The Red Bank Regional Buccaneers pulled off the unthinkable on Friday night, defeating the Red Bank Catholic Caseys for the first time since 2004. The Bucs came back from a 21-14 deficit, scoring ten unanswered points to finish with a 24-21 win. With the victory, the Bucs have at least clinched a tie for the Class B North Championship. This is RBR’s first division title since 1977!
Fans stormed the court as time ran out. You could not find an empty space on the field. This was something that the people of Red Bank have been waiting for. After enduring several losing seasons, this talented group has given the community some long awaited hope. This win proves that hard work does indeed pay off. There will be a lot of celebrating among Red Bank Regional students this weekend!
“We worked very hard for so long. It’s all about the cross town rivalry and how much this means to all of us. This game was something that we wanted so bad. Words cannot even describe it”, added Quarterback Jack Navitsky after the game.
“This is a tremendous feeling for the entire Buc Community, and for years of alumni. This is a performance that we can build on to help get us to the places where RBC has been. That’s where we want to be as a program”, said Head Coach Nick Giglio.
The Buccaneers came out rolling and took it to RBC right from the start. The five Seniors on the offensive line immediately dominated within the trenches. They were able to open holes for Alim Godsey and Sadiq Palmer. After a couple of quick first downs, it appeared that the Bucs were going to take control.
However, it was the defense of the Caseys that would make the first move. Senior Defensive Back Mike Balzofiore came up with a big play to put RBC on the board. After a fumble from RBR, Balzofiore found himself in the right place at the right time. The Senior picked up the ball and raced 67 yards all the way to the end zone. RBC would take a 7-0 lead and the crowd was stunned.
After getting another shot, RBR would continue to open up the lanes. Godsey powered his way through the tackles to pile up the yards with Palmer being a great compliment. Quarterback Jack Navitsky was also able to utilize the short passing game to move the sticks. The Bucs would complete an 11 play, 73 yard drive as Godsey hit the end zone. The Senior Running Back took the ball in from 15 yards out, and the Bucs were on the board!
Turnovers would once again haunt the Bucs in the Second Quarter. A muffed punt would give RBC great field position. The Caseys would take advantage of another mistake. Two big runs from Quarterback Eddie Hahn put RBC inside the 5 yard line. From there, Head Coach Jim Portela would go to his running backs. Dylan Murphy would finish off the short drive with a 1 yard plunge into the end zone. This gave the Caseys a 14-7 lead.
RBR was not going to allow the Caseys to go into the locker room with a halftime lead. Quarterback Jack Navitsky would rally the team, bringing them all the way down the field. Navitsky hit Syracuse commit Sadiq Palmer for a 32 yard play that brought RBR down to the RBC 23 yard line.
The 1-2 punch of Godsey and Palmer would lead the offense again. Godsey found running room inside for a 15 yard gain all the way down to the 5. Palmer would get across the goal line for a 3 yard score. RBR put together a 66 yard scoring drive and regained the momentum going into the half.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love my teammates and will do anything for them. They needed me tonight and I was there to make the plays. There’s nothing like a game under the lights against RBC”, added Sadiq Palmer.
Everyone around the Shore knows how much of a competitor Eddie Hahn is. Hahn would set the tone in the Third Quarter by leading a 60 yard scoring drive. The Quarterback was able to use his legs to pick up big yardage. Hahn contributed with three key first downs on runs of 14, 14, and 18 yards to put RBC in scoring position. The drive would end with Dylan Murphy scoring his second touchdown of the game. Murphy found the end zone from 3 yards out. RBC would head to the Fourth Quarter with a 21-14 lead.
RBR would begin the final surge in the Fourth Quarter. Quarterback Jack Navitsky picked up a key conversion. While facing 3rd and 12, Navitsky was able to once again hit Sadiq Palmer for a huge play. Palmer made the reception and ran all the way down to the 25 yard line. RBR was threatening as the crowd was getting more and more energetic.
Jack O’Connor eventually came on for the Bucs and blasted a 37 yard field goal. O’Connor continues to show why he is one of the best kickers in the state. The kicking game has really been huge for RBR down the stretch. This pulled the Bucs within three and you could sense the players starting to believe again!
