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Having success in a single season is one thing. Sustaining it is another. That is the situation Marlboro finds itself in entering 2023 after one of the most memorable seasons in program history.

The 2022 season was Marlboro’s best in two decades and saw the Mustangs qualify for the NJSIAA playoffs for the first time since 1999 and win the program’s first playoff game since 1994. The way Marlboro accomplished those feats was impressive, too. Starting quarterback/defensive back AJ Schwartz was lost to injury midway through the regular season, and in the playoffs, standout running back/linebacker Matt Cassidy went down with an injury. The Mustangs battled through that adversity to reach the postseason without one of their top two-way players and then rallied to defeat Washington Township, 21-17, in a thrilling home playoff game despite Cassidy missing the entire second half.

While several returning starters are back, last year’s team was a senior-heavy squad. The injuries forced several players into action, however, so the hope is that the combination of seasoned veterans and other experienced players will produce a third straight winning season, which has never occurred since the program commenced in 1968.

A total of 11 starters are back, including six in the Mustangs’ multiple-formation offensive system that was in the top half of the Shore averaging 22.9 points per game last season. Cassidy (5-10, 190) enters his third year as a starter and is coming off a season in which he earned First Team All-Shore honors on defense. As Marlboro’s running back he brings a good balance of power and speed off a season in which he rushed for 850 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior Anthony Tropeano returns as the starting fullback while senior Mike Consolazio can play either tailback or fullback and junior Christian Lafonte provides depth.

Senior Brayden Klein was called upon when Schwartz was lost for the season and finished with 447 yards passing and four touchdowns. He returns as the team’s starting quarterback and will look to senior returning starter Dan Alcide, junior Luke Houston, and senior Sam Hirsch as his primary targets in the passing game. The tight end is 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior Brave Haugh.

Just two starters return up front after several seniors graduated, including Second Team All-Shore selection Corey Shanin, First Team All-Constitution pick Hunter Boilen, and second team all-division lineman Peter Budveit. Senior Jon Moskowich (6-0, 260) is a returning starter and will be at left tackle and senior Lou Ogno (5-10, 220) returns as the starting center. There is competition at the other three spots with senior Nate Emerson (5-10, 210) and junior Zach Nina (5-9, 230) working at left guard, seniors Mike Garcia (5-10, 200) and Colin Dooley (5-10, 220) at right guard, and senior Rob Kenyon (5-9, 265) and junior Slav Kostenko (6-5, 230) at right tackle.

Marlboro’s defense finished 13th in the Shore allowing 17 points per game last season and looks to be the strength of the unit with five returning starters.

Kenyon is the defensive tackle in the Mustangs’ 3-4 scheme with Kostenko or Moskowich at one defensive end spot and either Haugh or Emerson at the other defensive end position.

Cassidy leads the defense from his inside linebacker position after recording 81 tackles, 3 sacks, and 11 tackles for loss and earning a First Team All-Shore selection despite missing parts of two games with injuries. He will team with Tropeano, another returning starter at inside linebacker. Tropeano was a second team all-division selection after recording 58 tackles and 3 sacks. Consolazio is one outside linebacker and the other spot is between Alcide and junior Dan Lacertosa.

Marlboro’s secondary has two returning starters, led by senior Nick Scaff at free safety. He intercepted three passes last season, including a key interception in the Group 5 playoff win over Washington Township. Houston returns as a starting cornerback. The other cornerback position is between Lafonte and junior Brayden Bradley. Sophomore Zach Caporale is the strong safety.

One special teams, senior Luke Rubin enters his third year as a starter and is coming off a season in which he converted 27 of 28 extra points and kicked three field goals with a long of 31 yards.

Marlboro competed in the Constitution Division last season with Colts Neck, Jackson Memorial, Freehold Township, Howell, and Freehold Boro. This season’s Freedom Division has Marlboro, Howell, Jackson Memorial, Lacey, Middletown North and Southern. The Mustangs also have nondivisional games with Rumson-Fair Haven, Freehold Township, and St. John Vianney.

With a large senior class, good depth, and experience playing in big games among the returning starters, Marlboro and head coach Jason Dagato are excited to attack a new division and push for a return to the playoffs. There is a lack of game experience among the new players but the expectation is that a summer of competition will have them ready to hit the ground running in Week 1.

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At a Glance

Head coach: Jason Dagato, 12th season

Career record: 30-67

2022 record: 6-4

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 3-4

Coaching Staff: Reid Stapp (Defensive Coordinator/RB/LB); Jim Papalia (Special Teams Coordinator/WR/DL); Tom Caporale (QB/DB); Bill Cook (OL/DL); Ryan Cassidy (RB/LB); Mike Luzio (RB/DB/Strength & Conditioning); Mike Warnock (Freshmen); Cory Varrial (Freshmen); Anais Mixson (Athletic Trainer).


Circle the Date: Week 3 – Thursday, Sept. 14 at Howell

The two Freehold Regional district rivals are division rivals again this season. Last season Howell earned a 28-14 in the game Schwartz was injured, snapping Marlboro’s three-game winning streak and leading to a three-game losing streak before the Mustangs turned it around and made the playoffs.


Player to Watch: Matt Cassidy, Sr., RB/LB

Cassidy is a returning First Team All-Shore selection after recording 81 tackles, 3 sacks, and 11 tackles for loss at linebacker and rushing for 850 yards and 11 touchdowns.


Impact Newcomer: Brave Haugh, Sr., TE/DE

Haugh and his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame will look to make an impact on both sides of the ball as a starting tight end and a defensive end.


Big Shoes to Fill: Wide receivers

Losing both Ryan Mendes and Alex Frank to graduation means Marlboro will have to replace its top two wide receivers from last season.


Did you Know?

Marlboro head coach Jason Dagato is the longest-tenured head coach in program history. This will be his 12th season.



Saturday 9/2St. John Vianney11am
Friday 9/8@Southern7pm
Thursday 9/14@Howell6pm
Saturday 9/23Lacey12pm
Friday 9/29@Freehold Township6:30pm
Saturday 10/7Jackson Memorial12pm
Friday 10/13@Rumson-Fair Haven7pm
Saturday 10/21Middletown North12pm



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