Mixing Age with Inexperience: 2019 Manasquan Football Preview
When Jay Price says something profound in regards to Manasquan football, it’s comes with a vast catalog of historical background.
Price bleeds Big Blue, a link to the past. He was a rugged, dependable fullback and linebacker for the iconic Vic Kubu before graduating from ‘Squan in 1988. And, for the last nine years, he’s overseen the program, following in his mentor’s footsteps and adding to the program’s deep lore.
So, when he mentions an element to a team that he’s never witnessed before, take note.
“As a coach, I haven’t seen this much excitement from coaches or players in a pre-season camp,” Price said. “There is a palpable eagerness to be coached and play. If we can instill some fundamentals to match their youthful exuberance, It’s going to be a lot of fun watching these young kids grow and help the seniors in their efforts to find success.”
Price and his staff have plenty of attentive ears ready to absorb their wisdom. Over 20 sophomores are competing for time. How quickly they mesh, digest the playbook, come of age and apply it all on game day will be the impetus for a bright future that could arrive well ahead of schedule.
“We are a work in progress and a little young,” said Price. “These kids are sponges and it makes it fun to go to work.”
Manasquan is aiming to squeeze as much as it can from its young collection and has a nucleus of veterans to show them the ropes.
Player to Watch: Charlie Sawitsky (Sr. LG/DE 6-0, 190)
The two-way linemen is an instrumental player in what could develop into Manasquan’s best area of the field. Excavating holes to create interior lanes for the Warriors’ vaunted sledgehammer ground game is one of the primary requests. Sawitsky will also be counted on to bring some thunder off the corner at defensive end.
Player to Watch, Part II: Shayne Leddy (Jr. OLB 5-9, 175)
Leddy got some game reps as a sophomore that should translate nicely into a more meaty assignment. Fast and forceful to the ball, he’ll set a strong edge to contain the perimeter and funnel runners back to the pack inside.
Player Under the Radar: Ryan Burns (So. FB/OLB 5-11, 175)
How good is Burns? He emerged from off the radar to log some time as a freshman. A year older and bigger, his zest for the physical aspect of the game are ideal as a lead blocker at fullback and feisty presence at outside linebacker.
Player Under the Radar, Part II: Garrett Terlizzi (Sr. LT/DT 6-3, 275)
How does a guy 6-3, 275 manage to be under anything? Terlizzi is an interior workhorse and another reason why Manasquan is fired up about how well it expects to handle hand-to-hand combat at the line of scrimmage.
“He cleans 350 with strong hands and he improved his footwork through yoga,” noted Price. “If he puts the whole thing together, look out.”
Area of Strength: Line of Scrimmage
Terlizzi and and Sawitsky are not only veterans with game experience in hand, the duo will be leaders through example and results. Both are tireless and have no choice to be otherwise, pulling double duty working alongside each other on the left side of the offensive line, which could make them the primary avenue running backs drive down. Their muscle and hustle will be the formula to put defensive linemen on their backs and spring those darting behind, something neither is willing to concede from their defensive posts.
Manasquan has depth on both sides of the trench. Center Jay Hilla (5-8, 200), right guard Dylan Aloi (5-9, 205) and right tackle Aidan Byrne (5-11, 220) complete a senior-laden offensive line with Dom Razzino, Trevor Wells, John Forseca, Joe Cavanaugh and Robert Marks itching in reserve. Senior John Foreman (6-0, 190) and sophomore Dyland LeBlanc (5-9, 175) are the tight ends, adding more size up front.
Sawitsky, Terlizzi, Aloi and Foreman are anticipated to make up the even front of the 4-3, backed up by Razzino, Cavanaugh and Marks as well as sophomores Joe Franklin and Max Pauwels.
Needless to say, Manasquan is exceptionally deep at the point of contact.
Manasquan will be successful if:
Youth ripens quickly. With tender age comes the occasional hiccup and the Warriors recognize that and can live it, as long as they are limited. Yet, it doesn’t take long for anyone, regardless of age, to understand the tradition and expectations associated with such a revered football powerhouses. Excuses? Manasquan doesn’t know the definition. Leadership? That’s engrained in everyone from the outset. Upperclassmen will be entrusted to lend guidance and support, the thread woven into the fabric of the prestige. So, don’t make the mistake of overlooking the Big Blue based on the ubiquity of underclassmen. Instead, expect them to be honed for action from the jump.
