September 17, 2012 Volume-IV Issue-16
3 Ao fr mt hy eT eWaeme k Soccer Rule 4 Academy Affects the Shore
Time to Make it Happen
Singh-ing 1 0 Endorsement Shore Reg. Sends 1 1 Early Message Lacey's Vircillo 1 4 Gets Win No. 250"
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September 17 , 2012 Vo l u m e - I V I I s s u e - 1 6
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New For This Season
In conjunction with All Shore Media, The US ARMY will honor one team a week that showed the character, perseverance and hard work emblematic of The US ARMY during its performance that weekend. An ARMY Game Ball will be presented to that team during practice that week in honor of a great showing.
Week-1 9/7/12 Rumson 13 Shore 10 The inaugural Army Strong Team of the Week for 2012 is Rumson-Fair Haven, which showed all the qualities of a tightknit team in a hard-fought, 13-10 comeback win in overtime against rival Shore Regional in the season opener. The Bulldogs endured miscues and a key injury without pointing fingers or getting down on one another to finally find a way. After junior kicker Jake D'Amelio missed a 21-yard field goal in the first half, his teammates boosted him up on the sidelines, and he bounced back to make a game-tying 29-yard field goal as time expired in regulation and then
fourth quarter to keep the game-tying drive alive. The Bulldogs also overcame several other key drops and kept fighting. Senior running back Conor Walsh, who had an outstanding game with 136 yards rushing, left the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter, and senior Travis Clark stepped up in his place with Rumson-Fair Haven head coach Shane Fallon and his team are honored by Sgt. Smith of the U.S. Army as the Army Strong Team of several big runs, the Week for Week One. including converting a fourth-and-1 in the final seconds to help set hit a 36-yarder in overtime to win the game. up D'Amelio's field goal. The victory also After junior wideout Sam Shaud dropped was the 100th win of head coach Shane what could have been a game-winning Fallon's career, making him Rumson-Fair touchdown pass in the end zone in the Haven's career wins leader by passing fourth quarter, his teammates told him to former longtime coach Joe Rosati, who had shake it off, and he made a sensational, 3499 wins. yard catch on fourth-and-10 late in the
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Varsity Blues: Academy Soccer Rule Affects High School Programs I
By Matt Manley - Staff Writer
f there is anyone in the Shore Conference familiar with the relationship between the high school soccer game and the game taught by United States Soccer Federation Youth Developmental Academies, it is Colts Neck head coach Art Collier.
Over the last four seasons, Collier has seen players shuttle in and out of his program while honoring various academy soccer commitments, including Rutgers University freshman Ross Tetro, his brother and current Colts Neck junior Brandon Tetro, and senior Alex Ramos, the son of former U.S. Soccer and New York-New Jersey Metro Stars standout Tab Ramos. “I always had a good relationship with the academy coaches because there was communication,” Collier said. “If there was ever a conflict between the two teams, I always knew about it, they always knew about it, and we made it work without any problems.” Prior to this year, the relationship between the high school team and the academy team was a working one in which the player had the option of playing on any team he pleased and the responsibility of balancing whichever commitments he made. For this first time ever this season, the academies are taking the initiative and making the decision for the soccer players of New Jersey.
USSF director Claudio Reyna – a standout at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark prior to his professional career – informed the participating Holmdel's Zach Bond
academies in the USSF program this winter that its players would not be allowed to play high school soccer while simultaneously training with the club teams. The fallout of the decision is one Collier has become accustomed to dealing with, but now coaches all over the Shore Conference are feeling his pain for the first time.
“There’s nothing necessary about it,” Collier said. “The stated reason for the policy is to improve the U.S. National Team. The real reason behind it is money. It’s dollars. It’s a stream of income for people who want to coach the game who don’t play it anymore.”
Among the primary academies in compliance with the USSF policy are the Red Bulls Developmental Academy, the Players Development Academy (PDA), Matchfit Academy and New Jersey Developmental Academy (NJSA), which is run out of Matawan by Tab Ramos.
Ramos’ son, Alex, played for Collier at Colts Neck for three years and will miss his senior year while playing for NJSA. “Having spoken to him, Tab supports high school soccer,” Collier said. “From the discussions we’ve had, he’s not in love with the policy, but he’s obviously going to comply. Alex has been a pleasure to coach for three years and I wish him the
best, along with Brandon Tetro, Jake Areman and Jake Connors. It’s not their fault they can’t play with us.”
