Nick Gregorio Approved as New Wall Coach/Coscarelli Commits to Coastal Carolina

April 18, 2012

We are now down to one coaching vacancy left in the Shore Conference as Wall approved its replacement for former head coach Chris Barnes on Tuesday night. The Board of Education approved Nick Gregorio, a former head coach at A.L. Johnson and most recently the offensive line coach at Kean University.

Gregorio had two stints at Kean around a two-year stint as head coach at A.L. Johnson, whom he led to the playoffs in 2009, losing 23-0 to Rumson-Fair Haven in the Central Jersey Group II quarterfinals. Gregorio was a standout as a player at Montclair State, where he also was an All-American shot-putter. He played at New Providence, a small-school power in North Jersey.

Barnes stepped down in February to spend more time with his family after 12 seasons with the Crimson Knights that included nine state playoff appearances, five division titles, the 2002 Central Jersey Group III title and a trip to the 2004 CJ III final. Gregorio inherits almost an entirely new team, as nearly the entire starting lineup from this past fall’s Class C Central champions will graduate in June.

Gregorio’s hiring leaves only the Howell job unfilled, but from everything I’m hearing, defensive coordinator Derek Reichenbecher is expected to be approved as the replacement for Cory Davies, who, like Barnes, stepped down to spend more time with his family.

In college commitment news, Red Bank Catholic senior defensive tackle Joe Coscarelli, the All Shore Media Defensive Player of the Year, has signed with Coastal Carolina, an FCS program, according to RBC coach Jim Portela.

The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Coscarelli is a two-time, first team ASM All-Shore selection. He led the Caseys with 105 tackles, a rare amount for a defensive tackle, and also had a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He had 24 solo tackles and 81 assists, and also had 5.5 sacks on a defense that allowed 9.5 points per game. RBC finished ranked No. 1 in the Shore Conference, won the Class B North title, reached the Non-Public Group III semifinals and did not lose to a Shore Conference opponent all season. Coscarelli had 16 tackles in a double-overtime victory against Central Jersey Group III champion Neptune, had 13 tackles in a double-overtime loss to Delbarton in the state sectional semifinals, and had 11 tackles in a 21-0 win over Central Jersey Group II finalist Rumson-Fair Haven. As a junior, he had 107 tackles and 7 sacks.This season he was named the Class B North Co-Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches.



Thoughts on NJSIAA Playoff Expansion Proposal, Update on Klecko, Gesicki

April 6, 2012

Before I get to my opinion on this new NJSIAA proposal, two quick recruiting updates. Red Bank Catholic junior defensive tackle Josh Klecko added an offer from Rutgers on Thursday, according to RBC coach Jim Portela, to offers from Temple, Old Dominion and UMass.

Also, Southern sophomore wideout Mike Gesicki is starting to generate interest. Coaches from Temple, Delaware and Penn State visited the school during the winter to get a look at Gesicki in person, according to Southern athletic director Chuck Donohue Jr. (By rule, coaches cannot speak directly with sophomores during that time period).

Now, on to the proposal.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Association approved a proposal on first reading Wednesday that would expand the public group classifications to five, which would increase the number of overall state sectional champions crowned to 24.

Essentially, there would be a newly-created Group V for the largest public schools to go along with existing four Groups, starting in the upcoming 2012 season. The proposal is now before the NJSIAA’s program review committee and will be voted on next month at the NJSIAA’s executive committee meeting.

Click here for the full story.

If it goes through, the new classifications would look like this.

Here are my thoughts on this plan:

I don’t want to go crazy because it’s still just high school football, but I couldn’t be more against this plan. Just four months ago, the NJSIAA membership was voting to join the rest of civilization and actually play to overall Group champions in football, which was rejected. Now they want to add four more sections and crown 24 total championships, which is ridiculous. It’s a total step back, in my opinion. Being called a “state champion” in public school football in New Jersey is starting to mean less and less. It’s becoming harder to win division titles for a lot of these teams than to win a state sectional title.

This reeks of two things:

1) The “everybody gets a medal” mentality that is pervading youth sports. This means more teams, including teams with losing records, can make the playoffs, more teams get a trophy and all that, so that no one’s feelings are hurt when they don’t get to be in the playoffs. In the Star-Ledger story on the proposal, NJSIAA associate director Jack Dubois said that many coaches are “not thrilled” to play in consolation games. Here’s a novel concept: WIN MORE GAMES AND MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. Then you won’t have to play in a consolation game. This is a reason why I think the proposal will pass because athletic directors can go back to their schools and tell them they will have a better chance for their teams to make the postseason or win something, even if it what they are winning is cheapened. The main job of most ADs is to get the complainers off their back, and this would help in that instance, so they are going to vote for it.

