Day One at Rutgers
There were three games I attended today at Rutgers in the Rumble on the Raritan: Seton Hall Prep-Pope John, Toms River North bs. Rumson-Fair Haven, and St. Peter’s Prep-St. Joe’s Prep (Pa.).
Seton Hall Prep vs. Pope John
Seton Hall Prep looked very good on their first and final drives of the game. In between, Pope John was the better team, but it wasn’t enough for the Lions and Seton Hall Prep came out the victor, 14-7.
Seton Hall Prep drove down the field to open the game, scoring when Liam Londergan found Danny Easter in the end zone to go in front, 7-0, A big play setting up the score was a 33-yard run by Luigi Pantano. Pope John was moving in the second quarter behind the running of Tylik Hill and Ja’Zaire Aurelius. Quarterback Chris Dietrich almost scored on a run, but he fumbled into the end zone with Seton Hall Prep recovering. The Pirates were forced to punt and Joe Rozynski blocked it with Pope John recovering on the 21. The Lions took advantage when Hill scored on a 7-yard run four minutes left in the half.
Pope John had opportunities in the second half, but a missed field goal and two interceptions prevented them from scoring. Seton Hall Prep started to move the ball late in the game. Pantano was the main man carrying the ball and scored with one minute left on the game for the winning score.
One story for Pope John was their offensive line. For much of the game, they opened holes for their running backs: Hill, Aurelius, and Sean Line. From left to right, junior tackle Justin Platt, senior guard Alexander Gori, sophomore center Jarrod Cofrancesco, sophomore guard Quinn Muli, and sophomore tackle Daniel O’Leary pulled their weight.
Toms River North vs. Rumson-Fair Haven
Toms River North was clicking, offensively behind the running of junior quarterback Micah Ford, who rushed for 279 yards and five touchdowns, while running back Josh Moore ran for 147. Whenever Rumson-Fair Haven was going to make it close, the Mariners would answer right back. Two of those answers were a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown by Nasir Jackson and a long pass down the left sideline from Ford to Jeremiah Pruitt that set up a go-ahead score before halftime. The massive offensive line for TRN was a major factor all day: tackle Justin Kaye, guard Nicholas Baiocco, center Josh Kaye, guard Hathem Hooranyi, and tackle Ja’Elyne Matthews.
The negative for TRN was 19 penalties for 208 yards. They got away with that today, but that will come back and bite them in the playoffs. If they drastically reduce those penalties, they have a team that can perform at or near the level of the best public school team in the state.
Rumson-Fair Haven will have a winning season this year, but they are not at the level of their recent teams yet. Many starters had to be replaced and they do not have the size, while their skill players are gaining experience. One who did well was wide receiver Scott Venancio, making a nice sideline catch between two defenders and running the final ten yards for a 50-yard score to get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.
*Stats courtesy of Asbury Park Press’ Steven Falk and nj.com’s Joe Zedalis.
St. Peter’s Prep vs. St. Joe’s Prep (Pa.)
St. Joe’s Prep struck early and often, beating St. Peter’s Prep, 55-20, after jumping out to a 49-7 lead before halftime.
The game looked like a potential wild one when both teams scored on long passes in the first minute of play, but St. Joe’s Prep dominated the play after that. They did what they wanted, completing passes with long runs after the catch. The defenders covering had no help after the reception with the middle of the field looking wide open, giving St. Joe’s Prep receivers room to run.
Once the score was 42-7 in the second quarter, I decided to leave, knowing the game was headed for a running clock in the second half.