While no two academies are identical, most do not train every day of the week – a key point made by Reyna in a letter to the clubs this past winter in trying to convey that youth players play too much soccer – and practices are generally in the early evening. The schedule of the academy training is a point of contention for coaches who believe that a high school student’s time would be better served doing something school related rather than to have an idle 2-3 hours between the end of school and the beginning of soccer training.
“You’re going to have kids leaving school at two o’clock and what are they going to do? Go home and watch TV? Play video games?,” posited Toms River North coach Joe Mahon, whose team lost four players to the new policy. “A lot of them will probably go watch the high school game that they could have been playing in. Instead of letting a kid be a part of the team and spend his time productively after school, they’d rather the kid just sit around waiting for academy practice to start. It makes no sense.”
Wall coach Garry Linstra lost only one player – senior Connor Nichols – to a soccer academy and he is used to losing potential players due to the reach of private institutions like Christian Brothers Academy and St. Rose. Linstra, however, has his concerns about the rule, particularly the message it sends about the perceived qualifications of the high school coaches throughout the state.
Varsity Blues Continued on Page 7
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What’s The Big Deal?
By Adam Feit - Director of Sports Performance (RYPT) s the weather cools down and athletes return back to school, we remember the excitement of fall sports; the smack of the field hockey stick, the almost acrobatic ball handling of the soccer ball, and the electrifying crowds of a Friday night football game. It will be easy to see who prepared themselves during the summer for the rigors and demands of these months. Many athletes will strive to stay strong and healthy to make a lasting impact on their team…to make a playoff run or win the Shore Conference. With great coaching and playing comes great training, and the best teams have the perfect combination of both.
But where does training fit in? Many sport coaches focus their efforts solely on improving their sport. It makes sense, doesn’t it? The season is here, so we need to practice, practice, practice! With limited hours and daylight being stolen each and everyday, coaches want to milk everything they can out of their kids to maximize their performance on game day. Parents will manage their children’s schedules to make sure the homework gets done and there are plenty of snacks and pasta dinners ready for them the
Contact: Steven Meyer 732-233-4460
night before the games. By the end of the night, our athletes have gone to school for more than half the day, practice or played up to three hours, attempted to eat dinner while finishing more hours of homework and
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possibly a part time job. What else is their time for?
Ask yourself this: Why would I allow myself (or son/daughter) to become weak, gain/lose weight, become slow and increase the risk of injury during the most important time of the year, which is the inseason? It’s unfortunate, but many athletes work so hard during the off-season to improve all of their performance variables only to see them go away because of a lack of in-season training. Remember, it doesn’t matter how big, strong and fast you are if you are sitting on the bench due to injury or lack of performance!
In the next five articles, we will explore what we call our “Five Pillars of Performance” and how they still need to be trained, even during the in-season. They include strength, power, movement (speed/agility/conditioning), nutrition, and recovery. A progressive and scientifically researched program, written and coached by certified strength and conditioning coaches can have you or your children starting strong and finishing fast, even late into the post-season. Stay tuned for the next article as we discuss what strength really is and why it’s important for your success.
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Varsity Blues Continued from Page 4
“Connor Nichols can’t play for his high school soccer team, but he can go play for the basketball team in the winter,” Linstra said. “And I’m glad he can and he should be able to play basketball just like a kid should be allowed to play baseball or lacrosse, or whatever, but it sends a message that there is lack of faith in the high school game and the high school coaches, which I think is kind of silly considering so many of the guys who coach at the Shore have played in major college programs and in some cases professionally. You’re not going to find much better coaching than some of the guys who are around this area, so there has to be something else there.”
According to many of the high school coaches like Collier, that something is the money. With the exception of the Red Bulls Academy, all of the academies in N.J. charge dues, most in the range of $2,000 to $5,000 per year, according to most estimates. The attraction for high school players is the forum of strong competition in which they can perform for college coaches and while the league dues may be worth it for many of the high-level players, they may also be an excessive expense for parents of players who will end up losing out on playing time to players who are better or, as some speculate, have paid dues over a longer period of time.
ASM / 7 Penn State. “If you’re in that group of kids, you’re fine, but if you’re not in the top 10 kids in the academy and you’re fighting for playing time, who do you think is going to get the benefit of the doubt? The kid whose parents have been paying dues since he was nine or the one who just made the team? It’s the nature of the beast when you’re dealing with pay-to-play. They’re serving a different master than the high school coach is.”
exception to the rule so the current group of high school players could keep playing,” Linstra said. “You make it so that, starting with the class of 2016, no player can play high school and with an academy. That way you’re not taking anything away from the kids, and in that case, there wouldn’t be as much uproar and you wouldn’t make so much ill will.”
