MIDDLETOWN – From the moment Matt Ansell sprinted down the field and delivered a booming hit on the opening kickoff, it was obvious this was a much different Red Bank Catholic team than last season. Over the next 48 minutes, the Caseys proved all the preseason hype surrounding their program was legitimate.

Senior running back Zach Bair ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries, while junior quarterback Steve Lubischer completed 8 of 11 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns as Red Bank Catholic, ranked No. 3 in the SSN Top 10, routed 10th ranked Middletown South, 47-10, in a Class B North game on Friday night at “The Swamp”.

Sophomore tight end Kevin Bauman and junior wide out Jaden Key had touchdown receptions, sophomore running back Billy Guidetti had 86 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, and senior Nick Brusca added a touchdown run behind an offensive line that paved the way for 313 yards rushing and 492 yards of total offense.

The Caseys defensive yielded 249 yards of offense with Ansell, a senior safety, providing close to double-digit tackles and senior defensive end Emmett McNamara coming through with a sack, two tackles for loss and a blocked punt.

“There has been a lot of hype from a media standpoint, and you never know how a team’s going to handle it until they go out there and play,” said RBC head coach Frank Edgerly. “The fact that we were able to control the line of scrimmage the way we did was critical from a confidence standpoint.”

“We took our lumps last year (RBC went 5-5), but we had a lot of young players that got experience, and it definitely showed tonight,” Bair said. “Big players stepped up.”

Senior running back Chaz Alessi ran for 134 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to lead Middletown South, which ran for an even 200 yards as a team. Junior Chris Kaldrovics added a 27-yard field goal.

On the opening kickoff Ansell cut his way through the Middletown South coverage team to drop the return man with a thunderous hit. On the next play, Ansell flew up from his safety position to drop Alessi for no gain. The Eagles went three-and-out, McNamara blocked the punt and two plays later Bair was in the end zone on a 12-yard touchdown run. The Caseys were off the races and would not be stopped the rest of the way.

“Right off the kickoff Matt Ansell came down and made a big hit, and it definitely set the tone for the rest of the game,” Bair said.

“He played like his hair was on fire tonight, and it started with the kickoff,” Edgerly said of Ansell, an SSN Preseason All-Shore defensive back. “When you can hear contact 50 yards away, that reverberates throughout your sideline, let alone the whole stadium. And to follow it up the very next play, that becomes contagious, especially early on.”

A second-down stop for no gain by junior defensive lineman Tom Smith keyed a second straight three-and-out for the Caseys’ defense, and set up another quick scoring drive for Red Bank Catholic. Lubischer hit senior wide receiver Brandon Lombana for 43 yards on third-and-15 to move the ball to the Middletown South 22-yard line. On the next play, Lubischer executed a great play-action fake that froze the Eagles’ defense and left Bauman wide open in the right front corner of the end zone for a pitch-and-catch touchdown toss. Ryan O’Hara’s extra point made it 13-0 just over six minutes into the game.

“[To start fast] was huge for us to get our confidence up and prove to ourselves we’re legit this year,” Ansell said.

The lead ballooned to 20-0 in the first quarter when, after another three-and-out for Middletown South, Bair broke off a sensational 78-yard touchdown run down the visiting sideline. Bair appeared to be initially stopped in the backfield, but broke free, then shed more tackles while somehow staying in bounds. He even lost one of his cleats in the process before bursting into the open field and outrunning the Middletown South defense to the end zone.

“I don’t really remember, it happened really fast,” Bair said. “I just remember losing my shoe and running for the end zone. The line did a great job of opening it up for me.”

“[Bair] is so underappreciated outside this program,” Edgerly said. “That’s a running back who knows how to finish. He runs with intent. He even had one called back and then three plays later cracks off another one. And what that does for us is give us the opportunities in the play-action game. He’s a special kid.”

Middletown South’s offense got going on the next drive with Alessi and junior Kenny McCarthy combining to get the ball into RBC territory. The Eagles were unable to come away with points, however, when a 37-yard field goal attempt landed a few yards short.

