With senior quarterback Mike Corcione lost for the season with a torn ACL and junior running back Larry Redaelli nursing a leg injury suffered in a Week 1 win over Red Bank, Red Bank Catholic is looking to plug up some key holes at this still-early juncture of the season.
The good news for the Caseys is they have depth at running back, one of the top offensive lines in the Shore Conference and a defense that has been lights out thus far.
All three of those factors were on display on Friday evening at Count Basie Field. The Caseys rushed for 363 yards behind that offensive line and the defense registered its second shutout in as many games to lead Red Bank Catholic, No. 1 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, to a 10-0 win over Manasquan in a Shore Conference Class A Central contest.
Without Redaelli, senior running back Jesse Flaherty rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown, while promising sophomore Mike Cordova ate up huge chunks of yards and clock on his to 175 yards on 22 carries.
“The offensive line in back-to-back weeks was opening up some great holes for us,” Cordova said. “It’s easier to get yards when they’re doing that. We’re definitely comfortable out there and we try not to make it too hard. We just want to go out there and play.”
Despite not having more to show on offense for its 320 rushing yards, Red Bank Catholic (2-0, 1-0) controlled the ball and the game the whole way.
A scoreless first quarter which saw the Caseys run 16 plays gave way to the second quarter and the game’s only touchdown. Taking over on their own 25-yard line after forcing the second of Manasquan’s seven punts, Flaherty took a handoff from junior quarterback Pat Toomey and outraced four defenders to the end zone for a touchdown. Toomey’s extra point made it 7-0.
The scored would stay 7-0 at halftime as the Caseys’ defense yielded just 16 yards of total offense and allowed Manasquan to run just 19 plays in the first half.
After forcing a punt on Manasquan’s first possession of the second half, Red Bank Catholic went to Cordova on its first possession as he ripped off runs of 15, 19, 13 and 35 to open the drive to get the ball to Manasquan’s 8 and a first-and-goal. Three plays later, Toomey booted a 27-yard field goal to make it 10-0 and cap the scoring.
“Our offensive line did an outstanding job tonight, notably (6-foot-5 junior) Quenton Nelson, he was dominant,” Red Bank Catholic head coach Jim Portela said. “Richie Curran, Josh Klecko, Nick Corey, Matt Kruger, Timmy O’Hara, all those guys were outstanding. Our problem is we’re still a little young and we’re shooting ourselves in the foot sometimes, so we’ll have to fix that up.”
After Toomey’s field goal, it was all defense and eating up the clock. RBC’s defense allowed just 58 yards the rest of the way, with 56 of it coming when Warriors quarterback Tucker Caccavale hit wide receiver Chris Miller, setting Manasquan (0-2, 0-1) at the RBC 25.
Three plays later Chris Whitlock intercepted Caccavale to all but seal it as the Caseys bled the clock behind more stong running from Cordova and junior running back Frank Olmo (six carries, 33 yards).