Gillen welcomed back his senior captain, Buddy Gibbons, who considered playing for NJSA instead of for the Raiders this season. Gibbons’ decision, along with the decisions of some of the Shore’s top returning players like Zach Bond of Holmdel, Kevin Tonkovich of Lacey and Vinny Ignatowicz of Toms River South, reflect a still-pervasive feeling among high school athletes that playing for one’s high school still does mean something to many.
“Buddy is like a kid again,” Gillen said. “He’s happy to be playing with his friends and he doesn’t have to worry about the decision. Maybe some other kids who chose the academies feel that way, but I know for a lot of them, high school soccer was a chance to represent their town and to walk through the halls at school and have other kids acknowledge them for accomplishing something on the field.”
By the same token, Mahon fears that in the event that his team – which is off to a 21 start through Sept. 15 – has a great season, his former players will end up watching postseason games in late October and early November and lament being left out of the high school game.
“Those guys still go to school, and “Academies float the they’re still friends with the players who Division I scholarship in are still here,” Mahon said. “If we make a front of these kids and run, they’re going to feel like they missed unfortunately, most of them out on something. They’ll be watching from and most of their parents the stands, wishing they could be out there, don’t realize just how few playing for a championship with their of those scholarships there Holmdel goalie Mitch Walier friends and for their school. And the sad are out there,” Collier said. thing is, it doesn’t have to be like that.” “The fact of the matter is that most of the kids who end up where they do would As the USSF attempts to streamline its player have ended up there anyway without going through all the development, fewer players will have the high school trouble.” game taken away because it will never have been an option. For the players in the middle of the tug-o-war “In some cases these clubs are carrying 30 players, and right now, however, a better course of action could have every club has their high-level kids who are going to play,” said Toms River East coach Ted Gillen, who played made the transition easier, according to Linstra. for the Metrostars after starring at Toms River East and “What they should have done is grandfathered in an
Holmdel's Zach Bond
In all, 24 players who have played on a varsity team in the Shore Conference in a prior season or seasons are not playing this year in order to honor an academy commitment. In addition to those 24, Christian Brothers Academy – which had eight players on its all-senior 2011 team earn a scholarship to play in an NCAA Division I program – lost three players from its program to the academy rule.
“Under these rules, you may never have seen a team like the one we had last year,” said 35th-year head CBA coach Dan Keane, referring to a 2011 team that went 21-0-0 while winning the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship. “Those kids grew up playing together and maybe they would have decided to play for CBA anyway, but I’m sure a lot of them would have decided to play with their academy.” Quantitatively speaking, Colts Neck, Toms River North and Howell suffered the heaviest losses, with each program losing four players to the rule. Toms River North and Howell lost four starters from last year’s teams.
“I don’t know what soccer around the state is going to look like,” Collier said. “I just know that we’re moving on, and I’m sure everyone else is, too. We’re fortunate to have a lot of players in our program who have experienced the academies and have played with some of those top- level kids at our practice. Our expectations don’t change, and I think that even if the level of play suffers, you’ll still see kids getting opportunities and making the most of them. “You hope that happens. That would be the good to come out of this.”
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“This has been the greatest experience of my life,’’ Belford said.
acey wide receiver Bill Belford and Red Bank Catholic tailback Jesse Flaherty are doing their best to make up for lost time. Both have missed the past two seasons and are playing their one and only year of varsity football. Their urgency to savor every moment has shown in their performance early in the season.
The first time Bill Belford ever touched the ball in a varsity game, he went 55 yards to the house on the first play from scrimmage in an eventual 50point win over Pinelands in the season opener.
He later added a 60-yard touchdown catch for his second score of the game, making his varsity debut a night he won't soon forget. He followed that up with three touchdowns in a 37-20 win over Toms River North in Week Two. Two of them were of the dazzling variety, as he returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and caught a halfback pass from Christian Tutela for a 62-yard touchdown.
Belford's saga began on the first day the Lions were in pads during the preseason of his sophomore year. He leaped to catch a pass and was hit while in an awkward position, then felt a bolt of pain shoot through his left shoulder. He initially thought he dislocated his shoulder, but soon grew very pale and was rushed to Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood. He had internal bleeding and was diagnosed with a torn spleen.
"I was praying to God that I didn't have to have it removed because I'm not a surgery person,'' Belford said.
Belford ended up avoiding surgery because his spleen was able to heal without it. However, he was out for his entire sophomore season. Missing a game he had played his entire life then snowballed into a situation of his own making that erased his junior season on the gridiron. "Junior year was completely on me,'' he said. "After I was out (as a sophomore), I basically gave up with everything and did really bad in
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school. My head wasn't right. Being without football just broke my heart.''
