The Brick Twp Dragons opened the season with a statement win in Class A South over cross town rival Brick Memorial. Brick Twp dominated the game from the start, rolling to a 36-6 victory. Offensively and defensively, the Dragons controlled the game from the line of scrimmage. The players on this Dragons team simply never looked back. “We had a good gameplan on both sides of the ball and that showed today. The coaches put us in a good position to win and all we needed to do was execute, which we did”. said Defensive Back Matt Schleifer. The Dragons really did take execution to another level.
The fans packed Warren Wolf Field for the annual showdown. One thing you can always count on is that there will never be an empty seat in the house for this one. The Dragons Student Section was out in full force and ready to support this team. The energy level in the stands was extremely intense!
Junior Wide Receiver Ja’Sir Taylor once again proved why he is one of the best weapons in the Shore. Taylor rushed 6 times for 107 yards, including an 80 yard touchdown run. Ja’Sir also contributed by returning a fumble recovery for a touchdown on defense.
Junior Running Back Jay Obenauer got off to a great start as the featured back for the Dragons. Obenauer rushed for a game high 145 yards on 16 carries, and a score. The running back was able to pound away at the tough yards throughout the game. Rashon McCall also had 56 yards on 4 carries. McCall hit the end zone two times.
After a scoreless 1st quarter, The Dragons would take advantage of their opportunities. A second quarter interception by Ja’Sir Taylor put the Dragons in good field position. Brick Twp got the ball at midfield. Jay Obenauer would rip off two big runs to put the Dragons inside the Mustangs 25 yard line.
This set up the offense to add a a little trickery from the playbook. Quarterback Tom Zbranak pitched the ball to Ja’Sir Taylor. Taylor then hit Matt Schleifer with an option pass that put Brick inside the 5 yard line. Schleifer will be a big part of the offense this year. Jay Obenauer finished the drive by pounding the ball inside for the touchdown. This would make it 7-0 Dragons.
Brick Memorial fought right back, driving the ball inside the Dragons 25 yard line. The drive was sparked by Eli Lavarin who broke free for a 21 yard gain. Once again, the defense of Brick Twp would step up to the plate and deny the Mustangs. Dan Finelli and Cory Wilson were standout defenders all day long. Brick Memorial would turn it over on downs after a missed field goal attempt.
The Dragons wasted no time, scoring on the next possession. Ja’Sir Taylor put the burners on, running for an 80 yard touchdown. There was not a defender in sight that could get near Taylor. Javion Harris booted another PAT and the Dragons had a 14-0 advantage.
After going into the locker room, Brick Twp Head Coach Len Zdanowicz had a very simple message for his team. “As far I’m concerned, this is a 0-0 football game. You will all go out there and continue to take it to them. We run on our offense, defense, and we all do our job”. added Zdanowicz who talked about how he motivated his team at halftime.
Turnovers continued to be the story of the day for the Mustangs. Defensive back Octavian Battle came up with a huge hit, causing a turnover for the Mustangs. Once again, it was Ja’Sir Taylor who was in the right place at the right time. Taylor would pick up the loose ball and race 46 yards for another score. All the momentum was in one direction.
John Prato then took advantage of another turnover with a critical fumble recovery to give the Dragons good field position inside the 14 yard line. Rashon McCall would score from 4 yards out. Prato completed the two point conversion, and the Dragons took a 29-0 lead in the 4th quarter.
The Mustangs would finally find some light late in the game. Justin Bates found the end zone from 5 yards out, and Brick Memorial was trailing 29-6. This was the only drive that Brick Memorial was able to convert into any points.
At this point, all the Dragons had to do was control the clock. There was only 4 minutes left in the game. However, even taking the conservative approach did not slow Brick down. Rashon McCall burst out into the open field on a 35 yard run and the Dragons were threatening again. McCall would score his second touchdown of the game from the 6 yard line.
This was all that the Dragons needed to close the door on their archrivals 36-6. Brick Twp put together 350 yards of total offense. The team used a conservative rushing attack, keeping the ball on the ground for all but 5 plays.
The defense also limited Brick Memorial to only 168 total yards. Quarterback Tim Santiago was held to 42 yards on 14 carries, and only 20 yards passing. The Brick defense forced three critical turnovers that led the way in the victory.
Len Zdanowicz got his first victory as Head Coach of the Dragons. Zdanowicz (a 1993 graduate of Brick Twp High School) received a visit from his former coach and Hall of Famer Warren Wolf. “You guys stayed focused throughout the game. They have some great players, but we have a better team. You guys did everything you wanted to do today, and took it to them from the start. Offensive line, I can’t say how great you looked out there. The defense, you guys shut them out the entire game. It’s just a great win. I’m proud of you guys, and I’m honored to be your coach”. added an ecstatic Zdanowicz addressing his team after the game.
The Dragons came into this game on a mission. After losing several key starters from last years’ division championship team, the younger players wanted to show that they are a real contender in Class A South. “Everyone has been saying that this would be a rebuilding year because of all the athletes we lost, but we reloaded in all those positions with good football players, and we showed that today”. added Defensive Back Matt Schleifer.
Brick will return to action next Friday night in another Class A South matchup against Southern Regional. The Dragons will look to build on this momentum and fight for a division crown.
Ryan Wydra and Jim Rosa had a chance to catch up with Brick Twp Head Coach Len Zdanowicz, and Defensive Back Octavian Battle after the game.
Passing: Brick – Tom Zbranak 0-4-2-, Ja’Sir Taylor 1-1-20. Brick Memorial – Tim Santiago 3-9-1-20
Rushing: Brick – Obenauer 16-145, Taylor 6-107, Zbranak 9-35, McCall 4-56, Harris 1-7. Brick Memorial – Santiago 13-42, Thorpe 12-51, Lavarin 6-55, Bates 3-23, Walsh 2-1.
Receiving: Brick – Schleifer 1-20. Brick Memorial – Lavarin 2-11, Cuppari 1-9.
Brick – Jay Obenauer – 5 yard run. (Harris Kick)
Brick – Ja’Sir Taylor – 80 yard run. (Harris Kick)
Brick – Ja’Sir Taylor – 60 yard fumble return. (Harris Kick)
Brick – Rashon McCall – 6 yard run. (Prato run 2Pt Conversion)
BM – Justin Bates – 6 yard run. (PAT Failed)
Brick – Rashon McCall – 4 yard run. (Harris Kick)
Follow NJSR for all your previews, updates, and recaps throughout the week. We will release the new Shore Conference Power Rankings on Monday!
All videos and pics with the exception of the team photo are courtesy of Jim Rosa.