Perhaps the difference in this year’s Jackson Liberty team is best exemplified by one play in its game at Central on Sept. 14.
“Their back broke a long run and our defensive end chased him down on the 1-yard line,” said Jackson Liberty coach Tim Osborn. “In the past, we might have given up on the play and they would have had a long score. Then on the next play, they fumbled and we recovered.”
The Lions went on to win that game, 7-0 for their first shutout against a Shore Conference school and their first 2-0 start in their six-year history
Then, this past week, Jackson Liberty defeated Manchester to improve to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Shore Conference Class B South. The Lions have a chance for their first winning season and could be a major player in the wide-open Class B South race. Jackson Liberty’s best season was when it went 5-5 in 2009. That was followed by a pair of disappointing 4-6 seasons.
“I liked the way we worked in the offseason,” said Osborn, who has been the only head coach Jackson Liberty has had. “I don’t know if we have as much raw talent as we’ve had the last few years. but I thought we had a better team coming in. The kids don’t worry about individual things. They really care what it takes to win. People use the word chemistry. We have team chemistry this year.”
The Lions are doing it with defense. They have allowed just 18 points total over their first three games. Last year, they they allowed 24.4 points a game.
Ends Corey Foltzer and Dan Niblack, middle linebacker Chris Cruz and talented free safety Matt Castronouva have been key players. The good news for Osborn and his coaching staff for the future is that Foltzer and Castronouva are sophomores and Niblack is a junior.
“We’ve made a sincere effort to get better at tackling,” Osborn said. “The kids are much more mentally disciplined. In the past, we’d have 3-4 breakdowns a game. That’s not happening this year.”
The Lions are currently tied for first in Class B South with Point Boro (3-0, 2-0) and Monsignor Donovan (2-1, 2-0). Defending divisional champion Barnegat (1-2, 1-1) and Lakewood (2-1, 1-1) are a game back. Jackson Liberty hosts Barnegat on Friday night.
That will be the Bengals’ final game before talented sophomore quarterback Cinjun Erkskine and 6-foot-7, 305-pound sophomore offensive lineman Sam Madden become eligible. The two have had to sit out the first 30 days of the season under NJSIAA transfer rules after they transferred from Holy Spirit in the offseason.
“They’re a lot of good athletes in this division. All the teams are evenly matched,” Osborn said.
Berry comes through
Toms River South’s talented sophomore backup quarterback Tymere Berry gave a glimpse of what the next two seasons could be like for the Indians with an eye-opening performance over the final three quarters of Toms River South’s resounding 40-13 win over Brick on Saturday night at Detwiler Stadium.
Berry ran for 101 yards and a TD and threw a TD in a 27-point second-quarter explosion. His performance was the conclusion to a stress-filled week for Indians’ second-year head coach Ron Signorino Jr. both as a father and as a coach.
Signorino Jr.’s anxiety began last Thursday when his son, Trevor, the Indians’ starting senior quarterback, fractured the scapula bone in his shoulder blade during a tackling drill on defense in practice. He will be sidelined at least four weeks, but is expected to return this season.
It is the third straight season Trevor Signorino, who came to Toms River South from Monsignor Donovan when his father became the Indians’ head coach in the winter of 2011, has missed significant time because of injury.
“It’s a heartbreaking whammy being his father and his coach,” Signorino Jr. said.
Trevor Signorino’s injury came at a time when Signorino Jr. already knew Berry was going to have to sit out the first quarter of the Brick game because of a “program decision.”
As a result, Darrius Hart, who the Indians’ coaching staff had moved rom slotback to wide receiver, had to play the role of emergency quarterback in the first quarter.
Berry entered the game with Brick leading 6-0. The Indians immediately drove down the field to tie the game on a 2-yard run by junior Otis Kearney, the first of his four TDs in the game. Berry and Hart then teamed up for a 15-yard TD pass to put the Indians ahead. Kearney made it 20-6 with a 10-yard TD run and Berry capped the second quarter outburst with an 86-yard run.
“There’s certainly no question he’s gifted as an athlete,” Signorino Jr. said. “The big thing about him is that even though he’s a sophomore, he doesn’t get flustered. The game isn’t too fast for him, which is kind of remarkable.”
Signorino Jr. said Berry’s 86-yard run was “one of the best runs he has ever seen.”
“He had to run 150 yards and had to make eight people miss,” Signorino Jr. said.
If Berry, who drove the Indians to two TDs, including throwing a 57-yard scoring pass in the 29-26 loss to Central in the opener when Trevor Signorino was sidelined with cramps, continues to play well, Signorino Jr. could have a pleasant problem on his hands when Trevor Signorino returns.
“They certainly can do different things,” said Signorino Jr, who said he was planning to give Berry some playing time even before his son was injured. “Tymere is so dynamic and Trevor can manage the game and has a real good feel for the offense.”
Howell backup junior quarterback Connor McGlynn, who was taken to the hospital by ambulance during the Rebels’ 35-7 loss at Middletown South this past Friday night, could play Oct. 5 when the Rebels (0-3) play at Toms River East, Howell first-year coach Derek Reichenbecher said.
“He was out of the hospital that night and came in the next day,” Reichenbecher said.
“It was more precautionary than anything. He never lost consciouness and never lost feeling,” said Reichenbecher, who said a neck injury was feared at first.
McGlynn has been the starting quarterback the first three games because of a knee injury senior John Quinlan suffered in the final preseason scrimmage. Reichenbecher said Quinlan could return in 2-3 weeks.
Red Bank Catholic senior defensive tackle Josh Klecko did not play on Friday night against St. John Vianney because of a leg and his status remains “day-to-day,” said Red Bank Catholic coach Jim Portela.
Klecko’s injury is “nothing major,” said Portela.
This and that
* Point Beach, which is 3-0 and averaging 44.3 points a gane, is 3-0 for the first time since it started the 1995 season 4-0. The Garnet Gulls finished that season 6-3. Point Beach plays its first game against a Shore Conference school when it plays at Mater Dei on Saturday.
* Colts Neck is 3-0 for the first time since 2002. It has never started a season 4-0.
* Neptune is 3-0 for the first time since it started 1999 5-0.
* Manalapan is 3-0 for the first time since it started 2002 4-0.
* Point Boro is 3-0 for the first time since it started 2007 6-0.
* Toms River East is 0-3 for the first time in its 33-year history.