HomeThe Atlantic-HubAtlantic-Hub SportsDePaul defeats Red Bank Catholic, 19-17, to win Non-Public B state title

DePaul defeats Red Bank Catholic, 19-17, to win Non-Public B state title

EAST RUTHERFORD โ€” History and redemption were on the line in a rematch of the 2021 NJSIAA Non-Public B state football championship game when Red Bank Catholic High School and DePaul Catholic High School met in the 2022 title game on Nov. 25 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

The Caseys of Red Bank were trying to become the first team in program history to win back-to-back state titles, while the Spartans of Wayne were seeking redemption from last year’s 13-8 loss to Red Bank Catholic.

Early in the contest it looked like history was going to be made as the Caseys led 10-0 midway through the second quarter, but the Spartans responded with 19 unanswered points and held off a late RBC rally to win 19-17.

RBC Coach Michael Lange said coming up short of winning a second state title was not going to define what his players have accomplished during the last two years.

โ€œ(Tonight) is not the story of what their careers have been here. I am very proud of them,โ€ Lange said.

After a scoreless first quarter, RBC took a 3-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter as junior Justin LaMorte kicked a 21-yard field goal.

The Caseys found the end zone on their next possession with senior tailback Sabino Portella leading the way. Portella rushed for three first downs on the drive and scored on a four-yard run as RBC took a 10-0 lead with 4:10 to play in the first half.

Portella rushed for 99 yards in the game. In his senior campaign he rushed for 1,150 yards and 18 touchdowns. Portella ends his scholastic career with 33 rushing touchdowns.

The senior running back has committed to wrestle at the University of North Carolina after placing fourth at the NJSIAA state wrestling tournament during the 2021-22 season.

โ€œHe’s a legend,โ€ Lange said of Portella. โ€œHe was the best player in the Shore (Conference).โ€

The Spartans responded after falling behind 10-0. They scored on the first play of the following series on a 60-yard pass from Derek Zammit to De’zie Jones to pull within 10-7.

With 16 seconds to play in the second quarter, Luke Monteyne kicked a 29-yard field goal to tie the score at 10-10.

The teams played a scoreless third quarter until the final 30 seconds of the period when a seven-yard touchdown run by Anthony Almeida capped a 59-yard touchdown drive and gave the Spartans a 17-10 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Almeida’s touchdown run was set up a few plays earlier on third and seven when Zammit threw a pass that hit the helmet of a DePaul lineman and bounced back into the quarterback’s hands. Zammit then ran to the RBC 20 for a first down.

With 7:18 to play in the fourth quarter, the Spartans blocked an RBC punt out of the end zone for a safety that pushed the lead to 19-10.

Things had changed in the blink of an eye for the Caseys, who were seeing their chance to win a second straight state title dwindling. But RBC would not surrender without a fight.

Sophomore quarterback Frankie Williams fired a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Robert Stolfa with 3:22 to play to make the score 19-17.

Williams threw 20 touchdown passes during the 2022 season.

RBC kicked off after scoring and the defense forced the Spartans to punt after three plays.

The Caseys took possession at their own 29 with 2:53 to play, but could not mount a scoring drive and the turned the ball over on down on four straight plays.

The Spartans took possession with 2:04 to play and ran out the clock to earn a measure of redemption and end the Caseys’ quest to win two straight state titles.

โ€œThey emptied the tank there at the end and that’s all you can ask for as a football coach,โ€ Lange said of his players.

Red Bank Catholic finished the 2022 season 10-2 and were a combined 21-3 during the past two seasons.

โ€œThat’s what Red Bank Catholic football is (all about). I’m proud of these guys. I am proud of the seniors and what they have done for the program. We will be back,โ€ Lange said.

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