Howell Rebels seek more consistency during 2020 campaign

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The Howell High School football team runs out onto the field before its game against Freehold High School on Oct. 23 in Farmingdale. Howell is 1-3 on the season. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School quarterback JT Goodman rolls out to his right and throws a screen pass to running back Hunter Lino during the team's game against Freehold High School on Oct. 23 in Farmingdale. Goodman has four total touchdowns this season for Howell. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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The Howell High School football team runs out onto the field before its game against Freehold High School on Oct. 23 in Farmingdale. Howell is 1-3 on the season. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School quarterback JT Goodman rolls out to his right and throws a screen pass to running back Hunter Lino during the team's game against Freehold High School on Oct. 23 in Farmingdale. Goodman has four total touchdowns this season for Howell. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

HOWELL – The Howell High School football team is under new leadership in 2020 as former Red Bank Catholic High School coach Frank Edgerly has taken the reigns of the program.

Through learning a new system and dealing with the challenges of the coronavirus, the Rebels (1-3) have shown promise through their first four games.

“The effort from our players has been there all season, but execution and taking advantage of opportunities are things we still need to work on,” Edgerly said.

It has been tough sledding for the Rebels since they scored their first victory under Edgerly in a 13-7 win over Manalapan on Oct. 9. Since defeating the Braves, the Rebels have lost to Colts Neck, 21-7, on Oct. 17, and to Freehold, 33-13, on Oct. 23.

Going up against the Colonials on Senior Night on Oct. 23, the Rebels fought back from an early deficit.

Staring at fourth and 13 on the Freehold 23 early in the second quarter, junior quarterback J.T. Goodman floated a perfect pass to Timmy Zaccaria that the senior wide receiver took to the end zone to tie the score, 6-6. It was Goodman’s third touchdown pass of the season.

Goodman and senior Hunter Lino each have a team-high four touchdowns.

Freehold answered Howell’s score on the first play of its next possession when Sha’Kim Shuler hooked up with Yah-Sin Calhoun for a 64-yard touchdown to regain the lead.

The Colonials scored two more touchdowns to take a 26-6 lead into the half. The 20-point deficit proved to be too much for Howell to overcome as Freehold rolled to its third victory of the season.

“We have to block and tackle better. We have to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves,” Edgerly said. “It’s a work in progress. We have to continue to work.”

Edgerly was pleased with the effort of his defense in holding Freehold’s explosive offense in check during the second half.

Howell’s touchdown drive at the end of the game was another bright spot in Edgerly’s eyes. The coach was impressed with plays that were made by some of the team’s younger players, especially sophomore wide receiver Jack Garenstein and junior running back Conner Gordon.

Garenstein made two catches that each resulted in a first down on the team’s final drive of the contest, and Gordon finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run.

“To see these guys get out there in a varsity game and perform well is very encouraging,” Edgerly said.

Howell will play at Marlboro High School on Oct. 31.

Edgerly said consistency needs to be his players’ primary focus going into the contest against the Mustangs, along with continuing to follow what they have leaned on while playing football during a pandemic.

“It’s two things. No. 1, control what we can control, and No. 2, do your job. That’s all we can do right now. So much of it is out of our control, but the opportunities we do have, no different than in a game, we have to take advantage of,” the coach said.