Football – Ocean Township Begins Quest for Title with Dominating Performance Over Monmouth Regional
OCEAN TOWNSHIP -- They've come so close over the past three seasons to moving onto the state sectional finals, and if Friday's performance by Ocean Township was any indication for the 2016 season, then the balance of power in the Class B North may shift to the Spartans.
The Spartans, ranked No. 7 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, cruised to a 42-7 win over Monmouth Regional in a Shore Conference nondivisional game on Friday night at Carelli Field. Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett accounted for three total touchdowns while Anthony Tedesco and Jasher Pena each ran for touchdowns and Anthony Mazza returned a fumble for a score. Ocean's starting defense shut down Monmouth's offense, as the Falcons scored against the backups late in the fourth quarter after a running clock was implemented.
"I think it starts with the work we do in this program 12 months a year," said head coach Dan Klein. "We're fortunate we have a lot of kids that are committed to what we do, we have a lot of our coaches that are committed and a lot of the hard work that we put in from the end of last season to this point tonight showed up."
From the opening kickoff a relentless Spartan defensive attack maintained a long stay in the backfield of the Monmouth Regional Golden Falcons. In fact, Falcons quarterback Jay Eustace had 20 carries for 20 yards, which accounted for almost 65 percent of the plays the team ran.
"I don't know that it was so much what (Monmouth) did or didn't do as opposed to us going out and executing," Klein said. "We're relying on some guys that don't have a lot of experience, but they're talented. I just attribute it to the work they put in throughout the summer."
This helped the Spartans as a whole be able have such a consistent impact defensively, which shut down the Falcons offense from the get-go.
While the Falcons ran similar plays out of either a shotgun formation or singleback package, and it was due to the preparation made by the coaches prior to the game, which allowed for immediate success.
"Our defensive coordinator Marc Tomo is exceptional," Klein said. "He's one of the best in the business and he has a great ability to dissect what other teams are going to do to attack us and come up with a game plan. The kids respond to him very well and you saw that tonight."
"I thought that Anthony Tedesco was a terror running around, and I thought we did a good job up front getting push," Klein added. "I like the tenacity we played with."
The defense obtained one big reward when in the second quarter Eustace fumbled the ball after a big hit, and it was scooped up by senior lineman Anthony Mazza who returned it 67-yards for the score with 23 seconds left in the half to put them up 35-0.
Outside the defensive clinic the Spartans put together, it was their explosive offense which set the tone for the night. Pickett had six rushes for 60 yards and two touchdowns while also going 12-for-14 for 166 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Freshman Sean Rossback also had a big game with over 100 yards and a touchdown.
"I think it just came down to us spreading the ball out," Picket said. "I feel like (Monmouth) was kind of off-balance on who to key on. If it was me or Jasher (Pena), if I could throw it out to a hitch or something, I feel like we just kept them off-balance and we kind of just built off that every drive."
Pickett's leadership and overall performance in the win over the Falcons is drawing nothing but praise from his head coach.
"He's just fantastic," Klein said. "People are going to be excited to watch him play; I'm excited to watch him play moving forward throughout his senior year. Kenny deserves all the accolades he can get. He's very, very talented naturally but he works harder than any player I've been around."
The offensive side of the scoring occurred primarily in the first half with Pickett, as late in the third quarter many of the starters were pulled due to the score.
On the fourth play of the first drive in the opening quarter, Pickett rushed 28 yards into the end zone with 8:04 remaining in the quarter to put the Spartans up 7-0. With 4:50 remaining in the same quarter Tedesco converted the fourth play of the drive through the A-gap to give Ocean a 14-0 lead.
The Spartans increased the lead to 21-0 when Pickett busted through a hole in the defense for a 20-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-7 with 8:54 remaining in the first half. Pickett fired a laser to Rossback to make it 28-0 later in the half before Mazza returned a fumble for a touchdown made it 35-0.
Second half scoring was all Pena, who with 6:44 left in the third quarter found 10 yards of green turf to make it 42-0 Spartans. Monmouth did get on the scoreboard midway through the final frame as Ryan Convery rushed for a nine-yard touchdown to make it 42-7.
Up next for Ocean Township is a home game against Wall in the Class B North opener for both teams.
Vin Ebenau is a Shore Sports Network Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter @VinEbenau. Follow Shore Sports Network on Twitter @ShoreSportsNet and on Instagram. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.