Ryan Wydra @schoops1
The wait is over. Shore Conference Football is finally here! Fans around the Shore will have the opportunity to attend two exciting matchups tonight. For the second year in a row, the Shore has decided to experiment with a Week 0. This gives the fans a taste of the action before the long awaited Week 1!
In the first game, the defending Class B South Champion Central Eagles travel down to parkway to face an always tough Southern Rams team. The Eagles are led by third year Head Coach Willie Jacobs. Central returns Junior Running Back Mike Bickford. Bickford rushed for 2,052 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2014. Quarterback Mike Miserendino is also a huge threat in this offense. Miserendino finished the season with 780 yards passing and 693 rushing. He also had 8 touchdowns in the air, and 7 on the ground.
One of the biggest keys for Central will be protecting Miserendino, and opening holes for Bickford. The Eagles graduated four out of five starters on the offensive line. Darius Marrow is the lone experienced starter and a force at 320 pounds. He will be the anchor of this group. The new starters will depend on Marrow for his leadership.
At the same time, Southern is ready to make a statement. Leading rusher Pat Walker is ready for another great year. Walker rushed for 677 yards, and had 64 tackles on defense. Walker is a three year defensive starter.
The Rams also have Sophomore Sensation Joe Miele at Inside Linebacker. Miele came up as a freshman and led the team on defense with 80 tackles. Miele is one of the biggest prospects at linebacker in the Shore.
Senior Doug VandeVelde will be the man to get this offensive line going. They will need to win the battle at the line of scrimmage to direct Southern’s running attack. Southern will use a variety of backs with Walker, Miele, and Brandon Barnetti.
The Quarterback competition has been an interesting one. Jackson Donahower and Sam Cammarata have been competing for the job. Both Quarterbacks have a unique skill set. Donahower is more of a classic pocket passer. Cammarata is a mobile threat. Tonight, we will find out who gets the start.
Last season, Central walked away with a 16-6 victory. Central capped that off with an offensive surge in the second half. However, this game will be more evenly matched.
WHEN SOUTHERN HAS THE BALL – The Rams will look to establish the running game early on. Southern has always been a tough team in the trenches. They love to run the football! Pat Walker must get off to a good start. Joe Miele and Brandon Barnetti will be there to share the load. The Rams will look to control the clock. Southern will also use the short to intermediate passing game to sustain drives. Anthony Gagliardi and Nick Simonetti will make some noise in the receiving game.
WHEN CENTRAL HAS THE BALL – The Eagles will come right after you. Expect Bickford to get the bulk of the carries. Bickford is a strong runner with blazing speed in the open field. He is a threat to take it to the house on every play! Mike Miserendino is a Quarterback who can make big plays. He can really demonstrate that athleticism by hurting you with his arm or legs. Look for the second year starter to take shots down the field. The tight ends will be a big factor with crossing routes. This is an Eagles offense that can do a lot of damage.
OUTLOOK – This is truly going to be a war. While Central comes in with a lot of offensive weapons, Southern is very tough to beat at home. The Rams have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Linebackers Pat Walker, Joe Miele, and Jesse Amirr are very strong tacklers.
The Southern defensive line will have to control the line of scrimmage. The linebackers must fly to the ball. The Rams cannot allow Bickford to get outside. The team must also account for Miserindino as he will try to stretch the field.
Strong defense and ball control are going to be key. The game will be won by winning the battle upfront. Both teams will have to limit the big plays and turnovers. The edge will go to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes.
In the end, I like the Rams at home in a very close game. Southern always plays well at Ron Emmert Field. They have the athletes to contain Bickford and Miserendino. Special teams is always a big factor. The kicking game will be the difference. Southern has a consistent place kicker in Brandon Barnetti.
The Pick: Southern 14-12
In the other game tonight, Donovan Catholic will look to rebound after an 0-10 season in 2014. The Griffins have some talent coming back on both sides of the ball. Donovan will look to get the ground game going right away. David Calderon is a beast of a running back that can pick up the tough yards. Quarterback Teddy Golubowski is a strong passer and very athletic. Golubowski will lead a balanced Griffins offense. Donovan Catholic goes into the game returning seven starters on offense, and eight on defense.
Pinelands will look to take another step forward under Head Coach Brian Wilkinson. The Wildcats finished with a 2-8 record, but showed significant improvement in Wilkinson’s second year. The Cats were much tougher on the defensive side of the ball. They really turned a corner by keeping every game close, and not giving up a lot of points. To win this game, the Cats will have to dominate the ground game. Running Back Will Jenkins and Fullback Dean Disanzo will have to step up in a big way. Defensively, the team must limit Golubowski and Calderon.
This will be your typical smash mouth football game. It will be just as much of a defensive struggle as last year when the Griffins pulled out a 10-7 victory. Pinelands was later credited with the win after Donovan Catholic was forced to forfeit. The difference in this one will be a big play or two. While Pinelands has gotten much tougher defensively, Donovan Catholic has more experience on the field. I expect David Calderon to have a big game running the football. Donovan Catholic pulls it out in a tough one.
THE PICK – Donovan Catholic 12-6
You can follow @schoops1 on twitter for live updates of the Southern-Central Game. Stay tuned to NJSR for all of the action!