Next Man Up: 2023 Point Pleasant Beach Football Preview
The margins are thin at the Group 1 level, even more so at one of the 10 smallest public high schools in New Jersey.
Despite a 3-6 record, the 2022 season saw Point Beach play competitive football each week, losing four of those six games by one score or less. Finding a way to make that extra play or two and flip those losses into wins is a point of emphasis this season. Even though the Garnet Gulls will have to replace several mainstays from the past few seasons, there is confidence this young group can build off the significant playing time it earned last season to hit the ground running in 2023.
Just three starters return in the Gulls’ Delaware Wing-T offense, but the good news is that they’re all offensive linemen, which is routinely the most difficult position group for a Group 1 school to consistently fill. Junior center Ronnie Thorn (5-10, 190) leads the way and will be entering his third year as a starter. Senior left tackle Jamie Setrakian (6-2, 230) and senior left guard Drew Cole (6-1, 210) are also returning starters. Junior Jerry Santiago (6-0, 220) will be the right guard and senior John Coakley (6-2, 215) will play right tackle.
Taking over at quarterback will be senior Tommy Wagner, who steps into the role occupied by Joe Beley for the last three seasons. Junior Liam Brosnan is the running back while junior Ryan Scannell and seniors Kyle McPherson and Connor Loughran are the wing backs.
Starting at wide receiver will be sophomore Elijah Ives and freshman Danny Cavanaugh with sophomore Michael Marzarella (6-1, 205) as the tight end.
Point Beach had a very good year, offensively, last season averaging 25 points per game to finish 11th in the Shore Conference in scoring average. The challenge will be replacing their top skill players like Beley, running back Roman Grauso, and wide receiver Kevin Burns.
The Garnet Gulls’ defense finished in the bottom third in the Shore in points per game (30th) allowing 23.7 points per game. Five starters do return, but replacing the production from Beley, an All-Shore linebacker, along with Grauso, defensive linemen Rob Dey and Jackson Killian, and defensive back Ryan Oreste will be crucial.
There are returning starters at all three levels in Point Beach’s multiple-front defensive scheme, starting with McPherson at defensive end and Setrakian at defensive tackle. Santiago and Marzarella are also defensive tackles while Coakley is the other defensive end when Beach employs a five-man front.
Both starting outside linebackers return with Loughran and Brosnan flanking Scannell at middle linebacker. Wagner is the lone returning starter in the secondary and will be at free safety where he intercepted two passes last season. Ives is at one cornerback spot with senior Nick Larsen and Cavanaugh on the other side.
Loughran returns as the starting kicker and Cavanaugh will serve as the team’s punter.
Point Beach remains in the Patriot Division and will contend with Jackson Liberty, Keansburg, Keyport, Lakewood, and Manchester. Jackson Liberty and Manchester are the new teams in the division replacing Shore and Asbury Park. The Garnet Gulls are young and unproven at many positions, but the plan is for the experience they gained last season to translate into success this fall.
At a Glance
Head coach: Joe Zaccone, 5th season
Career record: 13-23
2022 record: 3-6
Offense: Delaware Wing-T
Coaching staff: Jeff Bower (Defensive Coordinator/DB/Backs); Josh Yates (Offensive Coordinator/QB/DB); Mike McGee (Special Teams Coordinator/LB/Backs); Brenden Neary (OL/DL); Tony Lipari (OL/DL); Chris Boniface (JV Head Coach/WR/LB); Jake VanBrunt (DB/Backs); Brandon Gross (OL/DL); Cali Whedon (Athletic Trainer).
Circle the Date: Week 6 – Friday, Oct. 6 vs. Keyport
The Garnet Gulls nearly knocked off the Red Raiders in a wild 33-30 Keyport win last season. Keyport went on to earn a share of the division title. This season, a meeting in Week 6 vs. a Red Raiders team led by standout running back Nazir Treadwell could be pivotal for both squads.
Player to Watch: Tommy Wagner, Sr., QB/FS
Wagner started at free safety last season and snapped a team-high two interceptions. He’s back in that role this season in addition to taking over as the team’s starting quarterback.
Impact Newcomer: Ryan Scannell, Jr., RB/LB
Scannell is one of several players who will take on a more prominent role this season and he has a chance to make a major impact as a wing back and linebacker.
Did you Know?
This will be the 99th season of Point Beach football. The program debuted in 1924 (they did not have a football team in 1934).
|Friday 8/25||New Egypt||7pm|
|Friday 10/13||Toms River East||7pm|
|Friday 10/20||@Jackson Liberty||6pm|