JEFF HUNTLEY Anthony Addonizio will be an important component to the Hornets’ success this year. On Sept. 15, team looks to avenge last season’s loss to Freehold Boro By Warren Rappleyea Staff Writer With 14 key veterans returning, the Holmdel High School football team will be looking to upgrade last fall’s 6-4 mark and is seeking a return trip the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II playoffs. JEFF HUNTLEY Head Coach Joe O’Connor will be looking for his Holmdel High School football team to rely on its experience in competing against some of the top teams in the Shore this year. The Hornets’ roster is loaded with experienced seniors and untested sophomores, with a few juniors sprinkled in. The experience will help, especially on offense, where coach Joe O’Connor is switching to the multiple-I set-up to take advantage of his team’s speed and offensive line strength. A year ago Holmdel employed the wing-T. “This team is built more for the multiple-I,” O’Connor explained. “We have the speed and skill to adapt, and the team has been picking it up quickly.” The new offense will keep runners Chris Hernando and Anthony Addonizio busy. Hernando, a 5-8, 165-pound junior, is back at halfback where he ran for more than 800 yards in 1999. The versatile Addonizio, a 6-1, 215-pounder, moves to fullback full time this season after splitting his time at tight end a year ago. He put up more than 900 total yards as a sophomore. Three players, senior Dave Menges, and juniors John Guisti and Dan Principe, are competing for the quarterback job. All three saw some time behind center, but Menges played the most and appears to have the inside track, though O’Connor has not yet made a decision. “Each one brings something to the table,” O’Connor said. “We’ll have to see how things go over the next few weeks.” Wideouts Paul Hlavaty and Adam Goff, along with tight end Greg Laplante, all seniors, and possibly Guisti, comprise the receiving corps. Seniors Adam Cox (6-1, 230), Alex Wright (5-11, 210), Mike Russo (6-2, 190), Evan Sorg (6-0, 190) and John Yang (6-0, 225), and junior Chris Satienza (6-1, 240) will man the offensive line. All, except for Wright will see action on the defensive line as well, with Hlavaty also pitching in on defensive end. Like the linemen, several other Hornets will be playing on both sides of scrimmage. Addonizio, Hernando, Guisti, Laplante and Wright are the linebackers in Holmdel’s 4-3 alignment. Menges, Principe and Goff are the defensive backs. Addonizio will handle the punting, while Laura Carcich, who missed most of last season with injuries, is back to do the place-kicking. Two years ago, Carcich, then a sophomore, converted 13 of 17 PAT attempts. “With a lot of guys going both ways, the key for us will be staying healthy,” O’Connor said. “We have talent and good experience, and we’re looking forward to the start of the season.” Holmdel hosts Freehold Boro Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. in the season-opener for both teams. Last year the Hornets took a 12-0 lead into the fourth quarter against the Colonials but ended up on the short end of a 14-12 decision. “We want to get off to a good start and that means winning that first game,” O’Connor said. “Freehold Boro beat us in an exciting game, but it’s one we’d like to have back. Now we get to play them again.”
Staff Writer Six local football teams qualify for state playoffs Action set to begin this weekend for most teams JEFF HUNTLEY Red Bank Catholic’s Michael Schower gets set to smother Holmdel’s John Giusti during RBC’s 38-7 win at Holmdel on Friday. RBC earned a fifth seed in the Parochial Group III state tournament, while Holmdel will be on the outside looking in this year. Following this weekend’s play, which saw a pair of local teams pick up big wins at the expense of other regional squads, a total of six area football teams learned their fate for the first round of state playoff games, scheduled for this weekend. Topping the list of local teams is two-time defending Central Jersey Group I champs Keyport, who are coming off a 42-9 stomping of Point Boro this weekend. The 8-0 Red Raiders have been steamrolling their competition this season, and will enjoy another bye week this week as the No. 1 seed in Group I play. They will sit back and wait for the winner of the Colts Neck (5-3)-Highland Park (4-4) game. If things go as expected in that bracket, it will mean a rematch for the Red Raiders of last year’s Group I final against the No. 2-seeded South River Rams (6-2). Against Point Boro (2-6), the Red Raiders rode the heels of senior split end Dezmin Laing, who scored four touchdowns, including an 82-yard kickoff return for a TD to start the game. From there, Keyport produced a well-rounded offensive effort, while the defense allowed only an 82-yard TD run in the first quarter en route to the team’s eighth win of the year. In Group II play, a pair of local teams will get back into action