The Culture Will Prevail: 2022 Holmdel High School Football Preview
Following four straight winning seasons, Holmdel slumped a bit in 2021 when a tougher schedule against bigger schools took its toll and they finished 3-6.
The bright spot was the production of SSN All-Shore running back Jaden Gallo and Luke Dupont, who combined for over 2,000 yards on the ground. While both have been lost to graduation, four of the five starters on the offensive line return and will hopefully pave the way for players like senior Tim Haggerty and juniors A.J. Todisco and Anthony Seddeducate in Holmdel's split-back veer option attack.
The new starting quarterback is junior Brayden Savage and while Holmdel has been known as a running team under head coach Jeff Rainess, Savage will likely have plenty of opportunities to team up with talented senior receiver Matt Tempone. Also looking to catch passes are juniors Brandon Rooney and Malik Taskier and senior Trey Tulenko along with junior tight end Andrew Piscatelli.
Senior Ryan Hammer (5’8, 200) returns at center along with guards Marc Dietz (5’10, 240 Sr.) and Casey Brew (5’10, 210 Jr.). Back at one tackle spot is junior Dante Calcaterra (6’1, 240) while promising junior Nick Bachman (6’3, 255) will be the other tackle and the only new starter.
The leader of the defense the last two years was linebacker Thomas Sardo, an SSN Second Team All-Shore selection last season and a First Team All-Shore selection as a junior. He has graduated and filling his inside spot will likely be junior Connor Fields. The other projected starting linebackers are also first-time starters in seniors John Steele and Dylan Lagana. There will be many new faces up front although Dietz returns and will line up at one end spot along with senior Jack Podesta, who did see plenty of action in 2021. Inside will be defensive tackles Evan Savarese (5’9, 220 Soph.) and Chris Hayduk (5’10, 205 Sr.).
The defensive backfield is loaded with experience as Taskier, Collyer, and junior Will Gilfillan were all starters and joining them will be Tempone which makes for a solid unit.
Junior Connor Mendini returns to handle both the kicking and punting duties.
Rainess, now in his seventh season at Holmdel, has done a superb job of turning around a program that went from without a winning record from 2008 through 2015. He has done so by getting players to believe in themselves and knowing what it takes to have success. This year’s team may be young and inexperienced in places but Rainess says they are a “very together group on and off the field”, which is a good place to start.
While on the subject of starting, Holmdel will open with Ocean and then face St. John Vianney and Point Boro over the first three weeks. It won’t take long to see if the Hornets are a team that can make some noise in Independence Division.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter)
Offense: Split-Back Veer
QB: Brayden Savage, Jr.
RB: Tim Haggerty, Sr.; A.J. Todisco, Jr.; Anthony Setteducate, Jr.
WR: Matt Tempone, Jr., RS. Brandon Rooney, Jr.; Malik Taskier, Jr.; Trey Tulenko, Sr.
TE: Andrew Piscatelli, Jr.
LT: Dante Calcaterra, Jr., RS
LG: Marc Dietz, Sr., RS
C: Ryan Hammer, Sr., RS
RG: Casey Brew, Jr., RS
RT: Nick Bachman, Jr.
DE: Jack Podesta, Sr., RS
DT: Evan Savarese, So.
DT: Chris Hayduk, Sr.
DE: Marc Dietz, Sr., RS
OLB: John Steele, Sr., RS
OLB: Dylan Lagana, Sr.
ILB: Connor Fields, Jr.
CB: Malik Taskier, Jr., RS
CB: Matt Tempone, Jr.
SS: Gary Collyer, Jr., RS
FS: Will Gilfillan, Jr., RS
K/P: Connor Mendini, Jr., RS
Head Coach: Jeff Rainess, 7th season
Career Record: 31-25
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: John T. Principe (Asst. Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator/LB); John Kaye (QB/RB); John Polivka (WR;) Mike Dorsi (DL); Charlie Marsh (DB); Steve Leo (P/K); David Sherman (Freshman); Scott Cannon (Freshman); Steve Nelson (Quality Control); Dave Katz (Athletic Trainer).
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Running Backs
Jaden Gallo put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with his 1,401 last year, which was the fifth highest total in the Shore Conference. At this time it does not appear there will be one player responsible for that type of yardage but rather a committee that includes Tim Haggerty, A.J. Todisco, and Anthony Setteducate.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Brayden Savage, Jr. QB and Matt Tempone, Jr. WR
The Hornets have and will continue to be a run-first team but this combination may find them putting the ball up a bit more. Coaches are high on both juniors and for Savage, this will be his first year as a starter while Tempone returns and should be a top threat.
TOP POSITION GROUPS: Offensive line and secondary
This is where experience comes into play as Dante Calcaterra, Marc Dietz, Ryan Hammer, and Casey Brew are all back as starters on the offensive line while Malik Taskier, Gary Collyer, and Will Gilfillan return in the defensive backfield.
RIVALRY GAME: Oct. 21 vs. Raritan
The schools are less than five miles apart so this is a natural rivalry. It's called "The Battle of the Border" for a reason. Holmdel has won the last five meetings so you can be sure Raritan would like some payback.
Sept. 1 - @Ocean, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 - vs. St. John Vianney, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 - vs. Point Boro, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 - @Monmouth, 12 p.m.
Sept. 30 - vs. Matawan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 - @Manasquan, 1 p.m.
Oct. 14 - @Red Bank, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 - vs. Raritan, 7 p.m.