May 29, 2014 Volume-VI Issue-10
The first thing fans, players, coaches & parents want to know after the big game is always,
”Is this going to be on
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Jersey Shore Cartenter Cup Roster
ELITE Recruits Day Coming in June CBA Outlasts RBC in SCT Semis
12 14 15
8-10 SOUTHERN DOES IT AGAIN
Barnegat Charges Into First SCT Finail James Volpe Foundation Golf Classic Coming June Stumpy’s Corner
Jersey Shore Set for Carpenter Cup The roster for the Jersey Shore
By Scott Stump â€“ Managing Editor
squad is set for the upcoming Carpenter Cup in Philadelphia, which features all-star teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware competing in a 16-team, single-elimination tournament.
The tournament, which began in 1986, will start on June 12, with Jersey Shoreâ€™s first-round game being on June 14 at Ashburn Field in FDR Park in Philadelphia. The championship game is on June 20 at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies. Jersey Shore won the tournament in 1994, 2002 and 2010. The Carpenter Cup team was selected by a committee of Shore Conference coaches representing each of the six divisions in the Shore. Also, a rule change instituted this season by the Carpenter Cup committee has restricted each team to only 12 seniors on the roster.
Toms River South senior outfielder Russell Messler, who is headed to Howard College, a top junior college program in Texas, is a rare three-time Carpenter Cup selection. Also note that the positions are not rigid, as players may be used at other spots and the players listed at designated hitter could also see some time in the field. In addition, some of the players listed as alternates will see action right away because of conflicts for other players in the early rounds of the tournament.
Dan Serreino, Sr., Jackson Liberty Shane McCarthy, Sr., Rumson-FH Evan Lobato, Sr., Brick
Jason Groome, So., Barnegat Luca Dalatri, So., CBA
Chris Murphy, Jr., Colts Neck
Dan Schirmacher, Sr., St. John Vianney
Russell Messler, Sr., Toms River South
TR South senior outfielder Russell Messler
Kyle Cala, Sr., Brick Memorial Matt Cosentino, Sr., Shore
Evan Pietronico, Sr., St. John Vianney
Tyler Kapuscinski, Jr., Colts Neck
Will Morgan, Sr., CBA
John Moschella, Jr., CBA
Morgan Maguire, Jr., Rumson-FH
Tommy Toole, Sr., Manasquan
Matt Kurdewan, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
Joe Silvestrone, Jr., Freehold Township
Joey Rose, So., Toms River North
Dan Wondrack, Jr., Wall
Al Molina, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
Brandon Martorano, So., CBA
Jon Meola, Jr., Toms River East
SECOND BASEMEN Ryan Wares, Sr., Howell
Brendan Madigan, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
Shore Regional's Matt Cosentino
Devin Tomei, Sr., P, Manchester
Anthony Arneth, Jr., P, Central
Nick Cardace, Sr., 1B, Freehold Township
Rob Napolitano, Jr., C, Howell
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Elite Recruits Day Coming in June
By Scott Stump – Managing Editor
Some of the top returning football talent
in the Shore Conference should be on display next month at the annual Shore’s Best Football Camp in Toms River.
The Shore’s Best camp will be held from June 25-28 at Riverwood Park in Toms River, culminating in the fourth annual Chris Melvin Elite Recruits Day on June 28 and Special Teams Solutions camp on the same day.
The Elite Recruits day is invite-only for rising sophomore, junior and senior recruits, and multiple college coaches will be in attendance. Elite Day, run by recruiting analyst Chris Melvin, features one-on-one competitions and combine-like testing (optional) and a media segment. The cost for the June 28 event is $40.
If a player is interested in the event and a spot to compete, contact Chris Melvin (C28melvin@gmail.com) and/or visit www.NJFootballCamp.com.
