Still Hungry: 2019 Red Bank Catholic Football Preview
The 2018 season marked a return to greatness for Red Bank Catholic.
The Caseys went undefeated and took home the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 3 state championship. Along the way, RBC defeated half of the final Shore Conference Top 10, including victories over eventual state sectional and bowl game champions Rumson-Fair Haven and Long Branch before ultimately downing Mater Dei Prep, 14-10, in the state final. It was a thorough championship season.
So, what are the Caseys’ plans for an encore? They’re going to forget about last season, put their hands in the dirt, place the chip squarely back on their shoulders and aim for nothing less than a repeat.
Players to Watch: Kevin Bauman, Sr., TE/DE, and Charlie Gordinier, Sr., LB/TE
Is there a program in the country with two tight ends as good as these guys?
Bauman, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound matchup nightmare who is committed to Notre Dame, was a First Team All-Shore selection last season and a major reason why RBC won a state championship and finished undefeated. He caught 15 passes for 342 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s a complete tight end, as well, who greatly aids the Caseys’ running game as a blocker in addition to his prowess as a pass-catcher. Bauman also was a situational defensive end last year and will see his role increase on that side of the ball.
Gordinier (6-foot-5, 240) will head to Boston College next season where he was recruited as a linebacker. A Second Team All-Shore selection last season, Gordinier made 83 tackles and recorded 5.5 sacks. He was the Caseys’ No. 2 tight end behind Bauman, but in their diverse offense saw plenty of snaps on the offensive side of the ball and impacted the game whether blocking or receiving.
“From a play-calling standpoint, it’s a blessing, to say the least,” said RBC head coach Frank Edgerly. “I was very fortunate to spend time in New England (as a member of the Patriots’ coaching staff) and I saw what ‘12’ personnel (one running back, two tight ends) does to a defense. I saw the challenges that it presented to some of the greatest minds in the league. With two guys so dynamic it causes issues for a defense.”
As good as Bauman is as a tight end and Gordinier is as a linebacker, both are impact players on their respective other sides of the ball. That should be more evident for both this season.
“What people don’t realize is that Kevin is an impact player defensively just as Charlie is offensively,” Edgerly said. “They both play defensive positions and (at tight end) can play with their hands in the ground and on the outside. Nothing’s off the table with them.”
As tempting as it surely is, Bauman and Gordinier won’t play every snap on both sides of the ball, but Edgerly isn’t going to keep his best players off the field if they’re needed, either.
“If you have a cannon, you have to fire it,” Edgerly said. “You want to keep the kids fresh, but you also don’t want to sit back at the end of the season and wish you would have done it differently. You have to be smart about it in terms of the big picture, but the reality is they have invested heavily in their conditioning and preparation to give us that opportunity.”
Player Under the Radar: Jack Zenkert, Sr., LB/OL
Jack Zenkert was on the field more often than not last season, but most people probably didn’t notice. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle with the number of standouts RBC had last season and has again this season, but Zenkert’s value does not go unnoticed within the program.
As a sophomore and junior, Zenkert found himself in the game so much at linebacker he was essentially a starter without being officially labeled as such. RBC’s defense is as multiple as its offense, so there are several sub-packages that require depth and versatility. That’s where Zenkert comes in. He’ll have a more permanent role this season as the Caseys' middle linebacker but has also taken his talents to the offensive side of the ball this year where he will be a rotational offensive lineman.
“Wherever you need him, you plug him in,” Edgerly said. “He does everything and anything and does it well. At this level, guys like that are invaluable.”
Top Unit: Running backs
The obvious answer is tight end with Bauman and Gordinier, but beyond the behemoth bookends, Red Bank Catholic may have the deepest backfield in the Shore Conference with Billy Guidetti, Kevin Degnan and Elijah Jules,
Guidetti was RBC’s feature back last season and ran for 902 yards and 12 touchdowns on an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Degnan made his share of impact plays in limited opportunities, but when Guidetti was out with an injury in the regular-season finale against Middletown North, he exploded for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries to lift the Caseys to a 31-28 win. Jules has barely played the last two years but is a player the coaching staff is extremely excited about. Expect all three to be heard from early and often this year.
RBC will be successful if…
Success for Red Bank Catholic means winning another state championship, and although expectations are high, that is the bar that has been set. Of course, injuries need to be avoided, but the main message Edgerly has tried to convey is to stay focused and forget last season. RBC’s schedule does not afford it any missteps, but that isn’t any different than last season. As long as they play up to their potential, the Caseys should be in position to repeat as Non-Public Group 3 champions.
Father and son
Ryan Edgerly was once a young child joining his dad at practices both at Red Bank Catholic, New England, and Cleveland. Now, he’s the Caseys’ starting quarterback with his father severing as head coach.
It’s been a long, winding ride for the Edgerly family that led them far from home and then back to Monmouth County. Now, in Ryan’s final year of high school, they’ll chase another championship together.
“As a dad, I cannot articulate what this means to me and what it’s meant to this family,” Edgerly said.
On the field, Edgerly will be taking over for Steve Lubischer, who was the Shore Sports Network Most Valuable Player in 2018 and is currently a freshman defensive back at Boston College. Lubischer was a dynamic player who impacted the game with his arm and legs, and while Ryan Edgerly is a different type of player, the expectations to perform are the same.
