In Transition: 2022 Wall Township High School Football Preview
The 2021 season was supposed to be a year in which Wall's transformative class of 2022 cemented its legacy and sent each other out with more championships. Instead, it was a season that began with adversity and ended with a hazing scandal that rocked the entire town and made national news.
A season that saw Wall advance to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 3 semifinals was canceled after the first round of the playoffs when hazing allegations first came to light. The Crimson Knights' annual Thanksgiving game vs. Manasquan was axed and the players who had nothing to do with the hazing allegations were left wondering how and why it all fell apart. Members of the coaching staff and the athletic director were suspended and, eventually, the administration made the decision to completely move on from the staff as a whole. It was a bitter ending to a memorable run by a special group of players.
Moving forward became the next priority for the football program, and with that came the administration's decision to hire Ed Gurrier as Wall's new head coach. The former Manalapan head coach is a Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Famer who led the Braves for a total of 13 years across two stints, including 10 straight years from 2010 through 2019. His Manalapan teams never had a losing season, went 109-35, posted six seasons of double-digit wins, won five Shore Conference Class A North division titles, reached six NJSIAA sectional championship games, and won the 2014 Central Jersey Group 5 title.
He has brought several of his former assistants with him, including former Manalapan head coach Tom Gallahue, former Central Regional head coach Justin Fumando, and longtime offensive line guru Joe Tetley.
Gurrieri is a veteran coach who knows how to build a winning program, which is obviously why he was hired. He'll need all his expertise this season as Wall tries to move on from the 2021 season and rebuild a winning roster that said goodbye to some of the program's legendary players over the past few seasons.
Just two starters return on offense for what will be a multiple-I scheme. Senior Billy Carr (6-4, 220) is a returning starter along the offensive line while senior running back Mike Fumarola returns after an injury cost him his junior year. Seniors Anthony Gartz, Cris Mozeika, Keisun Sanders, and Pat Donohue all have varsity experience, as well.
Gartz has been working at quarterback and running back, while junior Andrew Olsen has also been getting reps under center. Fumarola and Gartz are at running back with Sanders and Mozeika as the fullbacks. The wideouts are juniors Nick Wonsola and Shea Brennan, and the tight end is Donohue.
The offensive line is ahead of the skill positions at this point, which isn't the worst scenario to be in. The Crimson Knights have a rather large left tackle in 6-foot-5, 315-pound junior Chris Rogers and right next to him is standout junior Benny Sasso (6-3, 250), who is the younger brother of former Wall star and current Monmouth University linebacker Charlie Sasso. Junior Bob Langworthy (6-1, 245) is the center, Carr is the right guard, and 6-foot-4, 260-pound junior Owen Dunfee is the right tackle. This is a group with great potential that could anchor the team for the next two years.
Wall will run a 3-4 defense and has four returning starters. Carr and Sanders, both starters at points last season, are the defensive ends with Langworthy as the nose tackle. Donohue was a starting linebacker last year and moves inside where he will pair with senior Noah Rodriguez. Mozeika is back as a starting outside linebacker while Gartz (65 tackles last season) will be the other outside backer.
The secondary has Wonsola and junior Nick Mackie as the cornerbacks, senior Connor Moore and sophomore Mason Adam working at strong safety, and junior Navir Gandy and sophomore Tony Cradle lining up at free safety.
On special teams, freshman Heath Reinhardt will be both the kicker and punter.
Wall's early-season schedule is brutal with games against Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven, and Middletown South - all on the road - to start the year. Those three are American Divison opponents along with Manalapan and Donovan Catholic. Add in nondivisonal games against Manasquan, Colts Neck, and Howell, and the Crimson Knights have one of the most difficult schedules in the Shore Conference.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter, 3RS=3rd-year returning starter)
Returning starters: 2
QB: Anthony Gartz, Sr.; Andrew Olsen, Jr.
RB: Mike Fumarola, Sr., RS (injured last year); Anthony Gartz, Sr.
FB: Keisun Sanders, Sr.; Chris Mozeika, Sr.
WR: Nick Wonsola, Jr.; Shea Brennan, Jr.
TE: Pat Donohue, Sr.
LT: Chris Rogers, Jr.
LG: Benny Sasso, Jr.
C: Bob Langworthy, Jr.
RG: Billy Carr, Sr., RS
RT: Owen Dunfee, Jr.
Returning starters: 4
DE: Billy Carr, Sr., RS
NT: Bob Langworthy, Jr.
DE: Keisun Sanders, Sr.
OLB: Cris Mozeika, Sr., RS
ILB: Pat Donohue, Sr., RS
ILB: Noah Rodriguez, Sr.
OLB: Anthony Gartz, Sr., RS
CB: Nick Wonsola, Jr.
CB: Nick Mackie, Jr.
SS: Connor Moore, Sr.; Mason Adam, So.
FS: Navir Gandy, Jr.; Tony Cradle, So.
K/P: Heath Reinhardt, Fr.
Head coach: Ed Gurrieri, 1st season (14th overall)
Career record: 109-35
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Justin Fumando (Defensive Coordinator/DL); Tom Gallahue (Offensive Coordinator/QB); Bill Smith (OLB/TE); Mike Kinsella (WR/DB); Pete Ottaviano (Special Teams Coordinator/WR/DB); Joe Tetley (OL); Chris Rogers (OL); Dan D'Avanzo (Asst.); Justin Bloss (Asst.); Andy Sliwoski (Asst./Video); Brendan McDermott (Athletic Trainer).
Player to Watch: Mike Fumarola, Sr., RB
Fumarola was slated to be a starting linebacker and a contributor to the running game last season before an injury wiped out his junior year. He played snaps on Wall's undefeated Shore Conference championship squad in 2020 and brings valuable experience to the team.
Player Under the Radar: Billy Carr, Sr., OL/DL
At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Carr is a big and athletic presence along the offensive and defensive lines. He'll play a big role for Wall this year. Carr is also a standout lacrosse defenseman who is commited to Denver University
Impact Newcomers: Benny Sasso, Jr., OL & Chris Rogers, Jr., OL
Sasso played some last season but this year he and Rogers will be full-time starters on the offensive line and could form a punishing duo on the left side at guard and tackle, respectively. Rogers is 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds and Sasso is 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds.
Rivalry Game: Nov. 24 vs. Manasquan
This is a pretty obvious one, especially since last season's game was canceled. A Week 8 game vs. Manalapan is also intriguing as Wall head coach Ed Gurrieri faces his former school coached by good friend and former assistant Dom Lepore.
Sept. 9 - vs. Red Bank Catholic, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 - @Rumson-Fair Haven, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 - @Middletown South, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 - vs. Howell, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 - @Donovan Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 - vs. Colts Neck, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 - vs. Manalapan, 7 p.m.
Nov. 24 - @Manasquan, 11 a.m.