“Every year the camp has grown and so has my Elite Day,” Melvin said. ” Last year’s event brought in Mike Basile (Brick Memorial) headed to Monmouth University, Alex Thompson (Keyport) headed to Wagner, DeAndre Scott (Imhotep, Pa.) headed to Arizona State, Shaquille Benjamin
(Manchester) headed to Cheyney State, Joey Fields (Monsignor Donovan) headed to Central Connecticut, Daquane BlandBennett (Asbury Park) headed to West Virginia Wesleyan, Justin Gille (St. John Vianney) headed to Lehigh, Kyle Carrington (Monsignor Donovan) headed to Liberty, Otis Kearney (Toms River South), Vincent Grasso (Monsignor Donovan) headed to Monmouth, Julanee Prince (St. John Vianney) headed to Sacred Heart and many others.
Local stars like Brick Memorial safety Mike Basile (left), who was last year’s Defensive Back MVP at the camp and is headed to Monmouth University, and Toms River South defensive back Otis Kearney (right), who is headed to Central Michigan University, were part of last year’s Shore’s Best Camp in Toms River.
The Elite Day award winners at last year’s camp included Thomson at quarterback, rising Brick senior Ray Fattaruso, a first-team All-Shore selection as a junior, at running back, Fields for wide receiver and quickest at the camp, Jackson Memorial’s Marcus Ademilola at tight end, Toms River North rising senior Adam Kakar on the offensive line, Long Branch’s Saquan Gwaltney on the defensive line, first-team All-Shore pick Ken Bradley of Jackson Memorial at linebacker, Basile at defensive back, Bland-Bennett as the
fastest and Manalapan rising senior Mike Caggiano, a firstteam All-Shore pick, won the honors as the camp’s top kicker. “(Shore’s Best camp director) Shawn Kennish has run and fine-tuned this camp for the past seven years and my Elite Day along with the Special Teams Solutions have become a bonus to an already established camp.”
Colt-Casey Classic: CBA Outlasts RBC in SCT Semis W hile Christian Brothers Academy sophomore right-hander Luca Dalatri
By Matt Manley – Senior Staff Writer
said he had every intention of pitching a potential ninth inning in Wednesday’s Shore Conference Tournament semifinal against Red Bank Catholic and senior flamethrower Al Molina, he also acknowledged that exceeding 130 pitches might have been where he and his coaching staff drew the line.
It never came to that, because before Red Bank Catholic could push Dalatri to his limit, CBA finally pushed Molina to his.
n a bases-loaded ground ball to first by designated hitter Trey Nelson, courtesy runner Brendan Shaw slid home with the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat a wide throw to the plate and the Colts beat the Caseys, 2-1, in a classic pitching showdown. CBA will now take on Barnegat in the SCT championship game at 8 p.m. on Sunday at FirstEnergy Park.
Dalatri emerged the winner among the two aces, tossing an eight-inning complete game while allowing five hits and three walks to go with 10 strikeouts.
“It’s every pitcher’s dream to compete in a game like that in an environment like this,” said Dalatri, referring to the packed perimeter at Count Basie Park for the second game of the SCT double-header between Monmouth County non-public rivals. “No pitcher wants to pitch in 10-0 games all the time. You want to pitch in those 1-0 and 2-1 games where every pitch is important and one pitch can mean the game.” Molina struck out his 13th batter of the game to begin the bottom of the eighth on his 112th pitch, but battled control problems the rest of the way. CBA loaded the bases with one out on two walks that book-ended a hit batter. Nelson – the No. 9 hitter – worked the count to 3-and-1 and punched a ground ball to first base, but Doug Facendo’s throw home was low and to the outside of plate, too much so for catcher Mike Alescio to handle it.
“When you see a guy warming up in their bullpen and you see the way he was starting to lose his control, he probably didn’t have a whole lot left,” said Colts junior Griffin Arnott, who was hit twice by Molina and drove in the Colts’ first run in the second. “He was so good all game long and we all know the kind of competitor Al is that he was going to take the ball until someone ripped it out of his hands. We still didn’t really hit him, but he lost the plate just long enough to give us a chance.”
Sophomore right-hander Luca Dalatri
VOLUME-VI fastball all day.”
Molina allowed only two hits to go with the 13 strikeouts, but also hit four batters and walked five in 7 1/3 innings.
Molina made his biggest pitch of the game one half-inning before Dalatri’s 10th strikeout. CBA got runners to second and third with two out and first baseman and clean-up hitter John Moschella coming up. Moschella battled to a 3-and-2 count, but Molina broke off a slider down and in that induced a swinging strike three from the lefthanded hitter.