this weekend. The Matawan Regional High School Huskies (5-3), who have turned their season around after a slow start, will host a 5-3 Ridge team after enjoying last weekend off. The Huskies face a daunting challenge in their run for a Group II title as a threesome of 8-0 teams (Somerville, Manasquan and Spotswood) enter the tournament after dominating their opponents this year. Look for Spotswood, the No. 3 seed, to surprise some teams throughout this postseason. But Spotswood will have to get by Manasquan, entering the postseason on the heels of a 32-game winning streak, which was started following its 1997 loss to Neptune in the Group II final. Manasquan will begin its run for a title on Saturday when it hosts a 4-4 Raritan team which has limped into the playoffs. Coach Bob Generelli’s Rockets have lost their last three games, getting outscored 102-28. The latest loss came on Friday at the hands of Holmdel’s St. John Vianney, 42-22. The win was a big one for the Lancers, who at 5-3 enter the Parochial Group III tourney as the No. 6 seed. That means they will face the three-seed, St. Joseph-Montvale (5-3), on Saturday. In Friday’s game in Holmdel, Vianney’s Shane Kochon scored five touchdowns, leading the Lancers to their biggest win of the year. Kochon made his presence known from his first play of the game, when he returned a kickoff 85 yards for a TD. The next time he touched the ball, he ran 67 yards for a TD, and that was just the beginning. By the end of the game, Kochon had scored five times, kicked four extra points, rushed for 253 yards and intercepted two passes in leading the Lancers to victory. His first touchdown came after the Rockets had jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a four-yard run from quarterback Dave Petruzzi. But Kochon scored three times in the first half to give the Lancers the 20-6 halftime lead. By the end of the third quarter, the score was 35-12 and Vianney was well on its way to the win. Raritan will have to step up big time to stop Manasquan this weekend, but Generelli has been known for orchestrating big upsets in the past, and Manasquan Coach Vic Kubu will be expecting Raritan to play better this weekend. The Middletown South Eagles came up with an enormous win on Friday, topping the Shore’s top quarterback Colin Gaynor and his Toms River East team, 32-30, in a thrilling contest. The Eagles (7-1) got a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Nick Ernst to Moqut Ruffins to make the score 34-24 late in the fourth quarter. But Gaynor and his Raiders did not give up. After scoring on every possession in the second half, the Toms River East squad was confident that they could answer the Eagles’ score. And respond they did. Gaynor led the Raiders (6-2) 70 yards in just over three minutes to bring his team within two, but a thwarted two-point conversion gave the Eagles the win with just over a minute left. The Eagles will look to ride the momentum of this win into the Group III playoffs, where they will host Ocean (5-1) in a rematch of a 19-13 overtime game won by South earlier this season. The game will be played on Friday at the Swamp in Middletown. Hamilton North (7-1) sits atop the Group III bracket as the top seed, but will have its hands full with Hamilton West (7-1) and a North Brunswick team (8-0) which has not yet been tested this year. Look for North Brunswick to surprise everyone but themselves with a Group III title. Middletown North will be the only local team in Group IV play, when they travel to Woodbridge to play the second-seeded Barrons (6-2), who are coming off a shocking upset of Piscataway on Friday. Because of that loss, Piscataway (6-2) enters the Group IV tourney as the three-seed. Even if the Lions (4-4), who were off this weekend, get by Woodbridge and Piscataway, they will need to play the game of their lives to knock off top-seeded Sayreville (8-0), one of the top teams in the state. Look for Sayreville to cruise through this playoff season. The only other local team in action this weekend was the Holmdel Hornets, who fell to the Red Bank Catholic Caseys 38-7. It was the sixth straight win for the Caseys (6-2), who will look to carry momentum into the Parochial Group III tourney where they are the No. 5 seed. Holmdel (5-3) was beaten in every aspect of the game on Friday as the Caseys showed why they are considered a dangerous team going into this year’s playoff. RBC will have a tough time winning the Parochial Group II title, with unbeaten Immaculata (8-0) and second-seeded Camden Catholic (6-2) playing their best ball of the year as well. Up first for the Caseys, however, is Pope John-Sparta (6-2), the No. 4 seed. Look for Immaculata to be 11-0 when this tournament is over. In consolation games, all of which will be played on Saturday at 1 p.m., Holmdel will host Voorhees, while Mater Dei will travel to Bayley Ellard in Madison. Keansburg will play at Metuchen. By Doug mckenzie
