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Despite losing multiple key players to graduation and transfers, Freehold Township enters the 2023 season with a total of 17 returning starters and optimism that it can battle for the Independence Division title and return to the NJSIAA playoffs.

Led by longtime Shore Conference head coach Cory Davies and employing his Air Raid offensive system, the Patriots played to a 5-5 record that featured the typical highs and lows of a .500 season, mostly beating the teams they were supposed to beat and suffering defeats against teams assumed to be favored in those games. Headlining the victories were triumphs over Howell and Brick Memorial, the latter kicking off a three-game winning streak late in the season that helped them qualify for the Group 5 playoffs.

Freehold Township was in the middle of the pack on both offense and defense in terms of points per game last season, finishing 26th on offense (18.8 ppg) and 24th on defense (20.2). While they have many key players returning, the Pats will have to replace the production from a handful of notable players. Jayden Holmes-Cotter led the team in sacks last season but has since graduated. Nick Benjamino led the team in tackles but has also graduated. Chase Enlow shined as a sophomore running back with a team-high 704 yards rushing and two touchdowns plus a team-leading 259 yards receiving and three touchdowns. He has since transferred to The Hun School of Princeton, however. Ditto for wide receiver Shawn Corchado, who was a Third Team All-Shore selection as a sophomore and caught 24 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns as a junior last season. Mark Augello, who played quarterback and wide receiver at times, transferred to St. John Vianney. Freehold Township will, of course, focus on the players who are on the team and not on who has left, but the reality is that replacing the production from those players is a factor.

The good news is that the cupboard is far from bare on Elton Adelphia Road with nine starters returning on offense and eight starters back on defense.

The Patriots’ pass-heavy spread offense will be led by junior quarterback Nick Cardone, who has started multiple games in each of the last two seasons. He threw for 409 yards and two touchdowns in limited action as a freshman and threw for 698 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He was splitting time with Augello the previous two seasons and playing wide receiver when he wasn’t playing quarterback but will now get his shot at the starting role all by himself. Sophomore Johnathan Kokotis will be the backup quarterback.

Cardone will have three experienced varsity receivers to throw to with senior Nick Carnevale and juniors Noah Cancela and Jaylen Gill-Anderson as returning starters. Carnevale will be entering his third year as a starter. Joining them will be seniors GianPaul Cortes and Trevor Tansey with senior Bobby Loff and juniors Logan Madden and Luke Meehan pushing for playing time.

The sting of losing Enlow is softened by the presence of seniors Sebastian Andujar and Nick Whisten in the backfield. They will be the Patriots’ running backs this season and both are returning starters with experience on defense, as well. Junior Justin Tamai and sophomore Jake Rattiner are also in the running back room.

The Patriots offensive line features five returning starters and some seniors also in the mix. Junior Ethan Rifkin (6-0, 225) is the left tackle, senior Peter Gozsa (5-11, 200) is the left guard, and senior Adam Deinhardt (6-4, 235) is the center. The right side of the line has senior Jack Horan (6-4, 250), a three-year starter, at guard, and junior Lorenzo Machado (5-10, 215) at tackle. Deinhardt can also slide to left guard with sophomore Jayden Vera an option at center. Senior Carlo Nasso and junior Mike Daley should also play major roles while sophomore Armando Catano is battling for playing time.

On defense, Freehold Township uses multiple sets that are gameplan-specific. The strength of the defense is at linebacker where four starters return. Senior Tyler Muranelli (57 tackles) and junior Braden Larkin (3 sacks) are both pegged as starters at inside linebacker while Andujar (58 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 TFL), a three-year starter, and Whisten (62 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL) are returners at outside linebacker. Larkin could also play along the defensive line. Junior Jake Minniear should see considerable playing time at inside linebacker while seniors Cameron Greenberg and Iziah Young are pushing for playing time at outside linebacker.

Loff is a returning starter at cornerback and Carnevale will be a three-year starter at free safety where he pulled down two interceptions and made 45 tackles last season and was an all-division selection. Cortes is at the other cornerback spot. Pushing for time in the secondary are Gill-Anderson, Young, Rattiner, and junior Noah Marchica.

Larkin and senior Nick Manfre both started games along the defensive line a season ago while Gozsa, Nasso, Justin Flores, and All-Name Team candidate Jack Ironside will look to break into the lineup.

Strong special teams play, especially at placekicker, has been consistent on Davies-coached teams throughout his career. There is competition this season to replace recently-graduated All-Shore kicker Cody Wohlrab with Loff, Tamai, and Meehan battling for the kicking spot and the punter position still being decided. Greenberg is the long snapper, Carnevale is the primary kick and punt returner, and Andujar, Cortes, and Gill-Anderson will also return kicks.

Since Davies took over the program in 2015, the Patriots have been steady and even set program high-water marks in 2016 and 2017. They’ve treaded water since then but have remained competitive in each division they’ve been aligned in. With multiple starters back and a division that appears very even, on paper, Freehold Township could be an under-the-radar contender in 2023.


At a Glance

Head coach: Cory Davies, 9th season (30th overall)

Career record: 132-154

2022 record: 5-5

Offense: Spread

Defense: Multiple

Coaching staff: Matt Hardison (Defensive Coordinator/DB); Todd Smith (WR); Bill Dague (LB); Jake White (OL); Vince Tesi (DL); Stefan Gaszynski (Freshmen Head Coach); Matt Ferguson (Freshmen); Mike Lorenzo (Freshmen); Ran Davies (Offensive Analyst); Derek Reichenbecher (Defensive Analyst); Mike Verrochi (Special Assistant to the Head Coach); Jeff Scenna (Athletic Trainer).


Circle the Date: Week 3 – Thursday, Sept. 14 vs. Freehold Boro

The annual clash between Township and Boro for “The Duke” will take place in Week 3 and will be the second Independence Division game for the Patriots. Freehold Township scored a dominant 39-7 victory over a struggling Colonials team last season so Freehold will definitely have revenge on its mind. More than bragging rights will be on the line since it’s a division game, as well.


Player to Watch: Nick Cardone, Jr., QB

Cardone started the final three games of his freshman year and the final four games of his sophomore year while playing wide receiver in the other games. He performed well in those opportunities and now gets a chance to start every week in an offense that has helped produce some of the Shore Conference’s top passers.


Under-the-Rader Players: Nick Carnevale, Sr., WR/DB & Sebastian Andujar, Sr., RB/LB

Carnevale and Andujar will be entering their third year as starters and bring both production and leadership to the table for the Patriots. Carnevale was a first team all-division selection last year and Andujar earned a second team all-division nod.


Big Shoes to Fill: Running backs

Sebastian Andujar and Nick Whisten are experienced varsity players but will have to prove they can produce out of the backfield after leading rusher Chase Enlow transferred. The Patriots are a pass-first offense but having a dependable running game has allowed Davies’ offenses to flourish in past years.


Did you Know?

Freehold Township assistant coach Ryan Davies holds the Shore Conference single-season passing record with 3,060 yards set in 2011 and is fifth all-time in passing yards with 6,079 career yards.



Friday 8/25Middletown North6pm
Friday 9/1Red Bank6:30pm
Friday 9/8@Matawan6:30pm
Thursday 9/14Freehold6:30pm
Friday 9/22@Brick Memorial6pm
Friday 9/29Marlboro6:30pm
Friday 10/6@Brick6pm
Friday 10/13Ocean6:30pm
Friday 10/20@Barnegat6:30pm



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