Notes and Extras

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(Updated 5:40 p.m., Sept. 22 on Jack Tabb visiting Boston College, not Arkansas)

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the stuff from the weekend.

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Parisi Speed School Players of the Week

The End Zone column

Here is some extra stuff from this weekend and some thoughts/extras on some Week 3 games.

—Red Bank Catholic senior tight end Jack Tabb, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass with 12 seconds left in a 14-7 win over Neptune last week, will not be attending this weekend’s big SEC match-up between Alabama and Arkansas on an official recruiting visit to Arkansas, according to RBC coach Jim Portela. (This is RBC’s bye week).  Tabb will instead be taking an official visit to Boston College, which signed former Barnegat star tight end Jarrett Darmstatter from last year’s senior class.

In case you missed it this summer, you can read about Tabb’s backstory here.

Also, check out this recent video feature done on Tabb by Prep Ticket. If you have Pat Summerall doing voiceovers in features about you, you’re definitely doing something right.

Tabb will also be on the radio on Thursday night as part of the St. Barnabas Health Care High School Football show from 7-9 p.m. on 105.7 “The Hawk” f.m. and 1310 a.m. Tabb will be calling in at 7:15 p.m. You can also stream the show live on your computer at Other guest include Brick Memorial head coach Walt Currie, Pinelands head coach Sean DeRosa, Monmouth University head coach Kevin Callahan, either Steve Falk or Rob Ziegler of The Asbury Park Press, and I will be doing a spot as well starting at 7:26 p.m., so make sure to check it out.

Taking unofficial visits to UConn this weekend will be RBC junior defensive tackle Joe Coscarelli, who had 15 tackles and a forced fumble in the win over Neptune, as well as junior fullback/linebacker Chris Donald. Both were invited by the UConn staff to attend the UConn-Buffalo game, according to Portela. Obviously, there is a connection between UConn and RBC because of former Caseys star running back Donald Brown, who went on to become a standout at UConn and was a first-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2009.

—If high school football had instant replay and challenges, Saturday’s Manasquan-Raritan game might not have ended until about midnight. Definitely some really tough calls for the officials to make in that game, including two in particular that I watched in slo-mo on my video that could’ve gone the other way because they happened so quickly in full speed.

In the first quarter, Raritan senior quarterback Jared Gurczeski hit senior wideout Kevin Furlong down the left sideline with a fade ball for a 30-yard gain, but Manasquan cornerback Josh Armando knocked the ball loose as the two were going out of bounds. It sat resting on the turf in bounds until Manasquan’s Zack Ogden came sliding over and fell on it. It looked like Ogden never established possession and just went flying out of bounds with it, but Manasquan was given the ball. So it went from what would’ve been first-and-goal on the 6-yard line to Manasquan’s ball, although Furlong intercepted Tyler Saito on the next play, but that was at Manasquan’s 47-yard line. So that was a huge one.

But it went the other way too, as I think the Rockets got a huge one back in the fourth quarter. On the game-winning drive by Raritan, Gurczeski hit senior wideout Tim Pizanie with a seven-yard pass on 4th-and-5 in which Pizanie got both feet in bounds while tightroping the sideline and catching the ball over two Manasquan defenders, but as he kept his toes in bounds and fell forward to the ground, it looks like he didn’t have possession of the ball. Two eyewitnesses who were standing right in front of it said they thought it bounced off the ground first just before Pizanie hit the ground, but Pizanie’s back was shielding the official who made the call (and also making it hard to see on the video). He quickly rolled over in a crafty veteran move and held the ball up to make it look like a catch. If that catch was made on the Manasquan sideline instead of the Raritan sideline and that ruling was made, it might have been bedlam from the visiting side.

So instead of having that pass ruled incomplete, which would have allowed Manasquan to take a knee and walk out with the victory, it kept the drive alive and Gurczeski hit Furlong for a 20-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left for a 24-18 win.

In the end, it all came out in the wash. Raritan had a potential touchdown taken away in the first quarter, and had its game-winning drive kept alive in the fourth quarter.

—Pizanie appears to have really stepped up as a senior. Last year, I felt like he was a footnote in the passing game behind Bennett Jackson and even tight end Matt Facendo after a sophomore year in which Pizanie made a lot of clutch plays. Pizanie rose to the occasion against Manasquan on Saturday night, making one clutch grab after another, and he and Furlong make a very solid tandem at wideout for Gurczeski.

—The Rockets have been insisting all along that if they can protect Gurczeski, he will make big throws and has a strong arm, and they were right. Gurczeski also has just enough elusiveness in the pocket to avoid taking the big sack. Manasquan had him seemingly dead to rights for about a 15-yard loss on the game-winning drive, but he eluded the tackle of senior Stefan Baier and made it all the way back to the line of scrimmage to turn a potential 4th-and-20 into a manageable 4th-and-5 that he converted with an 11-yard strike to senior tight end Anthony Bayer.

