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One year after a winless season snapped the program’s unprecedented streak of seven straight years with a record of .500 or better, the first season under head coach Joe Zaccone was a rousing success for Point Beach.

Coming off an 0-9 year in 2018, the Garnet Gulls regrouped last season to go 7-3 and finish second in the National Division. It was a huge bounce-back season for a program that has had limited success in its history, especially outside the tenure of legendary head coach John Wagner, who guided the school to its only state sectional title in 2013. Last year showed that Point Beach wasn’t going to accept reverting back to being a struggling program again.

Photo by Steve Meyer.

There are key players who were lost to graduation like National Division Defensive Player of the Year Jason Sherlock, standout running back/linebacker Liam Buday and linebacker Matt Vinsko, but Point Beach has a quality senior class and several experienced varsity players returning for the 2020 season.

“There is excitement around Point Beach football,” Zaccone said. “This team has a lot of varsity experience and is ready to keep the program going on an upward plane.”

Seven starters return on offense as the Garnet Gulls hope to improve on the 14.3 points per game they averaged a season ago. Senior Matt VanBrunt returns as the quarterback after seeing time last season and is joined in the backfield by senior Mike Grauso, a returning starter at running back who was a second-team all-division selection last year. Seniors David Terra-Nova and Giuseppe Taurozzi are back as starting wide receivers.

Having a sizeable and experienced offensive line is always a tipping point for a small Group 1 team and Point Beach is fortunate to have three starters back and good size across the board. Senior Josh Ramos is a returning starter at left guard after earning first-team All-National Division honors last season, senior Jeff Wall is back as the starting center and senior Jack Shamy returns as the right guard.

The biggest reason for Point Beach’s major turnaround last year was a stout defense that finished seventh in the Shore in scoring at 14.9 points per game. They will certainly miss Sherlock and just four starters return from that unit, but many of the new defensive starters have starting experience from the offensive side.

Ramos is back as a starting defensive tackle while senior Aidan Jones is a returning starter at outside linebacker. The secondary has two returning starters with Terra-Nova at cornerback and VanBrunt, who earned second-team all-division honors on defense, back as the starting free safety.

Another big loss from graduation was of kicker George Kaiafas, who was a third-team All-Shore kicker last season. Taurozzi will step in as the starting kicker.

 

At a Glance

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

Offense: Multiple

QB: Matt VanBrunt, Sr., RS

RB: Mike Grauso, Sr., RS; Aidan Jones, Sr.; Dawson MacPherson, So. 

TE: Andrew Laumbach, Jr.; Joe Coakley, Sr.

WR: David Terra-Nova, Sr., RS; Giuseppe Taurozzi, Sr., RS; Joe Beley, So.; Connor DeLorenzo, Jr.

LT: Jackson Killian, So.

LG: Josh Ramos, Sr., RS

C: Jeff Wall, Sr., RS

RG: Jack Shamy, Sr., RS

RT: Alec Glen, Sr.

Defense: 4-3

DE: Andrew Laumbach, Jr.

DT: Josh Ramos, Sr., RS

DT: Jack Shamy, Sr.

DE: Jackson Killian, So.

OLB: Aidan Jones, Sr., RS

MLB: Roman Grauso, So.

OLB: Alec Glen, Sr.

CB: Joe Beley, So.

CB: Dak Gregory, Jr.

SS: David Terra-Nova, Sr., RS

FS: Matt VanBrunt, Sr., RS

Special teams

K: Giuseppe Taurozzi, Sr.

P: Dawson MacPherson, So.

  

Head coach: Joe Zaccone, 2nd season

Career record: 7-3

Team record last five years:

2019: 7-3

2018: 0-9

2017: 7-5

2016: 6-5

2015: 5-5

Assistant coaches: Jeff Bower (Defensive Coordinator/DB/RB); Brandon Gross (Offensive Coordinator/OL/DL); Mike Pellicane (Offensive Coordinator/QB/LB); Jake VanBrunt (Special Teams/DB/RB); Josh Yates (Special Teams/WR/LB); Cali Whedon (athletic trainer).

 

Player to Watch: Mike Grauso, Sr., RB/LB

Grauso was a starter alongside Liam Buday last season and earned second-team all-division honors. This year he looks to be Beach’s No. 1 back and could also see time at linebacker.

 

Player Under the Radar: Josh Ramos, Sr., OL/DL

Ramos is only under the radar because of the positions he plays. He is a returning first-team all-division offensive lineman and gives Point Beach valuable experience in the trenches.

 

Impact Newcomer: Jackson Killian, So., LT/DE

Despite being just a sophomore, Killian is Point Beach’s biggest lineman at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds and is slated to be a starter at left tackle and defensive end.

 

Top position group: Offensive line

Having an experienced offensive line is a great place to be in for any team, especially a Group 1 school. Point Beach’s three interior linemen are all returning starters with guards Josh Ramos and Jack Shamy and center Jeff Wall.

 

Big Shoes to Fill: Andrew Laumbach, Jr., TE/DE

Laumbach will try to do his part to replace the production left by the graduation of Jason Sherlock, who had 102 tackles, 9 sacks and 30 tackles for loss to be named National Division Defensive Player of the Year. Laumbach also plays tight end where Sherlock was the team’s leading receiver.

 

X-Factor: Staying healthy

Staying healthy has taken on a new meaning this season, but in terms of staying injury-free it is a must for all small-school teams because there is usually a significant drop-off after the starters.

 

Season Schedule

Friday, Oct. 2 – vs. Keansburg, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 9 – at Asbury Park, 6 p.m.

Oct. 16 – BYE

Friday, Oct. 23 – at Shore, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 31 – at Keyport,

Friday, Nov. 6 – vs. Manchester, 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.