“I was never going to take him out (in the eighth),” said Red Bank Catholic coach Buddy Hausmann, who went to the mound to visit Molina once in the seventh and again in the eighth with the bases loaded and Nelson coming up. “I was just out there to talk to my defense. We all knew this was his game and that’s the way he wanted it. He’s a senior, and he’s been a great player for us. He deserved the ball there.” Dalatri threw 113 pitches for the complete game and ended his night in resounding fashion – a swinging strikeout of Caseys clean-up hitter Matt Kurdewan to end a 20-pitch eighth inning and give him his 10th punchout.
RBC threatened in the top of the seventh when Alescio led off with his second single of the game and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Tom Merlo. Facendo smacked a line drive to right field with one out, but Colts right fielder Will Morgan tracked it down for the second out. Dalatri responded by striking out left fielder Chris Bender to end the threat.
Sophomore catcher Brandon Martorano
“Coach (Marty Kenney) told me going out for the seventh that this was going to be it and when he came to me before the eighth, I said ‘There’s no way I’m coming out of this game,’” said Dalatri, who has completed eight of his nine starts after Wednesday’s complete game. “This is the reason I put in the work that I do in the offseason. I want to be strong so I can finish games like this.
“It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment and sometimes it’s better to just let it all out, especially in a situation like that. I felt really strong all game, especially in the eighth inning. That last batter was probably my best
“With the way he (Moschella) has been swinging the bat, I was figuring they might walk him,” Kenney said. “When they didn’t, I’m thinking to myself, ‘Well, this is the guy we want up here.’ I trust John Moschella a lot in those situations, but Molina made a tough pitch in a situation where we tell our guys to be ready to hit.”
CBA scored first on an RBI fielder’s choice by Arnott in the second inning. RBC tied it in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Merlo that scored Molina. Alescio went 2-for-2 with a walk against Dalatri and singled to right field on a hit-and-run to push Molina to third base during the fourth-inning rally.
Dalatri had one of the two CBA hits and the other was a bunt single by Moschella, who also walked and flied out to the edge of the warning track in right field.
Before they can worry about the SCT final, CBA and Barnegat will host NJSIAA Tournament games on Friday, with CBA playing St. John Vianney in the South Jersey, NonPublic A semifinals and Barnegat taking on Buena in the South Jersey Group II championship.
“I just think we’re playing like a team that wants to keep playing,” Kenney said. “When we weren’t playing well during the middle of the season, you could just sense that there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm to go out and play every day, and as a coach, you don’t know if it’s ever going to show up. Since we’ve been playing in the tournaments, we’ve had that energy that’s been missing.” “Any chance we have to put more balls on the wall, we’re going to go for it with everything we have,” Arnott said, referring to the baseball-shaped banners that the Colts hang on the outfield fence at their home field to commemorate a championship. “We already got one with the Monmouth County Tournament and as long as we’re alive for two more, our mentality is to get ready for the next game and try to stay alive.”
Matt Manley www.shoresportsnetwork.com File Photo by:
ld Bridge did the unthinkable in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV semifinals when it held Southern’s scoring machine, Dylan Jinks, without a single point. His teammates had his back in that game, rallying in the fourth quarter to thrust the Rams into the sectional final. On May 24 on Emmert Field, Jinks returned the favor with a redeeming and clutch performance.
With the South Jersey Group IV title game between top-seeded Southern and third-seeded Lenape in sudden-victory overtime, Jinks blasted a shot from the left side past Indians goalie Manny D’Allesio 1:03 into the extra session, giving the Rams an 11-10 victory and their second straight South Jersey Group IV championship. Two days after being held scoreless for the first time all season, Jinks scored five times and assisted on four other goals to return Southern to the Group IV title game.
“Dylan did not play well the last game and he got shut out, and he took it as a personal mission he was not going to be denied today,” said Southern head coach John Pampalone. “He showed today he’s a special player.”