He watched from the stands as the Lions went 4-6 last season after suffering heavy graduation losses from an undefeated 2010 team. Lacey's passing game struggled mightily as the Lions were breaking in a sophomore quarterback, Tom Kelly, and had to rely heavily on junior tailback Kyle Spatz. His friends not only encouraged him to get his grades right on principle, but also for the fact that Lacey could use a top receiver like Belford to go along with established playmakers like Brandon Boos, Christian Tutela and R.J. Kurtz.
"I remember just watching and missing it so much and pushing myself to work harder in the classroom,'' Belford said. "The whole team told me they needed me back. Tutela, Boos - they were all begging me to get back on the right track. Those guys helped me out a lot.''
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by getting used to the contact again. His value became apparent when starting tailback Larry Redaelli left the Red Bank game with an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. Flaherty and sophomore Mike Cordova made sure RBC didn't miss a beat and showed the depth of capable running backs in the Caseys' stable.
He now has become an indispensable part of a Lacey team looking to roar back into the Shore Conference elite after a season out of the spotlight.
â€œ(Belford) is a rising star right now,'' said junior defensive back Chris Jensen. "He's unbelievable. I had never seen him play until this year, and he's a great athlete.''
"When I was failing and had my spleen injury, I completely gave up,'' he said. "Going and watching them last year got me so pumped up to do better. Now that I'm back, it's the most rewarding thing ever.'' Flaherty knows the feeling, as he also spent the last two years trying to get back on the field. He made his triumphant return with 70 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries in a 47-0 rout of Red Bank in the season opener and followed that up with 130 yards rushing and a 75yard touchdown run in a 10-0 win over Manasquan.
His frustrating journey into football limbo started when a pain that began in Flaherty's leg as a freshman mushroomed into major back surgery in December of his sophomore year.
He also could look to his
own family for inspiration, as his older brother Jake has endured multiple torn ACLs to earn a starting wide receiver spot at Bucknell
Jesse Flaherty is the youngest of four sons of RBC assistant coach Harry Flaherty Sr. to play for the Caseys. The elder Flaherty also was an RBC star in the 1970s, so green-and-gold football runs through the family's blood.
"The doctor diagnosed a condition where you have a slipped disc in your vertebra and nerve irritation in your spine and legs,'' Flaherty said. "They weren't saying that my football career was done, but they didn't really know.''
Flaherty played basketball as a junior, but stayed away from the contact of football as he continued to heal.
"I had it in my mind that I would make a comeback senior year,'' he said. "Last year on the sidelines, I was itching to play, but I just had to wait it out.''
"It was kind of a relief,'' Flaherty said about his first game back. "I'm happy it went well and that everything is good. Now against (Manasquan) I'm just going to go out and do my best, and keep it going after the
"(Jake) basically said to just keep working hard to come back,'' Flaherty said. "I always tried to keep that mindset.''
Flaherty spent this preseason adjusting to the speed of the game and calming any fears about his back
"A lot of people in my family have done very well playing football at RBC,'' Jesse said. "I just want to keep that tradition going.''
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Singh-ing Endorsement T
By Matt Manley - Staff Writer oms River East coach Ted Gillen said he and junior Matt Singh have had a love-hate relationship over the seven years that Gillen has coached him, but with the way Singh has been scoring in his two years as a varsity player, Gillen has nothing but love for the goalscorer extraordinaire.
Singh scored two more goals Saturday, including the game-winner in the 55th minute, and the Raiders upended Toms River South - the No. 2 team in the All Shore Media Preseason Top 10 - 3-1 to remain unbeaten while handing the Indians their fourth straight loss in the Shore Conference Class A South to open the season. Gillen said he has coached Singh since he was nine years old and from an early age, the junior showed a propensity for goal-scoring.
"There are times when he's doing nothing, halfdefending, not checking back and I'm screaming at him, and then all of a sudden, he's scoring the game-winning goal and waving to me at midfield as he passes by," Gillen said. "From the time I started coaching him, I just told him to just be ready for the ball, because he just has a knack. I can't say I taught it to him, because he had it when I first saw him play, and he's never lost it." Singh opened the scoring in the 36th minute by finishing a well-executed combination started by forward Anthony Batelli, forward Nolan Gottshall and outside
midfielder Enzo Scala. Botelli ran a give-and-go with Gottshall and then played the ball to Scala, who beat his man around the corner and crossed the ball to the middle. Singh got to the ball and drilled it into the net from inside the sixyard box for a 10 lead.
The Indians tied the game in the 7th minute of the second half when Justin Voelker skied over the defense to head in a corner kick by Joey Esposito to the back post.