2) Another money grab by the NJSIAA. Ever since this whole Burzichelli business hit the fan over ticket prices, the NJSIAA claims that it is struggling to make money. With more teams in the playoffs, that means more entry fees and more sites to sell programs, T-shirts and other assorted swag. The more teams in the postseason, the more money that comes in.

If it does get passed, one effect will be that winning a state sectional title won’t be all that much to write home about any more. (Some of them don’t mean a whole lot now). Most of these proposed sections will have about 15-16 teams in them. Most divisions in a given conference have 6-8 teams in them. That means a state section has barely double the amount of teams that a division has, so it’s not like you’re beating a large region of teams to win a state title. From a purely selfish perspective, it also won’t be any easier trying to find a way to give media coverage to a whole other set of games in Group V every year, either. Some games might just get blown off. See you in the finals.

I wonder if the Shore Conference can just break off from all this. Just have a Shore Conference football tournament instead. It will be one packed house after another, and winning it would really mean something as opposed to breezing through some mediocre sectional bracket.

If the proposal does happen, here is a look at the brackets from a purely football perspective and who might be the winners and losers in the new realignments.

Central Jersey

Group V – This is pretty similar to the current CJ Group IV, so there wouldn’t be any major change.

Group IV – This is similar to the current CJ III, just with Middletown North and Colts Neck thrown in. One addition is Pennsauken, which won the South Jersey Group IV title last year and would certainly be a threat to the usual suspects like Middletown South, Neptune, Freehold, and Wall. Colts Neck would also be a new threat among these teams.

Group III – This is like the current CJ II except for two major differences – no Rumson-Fair Haven, which would be in Group II, and the addition of Ocean. Allentown and the Hamilton schools would also avoid the likes of Neptune, Middletown South, etc. Ocean would also not have to tangle with those teams, but still would have to deal with usual tough teams like Manasquan, Matawan, Long Branch and Raritan. This would be a very tough bracket. Winning it might actually mean something.

Group II – If you’re a Rumson fan, you’re definitely not complaining about this new proposal. The Bulldogs would no longer have to deal with the Matawans, Manasquans and Long Branches of the world. They could dominate this bracket. The main threat would probably be bitter rival Shore, which would be moved up from playing Group I schools, putting the Blue Devils in a harder bracket than the CJ I section they are in now. Red Bank would also be a big factor with the team it has coming back this year, and Keyport is always dangerous but has not fared very well whenever it has been in a Group II bracket.

Group I – This would continue to be Asbury Park’s playground, although Point Beach will be a serious threat this fall.

South Jersey

Group V – Toms River North, Toms River East and Southern would still be stuck dealing with every South Jersey heavyweight in sight in this bracket, which is similar to the current SJ IV bracket, so no breaks for any of those teams.

Group IV – This is similar to the current SJ III, so Lacey would face the usual array of suspects like Hammonton, Shawnee and Timber Creek.

Group III – This is a good spot for teams like Manchester, Pinelands and Central because it will give them a better chance to make the playoffs every year. Delsea could have a field day in this bracket after usually being in the current SJ III. Point Boro would essentially move up a weight class, but that might not be the worst thing because it gets them away from West Deptford and Haddonfield in the current SJ II.

Group II – It would be status quo for Barnegat, which would still have to deal with West Deptford and Co.

Group I – No Shore teams in this bracket.

Shore Players/Coaches Honored in Top 100, College Commitments, SJV’s Ishmael Hyman Generating Interest

April 4, 2012

A group of Shore Conference seniors were honored among the New Jersey Football Coaches Association Top 100, featuring their picks for the top 100 players in the state, in a banquet on Sunday.

Red Bank Catholic linebacker/fullback Chris Donald, Matawan running back/safety Larry Alston III, Howell quarterback Ryan Davies and offensive lineman Tim Donahue, Neptune linebacker Jazzmar Clax and quarterback/defensive back Jaheem Woods, Southern running back T.J. Bellissimo, Long Branch offensive lineman Ryan Brodie, Wall quarterback Steve Cluley and Barnegat tight end Ryan Morris were all honored as being part of the top 100. Also, Neptune’s Mark Ciccotelli was honored as the Central Jersey Coach of the Year and former Matawan head coach Joe Martucci was awarded the New Jersey Coach of the Year accolade after leading the Huskies to an upset of Rumson-Fair Haven to win the Central Jersey Group II title.

In college commitment news, Southern tight end/defensive lineman DJ Pandolpho will continue his career at Montclair State, according to Rams athletic director Chuck Donohue Jr., the son of the head coach. Red Bank Catholic offensive lineman/linebacker Anthony Dorsi will continue his career at Delaware Valley College, where his older brother Mike is currently playing, according to RBC coach Jim Portela.