By warren rappleyea Staff Writer Middletown North girls wrap up another successful season Lions have bright future ahead of them FARRAH MAFFAI Middletown North’s Heather Zito completes her balance beam routine at Friday’s state gymnastics meet at Old Bridge High School. It was another successful season for the Middletown High School North field hockey team and, with most of its players returning, even better things may be in store down the road. The Lions finished at 14-6-1 and won the Shore Conference’s Class A North crown for the third successive year. Middletown North also went to the finals of the conference tourney, downing quality teams in Ocean and Wall along the way, and reached the second round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournament. “It took us a while to find out which girls fit in which positions, but we had a set lineup for the playoffs, and that helped us quite a bit,” coach Bill Lafalce said. “Last year we had mostly seniors, so we had to move some players around and change a few things this season.” Only two seniors, fullback Elena Marszallwicz and midfielder Jaimee Famando, started regularly, and both were key performers. Marszallwicz led the team with 12 assists and handled a lot of responsibilities, such as penalty corners and free hits, while Famando, in her third varsity campaign, helped control the middle of the field. Forward Mary Hern and midfielder Lauren Benedetti, the Lions’ other two seniors, contributed valuable minutes off the bench. Other key players included Kaitlyn Faalan, a junior forward, who led Middletown North with a team-record 20 goals. Sophomore wingers Annmarie Lopresti and Corrine Monahan added 14 and 12 goals, respectively. Monahan also contributed 11 assists. Sophomores Ashleigh Pecherski and Caitlin Browne were instrumental in the middle, and the Lions’ defense was outstanding throughout the season. Goalie Katie McGowan, a junior, sparkled, posting eight shutouts. The defense included juniors Allison Corvo, Lindsay Harris, Samantha Mazzucola and Jackie Matthew, as well as sophomores Amanda Wichnick and Allyson Dunzello, and reserve goaltender Allison Walker, who did well in limited action, including a 4-3 victory over Manasquan in her first varsity start. “This turned out to be a very balanced team,” Lafalce said. “We had to move a few people around, but once we got to a set lineup, everything fell into place. We were able to beat some very good teams in the playoffs, and that gave the girls a lot of confidence. The best thing is that most of the girls will be back next season.”
The Central New Jersey chapter of the New Jersey Football Officials Association is seeking candidates who are interested in becoming certified high school officials in New Jersey. Candidates must be 18 years old and residents of New Jersey. Classes will be held at Piscataway High School beginning the first Thursday after Labor Day. Cadets must be able to work Monday sub-varsity games and Friday freshman games, and will also work as part of chain crews at varsity games on Friday nights and at Saturday afternoon games. Deadline for entry is March 11. Cadets who are interested can write to Red Losiewicz at 82 Janice Drive, Spotswood 08884, or call (732) 251-0369. The Central Jersey Hawks U10 basketball team is looking for serious, dedicated players and will be holding tryouts in January. E-mail [email protected], or call (732) 886-5676 with any questions. Competing for the first time since Dec. 7, the Rutgers wrestling team competed at the Wilkes Open in Wilkes, Ill., on Dec. 28. At 285, senior Frank Sabatino, of Hazlet, gave RU its fourth first-place finish by winning all three of his matches. After advancing by medical forfeit, Sabatino defeated Brian Meilnick of Millersville, 3-2, in the semifinals and Millersville’s Mike Davidowic, 3-1, in the finals. Sabatino finished seventh last season. He is currently ranked fifth at 285 pounds in the latest EIWA poll. The Bayshore Bulldogs boys’ 12U team is seeking two players to commit to a nationally successful AAU program for the upcoming season. All sixth-graders are eligible. Call (732) 957-8259 or e-mail [email protected] for more information. The Aberdeen-Matawan Girls’ Softball League will be holding its annual softball registration for ages 5-17 during the month of January. Registration will be held at Aberdeen Town Hall on Jan. 15 and 22, 6-8 p.m. Registration will also be held on Jan. 18 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Any first-time player must submit a copy of her birth certificate. The St. Mary’s Athletic Association will be holding registration for its spring soccer program on Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the grade school. The program is open to all children ages 4-16. The cost is $60 for one child, and $100 for two or more from the same family. The school is located at 538 Church St. in the New Monmouth section of Middletown. For more information, call (732) 671-7179.