The mere fact that senior John Foreman is in the mix is reason to rejoice. A sinus infection that leaked into his skull required brain surgery and post-op time in intensive care, a frightening experience that put football in its proper perspective. His full recovery and vault back into the fray is an inspiring tale and a reason to root for the 6-0, 190-pound tight end/defensive regardless of your team allegiance.
Manasquan has had a long line of running backs who thrived in the time-tested system. Next up is Matt McCann, a 5-9, 175-pound senior who’s bided his time and is primed to shine.
McCann already does that in the classroom, an exemplary student-athlete who applies his study habits with the books when dissecting game film and analyzing the nuances of an opponent’s weak spots. He’ll headline a backfield that's robust in its numbers, including Shayne Leddy, Dom Williams, Christian Masonius and Jack Burns.
True to tradition
The fullback might be a thing of the past with some who've opted for the spread or empty backfields. Such is not the case at Manasquan, which still views the role as a lynchpin to its run game. Thus, Tom Rice, Tom Shaughnessy and Ryan Burns will rotate in a key and often-overlooked spot as the lead backs pointing the way.
It’s the mantra of the Big Blue defense, one that gave up 17.6 points a game in ‘18. The defensive line is formidable and has plenty of support behind it. Rice, Leddy and Shaughnessy lead a pack of ball-hunting linebackers, promising Christian Masonius and Robert Pendergist are entrusted to handle business on the corners and Tyler Callahan and Jack Collins anxiously await to greet receivers over the middle at the safeties.
Summer camp has offered a healthy competition at quarterback. Senior Cam Teza and sophomore Col Kozlowski are vying for the spot and both have displayed the capacity to handle the position. Don’t be surprised if the talented duo share the workload during the course of the season.
Synonymous with the run, Manasquan can connect through the skies as well. Patrick Bilello, Jack Collins, Tyler Callahan, Robert Pendergist and Luke Butkus make up a group of receivers ready to sting the unsuspecting with their receiving virtues. Tight ends Dylan LeBlanc and John Foreman will also command pass coverage underneath.
AT A GLANCE
HEAD COACH: Jay Price, 9th season
CAREER RECORD: 53-33
Lou Certo (Off. Coordinator/WR)
Brian Lee (QB/DB)
Bill Bertsha (OL)
Darrell Falkinburg (RB)
Matt Voskian (DL)
Alex Iachetta (DL)
Eric Howard (LB)
John Morris (LB)
Jay Price, Sr. (DB)
Rich Griffith (Freshmen)
Ed Kapalko (Freshmen)
Mike Johansen (Strength and Conditioning)
Kevin Hyland (Athletic Trainer)
OFFENSE: Multiple I
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Matt McCann (Sr. RB)
The tailback is the key that carries tremendous weight in determining what Manasquan seeks to accomplish on offense. McCann is the latest in an endless line of feature backs ready to shoulder the load.
X-FACTOR: Youth Coming of Age
With over 20 sophomores on the roster, it would be easy to suggest Manasquan is a year or two away from being a force. Don’t be silly. The Warriors have a track record of coaching young kids up in a hurry. As long as ‘Squan can keep miscues to a minimum, they will be in the heart of the mix for a Liberty Division title.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Robert Pendergist (So. CB)
Technically, Pendergist shouldn’t qualify for this considering he was so good as a freshman that he got some reps a year ago on varsity. His talents on the corner are sharp enough that he’ll be entrusted with the assignment and is polished to meet its demands.
PIVOTAL GAME: Sept. 14 vs. Red Bank Catholic
Talk about your baptism under fire....Manasquan kicks off 2019 by hosting a heavyweight in the defending Non-Public, Group 3 champion. Regardless of the outcome, the Warriors can move forward knowing they may not encounter another team the rest of the way remotely as good as the Caseys.