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Since Cory Davies arrived at Freehold Township prior to the 2015 season, the Patriots have enjoyed their best stretch of football in program history. In 2016, they posted the program’s first winning season in 12 years and the following season they secured the first playoff win in program history.

The challenge, however, has been to sustain that success, and after a down-but-not-out 5-5 year in 2018, Freehold Township suffered a 2-8 campaign last season to finish fifth out of six teams in the Constitution Division. When Davies’ teams at Howell and Freehold Township have had success it has been with a relentless passing attack, and that starts with a standout quarterback. Fortunately for the Patriots, they return a three-year starter who they hope will have his breakout year just when it is needed the most.

Senior Lorenzo Chirichella returns for his third season piloting Freehold Township’s high-octane Air Raid offense. Last season, he threw for 865 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions as the Patriots averaged just 12.3 points per game. Based on what Davies’ offense asks of the quarterback, those numbers need to go way up if Freehold Township is to get back into contention.

Photo by Paul Lopez/palimages.com

“There’s a lot on Lorenzo and he’s a key guy in what we have going on,” Davies said. “Through the years, we’ve had our quarterbacks make a big jump going from their junior to senior year, so we hope that’s the same with him. He’s the pivotal guy and so far he looks like he’s making that adjustment.”

The Air Raid offense will spread teams out with four- and five-receiver sets, so Freehold Township will have a plethora of wideouts taking the field. Senior Matt Cardone is a returning starter and will be joined by seniors Antonio Willis, Joe Zappulla, Thomas Goodman and Brandon Kuse and junior Giacomo Calamita. Senior Matt Arway returns as a starting running back and Davies’ offenses have traditionally utilized the backs a lot in the passing game. Senior Dylan Longo and junior Jaden Morales could also see time in the backfield.

The offensive line is the question mark of the offense with several players working in so far.

Freehold Township has four starters back in its 4-2-5 defense but has to replace three first-team all-division players. Senior Brian Silva returns as a starting defensive end and junior Omar Francis is back at defensive tackle. Their experience should help offset the loss of standout lineman Jarrid Markowitz. The two inside linebackers will both be first-year starters as the Patriots try to fill the void left by Duke Young.

The secondary and the outside linebackers comprise the third level of Freehold Township’s defense and two starters return from that group. Arway returns in the strong safety/outside linebacker hybrid position and Cardone is set to start at cornerback one again. In the defensive backfield, Freehold Township has to replace Brendan Doel, who was a three-year starter and the team’s most versatile player.

The defenses on Davies’ teams at Howell and Freehold Township have never been elite, but they haven’t had to be. It starts and ends with the offense and the quarterback for Freehold Township, so if Chirichella can have a breakout year and harness the potential of the offense, the Patriots will be back in business.

 

At a Glance

Projected starters (RS=returning starter, 3RS=3rd-year returning starter)

Offense: Air Raid

QB: Lorenzo Chirichella, Sr., 3RS

RB: Matt Arway, Sr., RS; Dylan Longo, Sr.; Jaden Morales, Jr.

WR: Matt Cardone, Sr., RS; Antonio Willis, Sr.; Giacomo Calamita, Jr.; Joe Zappulla, Sr.; Thomas Goodman, Sr.; Brandon Kuse, Sr.

LT: Omar Francis, Jr., Joe Juarez, Jr., or Zach Krieg, Jr.

LG: Hunter Bernstein, Jr.

C: Joe Dunleavy, Sr..

RG: Shawn Mesia, Jr. Nasir Burns, Sr.

RT: Brian Silva, Sr.; Joe Juarez, Jr. or Zach Krieg, Jr. also Antonio Martinez, Sr. 

Defense: 4-2-5

DE: Brian Silva, Sr., RS

DT: Omar Francis, Jr., RS

DT: Mike Catalfumo, Sr. or Zach Krieg, Jr. or Antonio Martinez, Sr.

DE: Joe Juarez, Jr.

ILB: Thomas Tocci, Sr.; Jaden Morales, Jr.

ILB: Dylan Longo, Sr.; Quincy Moore, Jr.

SS/OLB: Matt Arway, Sr., RS

SS/OLB: Joe Zappulla, Sr. and Brandon Kuse, Sr.

CB: Matt Cardone, Sr., RS

CB: Multiple players competing

FS: Devin Olesin, Jr.

Special teams

K: Matt Arway, Sr. and Andrew Ackerman, Sr.

P: Lorenzo Chirichella, Sr., RS or Matt Arway, Sr. or Andrew Ackerman, Sr.

 

Head coach: Cory Davies, 6th season (27th overall)

Career record: 121-140

Team record last five years:

2019: 2-8

2018: 5-5

2017: 8-3

2016: 7-3

2015: 4-6

Assistant coaches: Ryan Davies (Offensive Coordinator/QB/DB); Matt Hardison (Defensive Coordinator/DL/OL); Todd Bitsko (WR/LB/JV); Vince Tesi (WR/DL/JV); Ed Von Nessen (WR/DB); Gene Blanco freshmen); Jesse Heubel (freshmen); Mike Verrochi (quality control); Rebekah Bernard (athletic trainer).

 

Player to Watch: Lorenzo Chirichella, Sr., QB 

Chrichella played in a handful of games as a sophomore and became the full-fledged starter last season. He has enough experience leading the offense that a breakout year is expected. If that comes to fruition, the Patriots will be in good shape.

Freehold Township senior quarterback Lorenzo Chirichella. (Photo by Paul Lopez/palimages.com).

 

Player Under the Radar: Giacomo Calamita, Jr., WR

The Patriots’ group of wide receivers is all seniors expect for Calamita, who has been impressive in the preseason and has the potential to become the team’s top wideout.

 

Impact Newcomer: Thomas Goodman, Sr., WR 

Goodman is a possession receiver who Davies likened to a Wes Welker-type of a player who can move the chains and pick up crucial catches. You can never have enough players like that, especially in the Air Raid.

 

Top position group: Wide receivers 

The wideouts are a deep group that includes Matt Cardone, Antonio Willis, Giacomo Calamita, Joe Zappulla, Thomas Goodman and Brandon Kuse. The running backs, Matt Arway, Dylan Longo and Jaden Morales, figure to get plenty of targets, as well.

 

Big Shoes to Fill: Dylan Longo, Sr., ILB and Thomas Tocci, Sr., ILB 

Along with Longo and Tocci you can also add juniors Jaden Morales and Quincy Moore, who are all in the mix for the two standard linebacker spots. Last season, Freehold Township had Duke Young at inside linebacker, who was a first-team All-Constitution Division pick and led the team with 90 tackles.

 

X-Factor: Offensive line

Joe Dunleavy appears to have won the job at center and the rest of the position battles are becoming clearer, but rebuilding the offensive line remains the biggest task facing the Patriots.

“We have about nine guys and we’re going to try to find five,” Davies said. “With that being said, if they can give us protection and Lorenzo can hit the open man, we’ll be okay.”

 

Season Schedule

Friday, Oct. 2 – at Howell, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 9 – vs. Marlboro, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 16 – at Manalapan, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 23 – vs. Colts Neck, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 31 – at Freehold, noon

Friday, Nov. 6 – at Lacey, 6:30 p.m.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.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.