Following its first victory in the last four games, the Shore Regional High School football team is anxious to get back on the field and see if it can remain on a winning path through the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 1 sectional playoffs.
The Blue Devils secured a 28-14 victory over Keyport High School on Nov. 4 in Keyport, evening their record to 4-4 on the season.
Shore Regional scored 22 of its points in the second half after trailing, 7-6, at halftime. Jack McCrae rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Teammate Gil Goldsmith had 124 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while senor fullback John Salerno rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown.
“During practice this week, the senior leaders really pushed the younger guys to step up,” Salerno said. “All week, we were reminding them that we needed this win, and we went out and did what we had to do. Our offense dominated, and it was a great game for us.”
Salerno, senior defensive tackle Mike Rosati and head coach Mark Costantino are excited to play in the Central Jersey, Group 1 state playoffs, where they will open at Middlesex High School on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
They expressed their desire for a shot at redemption against Middlesex, which scored an overtime victory, 22-21, against Shore Regional in West Long Branch on Oct. 13.
“This opens up a bunch of opportunities for us,” Salerno said. “That’s great for us. Middlesex beat us in overtime earlier this year. They didn’t deserve that, not at all. That should be our game, and now we have a second chance to dominate.”
“We know going into the playoffs, it’s going to be one hell of a game,” Rosati said. “We’re going to play the best game we’ve played all year.”
Costantino believes his team gave away the regular-season contest to Middlesex and expressed excitement over the rematch.
“It was a great game, but we’re excited to play them again,” the coach said.
Salerno believes Shore Regional can win it all if the team plays like it did against Keyport.
“I have a great feeling about the playoffs,” he said. “This game just proved that we really can dominate both sides of the ball. If we can do that in the playoffs, we can go far. We can win the championship.”
“We expect to win it all,” Costantino said. “We want to get in there and win. We’re Shore Regional, and this is a special program. We’re willing to go out there and keep getting better. It’s about staying healthy and peaking at the right time.”
For Keyport, the loss dropped the Red Raiders to 1-7 on the season. The Red Raiders will play in an NJSIAA regional crossover game at home against Maple Shade High School on Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.
Keyport’s junior running back, Devin Wollner, rushed for 111 yards and scored a touchdown against Shore Regional, while senior wide receiver Ryan Mandelbaum caught two passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Both players stated that the team has what it takes to turn next season into a success.
“I think they have a very good team next year,” Mandelbaum said. “I leave, but they have a lot of young kids coming up. Everyone’s returning except for a couple of people, and they have a handful of phenomenal guys. We’re a good team, and it will show.”
“I think that we’re going to do well, and we’re going to keep working hard,” Wollner said. “We’ll be much better next year.”