Local teams gear up for runs at postseason, division titles BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer MIKE JONES Middletown North’s Marc Rosner is defended by Freehold Township’s Gerald Morris during the Lions’ loss in Middletown on Friday. After getting out of the gate at 0-4, the St. John Vianney High School boys basketball team has won four of its last six games and is looking to make a run at the NJSIAA Parochial A playoffs. To get in the Lancers will need to win at least five of the eight games remaining before the Feb. 5 cutoff. Teams must be at or above .500 at the end of play that day to qualify. “Right now we don’t have a large margin for error,” coach David Emery said. “The big thing is that our guys believe they can do what it takes to get in the state playoffs. Attitude is important, and they have a good one.” Emery’s team has been struggling offensively, but the return of junior center Matt Mullery has added points. Mullery, who is recovering from a torn ACL, is still seeing somewhat limited action but has averaged 12 points in his six games. Point guard Pat Dineen is leading the team with a 13-point average, and sophomore forward Eric Johannesen has been a bright spot as well, averaging nine points. Meanwhile, the Gantner brothers, Tim and Tony, have been providing a spark. Tim Gantner is a strong defensive presence, while Tony Gantner, a freshman, has played well in backing up Dineen at the point. “We’ve been playing well of late, but we’ll have to step our offense even more,” Emery said. “We’re 3-0 in games where we have at least three players in double figures in scoring. I’m using that to illustrate the need for balance.” To make the Lancers’ challenge even more difficult, nine of St. John’s next 10 games are on the road, including three this week: yesterday at Raritan, tomorrow in Manasquan and Saturday at St. Rose. “We’ll just have to come out strong and hope for the best,” Emery said. Notes… SJV is just one of three local boys teams that appear to be on the bubble with the state playoff deadline less than three weeks away. Both Holmdel (6-5) and Middletown North (6-5) will need to finish strong over the next couple of weeks in order to secure their spots in the postseason. And with a very strong finish, the Lions could find themselves in the midst of a five-team battle for the A North title. Ocean currently sits atop the division at 7-3 (4-2 in divisional play), coming off its 63-40 win over Ocean on Saturday. But Freehold Township, who beat Middletown North, 55-35, on Saturday is also 4-2 in the division, just one game ahead of Manalapan (3-3) and Howell (3-3). Marlboro (7-4, 2-4) also remains in the mix. Among the local boys teams that are virtually assured of postseason berths are top-ranked Raritan (10-2), who was humbled a bit by state power St. Patrick’s, 69-51, at the Battle of the Boardwalk in Asbury Park on Saturday; second-ranked CBA (11-2), who won its BOTB matchup with Neptune, 59-44; and Mater Dei, who a 8-2 (5-1 in the division), finds itself in a battle with St. Rose for the top spot in Class B Central. Those two teams will face off in Belmar on Feb. 1 in a contest that could well decide the division title. In girls action… Top-ranked St. John Vianney (7-3), Holmdel (7-3) and Middletown South (7-3) all appear to be good bets to be headed to the postseason. From there, however, the picture gets a bit fuzzy. Mater Dei (6-5), Middletown North (4-5) and Keyport (4-6) will all be fighting for their postseason berths over the next few weeks, as the regular season winds down. While North appears out of the A North divisional race, where Howell is running away with their 6-0 mark (10-0 overall), Holmdel finds itself in the driver’s seat for the public schools title in A Central. At 3-2 in the division, the Hornets are behind both SJV and Red Bank Catholic, but tied with Rumson-Fair Haven among public schools. The Hornets, who shocked RBC on Friday with a 40-37 win (led by freshman Kim Fiorentino’s 17-point performance), will travel to Rumson on Tuesday in a game which may go a long way toward deciding the division title.
BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer The names on the stadium fence – Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Barry Bonds – let Brad Brach and the Monmouth University baseball team know that they had graduated to the big time. After capturing the Northeast Conference Tournament championship, and with it, the automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals, the Hawks waited to see where they would be assigned. They drew the Tempe Arizona Regional, where their first-round opponent was the host, Arizona State University (ASU), the program that had won multiple NCAA titles and produced the likes of Jackson, Bando and Bonds. “To play a storied program was just amazing,” said Brach, the ace of the Hawks’ pitching staff. “At practice the day before the game, I saw the names of Jackson and Bonds on the fence; it reminded me that we were playing on the same field that they did.” Besides the name ASU and its talent, the Hawks had to deal with Packard Stadium, which seats 6,000 people. “We’re used to seeing 250 at a game,” said Brach. “It was exciting.” Brach and the Hawks, though, were not intimidated by the surroundings. They would give the nation’s No. 5-ranked team all they wanted in a first-round, 5-3 loss. After scoring two runs in the top of the ninth, they had the tying runs on second and third when the game ended. Although Brach would lose just his third decision of the season against a team-record nine wins, he offered the Sun Devils no quarter. “Everyone counted us out of the game,” he said. “Before the game, we talked about them just like any other opponent.” Brach, who was named the NEC Pitcher of the Year, did his job keeping his team in the game, surrendering four runs in 7.1 innings. During the season, the Sun Devils had averaged 10 runs a game. “I only had my fastball that day,” noted the former Freehold Township High School star. “I wish I had more than one pitch working.” Hawk manager Dean Ehehalt said that his junior right-hander did everything he wanted him to do. “Brad was outstanding,” he said. “He pitched his heart out. There were a couple of pitches that got up. You have to tip your hat to their hitters. “Every pitch, you are sitting on eggshells,” he added. “Brad pitched one heck of a game. What more could you ask?” Brach earned the respect of the ASU hitters. “I tip my hat to him, he did a great job,” said Sun Devil outfielder Ike Davis. Monmouth was making its third NCAA appearance under Ehehalt. Following the loss to ASU, the Hawks needed to beat Nebraska to stay alive. They again had the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, but fell short, 6-5. Ehehalt was pleased by the way his team went toe to toe with two of the country’s best programs. “Our team went to Tempe really ready to compete and just played extremely hard,” he said. “Our goal was to win a game, and although that did not happen, we certainly played two storied programs pitch for pitch. “The environment was electric, and our players played up to the challenge and fell a few runs short,” he added. “If you are a player, these are the games you dream of playing.” Brach agreed with his coach about the significance of participating in the NCAA and that it will be the team’s motivation for 2008. “I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he said of the tournament. “It was awesome. We’re a young team with most of us coming back next year. We started to talk about coming back next year. We will be really driven to win the NEC and get back here.” Monmouth closed the season at 36-24-1, establishing a new single-season record for wins. There would have been no NCAA experience without the Hawks’ win in the NEC Tournament, held in New Britain, Conn. Brach played a key role there, pitching a complete-game seven-hit shutout in the Hawks’ 9-0 win over Mount St. Mary’s. That was his ninth win of the season and 21st of his career, making him the winningest pitcher in school history. Even with Brach’s shutout, the tournament still came down to a winner-take-all game with Central Connecticut State, and it was senior lefty Matt Coulson who got the starting assignment. The Freehold Borough graduate, pitching in what could have been the final start and game of his Monmouth career, made it a memorable one. He allowed just one run in 7.2 innings of work, leading the Hawks to a 7-1 win and the championship. Justin Esposito (Middletown North) picked up his team-high 10th save of the season in relief. “I roomed with Matt all season,” said Brach. “He pitched the game of his life.” Coulson was named the tourney MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Brach. The NCAA was a fitting way to conclude Brach’s finest season. Already a two-time All-NEC pitcher, Brach was more dominant than ever. Overall, he was 9-3 with a 2.89 earned-run average. He worked 99.2 innings with 84 strikeouts (a new single-season record). He tossed six complete games and four shutouts, including a no-hitter. In NEC games, he was 6-1 with a 2.50 ERA He was named the Pitcher of the Week twice. Along with being the NEC Pitcher of the Year, the ex-Patriot star was cited by the New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association as its Pitcher of the Year. He was named to the NJCBA First Team. Coulson went 4-3 for the Hawks with a 5.52 ERA. Another highlight of the season for Brach was sharing it with his younger brother, freshman Brett Brach. “We’ve had fun the whole season,” he pointed out. Brett Brach saw action as a starter, reliever and closer. He won three games and recorded two saves in his rookie campaign. He was named to the NJCBA All-Rookie Second Team. One advantage of having such an outstanding season for Brad Brach is that it opened the door to playing in the Cape Cod League this summer. It is the biggest college summer league in the country. The list of Cade Cod graduates who have gone on to the major leagues is as big as a telephone directory. “It’s a great opportunity,” he said. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer
Tom Heath looked at the Bowdoin Park Classic in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Saturday as a barometer for his Christian Brothers Academy cross country team. “We’ll find out where we are,” Heath said prior to the race. What he found out is that his Colts are in pretty good shape for a run at the Nike Team Nationals. Bowdoin Park will host the Northeast Region qualifier on Nov. 24 and the Colts got their first look at the course and some of their opposition Saturday. Competing against a field loaded with ranked teams, the Colts finished a strong third behind a pair of teams that have been ranked in the Top 25 in the country, Brookline, Mass., which won with 66 points and New York State power Shenendehowa (96). The Colts were third, but first among New Jersey teams, with 117 points. Jackson Memorial, last year’s state champions, was eighth (178). “We did OK,” said Heath. “We were hoping to beat one of them [Brookline or Shenendehowa]. We beat a lot of good teams, just not enough.” Shaker (No. 3 in New York State) and Jackson (No. 8 in the Northeast) were the ranked teams that CBA beat. The Colts wanted to beat one of the two teams ahead of them to give themselves a crack at gaining a national ranking. Only 36 seconds separated the Colts five scorers on Saturday. Vin Ferrer posted a 16:59 on the Bowdoin Park course and was 13th overall. Brendon Pierson was 21st (17:20) and Chris LaMorte (17:20) was 24th. Kyle Havard (17:27) and Ben Horel (17:35) were the Colts fourth and fifth scorers in 27th and 32nd, respectively. The Colts got a better feel for the course where two teams will automatically qualify for the Dec. 1 NTN in Portland, Ore. “It was a difficult course,” said Heath. “We were not aggressive early. It’s uphill for the first half, which is twice as long as Holmdel Park. “The last half is downhill and there was not as much movement as I thought,” he added. “I’m glad we went. The course is deceiving. Now we have a better idea of it.” The Colts did little to harm their No. 6 ranking in the Northeast or top ranking in the state. Next up for the CBA will be the Shore Coaches Invitational at familiar Holmdel Park on Oct. 6. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer
BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent At this time of the year, all the high school football teams are equally optimistic. When the 2010 season kicks off this weekend, everyone has the same 0-0 record and dreams of making the playoffs. Locally, Holmdel High School will be hosting Lakewood on Saturday night (7 p.m.), and Raritan High School travels to New Brunswick for a 7 p.m. kickoff. St. John Vianney High School has its bye week and waits until Sept. 16 to play its first game. The Lancers will open at Rumson-Fair Haven (7 p.m. kickoff). The following is a look at the 2010 Holmdel, Raritan and St. John Vianney football teams. Holmdel High School The Holmdel football team will be looking to turn things around in 2010. Last season the Hornets finished with a 2-8 record and failed to score more than two touchdowns in a single game, a feat that they have not accomplished since Thanksgiving 2007. This season, however, Holmdel has a renewed sense of confidence going into the season opener against Lakewood “Our first goal is to beat Lakewood, and there is not one person on this team who doesn’t want to make the playoffs,” head coach Frank Papalia said, stressing the importance for the team to build confidence with an opening-day win. Papalia, who is in his second season as head coach of the Hornets, is confident in his team partly because there are six returning starters on each side of the football. “The returning players are in more comfortable positions,” he said, “and this is the third offense and defense some of them are playing under.” Papalia’s team will be running a spread offense in 2010, and the objective is simple: spread the ball around. “Our offense is definitely dangerous,” the Hornets’ coach said. “I’m confident we can score points.” On the defensive side of the football, Papalia would like to see his team exhibit sound fundamentals. “I know it sounds simple, but we need to tackle,” he said. And, according to coach Papalia, the team’s overall success will depend on how well the Hornets adhere to this year’s theme: “Inside of our four walls.” “What we mean by that is taking care of ourselves,” Papalia explained. “One thing we are trying to preach is take care of yourself and do your assignment. We need to do our job, and hopefully everything works out.” The coaching staff, which Papalia described as “professionalism top to bottom,” will continue to support this idea during practices and games. “The players have really rallied around the staff,” Papalia said. Papalia and the Hornets are confident that they can turn things around if they remain focused on their goals. “The key word is to compete,” Papalia said. Papalia is also sure to remind everyone that last season could have easily been a different story. “We very well could have been a 4-6 team [in 2009],” he said, noting that Holmdel lost two close games last season. With last season behind them, the Holmdel Hornets are hoping to find success this season by taking care of their own business. Raritan High School Following a strong 2009 campaign, Raritan is ready to further improve on their 8-3 record from last season. Head coach Anthony Petruzzi sees his team as a strong contender in 2010. “We have the opportunity to be in a lot of games,” Petruzzi said. “We have to take care of our part. We pay attention to detail. “We are confident in our