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This year’s Barnegat High School football team is light on experience thanks to graduation and injuries to a few returning starters, and that’s where a young yet talented roster comes into play. The Bengals will lean on their small core of veterans, but the development of their underclassmen will go a long way toward determining how much success Barnegat can achieve in 2023.

In head coach Paul Covine’s second season after taking over for the program’s original head coach, Rob Davis (who is now the first-year head coach at Egg Harbor Township), Barnegat finished with a 4-6 record but placed second in what was a fairly even Liberty Division. The primary area of concern was on offense where the Bengals averaged just 9.4 points per game, finishing 41st in the Shore in scoring average. Losing starting running back JoJo Bivins (985 yards, 10 TDs) to graduation won’t help, but the hope is that a more balanced offense will turn the tide.

Barnegat will run a multiple spread scheme that has five returning starters. Senior left tackle Sean Baronowski, however, is currently injured, bringing that number down to four. Senior Jake Harashinski was Barnegat’s starting quarterback last season and threw for 521 yards and two touchdowns but sophomore Jack Haviland has inserted himself into the conversation and is pushing to become the Week 0 starter. Juniors Mason Krey and David Gonzalez are also in the mix at quarterback as the Bengals continue to evaluate the position through their two scrimmages.

Whether Harashinski, Haviland, Krey, or Gonzalez, they will be throwing to a wide receiver corps led by senior returning starter Derrick Jarvis at the X position and including junior Todd Muhammad at flanker and junior Stephen Griffin in the slot. Behind Jarvis at X is sophomore Reality Woods, junior Jamison Prince is a slot receiver, senior Jazmere Viera (currently injured) is another flanker, and senior Jayson Griffin could see time at both flanker and in the slot. Junior tight end Cole Toddings had a great year on defense last season in addition to being an option in the passing game. The Bengals would love for the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder to break out, offensively, like he did as a sophomore linebacker.

Another player who excelled on defense as a sophomore and will be asked to be a bigger contributor on offense this season is junior running back Myquan Rush-Esdaile. He is slated to take over for Bivins as the starting running back with junior Johnnel Johnson also in line for carries.

As is the case with every football team, the key to making it all work is the group of five guys in the trenches. It’s a senior-laden offensive line with the exception of sophomore left tackle Juelz Jarvis (6-4, 265). Baronowski was a returning starter there but is currently injured. The returning starters who will be on the field Week 0 are senior left guard Anthony Costello and senior right tackle Nick Porcelli. Seniors Ethan Docher at center and Brian Cordi at right guard round out the offensive line starters with junior Jonathan Prutzman (LT), sophomore Anthony Albanese (LG), sophomore Dylian Rauso (RG), and senior Jamario James (RT) battling for playing time.

Defensively, Barnegat was in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed per game (17.8), but the defense kept the Bengals in many games where the offense struggled to score. That side of the ball was hit even harder by graduation, however, with just two returning starters back to begin the season. Toddings at SAM linebacker and Rush-Esdaile at WILL linebacker are the strength of the Bengals’ 3-4 defense after both put together impressive sophomore campaigns. Toddings was a First Team All-Liberty Division and Second Team All-Ocean County linebacker making 94 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 7 hurries, 2 forced fumbles, an interception, and a pass breakup. Rush-Esdaile was also a First Team All-Liberty and Second Team All-Ocean pick and totaled 85 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6 tackles for loss, 7 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 blocked kicks. They’ll be joined by Costello as the middle linebacker and Johnson as the BUCK linebacker. Backing up those four are Muhammad and sophomores Connor Cordi, Estabon Bailonia, and Connor Green.

Up front, Docher is the nose guard, and Porcelli and senior Raymere Mahadeo are the defensive ends. Albanese is the backup nose guard while Brian Cordi, Jarvis, Rauso, and Baronowski can rotate in at defensive end.

Viera was the lone starter in the secondary at cornerback but is out with an injury. The two starting cornerbacks are projected to be Prince and Jarvis with White as the free safety and Stephen Griffin as the strong safety or HERO position in Barnegat’s defensive vernacular. The rest of the secondary features Krey, Jayson Griffin, and Viera as corners, Gonzalez at free safety, and Haviland at strong safety.

On special teams, Gonzalez is a returning starter at punter and freshman Anthony Dringus looks to have a hold on the starting placekicker position. Toddings is the long snapper, Krey is the holder, and Rush-Esdaile is the primary kick and punt returner.

After playing in the Liberty Division last season with Matawan, Toms River East, Pinelands, Jackson Liberty, and Manchester, Barnegat has moved into the Independence Division with Brick Memorial, Brick Township, Freehold Boro, Freehold Township, and Matawan.


At a Glance

Head coach: Paul Covine, 3rd season

Career record: 10-10

2022 record: 4-6

Offense: Multiple spread

Defense: 3-4

Coaching staff: Kevin Smith (Offensive Coordinator); Andrew Petruzzi (Director of Football Operations/RB); Pat Moran (Special Teams Coordinator/DB); Mike Leone (OL); Mike Burke (DL); Brian Fitzpatrick (WR); Wayne Jackson (Gameday coach); Jake Schmitz (Head Freshmen Coach); Jared Burke (Freshmen Assistant); Derek Rizzo (Middle School Head Coach); Chris Salony (Middle School Assistant); Rob Jorgensen (Middle School Assistant); Lauren Tribley (Athletic Trainer).


Circle the Date: Week 1 – Thursday, August. 31 vs. Manchester

The longtime Class B South rivals will square off in a nondivisional game in which both teams will have a game under their belts after opening the season in Week 0. Barnegat scored a 27-21 victory last season but Manchester returns several starters and key players while Barnegat is trying to get its young players up to speed quickly.


Players to Watch: Cole Toddings, Jr., LB/TE, and Myquan Rush-Esdaile, Jr., LB/RB

Toddings and Rush-Esdaile made an instant impact on defensive as sophomores and will lead a unit in which they are the only two returning starters for Week 0. Where they can really add to their value is on offense where Rush-Esdaile takes over as the team’s starting running back and Toddings will look to have more of a role in the passing game.


Impact Newcomers: Jack Haviland, So., QB/SS and Juelz Jarvis, So., LT/DE

Haviland is battling for the starting quarterback position and is in the mix at safety. It seems like a matter of time before he pushes for a starting position somewhere on the field. Returning starting left tackle Sean Baronowski is currently injured so the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Jarvis will get the chance to start at one of football’s most important positions.


Big Shoes to Fill: The running backs

Right now this is Myquan Rush-Esdaile and Johnnel Johnson, but the reality is that whoever is the featured ball carrier for Barnegat will be tasked with replacing the production of JoJo Bivins, who rushed for 2,341 yards and 31 touchdowns over the past two seasons.


Did you Know?

Barnegat has had just five losing seasons since the program debuted in 2006 and has never won fewer than three games in a season (and that has happened only once). The Bengals have made eight NJSIAA playoff appearances, including reaching the South Jersey Group 3 sectional final in 2013.



Friday 8/25Monmouth6:30pm
Thursday 8/31Manchester6:30pm
Friday 9/8@Brick Memorial6pm
Friday 9/15Brick Township6:30pm
Saturday 9/23@Freehold12pm
Friday 9/29Point Beach6:30pm
Friday 10/6@Matawan7pm
Friday 10/13@Pinelands6pm
Friday 10/20Freehold Township6:30pm


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