkanyn (DL); Dennis Pidgeon (Defensive Assistant).Freshman coaches: Kyle Watson, Walter Karasaweicz, Brandon Voss; Athletic Trainer: Cassandra Dennis.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Chase Gumbrecht, Sr., RB
How can it not be? Over 1,800 yards rushing and 26 TD’s last season and you can be sure opposing defenses will be stacking the line of scrimmage looking to stop him before he gets going. That might be easier said than done especially if the inexperienced offensive line gels in a hurry.
PLAYER UNDER THE RADAR: Deven Sisler, So., QB
At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds he certainly looks like a quarterback. More importantly, he not only has skills but picks up things quickly and is proving to be a leader. Sisler started one game as a freshman and threw for 200 yards in a three-point loss to Southern. If defenses take away Gumbrecht look for the Golden Eagles to take to the air as they have confidence in their young QB.
X-FACTOR: Offensive Line
Of the starting group, only Jack Bentivegna started any games last season when the offensive line was among the team's strengths. However, going into last season the offensive line was also the X-Factor because they were replacing a very solid group from the year before. This year’s group has worked hard in the offseason to be ready to step in and help Gumbrecht have another big season.
RIVALRY GAME: Sept. 23 at Lacey
This is always Central’s rivalry game although they did not play from 2010-18 because of conference scheduling. Lacey has dominated the series but the Golden Eagles would like nothing better than to win this game against a school that used to be part of their district.
Sept. 1 - @Howell, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 - vs. Middletown North, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 - @Toms River North, 6 p.m.
Sept. 23 - @Lacey, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 - vs. Brick, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 - @Southern, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 - vs. Brick Memorial, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 - vs. Long Branch, 7 p.m.
Virtual Walk On The Seaside Heights Boardwalk