On the Upswing: 2021 Point Pleasant Beach High School Football Preview
The last four seasons of Point Pleasant Beach football have been the definition of a roller coaster ride.
In the final season under hall of fame head coach John Wagner in 2016, the Garnet Gulls won seven games and reached the Central Jersey Group 1 championship game. The following year, they went 0-9. Then, in the first season under current head coach Joe Zaccone, Beach picked itself up off the canvas and enjoyed a resurgent 7-3 season. Then there was last year, an 0-7 campaign during a pandemic-shortened season.
But there are silver linings. The Garnet Gulls had a handful of impactful seniors who led the way last season but the rest of the team was young and/or inexperienced. Those players were thrown into adversity on both sides of the ball and the plan is that they can parlay those growing pains into a resurgent season.
A major change will occur on the offensive side of the ball where Point Beach will run the Delaware Wing-T offense after running the spread in 2019 and a multiple offense last season. The Gulls ran the Wing-T under Wagner and it served them very well. It’s a common offense for small schools to run.
Junior Joe Beley returns as the starting quarterback to spearhead a backfield that has three returning starters. Senior Andrew Laumbach (6-foot-2, 200) and junior Dawson MacPherson are both returning starters while the wing backs will be senior Connor DeLorenzo and junior Jake Mullins.
The pass-catching group includes junior Ryan Oreste and senior Kyle Simpson as the wide receivers and junior Roman Grauso (a returning starter) and senior Colin Matuschat as the tight ends.
The offensive line is an entirely new fivesome of starters but there is pretty good size across the board. Sophomore Jamie Setrakian (6-foot-3, 260) is the left tackle, junior Rob Dey (6-foot, 225) is the left guard, senior Tom Nasdeo (6-foot, 250) is the center, junior David Fant (5-foot-11, 225) is the right guard and senior Ryley Thomas (5-foot-11, 195) is the right tackle.
Point Beach also has four returning starters in its 4-3 defense. The strength is at the second level where all three linebackers are returning starters. Grauso is the middle linebacker while Beley and MacPherson are the outside linebackers.
Laumbach, a returning starter, is the anchor on the defensive line from his spot at defensive end. He’ll be joined by Dey and Thomas as the defensive tackles and Matuschat as the opposite defensive end. The secondary is a collection of four new starters with Oreste and Mullins as the cornerbacks, DeLorenzo as the strong safety, and Simpson at free safety.
The National Division should be very competitive with Keansburg, Keyport, Lakewood, Monmouth Regional and Pinelands joining Point Beach. The small schools do have to contend with Group 3 schools Lakewood, Monmouth and Pinelands, but those teams have struggled over the past few years which is why they are in the National Division in the first place.
With lower numbers and less depth, Group 1 schools are more vulnerable to the usual pitfalls of high school football. The bottom can drop out in a hurry, but the opposite as also true. Point Beach has rebounded from a winless season to return to the playoffs as recently as 2019. The plan this year is to do exactly that.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter, 3RS=3rd-year returning starter)
Offense: Delaware Wing-T
Returning starters: 4
QB: Joe Beley, Jr., RS
RB: Dawson MacPherson, Jr., RS; Andrew Laumbach, Sr., RS
Wings: Connor DeLorenzo, Sr.; Jake Mullins, Jr.
WR: Ryan Oreste, Jr.; Kyle Simpson, Sr.
TE: Roman Grauso, Jr., RS; Colin Matuschat, Sr.
LT: Jamie Setrakian, So.
LG: Rob Dey, Jr.
C: Tom Nasdeo, Sr.
RG: David Fant, Jr
RT: Ryley Thomas, Sr.
Returning starters: 4
DE: Andrew Laumbach, Sr., RS
DT: Rob Dey, Jr.
DT: Ryley Thomas, Sr.
DE: Colin Matuschat, Sr.
OLB: Joe Beley, Jr., RS
MLB: Roman Grauso, JR., RS
OLB: Dawson MacPherson, Jr., RS
CB: Ryan Oreste, Jr.
CB: Jake Mullins, Jr.
SS: Connor DeLorenzo, Sr.
FS: Kyle Simpson, Sr.
K: Connor Loughran, So.
P: Dawson MacPherson, Jr., RS
Head coach: Joe Zaccone, 3rd season
Career record: 7-10
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Jeff Bower (Defensive Coordinator/DB/RB); Brandon Gross (Offensive Coordinator/DL/OL); Josh Yates (Special Teams Coordinator/DB/QB); Michael McGee (LB/Wings); Michael Pellicane (LB/WR); Cali Whedon (Athletic Trainer).
Player to Watch: Andrew Laumbach, Sr., RB/DE
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior will be in the thick of everything Point Beach does as a running back in its Wing-T scheme and a defensive end in its 4-3 alignment.
Player Under the Radar: Connor DeLorenzo, Sr., Wing/SS
The wing backs have traditionally had a lot of success in Point Beach’s prior seasons running the Wing-T and DeLorenzo (6-foot-1, 185) could be next in line. He’ll also start in the secondary at strong safety
Impact Newcomer: Colin Matuschat, Sr., TE/DE
Matuschat (6-foot-1, 205) gives Point Beach some more size up front on both sides of the ball where he is slated to start at defensive end and also see significant time at tight end.
Top Position Group: Linebackers
With Joe Beley, Roman Grauso and Dawson MacPherson all back as returning starters, the second level of Point Beach’s defense will be the strength.
Big Shoes to Fill: Pass Rushers
Josh Ramos led Point Beach’s defense with 60 tackles and five sacks last season so the Garnet Gulls will look to find someone to step up and fill the void.
X-Factor: Staying Healthy/New Offensive Scheme
Injuries can wreck any team, especially a small school with limited depth. And after two years of running some version of a spread offense, the Gulls will move to a Wing-T. That’s a fairly drastic change so it bears watching that transition unfold.
Thursday, Sept. 7 – at Jackson Liberty, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 10 – vs. Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 18 – at Keyport, 12 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24 – vs. Keansburg, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 1 – at Pinelands, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 9 – at Monmouth, 12 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 23 – at Keansburg, 12 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 29 – vs. Keyport, 7 p.m.