The Raiders answered eight minutes later when Singh read the ball off the head of Josh Sommerer - who was the first to get a head on Buddy Gibbons' throw-in - and hit a shot through a sea of shin guards and into the net to give Toms River East a 2-1 lead.
"I don't try to go where the ball is. I go where the ball is going to be," Singh said. "To score goals, you have to be able to anticipate where the ball is going to go and that's how I end up with the chances that I get."
Sommerer added a goal of his own in the "We knew 64th minute when he scored on a rebound what we had to following an initial shot by Scala, who was do today," Singh once again set up by a carry and cross by said. "South is Batelli from the left side. going to come Toms River East junior Matt Singh out hard, and "We always have guys who step up," Singh they're going to said. "Everyone wants to contribute and be part keep playing no matter what the score is. No lead is safe of winning here. You saw Josh Sommerer make some big against them, and if we got a goal, we knew we had to get plays, Anthony Batelli did a great job getting to the another and then another, because they keep coming." corners and sending in crosses. Our defense played great like it always does. It's always a team effort here and that's what we had today." Toms River East has been strong in the back with all three of its returning starters from last season playing in the back four. Senior stopper Kyle Smyth is a three-year starter and senior Nick Diem shifted from outside back to sweeper. The biggest change to the formation was moving senior Buddy Gibbons from center midfield to left fullback, where he played as a sophomore. "I love playing in the center midfield, but the bottom line is, I want to do whatever it takes for us to win games," Gibbons said. "This program has always been about winning, and we just want to keep up with that tradition. Our defense is a big part of that and if that's where I need to be, then that's where I want to be, and I'm going to give it a hundred percent."
Senior goalkeeper Anthony Correia needed to make only two saves to pick up the win, but both were on pointblank shots early in the first half that thwarted an early Toms River South push. "Anthony Correia is the key to our team right now because we only have three returning starters in the field," Gillen said. "We're going to make mistakes, but with Anthony out there, we're able to cover them because he's there to make the big save or just to take control of the box."
The Raiders were one of the Shore Conference's top defensive teams last season once Correia took over in net and although the team has seven new starters, Gillen sees the potential for another Class A South title and deep postseason run. "We're going to make our share of mistakes, but one thing I'll never have to ask of this group is effort," Gillen said. "They're new starters, but there are a lot of seniors in this group who have been giving me everything I could ask for since day one and while it's certainly not perfect yet, their attitude and effort has really made us a lot better than I thought we'd be at this point. How it turns out, we'll have to see, but I'm encouraged by what I've seen so far."
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Shore Regional Sends Early Message in B Central Race
By Scott Stump â€“ Managing Editor ne game after showing it can hang with a heavyweight Group II program, Shore Regional sent a message to the rest of its Group I competition in Week Two.
The host Blue Devils dismantled defending Central Jersey Group I and Class B Central champion Asbury Park, 37-12, to make it clear that they intend on reclaiming the state and division titles they won during an 11-1 season in 2010. Shore (11, 1-0) shook off a gut-wrenching 13-10 overtime loss to Rumson-Fair Haven in the opener to dominate from beginning to end against the Blue Bishops (1-1, 1-1).
"This shows that we're for real,'' said head coach Mark Costantino. "We gave Rumson all they could handle, and we should've won that game. We had a great week of practice, and they're a loose group.''
Shore's defense limited the Blue Bishops to 120 total yards, including 13 yards passing. Senior defensive end Luis Bernardes had three sacks and a hit for a loss to lead the way. The Blue Devils' defense caught more passes (three) than Asbury Park's receivers (one), including a tipped pass thats senior defensive lineman Chris Vaccaro returned 50 yards for a touchdown. Shore now has six interceptions in two games.
"We were scared to death of their throwing game, so we worked extra hard on disrupting their routes,'' Costantino said. "We had combination zone-man things, and we were doing some pretty sophisticated things. My son (safety Mark Costantino Jr.) was able to check things off to the linebackers, and we were doing all sorts of disguises out there, and it showed. We were all over the place.''
The defense set the tone from the outset, as Bernardes sacked junior quarterback Robert Barksdale on the second play from scrimmage in the game and then senior defensive back Kevin Masica intercepted a pass on the next play. The Blue Devils also won the field position battle from the beginning, forcing Asbury Park to punt from its own 4-yard line on its second possession. That set up a six-play, 20-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard run from senior fullback Jack Kelly for a 7-0 lead with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
After Shore's defense forced another three-and-out thanks to a sack on third down by junior defensive end Dennis Vaccaro, the Blue Devils were in business at Asbury Park's 41-yard line. A
sensational, 35-yard catch by senior wideout Tyler Vivian over a defender helped set up a 28-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Jake Monteiro, who booted three field goals in the win.