“I was a little upset off the Old Bridge game,” Jinks, who finished with a Shore Conference-record 93 goals this season, said after the game. “I like scoring goals, but it’s not all about me. All that matters is we get the victory. As a team, we don’t have a quitting mentality.” Southern (20-3) went on to fall 10-6 to Junior Dylan Jinks
By Bob Badders – Senior Staff Writer
Westfield in the Group IV championship game on May 28, but with back-to-back sectional titles and a strong group led by Jinks coming back next year, the Rams are knocking on the door of becoming the first Shore Conference boys lacrosse team to win a Group title.
After scoring three unanswered goals to take a 10-9 lead into the fourth quarter against Lenape, Southern held that advantage into the latter stages of the fourth quarter. But with 3:39 left in regulation, Lenape netted the equalizer on Andrew Streilein’s third of the game. Lenape had one final possession in the fourth quarter, but Southern junior goalie Brendan Lefanto made a body save along the left post to send the game into overtime.
“My heart was racing a mile a minute,” Jinks said. “When he made that save I knew going into overtime we had a great chance.”
Senior face-off specialist Billy Dowd and his 77 percent efficiency have been a huge weapon for Southern’s high-powered offense. His clean win and goal directly off a draw late in the third quarter gave Southern a 10-9 lead, and he once again secured a crucial possession in overtime. On this one, he needed some help, though. After winning the ball back into his own end, Dowd and his teammates scrambled for the ground ball. Eventually junior midfielder Shawn McManus came out of the pack with the ball, and Southern immediately called timeout.
Southern’s strategy was simple: take the first quality chance that presented itself. After a successful clear into the offensive end, the Rams set up for the game-winner. They worked the ball around twice before Mullen settled it behind the net. He sent a pass ahead to Jinks on the left side of the box and the junior did what he had already done four times in the game and countless times throughout his career. His rocket of a shot beat D’Allesio up high and set off the celebration.
Mullen said. “We came in today knowing we were going to beat them.”
“I saw the pole was a little slow closing out, and I had a couple of goals like that already,” Jinks said. “I was going to try to wrap it around the defender and get something going. It hit the back of the net and it was the greatest feeling ever.”
The victory for Southern came differently than all of its season’s biggest prior wins. The Rams didn’t have to mount a fourth-quarter rally as they did in wins over CBA, Barnegat and Old Bridge, and it wasn’t a blowout like most of their other wins. The score was tight from the start with neither team holding more than a two-goal edge the entire game. Jinks got the scoring started at 9:56 of the first quarter with a blast from the top of the box, but Scott Fayan dodged and scored to tie the score at one exactly two minutes later.
At 7:08, Jinks found Mullen with a pass to the middle of the box, and the senior finished to give Southern a 2-1 lead. Brandon Sweder knotted the score at two for Lenape when he curled around the net and scored at 3:16, but Jinks helped forge the go-ahead goal when he picked up a ground ball near the midfield line and found Nick Simonelli on the crease for a goal with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
Andrew Streilein tied it for
“We just wanted the best shot we could get,” Pampalone said. “At times we tried to slow it down because (Lenape’s) offensive possessions were so long and our defense was getting a little tired. But in overtime, we said the first good shot, we’re going to take it. Great players make great shots, and Dylan Jinks is a great player.”
In winning their second straight sectional title, the Rams also exacted some revenge on Lenape (14-8) for an 8-6 defeat in the season-opener for both teams.
“It was lurking every single second since we stepped off the field after that loss,” Jinks said. “We hoped we saw them in an important game, and it turned out that way.”
“Losing 13 seniors off last year’s team, we came into the Lenape game in the beginning of the season not knowing what kind of team we were,”
SC oon t u thern inued on page 10
Southern Continued from page 9
Lenape at 8:23 of the second quarter, but Southern then scored twice to take a 5-3 lead. Jinks fed Simonelli for a goal directly off the ensuing Dowd face-off win at 8:15, then Jinks scored with another long-distance howitzer at 5:50. Lenape would rally, however, with a pair of goals from
Justin Holl in a span of 1:56 to take a 6-5 lead at halftime.
“The way (Lenape) runs its offense we were having trouble getting the matchups we needed,” Pampalone. “The middies had to step up and play both sides of the ball.
Brunetti pushed the Indians’ lead to 7-5 when he finished off a great pass from Tim Montgomery at 8:00 of the third, but Southern answered when McManus squeaked one past D’Allesio on the short side at 6:56, and Jinks whipped another outside shot into the upper corner at 5:32.
