Glory Days: 2021 Middletown South High School Football Preview
Middletown South. Just saying or reading the name of the school conjures thoughts of gridiron dominance.
The Eagles are one of the most storied football programs in the Shore Conference with 10 NJSIAA state sectional titles to their credit. Just six years ago, Middletown South authored a 12-0 season and finished as the No. 1 team in the state. But like, say, the New York Yankees, any kind of championship drought feels much longer than it actually is. It comes with the territory. How many programs would perform acts of voodoo just to experience a sliver of the success Steve Antonucci’s teams have had over the past quarter-century?
Middletown South was 2-4 in last year’s pandemic-shortened season where there was some good and some bad. They opened the season with a loss to a Long Branch team that struggled, but then rebounded with a win over a Red Bank Catholic team that finished No. 3 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10. Their other losses came to No. 1 Wall, No. 4 Mater Dei Prep and No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven.
The good news is that many of the Eagles’ key starters from last season return – 14 in all – as they look to earn back their usual spot among the Shore Conference’s elite.
A multi-scheme offense has seven returning starters spread throughout the lineup. Senior Tom Schork returns as the quarterback with senior Dan Primiano as the running back. Senior Matt Grab (can a wide receiver have a better last name?) will be a three-year returning starter and will be joined by junior returning starter Logan Colleran and senior Jack Mason.
Up front, Middletown South has a pair of standout linemen in senior three-year starter Jake Williamson at center and senior returning starter Dante Miranda. The left tackle will be junior Tyler Addonisio, the right guard will be junior Tom Whyte and the right tackle is senior Ian Schwerdt with junior Devin Parry also working in. At tight end is senior three-year returning starter Jack Latore.
Middletown South runs a 3-4 defense under longtime defensive coordinator Al Bigos and also returns seven starters. Latore is also a three-year starter on defense at defensive end. He is joined up front by Williamson (returning starter), junior Jake Letts and junior Aidan Parry.
Senior Tyler Carey returns as a starter at outside linebacker while sophomore Colin Gallagher will be the other outside linebacker and junior Madden Stanley will also see time. The inside linebackers are senior returning starter Jack Willi and junior Kyle Smith.
The secondary is strong with four returning starters. Grab and Colleran are the cornerbacks, senior Ryan St. Clair is the strong safety and Schork is the free safety with sophomore Jack Czwakiel backing him up.
Middletown South will play a challenging schedule as a member of the Colonial Division along with Holmdel, Jackson Memorial, Manalapan and Southern Regional.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter, 3RS=3rd-year returning starter)
Returning starters: 7
QB: Tom Schork, Sr., RS; Jake Czwakiel, So.
RB: Dan Primiano, Sr., RS; Donovan Summey, So.
WR: Matt Grab, Sr., 3RS; Logan Colleran, Jr., RS, Jack Mason, Sr.
TE: Jack Latore, Sr., 3RS
LT: Tyler Addonisio, Jr.
LG: Dante Miranda, Sr., RS
C: Jake Williamson, Sr., 3RS
RG: Tom Whyte, Jr.
RT: Ian Schwerdt, Sr.; Devin Parry, Jr.
Returning starters: 7
DE: Jack Latore, Sr., 3RS
DT: James Letts, Jr.
DT: Jake Williamson, Sr., RS; Aidan Parry, Jr.
OLB: Tyler Carey, Sr., RS; Madden Stanley, Jr.
ILB: Kyle Smith, Jr.
ILB: Jack Willi, Sr., RS
OLB: Colin Gallagher, So.
CB: Matt Grab, Sr., RS
CB: Logan Colleran, Jr., RS
SS: Ryan St. Clair, Sr., RS
FS: Tom Schork, Sr., RS/Jake Czwakiel, So.
K: Jake Czwakiel, So.
P: Jake Czwakiel, So.
Head coach: Steve Antonucci, 24th season
Career record: 197-59
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Al Bigos (Defensive Coordinator/OL); Steve Roberts (Special Teams Coordinator/DL); Joe Trezza (Asst. Defensive Coordinator/DB/RB); Nick Trezza (OL); Marc Tomo (Asst. Defensive Coordinator/LB); Rod Murchie (WR); Matt Walsh Sr. (QB); Jeffrey Martin (Head Freshmen Coach); Kevin Higgins (Freshmen asst.); Tuck Isherwood (Quality Control); Tom Antonucci (Quality Control); Stacy White (Athletic Trainer).
Player to Watch: Jack Latore, Sr., TE/DE
Latore is a rangy edge defender at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and will also return as a starting tight end. He is a crucial two-way component for the Eagles.
Player Under the Radar: Tom Schork, Sr., QB/FS
Schork is back as the starting quarterback and free safety and is coming off a year where he was an all-division selection on defense.
Impact Newcomer: Donovan Summey, So., RB
Senior Dan Primiano is the starter but Middletown South usually features multiple backs and that could mean a chance for Summey to shine as a sophomore.
Top Position Group: Secondary
All four players in the defensive backfield are returning starters with Matt Grab and Logan Colleran as the cornerbacks, Ryan St. Clair as the strong safety and Tom Schork as the free safety.
Big Shoes to Fill: James Letts, Jr., DL
Letts steps into a starting role up front after the graduation of Brendan Bigos, who was a second-team All-Shore selection last season.
X-Factor: Starting Strong
Head coach Steve Antonucci stressed the importance of getting off to a good start and that means coming out of the gates with a victory over Manasquan in the season opener.
Thursday, Sept. 2 – vs. Manasquan, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 10 – vs. Holmdel, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 17 – vs. Jackson Memorial
Friday, Sept. 24 – at Manalapan, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 9 – at Southern, 1 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 25 – at Middletown North, 10:30 a.m.