Red Bank Catholic trailed 6-0 just three minutes into the game, but got big plays from their special teams and defense to take over the game and remain undefeated.
The Caseys, No.1 in the Asbury Park Press Top Ten, improved to 6-0 with a 43-12 Class A Central win over the Hornets.
Holmdel received the opening kickoff and started at their own 20. Five plays later, the Hornets faced third and 18 from their own 43. Quarterback Robbie Cantelli got off a pass under heavy pressure and Matt Dixon made the grab in traffic and then broke free for a 57-yard touchdown and 6-0 lead.
The Caseys drove to the Holmdel 25 on their first offensive series, but the Hornets defense held on downs. Holmdel was unable to move the ball on the ensuing possession and were forced to punt. RBC’s Chris Whitlock fielded the kick on a couple bounces, side-stepped a tackler, and raced down the sideline for a 53-yard score and 7-6 advantage.
The defense of the Caseys was beginning to control the line of scrimmage and forced another punt. This time Whitlock lined up on the end of the line and broke free to block the punt and then recovered the loose ball in the end zone for his second special teams touchdown in under three minutes.
“It worked just like the coaches drew it up and it just opened up perfectly for me,” said Whitlock. “Our special teams really gave us a lift early on.”
The Caseys would get on the board again right before the end of the opening quarter thanks to their defense. Holmdel faced a third and 3 from their own 39 and Cantelli looked to throw a screen pass. But RBC’s star defensive tackle Josh Klecko stepped in front and intercepted the pass. Klecko, returning after missing three weeks with an injury, ran it back 37 yards for the score.
“It was great to get back on the field with my teammates,” said Klecko. “The interception was such a weird feeling for me. I don’t think I ever felt so much adrenaline as I did running towards the end zone.”
In the second quarter, RBC finally got things working offensively. Quarterback Patrick Toomey engineered a 76 yard drive that culminated with Toomey calling his own number on a bootleg that fooled the defense as he raced 26 yards for the score.
After a safety increased RBC’s lead to 30-6, the Caseys put another drive together right before the half. Running back Larry Redaelli took a handoff from Toomey off tackle and burst in to the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown and 36-6 halftime lead.
“We work very hard on special teams and those were huge plays,” said RBC coach Jim Portela. “We have had a lot of guys step up this year, but it’s also always great to get a player of Josh’s caliber back in the lineup.”