Ryan Wydra @schoops1
The 2014 season was a difficult one for the Raiders. While the Raiders had a lot of talent, things didn’t always go the way they would have hoped on the field. Toms River East began the season with a 21-14 hard fought loss to Southern Regional, but things slowly got difficult after that. The Raiders will look to improve after giving up 32.6 points per game in 2014 and finishing with a 1-9 record. Although the team may have finished 1-9, they were still able to finish on a high note with a 21-19 victory over Donovan Catholic in the NJSIAA Consolation Game. Head Coach Charlie Diskin brings back plenty of talent with QB Dylan Savulich, RB Nick Grande, and Senior Captain OL Brandon Burdge.. Burdge is a player with a lot of experience and will provide tremendous leadership for the Raiders. The team will look to follow Brandon’s lead as they will work through camp this Summer. There is only one thing on the Raiders mind and that is Week 1 against Southern Regional.
Head Coach: Charlie Diskin ( 11th Year) 49-53 overall
2014 Record: 1-9
Key Returns: Brandon Burdge (SR OL/DL) Nick Grande (SR RB/DB) Dylan Savulich (SR QB/DB) Hunter Gibbons (SR OL/DL/K) Pat Saunders (SR WR/DB) Dan Gilligan (SR RB/LB) Avery DelValle (SR TE/DE) Michael Grasso (SR DB)
Key Losses: Jason Venezia ( QB/LB/P) Jeff Wood (RB/LB) Ryan Waslick (RB/DB) Brody Idzinski (OL/DE) Patrick Strucke (OL/DE) Justin Sauers (SR OL)
Key Newcomer: Bailey Englehard (SR WR/DB)
The Raiders will once again run the multiple wing formation in 2015. Toms River East brings back Senior Quarterback Dylan Savulich who can hurt opponents in a lot of different ways. Savulich has good vision and can see the field really well. He knows how to connect with his receivers to keep the chains moving. The team will rely upon Savulich to set the tone for this team. The leadership of the QB is really important to how a team can perform overall. Junior Jake Gilligan will also see some time at the position. Gilligan is a mobile QB who knows how to make plays with his feet. TR East may run plays with both Savulich and Gilligan on the field, as Gilligan can also play the RB position. It will be a challenge for opponents to stop that.
The Raiders will look to run the ball a lot out of the Wing T. There are so many plays that are based on getting to the outside. While the team will certainly miss Senior running back Jeff Wood, Nick Grande is here and ready to carry the load when needed. Grande was a big weapon and the offensive MVP for the Raiders last season.. Grande knows how to use his speed to get past defenders, and can be very hard to stop. Grande will look to take his game to an even higher level in 2015. Dan Gilligan will also provide the Raiders with another back who can make plays. Gilligan can do a lot of different things on the ield. Both Grande and Gilligan can be effective in the passing game. Michael Grasso and Avery DellaValle will hold down the wing positions. Both these Wings were very dependable in 2014. Sophomore Tommy Ferrante will be a big part of the offense at the Fullback position. Ferrante is a good blocker, and can also pick up the first down in short yardage situations. This backfield will put the Raiders in good position to put some points on the board.
TR East will also have a lot of weapons at the WR position. Pat Saunders returns to the team for his senior year. Saunders will provide a deep threat down the line. Saunders knows how to use his athleticism to beat different coverages. Saunders will lead a strong group of receivers. Jordan Asri is another target who is looking to get on the field and make some noise. Senior Nick Clauss and Sophomore Nick Silvia will also look to impress the coaching staff in camp. Newcomer Bailey Englehard can also be a weapon available to the squad. Englehard is a big target at 6’6″ who is in his first year playing football. He is working to get the offense down and provide another option in the red zone for this team. Look for the Raiders to throw the ball a lot this year.
The offensive line is definitely a major strength for the Raiders. Senior Captain Brandon Burdge will lead the way. Burdge is a 6’1″ 250 pound guard who knows how to use his strength the maintain the interior part of the line. Burdge has a lot of experience and will take it to opposing defenders. Most of all, Burdge is a motivator and the emotional leader of this team. Hunter Gibbons returns at the other guard position. Gibbons is an athletic guard who can move around very well. Gibbons also happens to be the teams’ place kicker. Dahmon Metta and Thomas Navarra are the Seniors at the tackle position. This offensive line has a lot of depth. Sophomores Richard Herczeg and Nick Fairfield will look to impress in camp. This is a good group of linemen.
NJSR had a chance to catch up with Senior Captain Brandon Burdge to discuss the upcoming season.
Defensively the Raiders will rely on a lot of the same players to lead the way. Dan Gilligan is a LB who is instinctive, and can use his speed to get to the ball carrier. He is a player that can cut down a lot o running backs in this league. Sophomore Tommy Ferrante can also make his presence felt at the linebacker position. Ferrante is downhill linebacker that will use his strength to overpower opposing players. Jake Gilligan and Jake Menzies will also both be in the mix at the LB positions. Both players are instinctive and will look to be difference makers on the field. They are enjoying a nice camp on the defensive side of the ball.
For the Raiders to make a serious run in A South, their defensive line will have to step up to the plate. Captain Brandon Burdge will also lead this side of the line, bringing his experience and power to help lead this group. Burdge can drive back opposing linemen, and get to the ball carrier in a flash. Look for the Raiders to get pressure on the QB as Avery DelValle comes off the edge. He knows how to use his technique to be in the right place at the right time. The Raiders have really been looking to improve their pass rush this season. Sophomores John DeFranco, and Anthony Cresho will also look to get into the mix.
Another goal for Toms River East will be to cut down on giving up big plays. This is one way to improve the amount of points that the team is giving up. The Raiders secondary will have to be on their game to improve in this area. This is a strong athletic group with a lot of potential. Nick Grande will also provide leadership on the back end for this team. As a free safety, he will be expected to help prevent the big passing plays. Grande is also capable of providing run support in the box. Norion Davis can also provide great support at the strong safety position. Mike Grasso and Pat Saunders are cover corners that can shut down a lot of passing plays. They are both corners who can stay with their receivers on multiple patterns. Kyle Blue and Jordan Asri will also look to be a part of the rotation. The Raiders can go with a lot of different coverages because of the depth they have in this secondary.
This will be a very challenging season for Toms River East. The one thing about Class A South is that you never get a week off. Each and every week you are facing off with a top notch program. The Raiders will play Southern Regional and Toms River South in the first two weeks. East must find a way to utilize all their weapons on offense in an efficient way. Offensive chemistry is going to be critical for this team to put points on the board. Defensively they must get to the ball carry, and tackle much better than they did in 2014. They must also slow down the big plays from happening. If this team can come together, the Raiders can significantly improve. The talent is there. It’s all just a matter of execution on the field.
NJSR had a chance to chat with Toms River East Head Coach Charlie Diskin.
Toms River East Schedule
9/11 At Southern – 7PM
9/18 vs Toms River South – 7PM
9/26 vs Brick – 7PM
10/2 vs Brick Memorial – 7PM
10/9 At Freehold Twp. – 630PM
10/16 vs Toms River North – 7PM
10/24 At Freehold Boro. – 1PM
10/30 At Jackson Memorial – 7PM
11/7 vs Lacey – 7PM
11/13 State Tournament/Consolation