offensive and defensive schemes that we put together,” he added. “Our best should be better than the other team’s best.” The Rockets have six returning starters on offense and six on defense, so the team has a core group of players who can lead. “We have a strong senior class,” Petruzzi said. “We also have a lot of younger gentlemen who can step up for us this year. We try to get a lot of our younger guys on the field.” According to Petruzzi, Raritan seems to have a good mix of older and younger players, and the coaching staff is working to prepare everybody. “I am confident that [the players] will be ready,” he said. When asked about the nature of the team’s practices, Petruzzi characterized practices as being a “conditioning period.” “We try to work at a high tempo and turn mental toughness into a physical nature,” he said. “Our goal is to be the most physical team on Saturday [game day].” Raritan’s strengths on both sides of the football are certainly correlated to the physical nature of the team. “Our success will be running the ball and playing good defense,” Petruzzi said. “We will take some vertical shots, but we rely on our front line [on offense].” Heading into the season opener on Saturday, Sept. 11, against New Brunswick High School, the Rockets will continue to work hard in preparation, Petruzzi said. “It has been business as usual, and we will be ready for New Brunswick,” he added. St. John Vianney High School With a strong group of returning players, St. John Vianney, led by head coach Skip Edwards, will be a team filled with experienced players. The Lancers have seven returning starters on offense and five on defense. The entire offensive line, including two tight ends, will remain intact, and the team’s kicker, who also serves as the punter, is back as well. “It’s definitely a plus having players with the knowledge of seasoned veterans,” Edwards said. “We also have nine of our 12 coaches back with us, and they have been working hard to prepare the players.” The Lancers have been preparing for their season opener, which will be on Sept. 16 against Rumson-Fair Haven. The team has a bye week the first week of the high school season. “It’s going to be a tough game against Rumson,” Edwards said, “but we are going to play right along with them. “We lifted all summer and had a long preseason camp,” he added “The players are working real hard.” The team is certainly optimistic that they can improve on last season’s 4-6 record. Last year’s team was predominantly composed of juniors, and Skip Edwards believes his Lancers are much better overall this season. “We are a more physical team than last year. We are smart and athletic,” he said. “We are also much improved defensively.” The Lancers also have a number of younger players who will be expected to contribute this season. “We are hoping the kids step up to the next level and be competitive,” said Edwards. When it comes to the team’s objectives for the 2010 season, the Lancers aim to play together as a team. “Our main goal is to become a team and stay healthy,” Edwards said. “The players have been working very hard. The team really has a sense of community — and Lancer pride, as we call it.” This season, St. John Vianney is optimistic that the team’s Lancer pride and positive work ethic will translate into success.
By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent The Matawan Regional High School indoor track and field team’s tradition of success in the pole vault continued at the NJSIAA Group II championships on Feb. 13 at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River, where Nicole Macco and Matt Isaacson locked up returns to the Meet of Champions (MOC).Macco looks to defend her MOC championship.Macco and Isaacson led a brigade of five girls and eight boys from Matawan who advanced to the MOC at the same facility on Feb. 21, and they led their squads in the team standings. The girls won the team title with 34 points — two more than Deptford High School — and the boys accumulated 38 points to finish second to River Dell Regional High School, which had 42.Sophomore Sam Anderson was a big reason for the girls’ strong finish by winning the 800 meters (2:17.05), finishing second in the 400 (57.47) and running on the thirdplace 4×400 relay (4:09.82).The boys 4×400 relay also advanced, finishing second (3:27.65), while Matt Natoli in the 800 meters (2:00.25) and Nate Bowie in the 55 hurdles (7.81) each placed third. Donald Smalls (49-10¾) and Christian Eschert (47-11¼) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the shot put, while Tom Kalieta was fifth in the 400 (51.72).The top six finishers qualified for the MOC.Macco has the rare distinction of reaching the MOC all four years in high school and of being the first Matawan athlete to win her event in back-to-back MOCs. She advanced with a jump of 11-6 on her first attempt, which matched her winning height at the MOC last year and her winning height at the Central Jersey championships the previous week. She reached a personal best of 12-0 in a meet last year.As a sophomore, Macco matched the high mark for the day of 11-6 at the MOC but finished third based on misses.During her freshman year, she helped the girls to their previous group title. This winter, Macco made an impressive comeback from a foot injury suffered while landing from a vault at the Huskies Invitational in Matawan last spring.“There are still a lot of things I need to improve. It’s hard to jump in the winter,” said Macco, who also trains at the Vertical Assault facility in Bath, Pa. “I like being seeded high for this meet and have the confidence I need to go into this meet. I love the competition.”Sam Turner, who coaches both indoor teams, said the pole vault “has been a great tradition in the 30 years I’ve been here. It’s a credit to the kids and the program.