Welcoming the Challenge: 2019 Shore Regional Football Preview
A great senior class that included seven Shore Conference all-division players exited the doors of Shore Regional in June, and for a program that has Group 1 numbers most every year, the challenge to recoup those assets a few months later can be daunting if not impossible.
There’s a reason the Blue Devils have won seven NJSIAA state sectional championships and over a dozen Shore Conference division titles, however. Despite being one of the smaller schools in the conference, Shore has a strong program with deep roots and has shown an ability to rebuild on the fly and remain in contention. The names and faces may change, but the goals do not.
Just two starters return in Shore’s run-heavy Delaware Wing-T offense, but they are two of the top playmakers in the division in junior running back Shane McLaughlin and senior wide receiver Terry Carlstrom. The Blue Devils will have a new quarterback with junior Mike McGhee taking over under center in addition to a completely new offensive line.
Shore’s 4-4 defense is in better shape with five starters back, including Carlstrom and McLaughlin in the secondary and seniors Danny Kelly and Jake Shirley at linebacker.
Adding to the challenge of replacing several key players is the fact that Shore has jumped into a division with Group 2 and Group 3 schools and is now classified as a Group 2 program. After playing previously in Class B Central with longtime Group 1 rivals Asbury Park, Point Beach, Keansburg and Keyport, the Blue Devils faced Pinelands, Mater Dei Prep, Matawan, Jackson Liberty and Barnegat last season. They remain in the Patriot Division for 2019 but will now face a division that includes Barnegat, Monmouth Regional, Ocean, Point Boro, and Raritan. They will face Asbury Park, Holmdel, and Matawan in nondivisional contests.
Player to Watch: Shane McLaughlin, Jr., RB/FS
McLaughlin was Shore’s third option in the backfield last season and ran for 449 yards and six touchdowns on an average of 7.4 yards per carry. He had a team-high 11 total touchdown as he added a receiving touchdown, three return touchdowns, and a defensive touchdown. Shore will add Kelly and Shirley, juniors Dylan Drahos, Trevor Crochet, and Sean O’Brien and promising sophomore Jamie Mazzacco to the backfield rotation, but McLaughlin looks to be the No. 1 back.
Player Under the Rader: Terry Carlstrom, SR., WR/DB
Shore didn’t throw the ball often last year, but when it did it was likely heading Carlstrom’s way. As a sophomore, Carlstrom was a big-play machine for the Blue Devils in averaging 22.3 yards per catch with nine receptions for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 143 yards on 24 carries.
Top Units: Secondary and running backs
Carlstrom is a returning starter at cornerback and will be joined by Crochet. McLaughlin is back as the starting free safety with O’Brien also in the mix. While McLaughlin is the only returning in the backfield, it’s a promising group that gives the Blue Devils depth. Mazzacco (5-9, 175) was highly regarded as a freshman last season and is already a two-sport standout in wrestling and lacrosse. He is certainly a candidate to have a breakout season.
Shore will be successful if…
…It receives solid and consistent performances from its offensive line. Shore will have several new players at the skill positions, including junior quarterback Mike McGhee, but the Blue Devils have never had trouble filling those spots, especially at running back. If the offensive line group of seniors Sam Weber (6-3, 300), Joe Graci (6-1, 275) and Namir Jones (5-10, 275) at tackle, junior Alex Tyler (6-0, 175), senior Matt Ippolitto (6-0, 250) and junior Cade Torres (6-0, 225) at guard, and juniors Nick Soyer (6-0, 220) and Evan Thompson (5-9, 160) at center can mesh quickly the offense will be in good shape.
At a Glance
Head coach: Mark Costantino, 27th season
Career record: 184-94
2018 record: 7-3 (3-2 in Patriot Division)
Assistant coaches: Jon Remedios (OL/DL), Mike Whitacre (OL/DL), Pete Vincelli (RB/DB), Joe Rankin (QB/MLB), Joe Amicucci (athletic trainer).
Offense: Wing T
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Mike McGhee, Jr., QB/ILB
A standout on Shore’s wrestling team, McGhee hopes to have the same impact on the gridiron as a two-way starter this fall. He’ll take over for two-year starter Gil Goldsmith at quarterback after Goldsmith was a Third Team All-Shore selection last season. When he steps onto the field at linebacker he’ll be filling one of the spots left vacant by Jack McCrae, who was another multi-year starter.
Depth is not one of Shore’s strengths, so staying injury free is going to be paramount, especially since the schedule is filled with Group 2 and Group 3 schools. An injury to a top player or losing more than a couple role players could wreck the entire season.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Jamie Mazzacco, So., RB/LB
A standout on the freshman team last season, Mazzacco is a promising young player who Shore will look to on both sides of the ball as a running back and a linebacker. After standout varsity seasons on the wrestling and lacrosse teams, Mazzacco has the look of a three-sport star waiting to break out.
PIVOTAL GAME: Oct. 4 vs. Ocean
Shore and Ocean are rivals by proximity in some sports, but in football they’ve rarely played each other. This year, however, their Week 4 matchup at Feeney Field could very well be for the Patriot Division title.
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.