Mater Dei and SJV football begin their seasons

first_imgBY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer Ron Raymond, Mater Dei High School’s new coach, is looking to get the football program back on its feet after consecutive 0-10 campaigns. Raymond believes he has a talented and athletic group of players, but with only 25 of them, depth is a challenge. The Seraphs opened the season on Friday against Point Pleasant Beach and lost, 35-0. Mater Dei returns to action this Friday in its home opener against Cardinal McCarrick High School, which dropped a 13-12 decision to Keansburg in its opener. “I really think our team can compete if we stay healthy,” said Raymond, who formerly coached at Cardinal McCarrick and led the Eagles to their only winning season. “But we have to also change the mind-set. And I don’t mean just the players. That includes the parents and everyone associated with our program. To turn things around, we need their support and commitment.” Due to its limited roster, most of Mater Dei’s players will be seeing plenty of action on both sides of the ball. Raymond expects to use both A.J. Knusten and sophomore Jesse Meyer, a transfer student from Old Bridge, at quarterback. Bart DiMattina and juniors Mike Eckert and Casey Malloy will be the slotbacks, with Matt Mandile and Mark Sudziarski at fullback. The Seraphs have a pair of sizable targets in wideouts Mick Ault (6-5, 225) and junior Parker Lampe (6-2, 160). Ault and Eckert will also see playing time at tight end. The line includes a trio of 6-footers: tackles Jim Ferber (6-1, 225) and Greg Charbek (6-2, 190) and junior guard Dwight Sheehan (6-2, 205). Kevin Quinn (5-7, 180), a junior, is at center, with sophomore Mike Miles (5-11, 190) at the other guard. Ryan Critti (5-10, 240) provides depth. Sudziarski will handle place-kicking and kickoffs, with Eckert doing the punting. Defensively, Raymond plans to use Ferber and Ault at the ends with Sheehan and Miles at tackle. Charbek and Critti will also man the line. DiMattina, Eckert, Mandile and Quinn are the linebackers, with Knusten, Lampe, Malloy and Sudziarski in the secondary. “A lot of our guys paid their dues over the last few seasons, so we have a lot of varsity experience,” said Raymond, who was the defensive coordinator at Middlesex High School last season. “They’ve taken their lumps, and they know the speed of the game and they know game situations. That will help them quite a bit.” The St. John Vianney High School football team will be looking to make its presence felt this fall in the Shore Conference National Division as it puts a veteran lineup on the field. Eight starters are back under new coach Skip Edwards, whose team will open the season Thursday night at Raritan. Edwards, the former Holmdel coach, returns to the Lancers, where he began his coaching career as an assistant in the late 1970s and early ’80s. “One of my main goals is to put pride back in the program,” he said. “To do that, our players need to function as a team and act as one. It will take everyone pushing in same direction to win again.” The Lancers last posted a winning season in 2006 when they were 6-4. Last year SJV went 3-7 after posting a 4-6 mark in 2007. Edwards is emphasizing defense, where he has several key returnees, including tackle Alec Alspach (6-2, 265) and end Chris Mason (6-0, 185) and junior middle linebacker Nick Dragonetti (6-0, 175). The secondary is experienced as well with cornerback Kevin Mercurio, free safety Ralph Joseph and strong safety Anthony Corona back. Joining Alspach and Mason on the line are ends Matt Brown (5-9, 235) and junior Ryan Gille (6-4, 254) along with sophomore tackle Colton Bigelow (5-11, 212). Juniors Adezji Badru (6-1, 265) and Nick Leonte (6-0, 245) will also see duty up front. Flanking Dragonetti are Gil Keough (6- 0, 205) and junior Sean Tobin (6-2, 180). Nick Falco (5-10, 170), a sophomore, provides depth at linebacker. In addition, Rob Donahue and junior Marco Recchio will play in the secondary. “So far they’re handling everything we’ve given them,” said Edwards. “They’re really flowing to the ball. That’s a huge plus, because defense wins games.” Certainly the Lancers’ big-play offense will have a hand in that as well. Corona and Falco give SJV a pair of speedy halfbacks who can break away. Strong-armed quarterback Joe Carlucci provides another threat, and he has veteran receivers in Mercurio and Joseph, who can catch the ball. Donahue and juniors Marco Recchio and Tommy Tropeano are additional threats. Falco and Joseph will also see time in the backfield, and Keough and Bigelow give the Lancers two good-size fullbacks. Junior Charlie Marchese (5-9, 205) is the center, with Badru and Dragonetti on his left at tackle and guard, respectively. Mason is the right guard and Leonte the right tackle. Brown will play throughout the line, depending on where he is needed, Edwards said. Gille, Alspach and Tobin will alternate at tight end. Edwards is expecting a strong kicking game thanks to the presence of junior Anthony DiPaula, who showed promise as a place-kicker last season. DiPaula will also handle kickoffs and punts. Edwards has previously been a head coach at four other schools: Holmdel, Dunellen, Lakewood and Hightstown. At Holmdel, his team shared the Shore Conference Class C title with Asbury Park in 1988 and went to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championship game three years later. While at Hightstown, his teams won three Colonial Valley Conference crowns. He was also on the SJV staff when the Lancers won the Non-Public A South championship in 1980. “I’m really glad to be back,” said Edwards, who teaches at Holmdel High School. “There’s a lot of talented kids here, and the school is committed to the program.”last_img

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