Football – The Song Remains the Same: 2017 Shore Regional Preview
With a handful of returning starters on both sides of the ball and some new starters ready to make an impact, Shore Regional once again has its sights set on competing for the Class B Central title and challenging for the Central Jersey Group I state championship.
“We’re really tough on ourselves and we have the mentality that it’s pretty much state championship or bust,” said junior Gil Goldsmith. “When we lose that perspective that’s when we start to bog down and not play our style of football.”
The Blue Devils were fourth in a balanced Class B Central division last year while also reaching the Central Jersey Group I semifinals and finishing with a 7-4 record. Not a bad season by any metric, but also not one that lives up to their standards.
“We’re chomping at the bit,” said junior lineman Vin DiMaio. “We were really hard on ourselves after the loss last year. Every day in camp it’s in the back of our heads that we have to get back there.”
Five starters return for Shore in its Delaware Wing-T offense, which was smack dab in the middle of the rankings at 23.9 points per game last season. Goldsmith and fellow junior Jack McCrae are returning starters at wing back and will be joined by promising sophomore Terry Carlstrom and senior A.J. Shirley. Senior John Salerno is the starting fullback with junior Kevin Pennell also seeing playing time. Senior Ryan Morris takes over at quarterback for two-year starter Matt Pennell.
“Myself and the other running backs, that three-to-four-headed monster is really starting to come together,” Goldsmith said.
“When we have multiple guys who can make an impact running the ball is when it works well for us,” said Shore head coach Mark Costantino. “They buy into the team concept.”
Senior Matt O’Donnell is the tight end and senior Bailey Crochet leads the receivers as a returning starter. Junior Brett Young and Carlstrom will also see time at split end.
The left side of the line features returning starters Sean Aromando, a junior, at tackle and senior Mike Rosati at guard. Junior Frank Illiano is the right tackle. Junior Gunnar Schuelzky and seniors Matt and Jake Altomare are competing for the center and right guard positions. DiMaio will also see time at tackle and senior Jason Vanbrunt will get snaps at guard.
“The offensive and defensive lines will be the strength of our team,” Costantino said. “Our linemen are big and physical and we’ve been pushing people around in the preseason.”
Shore’s defense was again among the best in the conference last season, finishing 12th in points per game at 17.5. Rosati and Vanbrunt are both returning starters at defensive end in the Blue Devils’ 4-4 alignment, while DiMaio and junior Joe Aria will start at defensive tackle. Illiano and Aromando will also see playing time at defensive tackle and O’Donnell will get snaps at defensive end.
At linebacker it will be Schuelzky and Matt Altomare at inside linebacker with Salerno and junior Mike Deusch backing them up. McCrae is a returning starter at one of the outside linebacker spots and Shirley will start on the opposite side. Pennell and Jake Altomare are also in the mix at outside linebacker.
Goldsmith and Crochet return as starters at cornerback and Carlstrom will get the nod as the starting free safety. Young will rotate in at corner and Morris could see defensive snaps at safety.
“We have a lot of chemistry and we work really well together,” DiMaio said. “We looked really good in a scrimmage against Summit and Bloomfield, so I’m excited to see how we do during the season.”
Goldsmith will once again handle the kicking and punting duties on special teams.
While Mater Dei Prep turned into a juggernaut last season and ran away with the division title, the five public schools in Class B Central were mostly even, and that should once again be the case this season. All five – Shore, Asbury Park, Keyport, Point Beach and Keansburg – made the playoffs and the sectional semifinals featured all local teams with Asbury Park defeating Keyport in the championship game.
It’s going to be a weekly grind to find out which team emerges ahead and gets the top seed in the state playoffs, and then the second season arrives where the same teams will battle it out for a state championship.
“Everyone in our league is up there so it’s going to require 100 percent focus,” Rosati said. “You have to have the heart. Every year we have the same goals and we get there with a blue-collar attitude. Working hard all these days in the summer pays off during the season.”
At a Glance
Head coach: Mark Costantino, 26th season.
Career record: 172-89-1.
Coaching staff: Jon Remedios (OL/DL); Mike Whitacre (OL/DL); Pete Vincelli (RB/DB); Joe Rankin (QB/DB); Chris Riley (LB/WR); Mark Costantino (volunteer); Marty Mullaney, John Vaccarelli (freshmen); Joe Amicucci (athletic trainer).
2016 record: 7-4 (2-3).
BIG SHOES TO FILL: John Salerno, Sr., RB/LB
Salerno takes over at fullback for Josh Campi, who along with Mark Russo were the top rushers for the Blue Devils a season ago.
X-FACTOR: The offensive line
Shore’s guys up front are usually solid, but this year’s group has the potential to dominate in the trenches and power an unstoppable running game.
GLUE GUY: Mike Rosati, Sr., OL/DL
Rosati is a three-year starter on defense and also a returning starter at left guard, and was a starter when Shore won its last state sectional title in 2015.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Terry Carlstrom, So., RB/DB
Carlstrom can be an impact player in his first year of varsity action with a starting spot at safety while likely seeing plenty of carries at wing back.
PIVOTAL GAME: Sept. 8 vs. Asbury Park
The Blue Bishops handed Shore a pair of losses last season and will enter as the defending sectional champions. The Blue Devils have been waiting for a rematch ever since last November.
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.