Also, Colts Neck lineman Mike Wagner will continue his career at the University of Rhode Island, according to coach Greg LaCava. Barnegat linebacker Matt Schofield, the school’s all-time leading tackler, a second-team All-Shore selection and the Class B South Co-Defensive Player of the Year, will continue his career at William Paterson, according to Bengals coach Rob Davis.

As for returning players, St. John Vianney junior wide receiver/kick returner Ishmael Hyman has been generating plenty of interest. The speedy wideout, who had 29 catches for 951 yards and 10 touchdowns this fall to lead the Shore Conference at 32 yards per catch, has offers from Bowling Green and Old Dominion and strong interest from Rutgers, Boston College, Penn State and Georgia Tech, according to Lancers coach Andy Carlstrom.

Finally, in the “what might have been” category, a senior quarterback from Florida named Faton Bauta, who has been called “the next Tim Tebow” and has committed to the University of Georgia, grew up in Colts Neck. Bauta played on the same youth AAU basketball team with Colts Neck’s Hunter Wysocki and Sean O’Reilly, Jackson Memorial’s Brian Kenny and Howell’s Tim Donahue. He moved shortly before high school and became a star in Florida. A Cougars coach Greg LaCava joked, “I know, I know. I’ve blocked it out.” Here is some more stuff on Bauta

Cowen, McDonough, Pt. Boro Duo Make College Commitments

March 29, 2012

The college commitments continue to roll in as more Shore Conference standouts decide where they will play next season.

Jackson Memorial defensive lineman James Cowen, who led the Jaguars with 8.5 sacks and also had 56 tackles on his way to earned All Shore Media second-team All-Shore honors, will continue his career at William Paterson, according to his parents.

Wall offensive lineman Matt McDonough said he will continue his career at Montclair State. He was part of a standout offensive line that helped the Crimson Knights win the Class C Central title and that has several members playing in college. He joins Matt Ford (Lehigh), Matt Pisarcik (Franklin & Marshall), and tight end Derek Gardner (Marist) among the college-bound players up front.

A pair of Point Boro teammates are headed to McDaniel College, according to coach Sean Henry. Two-time All-Class C Central defensive back Dan Trainor along with offensive/defensive lineman Eddie Kendall will both continue their careers there.


Manalapan Contingent, Koursaris Make College Commitments

March 21, 2012

Four more players from the Manalapan team that reached the Central Jersey Group IV final, won its second straight Class A North title and won a school-record 10 games have made their college commitments, according to head coach Ed Gurrieri.

Linebacker Alex McPherson, a three-year starter, is headed to Wesley College, and offensive lineman Brandon Pearce, an All Shore Media first-team All-Shore selection, will continue his career at Division II East Stroudsburg. Fullback Jesse McEnery, who paved the way for 2,000-yard rusher John Sieczkowski, will play at Montclair State. Defensive back Vinnie Harris will join McEnery in the NJAC, as he will play at Rowan University.

Also, Shore Regional running back linebacker Stefanos Koursaris, an All-Class B Central pick, is also going to the NJAC as he is headed to Kean University.

Scalici, Kemp, Dunbar, Duffield Make College Commitments

March 15, 2012

The college commitments continue to roll in for the Shore Conference seniors, with four more making their choices.

Colts Neck running back Victor Scalici, an All Shore Media second-team All-Shore pick and All-Class B North selection, is headed to The College of New Jersey, according to Cougars coach Greg LaCava. Scalici set school records for rushing yards (1,693) and touchdowns (20) as well as the single-game record for rushing yards (346) and touchdowns (5) this season. He finished third in the Shore Conference in rushing.

Another Colts Neck standout, offensive lineman Matt Kemp, is headed to Montclair State. Kemp was an ASM third-team All-Shore pick and an All-Class B North selection by the coaches.

Another ASM second-team All-Shore pick, Point Boro standout quarterback John Dunbar, will continue his career at Salisbury University, according to Panthers coach Sean Henry. An option quarterback who also returned punts in addition to seeing some time in the defensive secondary, Dunbar rushed for just under 1,300 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. He also threw for 436 yards and 4 touchdowns and had a punt return for a touchdown and an interception on defense. For his career, he finished with 2,083 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns and also threw for 1,073 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also caught 4 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown and had two career touchdown returns on special teams.

Salisbury runs the option, so Dunbar should be a good fit there.

Finally, Toms River North offensive lineman/long-snapper Grant Duffield is headed to McDaniel College, according to his father.

