Non-Public Group 3 Championship Preview: Red Bank Catholic vs. Mater Dei Prep
2018 NJSIAA NON-PUBLIC GROUP 3 FINAL
WHO: 1-Red Bank Catholic (9-0) vs. 3-Mater Dei Prep (10-1).
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 24, 4:05 p.m.
WHERE: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford.
RED BANK CATHOLIC’S ROAD TO THE FINAL: First-round bye; defeated Pope John, 27-0, in the semifinals.
MATER DEI’S ROAD TO THE FINAL: Defeated Donovan Catholic, 35-21, in the quarterfinals; defeated DePaul, 28-23, in the semifinals.
RED BANK CATHOLIC’S BEST WIN: 41-14 over Central Jersey Group 4 champion Long Branch on Oct. 5.
MATER DEI’S BEST WIN: 28-23 over DePaul in the semifinals.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: Red Bank Catholic is making its first state finals appearance since winning Non-Public Group 3 title in 2014…The Caseys are 13-23 in 26 all-time playoff berths…They have reached the finals five times and won two titles…Mater Dei is just 10-11 all-time in 13 playoff appearances but is in the finals for the third straight year…The Seraphs have won eight playoff games since 2013 and are 7-1 in three years under Dino Mangiero…The last time two Shore Conference teams met in an NJSIAA Non-Public championship game was 1980 when St. John Vianney defeated RBC, 14-6, in the South Jersey Non-Public A sectional final.
RED BANK CATHOLIC STAT LEADERS:
-Steve Lubischer, Sr., QB: 78-for-109, 1,481 yards passing, 21 TDs, 4 INTs; 32 carries for 334 yards and 6 TDs.
-Billy Guidetti, Jr., RB: 123 carries for 875 yards and 11 TDs.
-M.J. Wright, Sr., WR/DB: 34 rec. for 548 yards and 6 TDs; 2 INTs on defense.
-Jaden Key, Sr., WR/DB: 16 rec. for 403 yards and 5 TDs; 2 INTSs on defense.
-Kevin Bauman, Jr., TE/DE: 14 rec. for 282 yards and 2 TDs.
-Kevin Degnan, Jr., RB: 33 carries for 347 yards and 5 TDs.
-Charlie Gordinier, Jr., TE/LB: 9 rec. for 119 yards and 3 TDs; 73 tackles.
-Steve Cmielewski, Sr., RB/LB: 85 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 13 TFL; 4 rushing TDs.
-John Columbia, Sr., LB: 94 tackles, 13 TFL.
-Gino Tartamella, Sr., DE: 9.5 sacks.
-Tommy Smith, Sr., OL/DL: 6 sacks, 11 TFL.
-Anthony Romano, Sr., S: 3 INTs.
-Ryan O’Hara, Sr., K: 42-for-43 on extra points, 4-for-4 on field goals with a long of 44 yards.
MATER DEI STAT LEADERS/TOP PLAYERS
-Rob McCoy Jr., Sr., QB: (in seven games) 52-for-80, 1,127 yards and 16 TDs; 38 carries for 314 yards and 7 TDs.
-Malik Ingram, Jr., RB: 131 carries for 1,664 yards and 21 TDs.
-Isaiah Alston, Sr., WR: 32 rec. for 546 yards and 8 TDs.
-Clarence Lewis, Jr., WR/DB: 21 rec. for 411 yards and 6 TDs.
-Isiah Noguera, Jr., WR/DB
-Izaiah Henderson, Sr., DT
-Shittah Sillah, Sr., LB
-Amir Coleman, Jr., DL
-Russell Ferrisi, Sr., LB
One of the most anticipated Shore Conference matchups in recent history is upon us as No. 1 Red Bank Catholic and No. 2 Mater Dei Prep will meet for the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 3 title this Saturday under the bright lights of MetLife Stadium.
RBC has been the top-ranked team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 since the preseason while Mater Dei has been in the top-five all season and ranked No. 2 for several weeks. The last time two Shore Conference non-public schools met in an NJSIAA championship game was 1980. St. John Vianney defeated Red Bank Catholic, 14-6, that year, but that was in a sectional final. Two Shore teams have never played for an overall non-public state title since the format was switched in 1993.
