Eagles, Lions open football campaigns with victories

By Wayne Witkowski

Maxx Imsho and two newcomers played significant roles in Middletown High School South’s football victory at Red Bank Catholic High (RBC) School, 49-14, Sept. 9 in Red Bank.

Imsho, a spot performer in the backfield last season when the Eagles ended an unbeaten campaign with an NJSIAA North Jersey, Section II, Group IV championship, took on a larger role, as he ran 48 yards for one touchdown and scored another on a turnover while playing on defense. It was complemented by the efforts of sophomore Anthony Summey, a transfer from RBC, who rushed for 127 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Their efforts helped relieve the absence of star running back James McCarthy, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

Another transfer, senior quarterback Aneesh Agrawal, who attended Holmdel High School last fall, threw a touchdown pass of 6 yards to Jeremy Joyce and ran 4 yards for a touchdown — both figuring in the Eagles’ surge to a 28-7 lead at halftime. Imsho also scored his rushing touchdown in the first half.

“[Agrawal] transferred over in the spring, so he already had spent some time with us and it was just a matter of acclimating him to how we play the game,” Middletown South coach Steve Antonucci said. “He’s picked it up quickly.”

Summey, who started practicing with the team two weeks ago after spending the preseason at RBC (he played last season at Saint Joseph Regional High School of Montvale), got the opportunity for major minutes from the start when Antonucci had to move running back Samson Dube to wide receiver for Jeff Lewandowski, who was out with an injury.

RBC struck first on a short touchdown pass before Summey ran 34 yards for the tying touchdown and the first of four unanswered scores by the Eagles in the first half.

Imsho turned the momentum back to Middletown South in the third quarter after RBC closed to 28-14 when he picked up the Caseys’ fumbled snap and took it 30 yards for a touchdown and a 34-14 lead.

“When James went down, you’re looking for the next best guy to be an impact player,” Antonucci said after the game, calling him a jack of all trades. “Maxx was up to the task, and I knew he’d do what he’s doing right now.”

A pair of 32-yard scoring plays — a run by Summey and an interception return by Ryan Ruziecko — capped the scoring.

“We ran a very vanilla package [on offense] so he could get a good grasp of things,” Antonucci said of Summey. “We’ll feed him more offense as he gets more comfortable and in time, he’ll be our No. 1 back. He still has to get a grasp of our offense, but he’s going to be a great player. As the season goes along, he’ll get better and better.”

Lewandowski returns at wide receiver, and Antonucci said he is looking for ways to get Dube back in the backfield to get him the ball as well as Summey for when Middletown South hosts Ocean Township High School at 7 p.m. Sept. 16. Ocean Township, which has played two games this season, comes off a 35-14 loss to Wall High School. It won its opener, 42-14, over Monmouth Regional High School.

“There’s good and bad news because they lost to a team that they didn’t expect to [against Wall], and we’re not sure what kind of team we’ll be dealing with,” Antonucci said. “They have a good quarterback and a great wideout, which creates issues for us defensively, and they have a good complement in the run game. So they’ll be like a caged animal getting after us. If we get out early [for a score] and build a lead, that will be huge.”

Antonucci said the Eagles have no major injuries that will keep any player out of the starting lineup.

Middletown North tops Neptune in opener

RBC takes on another Middletown team Sept. 16 at Middletown High School North, which opened its season with a 34-7 victory at Neptune High School behind Connor Welsh, who rushed for three touchdowns and 114 yards on 20 carries.

Donald Glenn, starting his third season at quarterback, completed 10 of 18 passes for 137 yards for Middletown North, which was 7-4 last season — its most victories since the 2001 season.

“I thought we played pretty well. We got our offense off to a good start, which we felt we needed to do,” coach Steve Bush said. “We also did a couple of good things on special teams. There were a lot of things that needed to get better that we fixed, and there are still some things we need to do on our end for playing Red Bank Catholic. We need to step our game up and play better against them.”

Glenn completed touchdown passes of 45 yards to Dwight Wilkerson and 15 yards to Welsh, as Middletown North raced to a 21-7 lead at halftime.

“I thought he played very well,” Bush said of Glenn. “He knows what to do to get to the second progression to find people open.”

Welsh ran 2 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and 3 yards for a score in the third quarter while showing some elusive moves to evade tacklers. Connor Robbins drove 1 yard into the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Bush hailed the two-way play of Jake Goldfarb as an offensive guard and defensive tackle, as well as the play on defense of lineman Austin Dewise, who also caught a key pass on offense that set up a touchdown in the first half. The coach also praised Brock Zenker at strong safety, Nick Kish at linebacker and Wilkerson at free safety.