The score remained 10-0 until a wild flurry in which the two teams combined for 23 points in the final 1:48 of the second quarter. Kelly scored on a 1-yard run for his second touchdown of the game to polish off a nine-play, 44-yard drive for a 17-0 advantage. On Asbury Park's ensuing possession, Chris Vaccaro snatched a tipped pass out of the air and rumbled 50 yards to the end zone for a 24-0 lead. "That's our center,'' Costantino said. "He was rumbling, bumbling, and stumbling and then he dove in the end zone.''
The Blue Devils then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff after Vaccaro's pick six. However, a blindside hit by Asbury Park senior Kedar Johnson on junior quarterback Matt Muh resulted in a fumble that Blue Bishops junior Daquane Bland-Bennett returned 40 yards for a touchdown to get Asbury Park on the board and cut the lead to 24-6 with 1:13 left in the half.
Shore came right back when it recovered an onside kick at midfield and then reached the Asbury Park 19-yard line after a 27-yard run by Kelly. Monteiro was able to nail a 35-yard field goal as time expired for a commanding 27-6 lead at the break.
"Our sophomore kicker is outstanding,'' Costantino said. "He's a game-changer.''
Last season, the Blue Devils let Asbury Park hang around until the Blue Bishops burned them with a 70-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that was the difference in a 14-13 win. This time, there would be no letdown. Shore took the opening kickoff of the second half and went 43 yards in six plays, scoring when Muh found Masica for a 31-yard touchdown pass and a 34-6 lead. "(Muh) is still learning,'' Costantino said of the transfer from Holmdel. "To have him is great because now we stretch the field everywhere. We brought back some old-school Wing-T today, running some unbalanced (line), which is what we're known for.
Senior defensive lineman Chris Vaccaro
That with the throwing dimensions, I think is going to make us a tough out (in the playoffs).''
By that point, Asbury Park had abandoned the passing game, going to a wildcat look with different running backs taking turns receiving direct snaps and taking off. The Blue Bishops cut the lead to 34-12 when sophomore Tyquis Davis scored his first varsity touchdown on a 25-yard burst up the middle with 1:57 left in the third quarter.
Shore answered with one final scoring drive, going 51 yards on 11 plays and scoring on a 26-yard field goal by Monteiro for the final margin. With the victory, the Blue Devils avoided the dreaded 0-2 hole after two tough opponents to start the season while stamping themselves as a prime contender for the Class B Central and CJ I titles. There certainly is the possibility they could see Asbury Park again in the state playoffs. "Now we have control,'' Costantino said. "It's in our hands. Our goal is to be 7-1 (at the playoff cutoff) and get in there.'
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Lacey's Lou Vircillo Reaches Rare Milestone"
By Scott Stump â€“ Managing Editor o reach a milestone like Lacey head coach Lou Vircillo attained on Saturday afternoon, a coach not only needs success and longevity, but also the ability to adapt.
Lions threw for 176 yards as a team, including 114 by junior quarterback Tom Kelly, and also ran for 108 yards against the Mariners (1-1, 0-1).
Vircillo joined Brick legend Warren Wolf and late Manasquan luminary Vic Kubu as the only coaches in Shore Conference history to reach 250 career victories when the Lions, ranked No. 5 in the All Shore Media Top 10, beat No. 10 Toms River North 37-20 in a Class A South game. While Lacey's defense scored two touchdowns, the Lions (2-0, 1-0) also showcased a much more productive offense than the unit that averaged 14.4 points per game in a 4-6 season in 2011. A big reason for the leap Lacey coach Lou Vircillo forward is the new faces in the lineup and on the sideline, who helped bring Vircillo's career record to ineligibility, so he is making 250-112-3 and put him in a select group on Saturday.
"I'm going to be very honest about you, I forgot all about it,'' Vircillo said about the milestone. "I didn't even know until the kids said it to me at the end of the game. I don't really think about those numbers. It's just nice to be a part of the tradition of hard-working guys that loved the game and endured.''
In the offseason, Vircillo, who is the only head coach in Lacey history since its inauguration in 1981, brought in former Howell head coach Cory Davies, the architect of some of the most explosive offenses in Shore Conference history. He wanted Davies to meld his passing game attack to the old-school, smashmouth running game that Vircillo prefers.
