Chuck Donohue Sr. is no fan of gadget plays.
“You practice other plays hundreds of times and trick plays a couple of times,” said Donohue Sr., who is Southern Regional’s head coach and has been a successful scholastic head coach for 39 seasons at four different schools.”They can either look great or be a disaster. You have to call them at the exact right time.”
Donohue Sr. and his coaching staff felt the time was right to go into the bag of tricks with 1:27 remaining this past Friday night in Southern’s NJSIAA South Group V semifinal game at Eastern. The Rams were down by four points and had a first down at the Vikings’ 45 yard line after an excellent return off a free kick. Eastern had taken an intentional safety on a fourth-and-9 from its own 8.
Mike Gesicki, a 6-foot-6 wide receiver, lined up at receiver, came in motion and was handed the ball by quarterback Dan Higgins on a “Jet Sweep” look.
However, Gesicki, who is Southern’s backup quarterback, pulled up. Meanwhile, Higgins ran down the sideline on a pass pattern. He was not covered. Gesicki, despite taking a hit just as he threw the ball, was able to get the ball to Higgins for a 26-yard gain.
Southern scored three plays later, when Higgins connected with running back Abe Gonzales for a 3-yard TD pass with 21.4 seconds remaining. The Rams had a dramatic 30-27 win.
“I have never run that play (the QB throwback) in my life,” said Donohue Sr., who has coached all four schools he has been at to sectional championship games. “We knew they wouldn’t be covering the quarterback because they are a man-to-man team. You have to call it at the right time, or it won’t work.”
The throw to Higgins capped what was a very productiove night for Gesicki, who will is an NCAA Division IA recruit. With Eli Woodard, an Ohio State recruit covering him most of the night, Gesicki had three receptions for 85 yards. He made Woodard, who is also an outstanding receiver, exert a lot of energy. Woodard only managed four receptions for 65 yards.
“As a coach, I was very proud of him (Gesicki) the other night in the way he attacked that kid (Woodard),” said Donohue Sr., who is in his 15th season at Southern. “There were times where we didn’t get him (Gesicki) the ball based on the read we had, but he had that kid (Woodard) running all night. To see him clear out a Division I cornerback certainly helped us get opportunties underneath.
Gesicki has had an outstanding all-around season. He has 43 receptions for 836 yards and eight TDs. A cornerback on defense, he also had four interceptions and a TD on a fumble return.
“He is getting better every single week,” Donohue Sr. “He understands the way he’s going to get defensed and that he’s got to work hard to be good. I’m not his favorite person in the world because I’m very hard on him, but I think he gets it now. The other night, he took a major step in being a football player and not just a great athlete.”
NOT A TEAM YOU WANT TO PLAY TWICE
Middletown South proved in its wild 45-35 win over Colts Neck this past Saturday in an NJSIAA Central Group IV semifinal that it is not a team you want to place twice in the same season.
Colts Neck had defeated Middletown South, 28-9, on Nov. 11.
“I’ve done this a lot of times,” said Middletown South coach Steve Antonucci, who has coached the Eagles to five sectional championships, including four straight from 2003-2006 and to a sectional final 11 times in his 15 seasons, including 10 times in the last 12 seasons. “I’ve played Long Branch twice, Wall twice.
“The second game is always the most difficult game because you’re trying to overcome your kids being overconfident (if you are the team that won the first meeting) No. 1. You try to think to yourself if you did win the game and won it big what you have to do to repeat that. That’s the most difficult thing.”
Sean DeRosa has resigned as Pinelands Regional’s head football coach after nine seasons, Pinelands athletic director Will Sundermann said Monday morning.
Pinelands went winless the past two seasons, including 0-9 this past season, and has lost 21 straight games overall dating back to the final two games of the 2010 season..
The Wildcats went 24-66 under DeRosa. Their best season came in his first season in 2004 when they went 6-5, recorded the only playoff win in school history, and defeated traditional Shore Conference powers Manasquan, Matawan and Brick.