Face of the Franchise – Middletown South 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 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.
A Shore Conference legend who shattered records and electrified the football field every time he touched the ball, Moreno concluded his incredible career with 6,264 yards rushing, 128 touchdowns and 782 points, the latter of the two were all-time state records. Middletown South was an unstoppable force from 2003 to 2005, going 36-0 and winning back-to-back-to-back state titles. As a junior, Moreno ran for 420 yards and seven touchdowns in a win over Neptune, setting a new conference single-game rushing record that stood for 10 years.
Moreno was one of the top running back recruits in the nation and signed with the University of Georgia. He was a national star on a loaded Bulldogs team that also included quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver A.J. Green. Moreno rushed for 2,734 yards and 30 touchdowns and caught 53 passes for 645 yards and two touchdowns in just two seasons before heading to the NFL. He was a two-time first-team All-SEC selection, the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2007 and a second-team All-American in 2008.
Moreno was selected by the Denver Broncos with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent five seasons with the Broncos and one with the Miami Dolphins before injuries cut his career short. He ran for 3,616 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career, including 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013.
Stephen Michael Pitts
One of the Shore’s all-time great running backs, Pitts ran for 4,586 yards and 70 touchdowns during his stellar career and led the Eagles to consecutive Central Jersey Group 4 titles in 1989 and 1990. Middletown South went 11-0 in 1989 under John Andl and then went 10-0-1 in Bob Generelli’s first season in 1990. As a senior, Pitts ran for 1,926 yards and 25 touchdowns. Pitts went on to play at Penn State where he rushed for 1,156 yards and 15 touchdowns on an average of 6.2 yards per carry over the course of his career. In the 1996 Outback Bowl, Pitts ran for 118 yards and caught a touchdown pass in the Nittany Lions’ 43-14 win over Auburn.
Equal parts cerebral and physical, Macaluso was a 6-foot-3, 225-pound force in the middle of a dominant Middletown South defense from 2003-2005. What running back Knowhson Moreno meant to the Eagles’ offense, Macaluso meant the same to the team on the defensive side. Middletown South went 36-0 and won three straight state sectional titles in Macaluso’s sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He was the Shore Conference Defensive Player of the Year in both 2004 and 2005 and finished his career with 208 tackles, 14 sacks, 35 tackles for loss and two defensive touchdowns. He continued his career at Stanford University where he played in 22 games and recorded 75 tackles in three seasons.
A ferocious linebacker who was the 2015 SSN Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time first-team All-Shore selection, Rogers twice set the single-season record for tackles for the Eagles. As a junior, he posted 122 tackles along with 11 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 3 pass breakups and a forced fumble as the leader of an Eagles’ unit that tied the school record with six shutouts and allowed just 9.6 points per game. He helped lead the Eagles to the Central Jersey Group 4 championship game where he recorded 23 tackles in a loss to Jackson Memorial. The following season he was even better, breaking his own tackles record with 132 stops along with 11 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback pressures, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown on the No. 1 scoring defense in the Shore. He made 15 tackles and recorded four sacks in a 35-7 wipeout of Phillipsburg in the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 title game that gave Middletown South a perfect 12-0 record and cemented the Eagles as the No. 1 team in New Jersey.
Cerchio quarterbacked Middletown South to the 1992 Central Jersey Group 4 championship as the Eagles went 11-0, won their third sectional title in four years, and finished No. 1 in New Jersey. He threw for 1,698 yards and 19 touchdowns during that season to finish with a school-record 28 touchdown passes. Cerchio then played collegiately at Wake Forest.
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.