RBC took over at the 20-yard line, and on the second play Bair ripped off a would-be 80-yard touchdown run that was called back on a holding penalty. After a 16-yard catch by Ansell, Bair broke off a 46-yard run down to the Middletown South 19-yard line. Bair limped off after the play, but the Caseys’ running game kept rolling. Brusca’s 11-yard touchdown run on third-and-2 opened a 27-0 lead which RBC held through halftime.

“We’re pretty lucky to have a line like that,” Bair said. “They’re all great and they make the plays for me.”

“I don’t care what level you’re at, it’s ‘can you run the ball and can you stop the run?’,” Edgerly said. “From an offensive standpoint those guys played well up front. It’s definitely a positive start.”

Red Bank Catholic’s lead grew to 34-0 on the first play of the third quarter, as Lubischer faked a handoff, rolled to his left and hit a wide-open Key for a 68-yard touchdown. At that point, Lubischer was 6 of 9 for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s as physical talented as there is and, quite frankly, he’s the most physical talented quarterback I’ve had,” Edgerly said “But what he has done mentally from last year to this year, is…you can’t say enough about it. What he’s able to do at the line of scrimmage getting us in the right plays, he does not play like a kid who just made his fourth start. He really does make a huge difference.”

Middletown South got on the board on its next possession when Alessi broke a 63-yard touchdown to run to make it 34-7. The Eagles then recovered an onside kick to set up Kaldrovics’ 27-yard field goal, trimming RBC’s lead to 34-10 late in the third quarter.

The Caseys came right back with a 19-yard touchdown run by Guidetti on the first play of the fourth quarter to go up 40-10 and squash any hopes of a Middletown South rally. Guidetti would add a 34-yard touchdown run with under a minute left to polish off an emphatic victory.

It's only one game, but after taking out the defending division champions with ease, and doing so with a multi-faceted attack that only figures to get better, it certainly looks like the Caseys are back.

“This is just how we’ve been practicing all year, and it’s finally paying off for us,” Ansell said. “We’re really excited for this year and now we’re just looking forward to Week 2.”


Box Score

No. 3 Red Bank Catholic 47, No. 10 Middletown South 10

 Red Bank CatholicMiddletown South
First downs169
Passing yards17949


Red Bank Catholic (1-0, 1-0) 20 7 7 13 – 47

Middletown South (0-1, 0-1) 0 0 10 0 – 10


Scoring Summary

RBC – Zach Bair 12-yard run (kick failed)

RBC – Steve Lubischer 22-yard pass to Kevin Bauman (Ryan O’Hara kick)

RBC – Zach Bair 78-yard run (Ryan O’Hara kick)

RBC – Nick Brusca 11-yard run (Ryan O’Hara kick)

RBC – Steve Lubischer 68-yard pass to Jaden Key (Ryan O’Hara kick)

MS – Chaz Alessi 63-yard run (Chris Kaldrovics kick)

MS – Chris Kaldrovics 27-yard field goal

RBC – Billy Guidetti 19-yard run (Ryan O’Hara kick)

RBC – Billy Guidetti 34-yard run (run failed)


Individual Statistics

RUSHING – RBC: Zach Bair 10-162, Billy Guidetti 6-86, Nick Brusca 3-24, Logan Whelan 2-23, John Columbia 2-14, Steve Lubischer 2-10, Steve Cmielewski 1-2, Team 1-(-8). MS: Chaz Alessi 16-134, Kenny McCarthy 10-33, Rob Zega 1-17, Jake Krellin 5-12, Dennis Brown 1-10, Ben Kinsella 4-(-6).

PASSING – RBC: Steve Lubischer 8-11-1 179; MS: Ben Kinsella 5-8-0 49.

RECEIVING – RBC: Jaden Key 3-79, Brandon Lombana 1-43, Matt Ansell 2-24, Kevin Bauman 1-22, Zach Bair 1-8.

INTERCEPTIONS – MS: Jamie Petrillo 1-10.


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.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.


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