It’s been a while since Toms River South experienced a winning season. You would have to go back to 2013 when, led by current Monmouth University standout Tymere Berry, the Indians went 8-3 and came close to playing for an NJSIAA sectional title. A pair of 5-5 seasons followed, but over the last three years, one of the Shore’s legendary programs has won just seven of 31 games.

Ninth-year head coach Ron Signorino, Jr. hopes the experience many young players picked up last season combined with a more friendly schedule will result in the more frequent ringing of the Detweiler Victory Bell at South home games.

South will still be young again this season with the majority of its 70-man roster made up of juniors and sophomore who were part of two straight strong freshman teams. Despite being smaller in numbers, the senior class has picked up a trio of players who had not played football before and overall the feeling is this will be the most athletic squad the Indians have fielded in years.

However, what pleases Signorino most is the approach the group has taken to the upcoming season.

“This team has been phenomenal with their attendance and their effort,” Signorino said. “I really like this team. They compete in practice every day and are giving great effort.”

The Indians were at times overmatched in the Freedom Division last season but gone are state champions Red Bank Catholic and Long Branch along with Ocean and Red Bank Regional.  They’ve been replaced by Colts Neck, Jackson Liberty, Matawan, and Neptune and the non-division games are ones they should be able to compete in while allowing their young players to gain experience, especially on defense where nine seniors graduated from a group that gave up 30 points per game.

Toms River South's Travis Squire (5), Joshua Odebode (35), Jack Huber (7), Tyler Madeo (2) and Shane Watkins (67).
Photo by Paula Lopez/palimages.com

Player to Watch: Jack Huber, Jr., QB

The Indians had high hopes that Huber (6-foot-3, 175), who played as a freshman, would have a breakout sophomore season but he was lost to a shoulder injury in Week 6. Even before that, he spent way too much time licking his wounds from hits while running the flexbone attack. He will be counted on to both run and pass while also providing leadership, something the honor roll student has picked up quite nicely heading into his junior season.

Signorino has total confidence that Huber is the ideal player to take control of an offense that was shut out three times in 2018 and averaged only 7.5 points per game before scoring 59 in a Thanksgiving Day win over Lakewood.

“He’s had a great camp and in our offense, the quarterback is 50% of what you need,” Signorino said. “He’s the right guy to run it.”

 

Player Under the Radar: Travis Squire, Jr. RB/FS

Following a solid sophomore season, it would be hard to say that Squire is a virtual unknown, but if Signorino has his way every opponent will be well aware of his talents this fall. On offense, he will line up as the slot back and certainly get his share of touches. On defense he will be the free safety and likely be all over the field, making tackles at the line of scrimmage and breaking up passes in the secondary. Don’t be surprised if Squire is the team leader in multiple categories on both sides of the ball.

 

Top Unit: Offensive skill players 

Huber and Squire will have plenty of help when it comes to playmakers on offense. In the flexbone, the A-Back is an important position and the coaching staff is high on senior Jeremy Rose (5-foot-10, 190) who is one of the three upperclassmen who did not play football last year. Another newcomer is slot back Devin Porsch (6-foot, 220) and the third is Rob Marro (6-foot-2, 190) who should help at both wide receiver and cornerback. Seniors Tyler Madeo (6-foot-1) and Julian Sorrell (5-foot-10) will join Marro as the primary wide receivers.

 

Toms River South will be successful if… 

The offensive line gels sooner than later. It was a brand-new group a year ago that struggled and there will be plenty of new faces this season, as well. Shane Watkins, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound junior and Jordan McCormack, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound senior are back and will likely be joined by two other seniors who saw considerable action in Matt Salmons (6-foot-1, 235) and Ben Scrudato (6-foot-1, 215).  Sophomore Josue Tecalero (5-foot-11, 200) could also earn a starting spot on a unit that needs to come together quickly.

 

New Faces on the Defense 

Squire and junior linebacker Gerry Ferrigno (6-foot-, 205) are the only starters who return and the group that starts the season opener will be young and inexperienced. Rose and Porsch, who are running backs on offense, will likely line up as defensive ends with sophomore Isaiah McGelrath (6-foot, 255) in the middle of the line. Senior Josh Odebode, junior Aaron Height and sophomore Wyatt Sterberg all figure to contribute at linebacker with junior Anthony Jonin and sophomore Devin Raevis joining Marro and Squire in the secondary.

 

Will Detweiler Rock This Fall?

In any discussion of the best home-field atmospheres, Toms River South’s venerable Detweiler Stadium deserves to be in the argument. Even when the Indians struggle on the field they shine in the stands thanks to a student body that buys into the tradition, alumni who still know the words to Old Indian Tom, and those who love to talk about the days when Toms River had only one high school. The complex will even look better this season thanks to the addition of a badly needed new turf surface which was installed over the summer at not only South but the other two high schools in the district. In addition, the stadium features the biggest and best press box of any school in the Shore Conference, one that more closely resembles a college than a high school.

 

At a Glance

Head Coach: Ron Signorino Jr., ninth season

Career Record: 32-50

2018 Record: 3-8 (0-5 in Freedom Division)

Assistant Coaches:    

Matt Martin (Def. coord. /DB), Kyle Austin (OL), Joe Kelly (LB), Bill Malast (OL) , Jim Drackowitz (DL) , RJ D’Anton (DB), Brian Elias (WR), Ricky Maldonado (RB), Dennis Tobin (Special Teams/SB), Ron Signorino, Sr. (RB), Dave Fanslau (freshmen) Brett Hardie (freshmen), Trevor Signorino (freshmen), Joey Meyers (freshmen), Dan Crashewsky (athletic trainer).

Offense: Flexbone

Defense: Multiple

Big Shoes to Fill: Jeremy Rose, Sr., RB 

The A-Back is a featured position in the flexbone and Rose will have to fill the void left by the graduated Sam Akinlolu, who was a tough, hard-nosed performer. Described as a fire plug who always goes 100 miles per hour, he will need to find running room in the middle to open things up for Huber and the rest of the offense.          

 

X-Factor: Rob Marro, Sr. WR/CB 

Up to this point, Marro’s contributions to the Indians have come on the basketball court but that could all change this fall.  At 6-2 his jumping ability and athleticism could be a big boost to the passing game while on the other side of the ball he will challenge opposing wide receivers.

 

Impact Newcomers: Jeremy Rose, Sr., RB, Rob Marro, Sr., WR/CB, and Devin Porsch, RB/LB

As previously referenced, all three players will step into starting roles and be counted on to be difference-makers.

 

Pivotal Game: Sept. 13 vs. Toms River East 

You don’t want to make too much of a season-opener but this could be the key game for both teams. The Indians have not won an opener since 2015, and in the rival Raiders find a team very similar to them. East had lost six straight crosstown meetings until last season when they beat South 35-24 in Week 3. While this is the opener for Toms River South it will be the second game for Toms River East, and the winner will likely feel like better times are coming. An Indians victory could be the spark they need to turn things around.

 

Kevin Williams is the Director of the Shore Sports Network and can be reached at kevin.williams@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @shoresportsman. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.

 

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