The back-and-forth battle continued with Lenape re-taking the lead, 9-7, on goals by Streilein and Brunetti at 4:36 and 3:44, respectively. Jinks pulled Southern to 9-8 with his fourth goal, again by sending a missile past D’Allesio. With 1:05 left in the third, Jinks froze the Lenape defense by faking a shot from high in the box, then feeding senior Brian Dunphey at the crease for an easy equalizer. Dowd gave the Rams the lead by winning the face-off and going in uncontested with 51 seconds left. “My coaches were telling me they weren’t going to slide to me, and most of the year I couldn’t shoot because of my (injured) ankle,” Dowd said. “The scouting report on the goal was he’s not good low, so I put it low and hoped it went in.”
“He took a nice shot in the beginning of the game and the goalie made a nice save,” Jinks said. “We knew if he got that opportunity again he was going to bury it.”
Connor Wolfe and a go-ahead tally by
We challenged them at halftime and they stepped up to the challenge.”
Senior face-off specialist Billy Dowd
Photos & Video by:
Bob Badders www.shoresportsnetwork.com
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Barnegat Charges Into 1 st SCT Final By Matt Manley – Senior Staff Writer
E ver since losing the Ocean County Tournament championship
game to Central Regional on May 13, the Barnegat baseball team has been reaching uncharted territory with each of its seven straight wins.
While rolling through a number of program firsts on the way to Wednesday’s Shore Conference Tournament semifinal against Wall, there is one first that has continued to elude Barnegat: a loss to a team outside of its division.
Junior John Corbett threw a five-hit shutout after his offense jumped on Wall for two unearned runs in the top of the first and the Bengals held off the Crimson Knights, 2-0, to win their eighth straight and advance to their first SCT final on Sunday at FirstEnergy Park against Christian Brothers Academy. The win also clinches Barnegat its first 20-win season (20-8) and improves the Bengals’ record against teams outside of the Shore Conference Class B South division to 11-0. “We’ve said all along that this group has a chance to be special,” Barnegat coach Dan
McCoy said. “The only thing we lacked was the experience in big games. We’ve had to take some tough losses, and we went through a bad stretch for about two weeks, but the important thing is our guys learned from it and never stopped believing in their ability.” Prior to this season, Barnegat – which played its first season of varsity baseball in 2007 – had never reached a tournament championship game of any kind. With Wednesday’s win, the Bengals guaranteed an appearance in a third championship game this season. In addition to the SCT final and the loss in the OCT final earlier this month, Barnegat will host Buena in Friday’s NJSIAA South Jersey Group II championship.
“There were definitely some nerves in the OCT final against Central, and I think they probably got the better of us,” Corbett said. “Since that game, we’ve been playing our best baseball of the season and now we’re going into these games knowing what a championship game is like and knowing exactly how we have to approach it.” The Bengals have been nearly perfect this tournament season despite a 7-7 record in Class B South, which tied them for fourth place with OCT champion Central. They are 13-1 overall
Junior right-hander John Corbett
VOLUME-VI outside the division, with a 2-1 record in tournament games against fellow B South teams.
Corbett kept his defense busy by walking only one and not recording a strikeout. The Bengals made two errors, but also picked up Corbett a number of times, most notably on a play by freshman shortstop Aaron McLaughlin in the bottom of the sixth. Wall third baseman and No. 3 hitter Ryan Orender drilled an eye-level line drive back toward Corbett to lead off the Wall sixth. Corbett deflected the line drive just enough to slow it down and redirect it toward the shortstop side of second base, where McLaughlin flagged it down and threw out Orender on the run for the first out of the sixth.
“That was a key inning for us to get through the heart of their order, so to get that first out was huge,” Barnegat junior catcher Nik Fraim said. “We knew they had a good hitting team, and we focused on moving the ball in and out to their hitters and keeping the ball down. Corbett executed the pitches like he always does and the defense made the plays.” While sophomore left-hander Jason Groome has garnered most of the acclaim for his dominant performance this season, Corbett has also established himself as a solid starter on a 20-win team. With his shutout Wednesday, the junior right-hander improved to a team-best 6-1 (tied with Groome) while lowering his earned-run average to 1.53 and his walks-plus-hits-perinnings pitched (WHIP) to 1.11.
