Face of the Franchise: Mater Dei Prep football
When a Shore Conference football program is mentioned there are certain people that always come to mind. For some, it’s unanimous no matter what era you are from. For others, it’s a fun debate comparing all-time greats from different eras whether they roamed the sidelines as coaches or broke records between the lines.
That got us at the Shore Sports Network wondering: when you think of Shore Conference football, who are the most prominent figures in each program’s history? And if there was a mountain nearby and we knew a sculptor, whose faces should be carved on its side to be forever honored?
With that in mind, we came up with a football feature that will run throughout this summer, and it’s called Face of the Franchise.
We reached out to all 43 football programs in the Shore Conference and in conjunction came up with five to six nominees for each school. The five names and their accomplishments will be listed and fans will have a chance to cast their votes to select who they feel is the Face of the Franchise for each program. Our SSN football crew of Bob Badders, Kevin Williams, Ed Sarluca and Matt Harmon will also put their heads together to make a selection. The polls will run for one week each.
At the end of the summer when the Face of the Franchise has been determined for all 43 programs, we’ll run one final poll to see who the fans think should go on top of the mountain; five legends to represent the history of Shore Conference football.
MATER DEI PREP
A three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball for Mater Dei, Devaney graduated in 1973 and decided to continue his athletic career on the diamond via a baseball scholarship to Biscayne College in Miami. Biscayne College did not have a football team, and Devaney quickly missed football so much that he decided to transfer to Elon University in North Carolina where he was a safety and a punt returner.
Although his baseball days in Miami were short-lived, he made some key connections in South Florida, namely legendary Dolphins head coach Don Shula and general manager Bobby Beathard, that helped lead to a long career as an NFL front office executive. He was a college scout for the Washington from 1979-1982 and a pro scout from 1983-1990. In 1990 he joined Beathard in San Diego where he was the Director of Player Personnel for the Chargers until 2000. He worked as a pro personnel assistant with the San Francisco 49ers from 2001 to 2003 and then worked with the CBS pregame show for two years. In 2006, Devaney began working as a senior personnel executive with the Atlanta Falcons and was then promoted to assistant General Manager.
In 2008, Devaney was hired as the Vice President of Pro Personnel of the St. Louis Rams to help run their 2008 draft. Near the end of the 2008 season, he was promoted to general manager where he remained through the 2011 season.
Most recently, Devaney was the Executive Director of Player Personnel for the University of Nebraska and the GM for the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football league.
In his third year and final year as the Seraphs’ starting quarterback in 2014, Palmer exploded for, what was at the time, the best statistical season by a quarterback in Shore Conference history to help the Seraphs tie a then-school record for wins in finishing 8-3 and reaching the Non-Public Group I semifinals.
As a senior, Palmer completed 84 of 170 passes for 1,993 yards and a Shore Conference-leading 27 touchdown passes. Palmer also ran for 1,265 yards and 17 touchdowns on 116 carries for an average of 10.9 yards per carry to rewrite the Mater Dei record book with a Shore-leading 3,258 total yards in becoming the first Seraphs quarterback to go over 1,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing in the same season. His 44 combined touchdowns between rushing and passing set a new Shore Conference single-season record that has since been broken. He was a first-team All-Shore selection and voted as the Class B Central Offensive Player of the Year by the coaches.
In the playoff semifinals against eventual champion and perennial state power St. Joseph’s-Hammonton, he threw for 217 yards and three touchdown passes against a team that did not give up more than eight points to any other New Jersey opponent all season. He also had 394 yards of total offense and a combined six touchdowns in a playoff win over Morristown-Beard. As a junior, he ran for 787 yards and 11 touchdowns and threw for 553 yards and three touchdowns.
Lewis was a three-time All-Shore selection, including earning first-team honors as a senior, as a standout wide receiver who played an integral role in Mater Dei’s meteoric rise to become an undefeated state champion.
As a sophomore playing with record-setting quarterback Christian Palmer, Lewis caught 47 passes for 873 yards and 10 touchdowns as Mater Dei tied a school record for wins with eight and advanced to the Non-Public Group 1 semifinals. He also had three interceptions as a defensive back. Injuries forced Lewis to miss three games as a junior but he still led the Seraphs with 31 catches for 449 yards and 4 touchdowns and picked off a team-high four passes.