He also added former Pinelands offensive coordinator John Tierney, who ran the show when Matt McLain set the single-season Shore Conference rushing record in 2010. The ability to set his own philosophy aside and trust a capable coach is the same thing Vircillo did when he brought in former assistant Craig Cicardo in the early 2000s. The Lions went on to win two state championships in the last six seasons before Cicardo left to take a college coaching position last year.
Allowing Davies to run the show has meant a much more balanced offensive attack than the onedimensional running game the Lions had last year. The
"I said (to Davies) in the offseason when we talked, do you think we have enough talent to do your bread-and-butter stuff?'' Vircillo said. "As long as it's working, you try not to screw with it. There is a blend in styles, and right now it's like, how do you blend it?''
The straw stirring that blend has been speedy senior wideout Bill Belford, who has scored a combined five touchdowns in his first two varsity games after finding the end zone three times in the first half on Saturday. Belford missed his sophomore season because of a torn spleen suffered in practice, and missed last year because of academic up for lost time.
"It's been the greatest experience of my life,'' Belford said.
The first fireworks from Belford came after Toms River North took the opening kickoff and drove 55 yards in five plays to score on a 3-yard run by sophomore quarterback Carmen Sclafani, who ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. Belford returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:18 left in the first quarter. He also had luck on his side as his back foot touched the end zone, which should've been a touchback, but the official missed it and the touchdown stood.
Toms River North was then dealt a blow when starting center Nick Silva went down with a seasonending broken left leg and had to be removed by EMT workers. The Mariners initially shook it off to take the lead back when Sclafani ripped off a 37-yard touchdown run off an option fake on fourth-and-2 for a 14-7 advantage with 3:09 left in the first quarter. Lacey answered when junior wideout Christian Tutela took a handoff on a jet sweep and threw a pass to a wide-open Belford for a 62-yard touchdown that knotted the game at 14 with 7:49 left in the second quarter.
"We've been working on that in practice especially for this week,'' Belford said. "We ran a lot of jets at Pinelands (in the season opener), and we never did a pass off that, so we worked hard on getting that down. We knew it would fake them out the first time because they had never seen us do that, and I was completely wide open.''
After the defense came up with a stop, the Lions mounted a nine-play, 83-yard drive that ended when Kelly found a diving Belford for a 7-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal with 1:24 left in the half. The key play on the drive was a 51-yard run by senior tailback Kyle Spatz, and the touchdown gave Lacey a 21-14 lead at the half.
"(Belford) is a rising star right now,'' said junior defensive back Chris Jensen. "He's unbelievable. I had never seen him play until this year, and he's a great athlete.''
The Lions took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and drove down to the Mariners' 8-yard line, but Toms River North ended up blocking a field goal attempt by Liam Dolly to keep the lead at seven points. However, the Mariners then fumbled on their first play to give the ball right back to the Lions. Lacey converted it into a 28-yard field goal by Dolly
"I cut to the right just to fake them out and as soon as I cut to the left, it was completely open,'' Belford said. "I just took it right to the house full speed.''
"Billy Belford obviously is a little bit of a secret weapon,'' Vircillo said. "We said in preseason that he was a legitimate guy.''
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Toms River North was still in striking distance when Jensen made a game-changing play. Sclafani ran to his right on an option play and was in the grasp of linebackers Tyler Walsh and Casey Sirotniak when he tried to pitch the ball to teammate Joey Fields. Jensen read it perfectly and snatched the pitch out of mid-air, taking off the other way for a 30-yard touchdown and a 30-14 lead with 3:55 left in the third quarter.
ASM / 15 Justin Longo intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards to the Mariners' 20-yard line.
Toms River North came up with a stop on downs and had one last chance to make it interesting. The Mariners drove down to the Lacey 11-yard line in the final seconds, but Spatz stepped in front of a pass and took it 95 yards the other way for the icing on the cake with 15.4 seconds left in the game.
"If you don't have the fortune to have good kids and be surrounded by good coaches, you don't coach very long,'' Vircillo said. "If you're fortunate enough to be successful and crazy enough to stay in the game this long, you can reach things like this. God bless Warren Wolf. I don't know how the heck he did this into his 80s.''
The victory not only added another line to Vircillo's impressive resume, it also stamped Lacey as a prime contender to Southern's supremacy in Class A South.
"I just saw him coming with the option, broke on it, caught it and headed for the end zone,'' Jensen said.
The Mariners would not go away as Sclafani scored on a 5yard run in the final seconds of the third quarter that cut the lead to 30-20 after a two-point conversion attempt failed. After forcing a punt, Toms River North drove to Lacey's 40-yard line, but Lions' defensive back
For Vircillo, it was a chance to quickly savor a special moment in a career in which his teams have won four NJSIAA sectional titles and 12 division titles during his tenure at Lacey.
