Tim Vangelas got his first good night’s sleep in almost two weeks on Saturday night.
“We got power back,” said Vangelas, a senior wide receiver for Colts Neck.
On Sunday, Vangelas and the rest of his teammates gave an uplifting performance for the people of Colts Neck as the Cougars recorded a 28-9 win over Middletown South in a Shore Conference Class A North game and earned the first home playoff game in the school’s 13-year history.
Colts Neck (7-1, 4-1) will host Jackson Liberty (6-2) on Saturday in the first round of the Central IV playoffs.
Vangelas said he and his family were without electricity for 12 days after superstorm Sandy hit on Oct. 29.
“We had the stove going with the matches, the candles, everything. It was tough, though,” said Vangelas, who had seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Vangelas said the first few days after the storm he and his family helped clean up all the fallen tree branches in his neighborhood. He said after that, he and his teammates were able to get in touch with each other and actually organized semi-workouts at the high school on their own.
“We just wanted to stay in shape, basically, and be ready for the game,” Vangelas said.
Colts Neck coach Greg LaCava said his team had four practice sessions since their previous game at Freehold Township on Oct. 26. He said only one of those practices involved contact. He said 25 out of the 65 players in his program were not able to make the practice sessions last week because they either had to relocate or had no electricity, no heat, no water. He said none of his players lost their homes.
“We dedicated this game to all the people who had been displaced,” LaCava said. “All our kids kept thinking about the people that lost everything in our town and other towns and the people who were staying in other states. ”
There was, understandbly, some ragged play by both teams in the game, but Colts Neck, with Vangelas, senior quarterback Mike Campbell, junior running back Anthony Garguilo and senior wide receiver Lucien DellaFerra was able to throw the ball very effectively. Campbell went 15-for-24 for 282 yards and two TD passes.
Campbell and Vangelas hooked up for a 47-yard completion on the first play of the game. Three plays later, they combined for a 12-yard completion. Garguilo (83 yards rushing on 22 carries and four receptions for 80 yards) concluded the 66-yard drive with an 8-yard TD run.
Campbell completions of 12 and 11 yards to DellaFerra set up Campbell’s 1-yard quarterback sneak that extended the Cougars’ lead to 13-0 with 2:26 left in the first half.
Middletown South (5-3, 3-2), which will play at West Windsor Soutb in the first round of the Central IV playoffs, closed to within 13-7 on a Kyle Brey to Anthony Citarella 38-yard TD pass with 33.6 seconds left in the first half.
Colts Neck then put the game away in the third quarter behind the arm of Campbell and his receiving corps. He first hit Vangelas with a 15-yard TD on a slant pattern to make it 20-7 with 6:44 left in the third quarter. He then teamed up with Garguilo for a 39-yard TD on a screen pass and then Gio Zefferino with the 2-point conversion to make it 28-7 with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter.
“It’s been difficult, but like I told them, in the grand scheme of things, football is small, but for the team now and for this community now, it’s great for us,” LaCava said.