Enter your number to get our free mobile app

How does a team go about replacing a Shore Conference MVP who turned in one of the best individual seasons in program history and was one of New Jersey’s most dynamic talents?

You don’t, of course, but in the post-Trebor Pena era, Ocean is hoping it can build on last season’s success with a roster that includes several returning starters, including most of the defense.

Last season, Pena, who is now a freshman at Syracuse University, led the Shore Conference in rushing 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns on an incredible average of 11.4 yards per carry and added two receiving touchdowns. On defense as a safety, Pena made 66 tackles and intercepted six passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also returned a punt for a touchdown and was a dangerous kick returner. His 23 total touchdowns and 138 points tied for the most in the Shore Conference and those efforts were instrumental in Ocean going 8-1 and winning the Patriot Division title.

Photo by Steve Meyer.

The Spartans will certainly miss Pena’s presence and his big-play ability, but they hope the sum of their parts can equate to a successful season once again. The unenviable task of following Pena in the backfield of Ocean’s spread offense falls on the shoulders of juniors Christian LaRosa and Nick Martinez along with sophomore CJ Flannigan also in the mix. Another under-the-radar hole to fill is at quarterback where Ocean will need to replace three-year starter Robbie Nungesser. Promising sophomore Tyler Douglas will take over and look to build on a solid freshman year at the varsity level.

Douglas will have a pair of returning starting wide receivers in seniors Chris Carasia and Evan Peters. Carasia had just 13 receptions last season but was a big-play force with 326 yards and five touchdowns. The offensive line is also a veteran group with three returning starters, including senior tackles Johnny Aldarelli and Joe Teresi, who will be entering their third year as starters.

Ocean’s offense with Pena leading the way got most of the attention last season when it was second in the Shore averaging 35.2 points per game, but the defense was also great in posting the third-best scoring average (10.8 ppg) in the Shore. Seven starters are back in the Spartans’ multiple-front defense, starting with Teresi at defensive tackle and senior Eddie Aldarelli at defensive end. Senior Anthony Pontecorvo is the returning starter at inside linebacker and senior Evan Peters is a returning starter at outside linebacker. In the secondary, Carasia is a returning starter at cornerback and Douglas is the free safety after seeing time last season.

“We are healthy and hungry entering the season and our senior class is motivated to continue to add to our tradition of success,” said Ocean head coach Don Klein.

 

At a Glance

Projected starters (RS=returning starter, 3RS=3rd-year returning starter)

Offense: Spread

QB: Tyler Douglas, So,

RB: Christian LaRosa, Jr.; Nick Martinez, Jr.; CJ Flannigan, So.

TE: Shane Garrett, So.; Austin Canavan, Sr.; Ethan Brandimarte, Jr.

WR: Chris Carasia, Sr., 3RS; Evan Peters, Sr., RS; Nick Martinez, Jr.; CJ Flannigan, So.

LT: Johnny Aldarelli, Sr., 3RS

LG: Nick Atchison, Jr.

C: Nick Caruso, Fr.

RG: Ean Shamrock, Sr., RS

RT: Joe Teresi, Sr., 3RS 

Defense: Multiple

DE: Shane Garrett, So.

DT: Joe Teresi, Sr., RS

DT: Johnny Aldarelli, Sr.

DE: Eddie Aldarelli, Sr., RS

OLB: Ryan Savage, Sr.

ILB: Anthony Pontecorvo, Sr., RS

OLB: Evan Peters, Sr., RS

CB: Chris Carasia, Sr., RS

CB: Logan Bianchi, Sr.

SS: CJ Flannigan, So.; Nick Martinez, Jr.

FS: Tyler Douglas, So. 

Special teams

K: Tyler Douglas, So.

P: Tyler Douglas, So.

  

Head coach: Don Klein, 14th season

Career record: 76-52-1

Team record last five years:

2019: 8-1

2018: 4-6

2017: 2-8

2016: 5-5

2015: 9-2

Assistant coaches: RJ Read (Offensive Coordinator); Phil Greene (Defensive Coordinator); Jim Simonelli (Special Teams Coordinator/LB); Sam Kinningham (OL/DL); Rich Read (OL); Cornell Key (RB/DL); Dean Athans (freshmen); Jimmy Nottingham (freshmen); Katelyn Zimmerman (athletic trainer).

 

Player to Watch: Joe Teresi, Sr., RT/DT

Teresi will be entering his third year as a starter and last season was a first-team all-division selection in the Patriot Division. He will help anchor the offensive line and is a disruptive player on defense as an interior lineman.

 

Player Under the Radar: Chris Carasia, Sr., WR/DB

It was easy to be overshadowed by Trebor Pena last season, but Carasia was a big play waiting to happen in his own right. The first-team All-Patriot Division pick averaged 25 yards per reception last year along with five touchdowns and also had two 90-plus yard pick-sixes on defense.

 

Impact Newcomer: Shane Garrett, So., TE/DE

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound sophomore will step in as a two-way starter and look to make an immediate impact as a tight end and a defensive end.

 

Top position group: Offensive line

With three of five starters returning the offensive line is the most experienced group on the team. Klein also highlighted the skill positions with Douglas taking over at quarterback, Carasia and Peters back at wide receiver and a trio of running backs looking to make their presence felt.

 

Big Shoes to Fill: The running backs

Whether one player ends up getting the majority of the carries or it’s a by-committee approach, following in the footsteps of 2019 MVP Trebor Pena is a Herculean task.

 

X-Factor: Depth

Ocean’s weakness is a thin roster that doesn’t provide a lot of depth. Losing players to injury or illness could quickly derail the season.

 

Season Schedule

Friday, Oct 2 – vs. Matawan, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 9 – vs. Holmdel, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 16 – at Raritan, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 23 – at Red Bank, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 30 – vs. St. John Vianney, 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 6 – at Rumson-Fair Haven, 7 p.m.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.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.