Linebacker Mike Monda saw the opportunity to gain a place in the Colts Neck lineup for his senior year and did something about it.
“I worked hard in the offseason and it paid off,” Monda said. “At our camp in Rowan, I had a good camp and I moved up. In the second day they put me in and I’ve been a starter ever since.”
Monda intercepted a pass and made seven tackles for the undefeated Cougars in a 34-7 victory over Marlboro on Saturday in a Shore Conference Class A North game.
Monda’s interception set up a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter by quarterback Mike Campbell. Campbell, who was 7 of 16 for 132 yards, also ran for another score and threw a pair of TD passes. Anthony Garguilo had 148 rushing yards with a touchdown. Garguilo has 390 yards rushing in three games.
“He’s giving us everything we need him to give us,” coach Greg LaCava said of Monda. “He’s a program kid. He came every day and earned his spot his senior year.”
Colts Neck (3-0, 1-0) was unscored upon until the fourth quarter and hasn’t allowed more than one touchdown in any of its games thus far. And Monda and the defense played a pivotal role in the second quarter when the game was still within reach for Marlboro as LaCava relied on the unit to establish field position.
The sequence led to the Cougers making the score 14-0 in the waning seconds of the second quarter, with Campbell scoring on an 11-yard draw.
Moments earlier the Cougars had punted from the Marlboro 36 in a situation that arguably could have been a fourth-down conversion attempt. But good things happened. Punter Garrett Federico placed the ball inside the Marlboro 5-yard line and the defense solidified on a three-and-out. Garguilo’s 9-yard run set up Campbell’s scoring run with 11.6 seconds left on the clock.
“Our defense has been very good, creating turnovers, getting the ball back to our offense,” LaCava said. “You saw an example there. We have a lot of confidence in our defense.”
LaCava said the sequence was a bright spot, but otherwise wasn’t happy with how his team played, calling it “not acceptable.” Colts Neck was penalized 11 times, committed a turnover, and missed an extra point.
“We had way too many mental mistakes,” LaCava said.
The game began on a sloppy note for both teams with a trading of turnovers on the opening drives. Campbell’s backwards pass, a fumble, was recovered by Marlboro senior linebacker Thomas Vetrano at the Colts Neck 21. But Cougars’ linebacker Mike Ververka three plays later got the ball back with an interception.
Colts Neck notched another turnover in the second quarter when defensive end Connor Canonico covered a botched exchange, starting a possession that indirectly led to the team’s second touchdown.
Canonico, who doubles as a tight end, made it onto the scoresheet with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Campbell in the fourth quarter.
Marlboro (1-2, 1-1) was unable to build on the momentum from a 16-8 victory last week over Howell, which snapped a 13-game losing streak that dated back to a 13-0 win over Perth Amboy on Nov. 6, 2010.
Mustangs’ quarterback Parker Hoch scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter after a 54-yard run by Brian Prestigiacomo.
Colts Neck’s three-game winning streak includes a 14-7 tally over Toms River East and a 49-7 victory over North Brunswick.