“And I’m very proud of the kids and what they’ve done. The consistency of Nicole has been amazing for four years. There’s a lot of pressure on that foot and [coming back from her injury] has been very tough on her mentally and physically. At this stage, it’s the elite of the elite for all of them, where they have a chance to show what they’ve got. I know our kids won’t let us down.” With Anderson reaching the MOC in her first two years of high school, Turner has no doubt that she will reach it all four years of her indoor career if she stays healthy. She medaled in the 400 as a freshman last year, finishing sixth in 57.35. Although Anderson qualified for the two middle distance events, she likely will compete in only the 400 again.“She’s a wonderful girl with a great family and great academics,” Turner said.On his first attempt, Isaacson matched his 14-0 mark from the sectionals that he won a week earlier to lead the field at the group meet. He’ll look to surpass last year’s showing in the MOC, where he also reached 14-0 and finished in eighth place.“I’m very excited. There’s not as much competition. I’m thinking 14-6 wins it,” said Isaacson, who reached that in an earlier meet and is shooting for the school record of 15- 0 set four years ago by John Bartlett. Isaacson switched to a larger, heavier pole two weeks ago. “I’m ready to go. I’ll practice one day at Bennett this week. Even though I have the experience from last year, I’ll still be a little nervous. So many things have to be right. The run [to the bar] is huge and the plant — they’re the biggest part.”“Isaacson has a real shot. He has to reach 14-6 to win,” Turner said.Macco said the swing up is the most important element in her jump.And both vaulters support each other in the big meets and share pointers and advice.“He talks to me a lot about it,” Macco said of Isaacson. “It’s just like muscle memory. If I overthink it, it won’t work out.”Isaacson agreed.“In the past couple of years, we’ve had pretty solid jumpers with four guys on our team clearing 12-6 last year. But this year, it’s just the two of us,” Isaacson said. “We coach each other every day, along with our coaches, and she’s the person I go to when I miss because she knows what it’s about out there. She helps me out a lot.”Isaacson, who also played midfield on the boys soccer team that had its strongest season in many years at 12-6, will concentrate on the pole vault in college. He is considering Richard Stockton College, West Chester University and Rutgers University.Anderson finished comfortably ahead of second-place finisher Kayla Martin (2:18.50) of Seneca High School in the 800. Anderson was .06 behind Deptford High School’s Kiara Lester in the 400. Lester also won the 55 dash (7.21). Anderson was joined on the 4×400 relay by Danielle Cross, Yasmin Ali and Danielle Veliz.Natoli and Kalieta were joined by Greg Edwards and Shawn Ramcheran in the boys 4×400 relay.Smalls, who finished a spot ahead of Eschert at the group meet, threw the winning mark of 51-6¾ in the sectional meet.Macco, Isaacson, Anderson and Smalls, as well as both 4×400 relays and the boys formidable 4×200 relay, will compete at the Eastern States on March 3 at the 168th Street Armory in New York City.
By Peter StevensonPHILIPPOS Stavrou’s museum dedicated to Michel Platini may see him enter the Guinness Book of World Records on Sunday morning for collecting a large amount of memorabilia on the UEFA president.A video will be recorded and sent to Guinness of the museum in Mosfiloti devoted to the former France national team captain to see if Stavrou can break the record for the largest collection of sporting memorabilia.The process began a year ago and the current record is held by Fernando Da Silva who had collected 1,625 items related to Portuguese club Benfica five years ago.The museum contains a raft of pictures, posters, jerseys and footballs autographed by the great man himself, all carefully and neatly arranged.Visitors to the museum can also try food from Stavrou’s coffeeshop and snack bar which also doubles as the House of Platini.It’s taken Stavrou more than 20 years to craft this extraordinary memorial in honour of Platini, who shot to fame as star of Italian club Juventus and a member of the French national team in the late 1970s and the 1980s, taking part in three World Cups.Filippos Stavrou PlatiniStavrou estimates that his museum contains far more pieces of memorabilia on Platini than Da Silva has on Benfica and is the reason why he began the process of attempting to break the Guinness World Record.Back in 2009, Stavrou’s dream came true when he met Platini in the flesh. He had received a call from UEFA vice chairman Marios Lefkaritis informing him he would be paying him a visit.“When Lefkaritis arrived, he got out of the car, paused and said ‘Look who’s here’. And lo and behold, out comes Michel Platini. As soon as I saw him I screamed ‘Michel’! I think the entire village must have heard me,” Stavrou said.Stavrou described it as the greatest day in his life. He claims the whole setup was a surprise. It was Lefkaritis who had arranged the meeting. The UEFA Vice Chairman told his boss Platini about Stavrou, and the Frenchman was intrigued enough to agree to visit Mosfiloti, a place he’d most likely never heard of.According to Stavrou, he has completed all of the procedures required by Guinness other than sending them the video.On Sunday morning the museum’s official certification will take place in the presence of various MPs. The event is open to the public and is being organised by the community leader of Mosfiloti, followed by a reception open to the public.The event at the Platini Museum is open to the public and following the recording, Stavrou-Platini will host a reception to all that will honour him with their presence.