—I checked out the Mater Dei Prep-Cardinal McCarrick game earlier in the day on Saturday that the Eagles won 12-0, and the Seraphs have the ability to make some plays. This isn’t the old Mater Dei of two years ago or so that was high-fiving just to get a first down. They just need to be consistent. With that triple option offense, they can’t have too many negative plays because they are not built for third-and-long, but players like slotback/fullback Lantz Jones, quarterback Jesse Meyer and senior running back Parker Lampe are capable of moving the ball. Meyer also showed some decent ability on rollouts in throwing the ball to Mark Sudziarski.

Defensively, I thought junior Mike Miles did a nice job up front, knifing into the backfield, and senior Kevin Quinn, a four-year varsity player, made some nice open field tackles. It’s clear that having no depth also still hurts because I think the defense wilted a little because everyone is playing both ways. It also really hurts that three-year starter Dwight Sheehan, a two-way lineman, is out for the season after tearing his ACL in practice leading up to the McCarrick game.

—The two games I saw on Saturday (Mater Dei Prep-Cardinal McCarrick, Raritan-Manasquan) set special teams back about 50 years. There were three muffed punts recovered by the other team in the first half of the Mater Dei game alone, as the ball apparently was coated with Crisco. Cardinal McCarrick also missed its one extra-point try, and attempted a fake punt that was snuffed out by Quinn near the end of the first half.

The Manasquan-Raritan game featured two blocked punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Manasquan’s Eddie McGrady, and another by Furlong that set up a go-ahead touchdown by Raritan in the fourth quarter. Manasquan also missed all three of its extra-point tries, with Furlong blocking two of them. Raritan sophomore C.J. Pulcine missed a 22-yard field goal, although he did hit a 28-yarder on the opening drive of the game for his first varsity field goal, as he was playing in place of senior starter Adam Dayke, who was out sick.

—I am definitely curious to see just how good Asbury Park is. The two teams they’ve routed, Highland Park and Keansburg, were overmatched (they are a combined 0-4), but it’s clear that senior running back Marquise Johnson has stepped up into the role of the star feature back vacated by George Stephens. Also, the hallway lobbying job that head coach Matt Ardizzone did to get senior quarterback Jayvon Britt out for the team as a senior may have been the key to the whole season.

—In the blink of an eye, Jackson Liberty could be in the driver’s seat for its first division title in its four-year program history. After downing Wall last week, the Lions have Point Boro this week, and a win there leaves mainly Manasquan looming out there, although Monsignor Donovan is always scary because of its ability to score in the triple option.

—Speaking of Point Boro, the Panthers will really have to circle the wagons this week. Starting quarterback John Dunbar left Sunday’s game against Holmdel with a concussion, which means he can’t play this week against Jackson Liberty, and several starting offensive linemen could be out as well. However, back-up quarterback Chuck Krohn stepped in for Dunbar in the 31-21 loss to Holmdel and went 9-for-15 for 167 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half of football. Holmdel put eight in the box against Point Boro’s shotgun option attack, so the Panthers went to the air.

Maryland-bound senior tight end/wideout Ryan Malleck had 9 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown and Kyle McGarry had 3 catches for 124 yards. Five different players caught passes, so maybe it means the Panthers will open it up with Krohn at the helm against Jackson Liberty.

It’s now or never to get back into the Class C Central race for the Panthers, who started 0-4 last year. Head coach Calvin Thompson is looking for a vocal leader. Players like Malleck and senior running back Jim DiOrio are hard-working, talented players, but also quiet, lead-by-example types, so he is looking for someone to take charge.

“When (former star quarterback) Shane O’Connor talked, nobody said a word,” Thompson said. “That kid was a leader. (Former star defensive tackle) Jeff Keffer would get in your face in a second if you weren’t giving a great effort. The kids I have now are great kids, but we just don’t have that vocal leader yet.

“I don’t have any excuses. It’s the mental issues that I have to get our kids understanding that you can’t just show up, you have to compete for 48 minutes. As soon as something negative happens, their heads go down. It’s an issue of confidence because we’ve still got weapons.”

Point Boro isn’t alone, either, as Wall, Freehold, and Ocean are all staring 0-3 in the face if they don’t pull out of their early-season troubles.

—Not shocked that senior running back Josh Firkser, the reigning Parisi Speed School Offensive Player of the Week,  led the charge in Manalapan’s 35-28 upset of Middletown South. Talking to several coaches who have scouted Manalapan, while they acknowledge that Rutgers-bound quarterback Mike Bimonte is certainly a threat, they say that the key to everything is Firkser. You have to stop him first if you are going to have a shot at beating the Braves because he has the ability to run through tacklers and also outrace them, as he showed on touchdown runs of 51 and 71 yards against Middletown South.

—The Neptune-Long Branch game on Saturday could be one of the most highly-charged atmospheres of this young season, as both of these teams are beyond fired up. A couple big keys in this game will be players not letting the adrenaline get the best of them and making stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and the ability of each team’s secondary and linebackers to tackle in space. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see each team try to use the screen game early on, as both teams will be so jacked up, that the offenses want to take advantage of that aggressiveness by the defenses, and both teams have athletes who can take a 3-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown.


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