Mustang Running Wild: Marlboro’s Cameron Caorsi
The Marlboro offensive linemen have a hashtag they use on their Instagram posts that would be ambitious for any program.
It’s a simple statement about their goal for senior running back Cameron Caorsi: #Roadto2K.
A 2,000-yard rushing season is a tall order for any running back, but at a program that has not had a winning season since 1999 and has never had anyone run for more than 1,176 yards in a season in its history, it seems like an impossible mark to reach.
Four games into the season, however, it doesn’t seem so crazy as Caorsi has rolled up 856 yards to lead the Shore Conference. The impossible now merely seems improbable for the Mustangs senior as he opens eyes around the Shore.
“Our goal was to clearly get 2K this year considering we had a lot of starters back on the line and high expectations,’’ Caorsi said. “We’re more focused on having a winning season and making the playoffs, but we’re pretty excited about it.”
“We were expecting big numbers, but obviously not this big,’’ said senior center Riley Keating. “He's exploded this year to start off.”
Caorsi may own several school records before he’s done. The single-season record is 1,176 set by Nick Lenart in 1999 on the last Marlboro team to finish with a winning record and reach the state playoffs. Caorsi is believed to have already set the single-game record with his 306-yard eruption on 36 carries in a 41-27 win over Pinelands this season.
He also has nine touchdowns to put him near the top of the Shore in that category as well as put him on pace to fly past the 15 touchdowns by Lenart in 1999.
Having rushed for 1,029 yards as a junior, Caorsi could also be the rare back or perhaps the first back to register consecutive 1,000-yard seasons for the Mustangs.
“I knew exactly what he's capable of,’’ Marlboro coach Jason Dagato said. “He was doing this last year, too. With a year of growth, a year in the weight room, I knew he was going to take it a step further than last year.”
Caorsi has certainly done that, starting with arguably his most impressive performance in a 29-point loss. The Mustangs fell 41-12 to one of the Shore’s best teams, Manalapan, but Caorsi ran for 154 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries against a team that shut out its next three opponents.
“I think what people are seeing is that it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, he is as good as there is out there,’’ Dagato said. “I think it goes to show that he could do things like that against elite competition.”
At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Caorsi can power clean 275 pounds and uses that strength in his physical running style.
“Cam is a very physical and tough kid,’’ Keating said. “It takes three or four guys to bring him down. Once we hear that pop we're like, ‘Wow, Cam just hit someone again.’’’
Caorsi has also been a workhorse, averaging a whopping 34 carries per game.
“At 185 pounds, he runs like a 225-pounder and doesn't shy away from contact,’’ Dagato said. “He’s a kid that creates yards for himself when he has to. If we block well enough to get three (yards), he's going to get six or seven. He’s a finisher.”
He also has a veteran group plowing the way. Keating, junior left tackle Chris Manginelli, junior right guard Anthony Damato and senior right tackle Anthony Mitchell are all returning starters. Senior left guard Kyle Dade and tight end Paul Wagner have integrated well as newcomers, and Johnny Helff is a three-year varsity player who has been clearing holes at fullback.
“We set a goal for ourselves to get Cam 300 yards every week,’’ Keating said. “To see his numbers just brings us pride that we’re doing our job.”
The Mustangs now hope to get wins commensurate with the numbers that Caorsi is putting up. On the heels of a 1-9 season, they are off to a 1-3 start, including losses to Colts Neck and unbeaten Freehold Township that came down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
They are also dealing with the fact that Caorsi is no longer a secret. Teams pack the box with eight defenders and walk down a safety to give them nine run defenders to stop him.
“Honestly, I just use it as motivation,’’ Caorsi said.
Quarterback Jared Wright has thrown three touchdown passes in the first four games and averaged 13 pass attempts per game, with two of the TDs going to 6-foot-5 wideout Justin Marcus.
“We’re getting everybody and their parents sitting in the box on us,’’ Dagato said. “As a staff we need to find ways to get him room to run and to hurt teams with our other playmakers.”
Another byproduct of Caorsi’s success has been a renewed interest in the team in the halls of Marlboro, where soccer and tennis have often dominated the headlines during the fall while football has struggled.
“We have a student section, we have fans now, and we haven't had that in years,’’ Caorsi said. “It's crazy to see the change coming, and it's a great thing for the future of this program.”
Caorsi has mainly received interest from Division III programs at this point, but Dagato has sent his film from the first four games this year to programs like Monmouth University, Fordham University and Lafayette to get some feedback.
Before he can worry about where he’ll play next year, Caorsi and his linemen are more focused on a goal that may have seemed ridiculous to some in the preseason but now may be the most surprising storyline in the Shore this season if he keeps up this pace.
“We’re working to get Cam those 2,000 yards,’’ Keating said. “We have a big challenge ahead of us, but we’re going to keep pushing.”