Everything came together for Lewis and Mater Dei during his senior year in 2016. With new head coach Dino Mangiero guiding the team, Mater Dei went 12-0 and captured the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 2 title, marking the first time the team had won a state title and finished undefeated. Lewis caught 24 passes for 547 yards and 13 touchdowns, none more memorable than his 50-yard, championship-winning touchdown catch on a hook-and-lateral with three seconds left that gave Mater Dei a 26-20 win over Holy Spirit in the state final. Lewis also had two punt return touchdowns and was a standout defensive back.
Lewis spent a postgrad year at Milford Academy before signing with Rutgers University. He entered the NCAA transfer portal in December of 2019 but has yet to sign with a new school.
With the power of a freight train and the feet of a ballerina, Ingram was one of New Jersey’s best running backs during his career. A two-time first-team All-Shore selection, Ingram ran for 4,645 yards and totaled touchdowns 60 touchdowns as the Seraphs went 26-8 and reached three consecutive state championship games during his three-year career.
Ingram joined Mater Dei’s program as a sophomore and hit the ground running, posting 1,251 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on an average of 6.9 yards per carry, helping the Seraphs go 8-2 and reach the Non-Public Group 2 title game.
His junior year was his most productive as he finished second in the Shore and state in rushing by totaling 1,914 yards and 22 touchdowns on an absurd average of 11.6 yards per carry. The Seraphs went 10-2 and reached the Non-Public Group 3 title game where a 14-10 loss to Red Bank Catholic was their first against a Shore Conference team since 2015.
Ingram capped of his career with a great senior campaign as Mater Dei went 8-4 and advanced to the Non-Public Group 3 title game. He was second in the Shore with 1,480 yards rushing and led the conference with 21 touchdowns on an average of 7.9 yards per carry. He added two receiving touchdowns to tie for the conference lead in scoring with 23 touchdowns and 138 points. In a playoff win over Pope John, Ingram ran for a career-high 313 yards and four touchdowns and also had a 310-yard, four-touchdown game against St. John Vianney.
Ingram is currently a freshman running back at Indiana State University.
A two-time first-team All-Shore selection, Lewis was a standout cornerback and wide receiver for the Seraphs and helped them go 26-8 and reach three consecutive state championship games from 2017-2019.
As a sophomore, Lewis caught 26 passes for 310 yards and 4 touchdowns and was a lockdown defensive back as Mater Dei went 8-2 and reached the Non-Public Group 2 state final. He was outstanding on both sides of the ball as a junior as Mater Dei went 10-2 and advanced to the Non-Public Group 3 title game. On defense, Lewis on six interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns, along with 31 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. As a wide receiver, Lewis caught 21 passes for 411 yards and six touchdowns.
Opposing quarterbacks mostly stayed away from Lewis during his senior season but he still intercepted three passes and made 53 tackles for one of the Shore’s best defenses. Offensively, he led the Shore in receiving yards with 636 yards and five touchdowns on 39 receptions. In addition to his first-team All-Shore designation as a senior, he was also a second-team All-New Jersey selection.
Lewis is currently a freshman defensive back at the University of Notre Dame.
Mater Dei didn’t have much of a winning tradition before Mangiero arrived as the Seraphs head coach ahead of the 2016 season. The Seraphs had never won more than eight games in a season, had only reached the playoffs nine times in 51 years and had won only one NJSIAA playoff game in program history.
Since Mangiero arrived at the Middletown school in 2016, however, the Seraphs have been among the best teams in New Jersey. In his first season, Mater Dei made history by going 12-0 and winning the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 2 state championship via a last-second hook-and-lateral play in a 26-20 win over Holy Spirit. In Mangiero’s four years at Mater Dei, the Seraphs are 38-8 with three division titles and have made four consecutive state finals appearances.
Aa graduate of Curtis High School on Staten Island, Mangiero was previously the longtime head coach at Poly Prep in Brooklyn where he built the team into a yearly state championship contender and coached several high-profile players, including current Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. He then played defensive line at Rutgers University from 1976-1979 and was a third-team Associated Press All-American as a senior. He was inducted into the Rutgers football Hall of Fame in 1992. Mangiero also played six seasons in the National Football League as a defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, retiring after the spending the 1987 season with New England.
He was the head coach at Poly Prep from 1995 to 2001 before leaving to take a job as an assistant at Indiana University. He also coached at Wagner College on Staten Island. He returned as Poly Prep's head coach in 2006 and coached through the 2015 season before becoming the head coach at Mater Dei.
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.