Hardy, Racioppi and More Make College Commitments/Davies Steps Down at Howell

March 14, 2012

Central senior running back Kalyph Hardy, the school’s all-time leading rusher and the first in school history to pass 2,000 yards rushing in a season, will continue his career at Kean University, according to Central coach Vinnie Casale.

Hardy was an All Shore Media first-team All-Shore selection in the fall after rushing for 2,050 yards and a Shore Conference-leading 28 touchdowns in helping the Golden Eagles reach the state playoffs for the first time since 2001. Hardy also had a school-record 417 yards rushing in a win over Brick, which is third-highest single-game total in Shore Conference history. Hardy finished his career with a school-record 5,008 yards rushing as a four-year varsity player. As a junior, he was an ASM second-team All-Shore selection when he ran 1,620 yards, which was the school record before he erased it this season.

He also was selected as the Class B South Co-Offensive Player of the Year by the coaches.

Hardy’s teammates, Kyle Barker and Josh Dwight, have also made their decisions. Barker, a defensive back, is headed to McDaniel College, while Dwight, a wide receiver, will continue his career at FDU-Florham.

Middletown North senior running back Joey Racioppi, who was an All-Class A North selection by the coaches, will continue his career at Springfield College, according to Lions coach Joe Trezza.

On the coaching front, Cory Davies has stepped down after 21 seasons as the head man at Howell, which included the program’s only state sectional title. Click here for the full story.



US Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic Info/Sickels to Penn State

March 6, 2012

Follow Managing Editor Scott Stump on Twitter at @Scott_Stump

This season’s US Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic, which is run by the Shore Football Coaches Foundation, will be held on Thursday, July 12 on the artificial turf at Holmdel High School. This will be the 35th edition of the annual game pitting the top seniors from Monmouth County against their counterparts from Ocean County, making it the oldest high school football all-star game in New Jersey.

The head coaches will be Manalapan’s Ed Gurrieri (Monmouth County) and Barnegat’s Rob Davis (Ocean County). Gurrieri led Manalapan to a school-record 10 wins and a berth in the Central Jersey Group IV final. Davis led Barnegat to its first division title in program history and a berth in the South Jersey Group II semifinals. The rosters for both teams, which are selected by the coaches, are being finalized.

The 7-on-7 tournament county championships will be on Monday, July 9, at Holmdel (Monmouth) and Toms River East (Ocean). The winners play each other before the US Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic.

There also will be a combination media day/scholar-athlete banquet on May 6 at the Sheraton in Eatontown in which the top student-athletes on each team will be recognized and the participants for the Gridiron Classic will be formally announced.

In recruiting news, Red Bank Regional defensive end Garrett Sickels, the top-rated player in the Class of 2013, verbally committed to Penn State on Sunday night. Click here for that story. The thought of Sickels rushing from the edge and linebacker Glenn Carson (Southern) in the middle for the Nittany Lions has to be a pleasant one for Penn State fans.

Sickels’s commitment leaves Monsignor Donovan offensive lineman Brad Henson as the top uncommitted recruit in the Class of 2013 right now, although there is plenty of talent behind him like Long Branch running back Dwight Clark, Manalapan wide receiver Anthony Firkser, Lakewood quarterback/safety Tyrice Beverette, Red Bank Catholic defensive lineman Josh Klecko and more. Klecko, an ASM first-team All-Shore selection, recently picked up offers from Temple, Old Dominion and UMass, according to RBC coach Jim Portela. A pair of standout kickers, Toms River North’s Chris Gulla and Middletown South’s Connor Ryan have also received FBS interest and have been invited to several kicking camps at BCS programs.

John Kaye Approved as New Matawan Head Coach

February 28, 2012

Former assistant John Kaye was approved as Joe Martucci’s successor at Matawan Monday night. Click here for the full story.

John Kaye up for Approval as New Matawan Head Coach

February 25, 2012

Long-time assistant John Kaye is up for approval as Matawan’s new head football coach on the Matawan-Aberdeen Board of Education agenda for Monday’s meeting.

He will replace Hall of Famer Joe Martucci, who stepped down after leading the Huskies to their second Central Jersey Group II title in three seasons to take an assistant coaching job at Kean University. Martucci was 197-81-1 in 28 seasons at the helm for the Huskies, leading them to five NJSIAA sectional titles and nine division titles.

Kaye was an assistant under Martucci for nearly 20 years before ascending to the head position, and also is heading into his 15th season as Matawan’s head baseball coach. He inherits a team that graduates a strong senior class led by running back/safety Larry Alston III, but does return starting quarterback Kashaun Barnes, standout linebacker Glenn Cross and kicker/punter Mike Creamer.