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"Honestly, this was a playoff win right here,'' Jensen said.
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ASM / 17 of being out on the field together.
While it can be a devastating event, I have seen plenty of proof that it can be overcome. Clearly, the advances in medicine and the rehabilitation process make the physical part of it the easier part. It’s the mental side that can destroy an athlete. Just listen to the words of Lacey senior wideout Bill Belford that are detailed in this issue. He freely admits that when his sophomore season was wiped out due to a spleen injury, he fell apart in school and ended up being academically ineligible as a junior. He realized he had to change and got his grades in order as a senior, but it shows the toll a major injury can take on the other aspects of an athlete’s life.
h r o u g h th e p r es ea s o n a n d th e f ir s t two games o f th is S h or e Con f er en ce f ootball s eas on , th er e h a s been on e in ju r y af ter a n o th er to s o me pr omin en t player s . Southern wideout Kevin Barreau, Red Bank Catholic quarterback Mike Corcione and Brick Memorial fullback/linebacker Anthony Miller, all seniors, were lost to season-ending knee injuries in the preseason. Long Branch senior tailback Dwight Clark broke a bone in his ankle and will miss half the season. Howell senior quarterback John Quinlan had an MCL tear in his knee that will cut his season in half.
Then the regular season began, and Rumson-Fair Haven standout tailback Conor Walsh went out with a torn ACL in his left knee in the opener against Shore Regional. In Week Two, Toms River North starting center Nick Silva broke several bones in his left leg, ending his season in a loss to Lacey.
Every time I witness or hear about another one of these injuries, I feel the worst for the seniors. I could only have imagined what it would have been like having to watch my senior season from the sidelines after all the hard work I had put into going out with a great year. This is perhaps the ultimate test of character for these athletes. If leadership is doing what’s right when no one is watching, a season-ending injury is a test of that. Will the athlete go through the rehabilitation, still support his team and maintain a positive outlook knowing that there is no chance to get back on the field this year?
It’s not easy to do. I’ve interviewed numerous players over the years about what it’s like to go through something like this, and many of them say they feel like ghosts. They’re on the team, but they don’t feel like they are a part of things and can’t share in the locker room camaraderie that comes from the shared blood and sweat
The success of coming back from something like that may not always be measured on the field, but the character it takes to progress through this type of ordeal will manifest itself down the road.
instruction for the next two years because his mobility was limited and it was too painful to sit at a desk all day.
As a senior, he was a constant positive presence on the Freehold sideline when the Colonials won the Federal Division title to begin their rise under then-head coach Mark Ciccotelli. He never stepped foot on the field as a player, but now he is back on it as an athletic trainer. Rather than let that injury send his life into a tailspin, Boutote went on to earn a degree in athletic training and physical science from the College of Charleston. He is now a graduate assistant at William Paterson, where he works as an athletic trainer with the school’s sports teams. It’s not always about getting back on the field to achieve athletic success. Moving on to get a college degree and start a career is a success in my book.
It’s about how you are going to respond when something you love is taken away. While these injuries are terrible for the players mentioned above and you wish they could have been avoided, they present a chance for growth. They present an opportunity for these players to build some armor to steel themselves against much bigger things later in life.
In 2004, Manasquan running back Kaysonne Anderson had his senior season derailed by a persistent hamstring injury on the heels of a 2,000-yard rushing year as a junior. All of the FBS schools that were recruiting him backed off, dashing his dreams of playing at that level. However, instead of giving up or letting it affect his grades and his future, he went on to play at the University of New Hampshire. He earned his degree and now works in the financial sector in New York.
A torn ACL senior year won’t seem like much compared to the death of a loved one or getting laid off from a well-paying job and having to support a Rumson senior Conor Walsh family. But the experience of going through a devastating event and coming out the other side through hard work will not be new. The discipline and Former Red Bank Catholic standout Jake Flaherty tore determination it takes are what will be needed to get his ACL in the state playoffs his senior year and did not through a real world problem. get to play in his final Thanksgiving game against Rumson-Fair Haven. When he reached Bucknell So to all the Shore Conference seniors going through University, he suffered another torn ACL. At that point, it these rough times with injuries right now, don’t take it as might seem pointless to go through the rehab process all the end of the world. Take it as an opportunity to start the over again, but he didn’t give up and is now a starting rest of your life. wide receiver at Bucknell. Rob Boutote was a promising player at Freehold who just finished his freshman season in December 2004 when he was the passenger in a car accident. He suffered a back injury so severe that it ended his football career before it could really take off. Boutote had to be on home
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