Post 10 – HS Football – Preview: Manalapan

July 23, 2018

2017 in Review:   The Braves were 11-1, losing to South Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group 5 final after beating Freehold Township and Perth Amboy.  They scored 510 points for a 42.5 average, while allowing 139 for an 11.58 average, including four shutouts.  Wins included Old Bridge, Freehold Boro, Howell, and Piscataway.

Graduation Losses:  RB Naim Mayfield – Fordham, WR/DB Symir Blacknall – New Hampshire, OL Matt Mazza – Villanova, OL Trevor Radosevich – U Penn, WR Scott Scherzer – Marist, WR/DB Eli Avivi – Robert Morris, K/P David Gelb – Maine, QB Luke Corcione – College of New Jersey, FB Chris Maksimik – College of New Jersey, ILB Sal Tardogno – College of New Jersey, DL Antonio Dieso – College of New Jersey, DB George Lombardi – College of New Jersey

Offense:  Manalapan runs multiple-I and returns three starters.  The quarterback will be junior Sean Kehley (6-1, 180), who quarterbacked the JV team to an 8-1 record.  Tailback will have senior Dale Sieczkowski (6-2, 210), senior Ron White (5-10, 190) and junior Nico Santorelli (5-10, 180) as a possible combination.  Sieczkowski started on defense and had reps at tight end.  Fullback will have both seniors Tyler Bottone (5-9, 200) and Tyler Ciemniecki (5-9, 195) playing.

Tight end has plenty of experience with seniors Alan Pressler (6-2, 230) and Alex Claro (6-1, 215) returning in both one and two-tight end sets.  The wide receivers have Lou Marzo (6-0, 175) and Kyle Spilsbury (5-11, 175) as the frontrunners and senior Nick Cusumano (6-0, 180) in strong pursuit.

The lone starter returning is junior center Nick Cavallaro (6-0, 290).  Joining him at tackle will be junior left tackle Mateusz Zielinski (6-5, 250) and senior right tackle Nick Holowach (6-4, 260).  The right guard is junior Matt Kovacs (5-11, 235), while left guard is a battle between junior Charlie Paulucci (5-10, 210) and sophomore Mike Maksimik (5-11, 245).

Defense:  The Braves run a 3-4 and return six starters.  However, they received bad news when their top player on last year’s defense, linebacker Tommy Pearce (6-0, 215), who would have been a four-year starter, recently tore his ACL at football camp and will miss the season.

Back at end are both Pressler and senior Da-Shon Taylor (6-2, 215).  Kovacs is in the lead at nose guard, but he will be pushed by others.

Sieczkowski and Claro started at outside linebacker last year, but Pearce’s injury forces Claro to move inside.  Both Bottone and Ciemniecki will play inside next to Claro and the other outside post may be a combination of juniors Matt Benedetti (6-0, 190) and Hayden Hess (5-10, 180).

Returning at safety is junior Justin Reilly (6-0, 185) and Nick Marzo (6-0, 180) will pair with him.  The corners will have senior Josh Schoenhaus (5-11, 175) at one spot and the other will probably be senior John Scharaldi (5-9, 170).  Also in the secondary mix will be Cusumano, Spilsbury, and senior Lucas D’Amato (6-0, 175) who sat out the last two years to concentrate on baseball.

Special Teams:  Senior Jack DeMatteo will handle kicking and punting duties.  The return men have Santorelli, Spilsbury, and others in the running.


Friday, 9/7, Toms River North at home, 7 PM
Friday, 9/14, Middletown South at home, 7 PM
Friday, 9/21, at Freehold Township, 6:30 PM
Friday, 9/28, at Howell, 6:30 PM
Friday, 10/5, Central Regional at home, 7 PM
Friday, 10/12, at Brick Memorial, 7 PM
Friday, 10/19, at Long Branch, 7PM
Friday, 10/26, Lacey at home, 7 PM

Recruits:  Sieczkowski has an offer from Monmouth, while Taylor, Pressler, and Claro are receiving interest from 1-AA schools.  Pearce was an Ivy/Patriot League candidate before the injury and it remains to be seen what happens.

Concerns:   They had a very good defense last year and there are significant players back, but losing Pearce is a major blow.  They have players who can make it up and they will still be good, but how do they make up for it?  The offense lost firepower, including five 3-year starters.

Comments:  “It’s a different year and the schedule has changed, but the expectations are the same: playing for a state championship.  We have young guys with an opportunity who are good football players, they just need experience.” – Head Coach Eddie Gurrieri

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