“I was hurt for a lot of last year and I only pitched a little bit,” Corbett said. “We knew we had Jason and (junior) Seamus (Brazill), and I just wanted to show the coaches that I could be someone who goes out and gives the team a chance to win. We have a lot of those guys right now and I’m glad I get a chance to be one of them.”
“He didn’t have his curveball today,” McCoy said of Corbett. “Usually, that curveball is the big pitch for him because he can get an out with it and also keep guys off balance, but today, he had to pitch without it at times and that speaks volumes of his composure and his competitiveness. To go out and shut out a team like that without a full arsenal is impressive.” Barnegat scored twice in the first inning thanks to four Wall errors that followed back-to-back singles by center fielder Ryan Ulrich and Fraim to start the game. Sophomore Jared Kacso chopped a misplayed grounder to the left side to score Ulrich with the game’s first run.
Wall got an out on the play when catcher Dan Wondrack threw out courtesy runner Max Rittner attempting to advance to third, but Barnegat added another run when Wondrack’s throw to third on a double-steal went into left field, allowing Kacso to score. Wall seniors Tim Willey and Matt Tancredi both singled in the bottom of the seventh, but Corbett induced a fly out from leadoff hitter and shortstop Chris Barcas to end the game with the tying run on first. Wall did not advance a
runner farther than second base against Corbett.
Wall senior right-hander Tyler Swiggart allowed only one infield hit and a hit batter after the two singles by Ulrich and Fraim. After an infield single by Fraim to lead off the third, Swiggart retired the final 15 batters he faced, finishing with no earned runs on three hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
“For the last couple of weeks, we’ve come to play every game,” McCoy said. “We’re not always going to score a ton of runs, especially against a quality pitcher like (Swiggart), but we’re competing hard, our pitchers are throwing strikes and we’re making the plays. With the way we’re playing, if we score runs, I like our chances.”
Matt Manley www.shoresportsnetwork.com
James Volpe Foundation Golf Classic Coming June 16th
By Scott Stump – Managing Editor
he third annual James Volpe Foundation Golf Classic is coming next month to help raise money to support local charities and fund four scholarships for local high school students.
The James Volpe Foundation was created in memory of former Jackson Memorial outfielder James Volpe, who died at 18 years old in a car crash in May of 2011. In the past three years, the foundation has awarded numerous scholarships, supplied holiday gifts and food to families suffering financial hardships, supported a SADD chapter at Jackson Memorial High School, donated to local Little Leagues to allow several dozen children to play baseball from families with financial hardships, donated to Children’s Specialized Hospital and more.
This year’s golf outing will be on June 16 at Pine Barrens Golf Club in Jackson. There will be a shootout competition, closest-to-the-pin contest, awards, presentations and silent gift auctions. The golf portion of the outing begins with registration at 10:30 a.m., with lunch served at noon. A shotgun start will begin at 12:30 p.m., with dinner at 5:30. The field is limited to 120 golfers and last year’s event sold out, so it’s a good idea to sign up early to reserve your spot.
Entry fees are $200 per golfer which includes a gift bag, lunch, 18 holes of golf and dinner. There are also platinum ($1,500), gold ($1,000), silver ($500) and bronze ($250) sponsorships available for the outing, which entitles your
company or business to opportunities such as a banner sporting your company logo on the golf course. Platinum and gold also include a golf foursome and other perks.
For those who can’t make it to the golf portion, you can still reserve a seat for the buffet dinner at 5:30 for $40 per seat. For more information on sponsorships or to make golf or dinner reservations, please contact Linda Russo at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 4360975 by June 12. You can also visit the James Volpe Foundation website for additional information, buying into the golf event or to take a tour of past year’s successful events.
This year the foundation was able to add an additional scholarship for incoming freshmen at Kean University, which is where Volpe was committed to attend before his tragic death.
