Mustangs set for test against Neptune

Mustangs set for test against Neptune

News

Mustangs set for test against Neptune

By

There is no question Brick Memorial has been impressive the first four weeks.

The Mustangs have averaged 39.3 points a game and have scored at least 34 points in every game. Junior Mike Basile (12 touchdowns) has been perhaps the best player in the Shore.

But, there is no doubt, Brick Memorial (4-0), ranked No. 6 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, will take a major step up in class tonight when they host No. 2 Neptune (4-0) at DiFabio Field in an intriguing nondivisional game. Brick Memorial’s first four opponents are a combined 1-14, with the one win by Jackson Memorial coming over winless Toms River East.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to play a team the caliber of Neptune,” said Brick Memorial coach Walt Currie.

Neptune, has the Shore’s longest winning streak at 14 and has defeated No. 5 Long Branch and No. 10 Matawan the last two weeks.

“Neptune presents a tremendous number of challenges,” Currie said. “Number one is their speed. They are also very well-skilled, very well-coached and their players are obviously, coachable. They are well-tuned football team.”

Among the other key games this weekend are huge games in the Shore Conference Class B Central and Class B South races.

In Class B Central, Point Beach (4-0, 1-0), off to its best start since 1995, will host defending divisional champion Asbury Park (2-1, 1-1) tonight. Point Beach has not won a divisional title since it won Class C North in 1997. And in Class B South, Monsignor Donovan (2-1, 2-0), which has not won a divisional championship since it won Class C South in 1993, will host Point Boro (3-1, 2-0) tonight.

Another intriguing game this weekend has the two Shore Conference schools who have won the most NJSIAA sectional championships meeting as Manasquan (1-3) will play at No. 4 Middletown South (2-1) tonight. Manasquan has won a Shore-record 11 sectional championships and Middletown South has won nine sectional titles.

The Neptune-Brick Memorial is the Asbury Park Press Game of the Week with video highlights available on APP.com late tonight. That game will also be broadcast live on 105.7 FM tonight beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.

Brick Memorial will have to find a way to slow down Neptune’s high-powered offense, led by senior quarterback Ajee Patterson, who threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns in the first half of the 46-10 rout over Matawan last week.

“He throws an amazing, accurate deep ball,” Currie said. “I can’t tell you the last time I saw anyone throw a deep ball as accurately as he does.”

Patterson has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Senior wide receiver Geoff Fairbanks had TD receptions of 51 and 68 yards last week. Senior running back/receiver Keyshawn Rice also had two TDs receiving last week. In the Scarlet Fliers’ 27-14 win over Long Branch on Sept. 22, Rice had an 87-yard kickoff return to set up a TD and also had a TD rushing. Senior running back Myles Martin is a solid two-way player.

Brick Memorial has its share of weapons, too. Basile, who ran for 152 yards and a TD on just seven carries last week, has rushed for 297 yards and three TDs on just 23 carries and has 11 receptions for 294 yards and seven TDs. He also has two interception returns for TDs.

Senior quarterback Ryan Cieplinski threw for 208 yards and four TDs and ran for 107 yards and two TDs last week in a 52-28 win over Toms River East, a game the Mustangs had 567 yards of total offense.

The last time Asbury Park and Point Beach met, Asbury Park recorded a resounding 54-6 win in an NJSIAA Central Group I semifinal. The Blue Bishops then went on to win their fourth Central I championship in the last five seasons.

John Wagner, who is in his second year as Point Beach’s head coach and coached the Garnet Gulls to an 8-3 record last season for a school-record for wins and their first playoff win since 1982, tried to downplay the revenge factor.

“To be honest, we’ve talked about each week at a time,” said Wagner, who was a highly-successful head coach at Roselle Park from 1981-2005. “Over the summer, I said, when we get to Week 5, it will be there. Week 5 is here.”

Point Beach has been more explosive than it was last year. The Garnet Gulls, who are averaging 43.8 points a game and have scored at least 41 points in every game, scored on their first four plays from scrimmage last week against Mater Dei.

Senior running back Danny Tighe has raced for 665 yards and nine TDs on just 37 carries. Senior running backs Kyle Samaritano and Andre Cochran have run for 346 yards and five TDs on just 22 carries and 232 yards and a TD on just 24 carries respectively..

However, Point Beach will likely find the going much tougher against an aggressive Asbury Park defense that has been tough to run against the last two seasons. The Blue Bishops held Point Boro’s triple-option offense to just 68 yards rushing last week..

Asbury Park, which rebounded from a 37-12 loss to Shore (3-1, 1-0) on Sept. 14, with a solid 24-14 win over previously-unbeaten Point Boro last week, is also capable of scoring from anywhere on offense, with junior quarterback Robert Barksdale leading the way.

“This will be the first time, we’ll be up against a lot of adversity, and that’s what happens in big games,” Wagner said.

Monsignor Donovan faced some adversity after it was drubbed, 40-0, by St. John Vianney in the opener. Griffins’ head coach Dan Duddy said he challenged his seniors after that game.

“I said, ‘we’re going to look back on this date as a defining moment,’ ” Duddy said. “I said, it can define ourselves as losers, or we use it as a slap in the face and ourselves winners.”

Since then, the Griffins rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Lakewood and then recorded a solid 24-21 win over defending Class B South champion and preseason favorite Barnegat.

Monsignor Donovan, has received solid play from senior running back Grant Klimek (271 yards the last two games). Junior quarterback Vincent Grasso had TD runs of 47 and 59 yards and ran for 121 yards against Barnegat.

Point Boro coach Sean Henry said senior fullback Ryan Prout will play after he did not play last week because of a sprained ankle.

More USA TODAY High School Sports