The Asbury Park at Keansburg football game, which was originally scheduled for Nov. 3, has been cancelled because of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, Keansburg athletic director Tom Stark said on Wednesday.
Keansburg was hit especially hard. Titans’ coach Brian Kmak said several of his players lost just about everything, including their homes and clothing. He said he has parents of players who lost their cars.
Kmak said he has had three practice sessions this week, and the most players he’s had at any session has been 19 out of the 41 players in the program.
The Keansburg coach also said he and his coaching staff have tried to get in contact with players through Facebook, Twitter and text messages, but that a lot of them still do not have electricity and have not had access to computers or able to check their cell phones. Kmak said some of his players and their families have either relocated out of state or to other areas of the state.
Complicating the situation was the nor’easter that hit the state on Wednesday.
“We agonized over this decision (not to play),” said Kmak, who along with his coaching staff, Stark, other coaches at the school and some of his players has been helping the town’s public works department with cleanup. “We want to do what is the right thing for the town and the football program. Right now, how do we physically play with only half our team there? We couldn’t put a quality product on the field.
“The town is still struggling. There are some people in town without power. For a lot of people, football is the last thing on their minds. They have a lot more things to worry about than whether we play a football game or not. We wanted to do it (cancel the game) early enough to let people know.”
Asbury Park coach Matt Ardizzone said he and Kmak have spoken often since the storm hit on Oct. 29. He said he was in a similar situation to Kmak for about a week, trying to get in contact with his players. He said Tuesday was the first time his team was able to practice. He said about 7-8 of his players were not at the Tuesday practice, but that he has been able to get in touch with four of them.
“I think it’s a good decision not to play this game,” Ardizzone said. “Football is secondary. (Kmak) has kids who lost everything. You can’t put into words the devastation up there. One of my coaches’ brother was working in Keansburg with the cleanup and said. ‘You can’t believe (the devastation)’. The photos don’t do justice on how bad it is. Every time I talk to Brian, he’s on the truck cleaning up.”
It appears both teams will qualify for the NJSIAA Central Group I playoffs. Keansburg (4-4) had played the eight games that count toward playoff qualification. It appears it will be either the No. 7 or 8 seed. The Asbury Park game would not have counted toward its final power rating.
The Keansburg game would have counted toward the final power rating for Asbury Park (5-2) because it would have been its eighth game.
NJSIAA Executive Director Steve Timko said Wednesday Asbury Park will probably be seeded into the playoffs based on its power rating through seven games. It appears the Blue Bishops will be the No. 4 seed, which will enable them to host a first-round playoff game. The NJSIAA will seed the playoffs on Sunday. The first round of the playoffs is Nov. 16-17.
Timko said the association will not punish either school.
“I think Keansburg is talking about evacuating (because of the nor’easter),” Timko said. “How could you penalize somebody who is looking out for the health and safety of their constituents?”
Kmak said he will try to hold a practice on Friday and that he and his coaching staff were going to try and get in contact with players Wednesday and today. He said once school resumes on Tuesday, he thinks he’ll be able to see more of his players.
Kmak said his players have also been volunteering at shelters in town.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids and the community,” Kmak said. “They’ve been doing their job and asking what we wanted them to do.”
“This is all about character right now,” Stark said.
Two more games have been moved from Friday. The Lacey at Brick Memorial game will be Saturday at 1 p.m. The Freehold at Ocean game will be Sunday at 10 a.m.
The Monmouth Regional at Red Bank Catholic game is still tentatively 7 p.m. on Friday at Count Basie Field, Red Bank. Red Bank Catholic athletic director Joe Montano said electricity was restored to Count Basie Field on Wednesday. However, the visiting stands are still on the turf and there are still gashes in the turf. Montano said the gashes on the turf will be repaired Friday. He hopes the visiting stands can be put back in their proper place today.
The St. John Vianney at Raritan game is still tentatively 7 p.m. on Friday, but Raritan coach Anthony Petruzzi said Raritan still does not have electricity so a final decision on when and where that game will be played will be made today.
Gate proceeds and donations from the Lacey at Brick Memorial game will go to the American Red Cross, Brick Township District Athletic Director Bill Bruno said. Proceeds and donations from games in the Freehold Regional School District will go to the Monmouth County Food Bank, Bruno said.
Manasquan coach Jay Prince said admission and food will be free Saturday at Manasquan’s Vic Kubu Warrior Field for the Warriors’ game with Rumson-Fair Haven.