VOLUME-VI accomplished coach, as Hall of Famer Mike Ciccotelli, Mark’s older brother, retired after 36 seasons, 231 wins and six NJSIAA sectional titles with the Red Raiders. They had yet to name a new coach at the end of May. One of Ciccotelli’s former assistants, Jay Graham, has replaced Frank Papalia as the head coach at Holmdel after Papalia stepped down during the offseason. Graham was also previously the head wrestling coach at Holmdel.
The coaching carousel has been spinning wildly during this offseason of Shore Conference football, with five new coaches already named and four more programs entering June without head coaches. The most surprising aspect has been the timing of many of the changes. Four coaches resigned in May, which is unusually late in the scholastic year considering most teams like to have an offseason plan in place to get ready to go the instant the summer hits in order to be prepared for camp in August. The programs entering the summer without having approved new head coaches yet are already behind the eight-ball when it comes to preparation. It also can limit the school’s choice of replacements, as many prospective coaches might already have their plans set for the fall. When preseason camps start, there will be nine Shore teams with new head coaches – Colts Neck, Howell, St. John Vianney, Holmdel, Neptune, Wall, Asbury Park, Keyport and Manchester. Class A South is the only division in the Shore that has not had any turnover since last season ended. Two coaches, Mark Ciccotelli and Nick Gregorio, left their respective programs to take jobs at other schools. Ciccotelli, who guided Neptune to a Central Jersey Group III title in 2011 and a final appearance in 2012, is now the head coach at St. John Vianney. Gregorio, whose Wall team went 3-7 with a state playoff appearance last fall, is now the head coach at Dover High School up in Morris County. Keyport will be replacing the most
Neptune has hired Ciccotelli’s replacement, Rodney Taylor, who played for the Scarlet Fliers and was a freshman coach on Ciccotelli’s staff the past three years. Taylor has been a teacher and a coach at the school for eight years and looks to keep the Scarlet Fliers among the Shore’s top teams. Wall is expected to approve Dan Curcione as Gregorio’s replacement. Curcione was the defensive coordinator for the Crimson Knights last season and previously served the same role at Toms River North.
Former Toms River South head coach Bill Hill is the new head coach at Asbury Park, replacing Keith Killea, who stepped down after leading the Blue Bishops to a 7-4 season and the Central Jersey Group I semifinals in his first and only year as the head coach. Gerard O’Donnell, who led Manchester to one of only two state playoff appearances in school history during his tenure, stepped down in May, and the Hawks had not named a new coach by the end of the month. One of the more surprising resignations in May was Colts Neck’s Greg LaCava, who led the Cougars to a school-record 10 wins and their first NJSIAA sectional final in the fall, where they fell to Brick in the Central Jersey Group IV championship game. He presided over the best stretch of Colts Neck football in history, as they won nine games in 2012 and reached the sectional semifinals. Another vacancy in Class A North is at Howell, where Derek Reichenbecher stepped down after two seasons with the Rebels.
The one common theme is that the coaches who decided to step down without another job in hand gave the usual generic reasons on
the record (“more time with family,” “it was time”) because in this climate they have to be careful what they say in case they want to look for another coaching job. Also, most of these coaches are teachers, so they know if they badmouth the administration on the way out the door, it could spell trouble for their livelihood. There is usually a drastic difference between the on-therecord and off-therecord accounts of why they are leaving.
The general sense is that the Shore Conference, like countless other places in this country, is becoming more and more cutthroat. Coaches are given a few years to win, and if it doesn’t happen or doesn’t seem like the right fit, they’re gone, regardless of whether the program has a winning tradition or no tradition. Also, Mark Ciccotelli many Board of Education members seems to have heavier input into the comings and goings of coaches than in recent memory. Rather than letting the athletic director and others make the call, BOE members often have their favorites picked out from the beginning. A simple change among administration or on the BOE could spell doom for a coach who doesn’t want to leave of his own accord. It also results in situations like coaches resigning late in the school year, which immediately puts the program behind and makes it more difficult for the next guy to come in and get up to speed in time. It also means that very few coaches in the Shore are fully secure in their jobs, no matter what their accomplishments.
Will coaching changes in May become a normal thing now? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out. For now, it’s worth keeping an eye on the programs that have had such late changes of leadership and staff to see if it sets them back on the field.
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