“Lubi did a lot of great things for this program, and the thing that really separated him from a lot of quarterbacks was his ability to work off schedule and make plays when things broke down,” Edgerly said. “With Ryan, you have a quarterback who is extremely cerebral and extremely accurate. He plays with high eyes, so he’s going to see the field well and get us in the right play. His outright command of the offense I think is what separates him.”
Trying to balance being a father and being the head coach of one of New Jersey’s best teams in which his son is the starting quarterback will be a challenge, but also an opportunity Edgerly always hoped he'd get.
“To be able to share this with my son, not just this year but his four years of high school is something I might not have experienced,” Edgerly said. “We get fired in Cleveland, (former RBC head coach) Jim Portela steps down, and it’s just one of those situations where you say maybe things happen for a reason. To have the opportunity to coach my son…I was away for seven years in the NFL and was never home. This is my first chance to really be a dad like this. I just hope it means as much to him as it means to me.”
Hart and Soul
Senior Chris Hart improved so much during the course of last year that by the end of the season he was arguably the Casey’s best lineman. The 6-foot, 255-pound left guard will lead the Caseys in the trenches this season and brings a physical, punishing style to the position. As important as he is on the field, he’s equally impactful in the locker room as the glue that keeps everyone together.
“Physically, he is our best lineman and by the end of the year last year was fantastic,” Edgerly said. “And he’s the guy who polices the huddle and the locker room. He has the intangible part and on the field, he’s tough and nasty.”
Line it up
Last year, RBC entered the season with only one experienced lineman: First Team All-Shore selection Tommy Smith. The unit gelled to become one of the top units in the Shore and now brings back three starters in the trenches.
The interior of the line returns with Hart at left guard, junior Jake Louro (6-foot-2, 265) at center and junior Luke Guidetti (6-foot-2, 250) at right guard. Competing for the two tackle spots are a pair of hulking juniors, Greyson Brockreide and John O’Brien, and promising sophomore Matt Cody. Brockreide checks in at 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds while O’Brien is 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. Cody, whose brothers played at Middletown South, is 5-foot-10 and 260 pounds. All three should see time as RBC plans on rotating several bodies up front.
After going wire-to-wire as the No.1 team in the Shore Conference to finish as an undefeated state champion, every team in Monmouth and Ocean counties are looking up at them. To keep it that way, they’ll need to approach this season with the same mindset as the teams chasing them. Complacency is one of their greatest adversaries.
“It’s not an easy thing to do at any level because you’re constantly reminded of past successes or failures,” Edgerly said. “You get the ring and the jacket and all that stuff is great and you want the kids to enjoy it, but you have to shelf that really quickly. The fortunate thing for us is that last season we came in No. 1 and rode that the whole way, so this group understands the expectations and understands first-hand what it takes.”
At a Glance
Head coach: Frank Edgerly, 14th season
Career record: 84-46
2018 record: 10-0 (5-0 in Freedom Division)
Assistant coaches: Mike Lange (def. coord), Keith Hugger (special teams), Mike Rosenfeld (RB/LB), Joe Gallagher (WR/DB), Matt Bijas (TE/DB), Joe O’Connor (OL), Kevin Gaul (DL), Anton Flego (freshmen), Andrew LaMura (freshmen), Joe McAuliffe (Dir. of Sports Performance), Sister Marge Scarpone (academic coordinator), Joe Nappo (Dir. of Player Development), Fred Valentino (team security), Amanda Balarinni (athletic trainer).
Offense: Multiple Pro
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Ryan Edgerly, Sr., QB
Edgerly takes the reins of the Caseys offense following the graduation of Steve Lubischer, who was a two-year starter and the 2018 SSN Most Valuable Player. Edgerly was the No. 2 quarterback last season and saw some action, so he does have in-game experience. What he also has is an intimate knowledge of the offense and plenty of playmakers surrounding him.
X-FACTOR: The kicking game
RBC had one of New Jersey’s best specialists last season in First Team All-Shore selection Ryan O’Hara, who was reliable on field goals and extra points and phenomenal at changing field position on punts. With O’Hara now at Lafayette College, the Caseys will look to sophomore Chaz Hart at kicker and junior Anthony Borriello at punter. Junior Michael O’Connor has to sit out the first four games after transferring from Middletown South but has the skills to win both jobs once he’s eligible to return.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Elijah Jules, Sr., RB/CB
Jules was behind current Dartmouth College sophomore Zack Bair and Billy Guidetti as a sophomore and missed all of last season with an injury. Even with Guidetti and Kevin Degnan both returning in the backfield, Jules will get plenty of playmaking opportunities on offense in addition to starting at cornerback on defense.
PIVOTAL GAME: Sept. 6 vs. Rumson-Fair Haven
RBC’s schedule is filled marquee opponents, but the one that stands out is the season-opening clash with the Bulldogs, who are also coming off a state championship season. Last year’s contest was an epic 14-13 victory for the Caseys in one of the best Shore Conference games of the decade. Every game holds equal weight in the American Division but this one has the extra juice that comes with rivals meeting on opening day.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.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.