Ground and Pound: 2021 Southern Regional High School Football Preview
Southern has one of the best all-around players in the Shore Conference and several other talented players around him. The Rams hope to ride that combination to another successful season while competing for division and state sectional titles.
Senior running back Jaiden Brown will be entering his fourth year as a starting running back and is coming off a season in which he ran for 1,091 yards and 14 touchdowns on an average of 7.2 yards per carry. He is already Southern’s all-time leading rusher, a feat he accomplished in just two seasons after moving into the district before his sophomore year.
Brown will be the focal point of the Rams’ multiple offense that returns seven starters and will look to punish teams on the ground. Senior Nate Committee is a three-year starter who primarily plays fullback but will also see some carries. They will work behind an offensive line that has four players who either started outright or saw significant playing time. It’s a sizeable group, as well, with senior Donovan Drew (6-foot-4, 280) at left tackle, senior David Casas (6-foot-2, 255) at left guard, senior Sean Rowland (6-foot-1, 245) at right guard and senior Logan Doherty (6-foot-3, 240) at right tackle. Seniors Alex Wyrsch and Andy McDonald have been working in at center along with sophomore Nick Roesch. Senior Sean Hegarty has also been getting reps at right guard. Senior Tristan Arthur returns as the starting tight end along with Max DiPietro.
The area where the Rams are inexperienced is in the passing game. Last season’s quarterback, Taylor Munt, and leading receiver Xavier Hendricks graduated in June so it will be up to a new cast of players to give Southern’s offense the necessary balance. Senior Nolan Schubiger looks to be the starter out of a competition with senior Caleb Westpy and juniors Collin Lang and Andy Falletta. Seniors Jordan Rife, Jaden Anthony and Kole Levy along with Falletta comprise the corps of wide receivers.
Southern has six starters back on the defensive side of the ball from a unit that was 15th in the Shore allowing 17 points per game. Committee leads the way on the defensive line from his spot at defensive end after recording 62 tackles and six sacks to earn third-team All-Shore honors. Rowland is the other defensive end with Casas, Drew, Doherty and Riley Harris rotating at defensive tackle.
Brown is the middle linebacker while Max DiPietro and Travis Novack are the outside linebackers. In the secondary, juniors Devin Tetti and Kyle Caufield are the cornerbacks, Rife is the strong safety with Levy also getting reps, and Falletta is the free safety.
Winning a division title, which Southern did in 2019, will be very challenging with the likes of Holmdel, Middletown South, Jackson Memorial and Manalapan joining Southern in the Colonial Division. The Rams have several pieces in place to have a great season but development of the passing game and playing consistent defense will be crucial.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter, 3RS=3rd-year returning starter)
Returning starters: 7
QB: Nolan Schubiger, Sr.; Caleb Westpy, Sr.; Collin Lang, Jr.; Andy Falletta, Jr.
RB: Jaiden Brown, Sr., 4RS; Nate Committee, Sr., 3RS
WR: Jordan Rife, Sr.; Andy Falletta, Jr.; Jaden Anthony, Sr.; Kole Levy, Sr.
TE: Tristan Arthur, Sr., RS; Max DiPietro, Jr., RS
LT: Donovan Drew, Sr., RS
LG: David Casas, Sr., RS
C: Alex Wyrsch, Sr.; Andy McDonald, Sr.; Nick Roesch, So.
RG: Sean Rowland, Sr., RS; Shane Hegarty, Sr.
RT: Logan Doherty, Sr., RS
Returning starters: 6
DE: Nate Committee, Sr., 3RS; Riley Harris, Jr.
DT: David Casas, Sr.; Riley Harris, Jr.
DT: Donovan Drew, Sr., RS; Logan Doherty, Sr.
DE: Sean Rowland, Sr., RS
OLB: Travis Novack, Jr.; Nate Committee
MLB: Jaiden Brown, Sr., 3RS
OLB: Max DiPietro, Jr., RS
CB: Devin Tetti, Jr.
CB: Kyle Caufield, Jr.
SS: Jordan Rife, Sr, RS.; Kole Levy, Sr.
FS: Andy Falletta, Jr.
K: Jaden Anthony, Sr.
P: Jaden Anthony, Sr.
Head coach: Chuck Donohue Sr., 24th season (48th overall)
Career record: 125-108 (264-191-4 overall)
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Matt Abbato (Defensive Coordinator); Eric Sharkey (WR/DB); CJ Tomelden (RB/DB); Dylan Larson (OL/DL); Eric Fierro (QB/K/P); Andrew Beckett (Freshmen Head Coach); Joe Fleck (Freshmen asst.); Dave Smith (Freshmen asst.); John Kaszuba (Director of Football Operations); Evan Osborne (Director of Football Operations); Nick Scaramazza (Athletic Trainer).
Player to Watch: Jaiden Brown, Sr., RB/LB
A four-year starter dating back to his freshman year at Jackson Liberty, Brown was tremendous for Southern last season to earn first-team All-Shore honors. He ran for 1,091 yard and 14 touchdowns on an average of 7.2 yards per carry to become the Rams’ all-time leading rusher. He also made 68 tackles and recorded two interceptions. He has interest from several Ivy League schools.
Player Under the Radar: Nate Committee, Sr., RB/DE
Committee was a third-team All-Shore selection on defense after making 62 tackles with a team-high six sacks, but the underrated part comes from his work at fullback where he led the way for Jaiden Brown to rush for over 1,000 yards. Committee added 303 yards of offense and scored five touchdowns. He is a lacrosse standout, as well, who is committed to Bellarmine University.
Impact Newcomer: Jaden Anthony, Sr., WR
Injuries have kept Anthony off the field but at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds he has the physical skill set to be the impact receiver Southern needs.
Top Position Groups: Running Backs
With Jaiden Brown and Nate Committee, Southern has a great tandem that will lead the way this season.
Big Shoes to Fill: The Wide Receivers
Xavier Hendricks was excellent for Southern last season with 40 receptions for 563 yards and four touchdowns to earn second-team All-Shore honors. With him having graduated, Southern needs another go-to threat in the passing game.
X-Factor: Quarterback Play
With a big and experienced offensive line and one of the best running backs in the Shore, Southern should be able to churn out yards and points on the ground. What made the offense click last season was the balance of a 1,000-yard passer in Taylor Munt. Senior Nolan Schubiger will look to take the reins of the offense and help the Rams contend for championships.
Thursday, Sept. 2 – vs. Toms River East, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 10 – at Jackson Memorial, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24 – vs. Holmdel, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 1 – vs. Manalapan, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 9 – vs. Middletown South, 1 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 15 – at Central, 7 p.m.