The RBR defense would get one of two key stops at this point in the game. While facing a 3rd and 6, the RBR secondary completely locked down the RBC receivers. Eddie Hahn scrambled out of the pocket trying to find an opening, but nothing was there. Both Sean Naiman and Reighton Johnson would take Hahn down in the backfield for the sack. This forced RBC to punt and put RBR in a great position!
This would set up Jack Navitsky to make the play of the game. After two consecutive penalties forced RBR back into their own territory, it was Navitsky who would step up and be the hero. Navitsky used his legs to find running room down the side, going off to the races for a 57 yard score. Alim Godsey threw a key block at the 10. The Senior Quarterback ran like he never had before, giving his team a 24-21 lead with 6:04 left in the game.
The Caseys would have plenty of time to try and pull this one out. Eddie Hahn was able to get the offense moving again. Hahn was able to drive the team all the way down inside the RBR 20. For the moment, it appeared like RBR was going to come up just short in a hard fought game.
But it was the RBR defense who were not going to let this slip away. The defense was able to stall the RBC running game and force a 4th and 2. On the next play, Eddie Hahn would keep the ball to try and pick up the first down. A pair of RBR defenders gang tackled Hahn right at the marker. After a measurement, the officials ruled the ball short of the first down, and RBR would get possession.
“Defensively, we were able to benefit from our offense hanging on to the ball. In the locker room, I told the team we were going to need a big stop, and we got it by an inch”, said RBR Head Coach Nick Giglio.
This was a very close call that really could have gone either way, but the officials declared that the ball was inches short. All RBR had to do was run the ball and control the clock. This is exactly what Head Coach Nick Giglio had in mind.
Giglio put the ball in the hands of All Star Sadiq Palmer. Palmer picked up 37 yards on this final possession, including a 19 yard run that would seal the deal. RBC ran out of time outs, and Jack Navitsky took a knee.
After the final buzzer, it was an unbelievable scene at Red Bank Regional High School. Almost every single student in the stands stormed the field. This was the type of celebration that you would see at a State Championship Game. It had been 12 seasons since RBR had last defeated RBC. RBR had lost the last two games to RBC by scores of 49-6, and 53-0. Now the Bucs finally achieved a different result!
The Bucs ran for 258 yards as a team. Senior Alim Godsey rushed for 120 yards and a 15 yard touchdown. Sadiq Palmer also ran for 79 yards and a score, including the 19 yard run that put the game away. The RBR defense held RBC to just 120 total yards on the ground.
“It truly does not get any better than this. I cannot say enough about the hard work of my offensive line. Alim and Sadiq were right there as our go to guys. I am so caught up in this moment. Scoring the winning touchdown has not even hit met yet. Maybe I’ll think about it when I get home. I am so proud of this team. They worked so hard and I am just speechless”, added Jack Navitsky on the victory.
The win has RBR in a great position for the playoffs. RBR currently has the most Power Points in Central Jersey Group III. The Bucs improved to 6-0 on the season, and are only getting better and better every week. Now the question will be where to rank this team in the Power Rankings? This will be an incredible discussion for the week!
NJSR had a chance to talk with Head Coach Nick Giglio and Running Back Alim Godsey about the huge win!
Passing – RBR: Navitsky 9-13-0-91. RBC: Hahn: 5-10-0-54
Rushing – RBR: Godsey 14-120, Palmer 12-79, Navitsky 10-66, Mitchell 2-0, Morris 1-3. RBC: Hahn 15-75, Wilen 10-34, Murphy 8-17.
Receiving – RBR: Palmer 6-65, Reardon 2-19, DeCritofaro 1-7.
RBC – Balzofiore – 67 yard fumble return ( Shaughnessy kick)
RBR – Godsey – 15 yard run. ( O’Connor kick)
RBC – Murphy – 1 yard run. ( Shaughnessy kick)
RBR – Palmer – 3 yard run. ( O’Connor kick)
RBC – Murphy – 3 yard run. ( O’Connor kick)
RBR – O’Connor – 37 yard field goal.
RBR – Navitsky – 57 yard run. ( O’Connor kick)
Stay tuned to NJSR for all your previews, updates, and recaps throughout the weekend!