Mater Dei has the No. 1 scoring offense in the Shore at 39.2 points per game thanks to a dynamic group that can scorch defenses on the ground and through the air. Junior running back Malik Ingram is a first-team All-Shore candidate with over 1,000 yards rushing and over 10 touchdowns on the season. He is both physical and athletic and has been a load to handle for all of Mater Dei’s opponents this season. After sitting out the first four games of the season stemming from his transfer from Camden Catholic, senior Rob McCoy Jr. has helped take Mater Dei’s offense to another level. He’s a pass-first quarterback but can beat teams with his legs as well. He has a fantastic group of receivers with 6-foot-4 senior Isaiah Alston and game-breaking juniors Clarence Lewis and Isaiah Noguera. Tight end Chris Autino is a first-year player who attends Ranney School and plays for Mater Dei as part of the schools’ co-op agreement, but at 6-foot-7 he brings another difficult matchup to the table.
Mater Dei also sports a top-10 defense in the Shore led by a pair of FBS recruits. Senior defensive lineman Izaiah Henderson and senior linebacker Shittah Sillah, both of who are verbally committed to Boston College, spearhead a defense that has yielded just 10.8 points per game and recorded three shutouts. Junior Amir Coleman is also a force along the defensive line while senior Russell Ferrisi is a three-year starter at linebacker. Lewis and Noguera are playmakers in the secondary, as well.
Mater Dei cruised through its divisional schedule where all of its opponents were overmatched. In the second half of the season, however, the Seraphs have faced better tests and been able to prove just how good of a team they are. After beating Barnegat, 43-0, to clinch the National Division title, they crushed Central Jersey Group 2 finalist Manasquan, 41-0, and then beat Donovan Catholic, 48-12. The Seraphs’ only defeat this season is a 34-33 loss to Cheshire Academy, a Connecticut school with postgraduates similar to Hun School, Blair Academy and Lawrenceville in New Jersey.
The Seraphs’ biggest statement of the season and likely in program history came in the playoff semifinals when they went on the road and beat defending-champion DePaul, 28-23, in an instant classic. McCoy threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Lewis with 41 seconds left and Tahaj Parland knocked down a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game to send Mater Dei to its third straight state final.
Red Bank Catholic’s offense is also filled with playmakers and FBS recruits, and the Caseys will enter the state final averaging 35.9 points per game. Senior quarterback Steve Lubischer is also a Boston College recruit and guides RBC’s pro-style offense under the direction of head coach Frank Edgerly. Lubischer has thrown for 1,481 yards and 21 touchdowns with just four interceptions, and has completed 72 percent of his passes. Senior wide receiver M.J. Wright has had a breakout season with a team-high 34 receptions for 548 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Jaden Key has been a big-play machine with 16 catches for 403 yards (25.1 average) and five touchdowns. RBC has a pair of 6-foot-5 tight ends in junior Kevin Bauman, a Notre Dame recruit, and junior Charlie Gordinier, who has an offer from Rutgers and interest from other FBS schools.
Junior running back Billy Guidetti leads Red Bank Catholic’s ground game with 875 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on an average of 7.1 yards per carry. Junior Kevin Degnan has proven to be more than capable of stepping in when necessary, averaging 10.5 yards per attempt with 347 yards and five touchdowns. Lubischer is also dangerous out of the pocket and has contributed 334 yards rushing and six touchdowns on an average of 10.4 yards per carry. Senior fullback Steve Cmielewski does the dirty work leading the way and also has four rushing touchdowns. Senior Tommy Smith leads the way up front on the offensive line.
RBC also has arguably the best kicker in the Shore in senior Ryan O’Hara, who is 42-for-43 on extra points and 4-for-4 on field goals with a long of 44 yards.
The Caseys’ defense is allowing just 10 points per game and has recorded two shutouts. The defensive line is stout with Smith in the middle and senior Gino Tartamella coming off the edge with Bauman also seeing time at defensive end. Cmielewski and fellow senior John Columbia lead the defense from their linebacker positions while Gordinier has also had an excellent season defensively. The secondary features Key, Wright, senior Anthony Romano and junior Sean Rossback.
Red Bank Catholic has a pair of signature wins this season over a pair of public-school sectional champions. The Caseys defeated Central Jersey Group 4 champion Long Branch, 41-14, on Oct. 5 and edged Central Jersey Group 3 champion Rumson-Fair Haven, 14-13 in an instant classic, on Oct. 19.
There are plenty of intriguing matchups with talented players all over the field for both teams. Who will win out between the top two-way players in the receiving corps and the secondaries? Which set of linemen will impose their wills and control the trenches? Which top player comes through with a big game to lead their team to a state championship? The possibilities seem endless.
It all goes down inside an NFL stadium on Saturday. No. 1 in the Shore vs. No. 2 in the Shore for a state title. The stakes have never been higher.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.