Titanic Challenge: 2023 Keansburg Football Preview
When a team loses its first six games of the season, as Keansburg did in 2022, the final stretch of the schedule is all about salvaging what is salvageable and creating some momentum looking ahead to the following season.
The good news for Keansburg is the Titans indeed finished 2022 on a positive note, winning their final two games after losing the previous two by a single touchdown each. The bad news is 19 seniors graduated from that team and the remaining and new contributors will have to start from the top this season, which begins Saturday at home vs. Monmouth Regional.
The bad news need not be so bad considering the Titans have a hungry group with the potential to improve, led by six seniors who will make an impact on both sides of the ball.
With four of the five senior starters on the offensive line, Keansburg will have a chance to be strong up front. Tackle Reed Holland and guard John Gilliland will play on the left side of the line, while classmates Julio Elvay and D.J. Deangelo will play right guard and right tackle, respectively. Sophomore center Shawn Retta rounds out the offensive line, which will clear the way for a set of skill players that will be more reliant on juniors and sophomores.
Junior James Valle shifts to quarterback this season and two of his top targets in the passing game will be sophomore Ason Young and juniors Jahzier Wynn and tight end Matt Rock. Senior Jabdiel Borges will also be a factor among the receiving corps and classmate Dominic Terracciano will lead the running game as the tailback. Junior Zion Cooper will also get carries in the running game, which will also lost a non-senior in Dajuan Weems, who transferred to Piscataway for his upcoming junior season.
Holland and Deangelo will also play on the defensive line, with Holland at one tackle and Deangelo at nose guard in Keansburg’s 3-4 look. Junior J.J. Johnson is the other tackle and the Titans will go with speed and youth on the edge with Wynn and sophomore Sha’Born Allen as the outside linebackers. Gilliland and Rock complete the front seven as the inside linebackers.
Young and junior Preston Smith will man the corners and Terracciano and Cooper are set for the safety spots, with Terracciano at strong safety and Cooper the free safety. In all, Keansburg has only two starters on this year’s team who were starters at the dawn of last season: Rock at inside linebacker and Deangelo, who is moving from center to tackle.
With so many new faces in new roles this season, the Titans will have their work cut out for them in getting off to a good start – something that eluded them last season. Coach James Reid and his staff put in the work with last year’s team to get them playing their best at the end of last year and with a schedule that includes six of the eight teams Keansburg played last season, the objective remains the same.
Keansburg at a Glance
Head Coach: James Reid, second season
Career Record: 2-6
2022 Record: 2-6
Coaching Staff: Uriel Morfin (RB/OLB), Greg Altmajer (OL/DL), Ryan Waltz (QB/DB), Nic Vloyanetes (WR/DB), Matt Gillen (TE/ILB), John Thornton (OL/DL), Carly Lewandowski (Athletic Trainer)
Circle the Calendar: Oct. 14 vs. Keyport
Keyport boasts one of the Shore’s most explosive players in running-back-turned-quarterback and Holy Cross commit Nazir Treadwell to go with a solid supporting cast, so Keansburg will be the unofficial underdog in the rivalry game. Whatever the rosters look like, this will be a heated battle, which could resemble the 13-6 slugfest won by Keyport a year ago. The late-season showdown should help a Titans team that is working in a slew of new starters.
Glue Guy: John Gilliland, Sr., G/ILB
On a young, inexperienced team, Gilliland will be a steadying force on both the offensive line and the front seven on defense. Playing guard on offense and inside linebacker on defense will put Gilliland right in the middle of the trenches and Reid trusts his senior to win Keansburg some battles over the course of a game.
Big Shoes to Fill: Dominic Terracciano, Sr., RB/SS
Terracciano will also be a leader for the Titans as he takes over in the backfield for two key players for the Titans a year ago. Weems and former fullback Ryan Comey are both gone, with Weems leaving a playmaking void and Comey a toughness and leadership vacuum. If Terraccianno can step in and provide a little bit of everything on offense, plus some savvy on defense while playing strong safety, Keansburg could stabilize more quickly than expected.
Saturday, Sept. 2 vs. Monmouth, Noon
Friday, Sept. 8 at Jackson Liberty, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 16 at Manchester, Noon
Saturday, Sept. 23 vs. Point Beach, Noon
Friday, Sept. 29 at Haddon Twp., 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 7 at Lakewood, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 14 vs. Keyport, Noon
Saturday, Oct. 21 vs. KIPP Academy, Noon