His team has started the season with four shutouts in four games. Yet, it’s during such times of prosperity that Colts Neck coach Greg LaCava feels cause for concern.
“It’s tough being in this situation,” LaCava said Friday night after his team’s 42-0 Class A North victory over Middletown North. “We need to remember that we are dealing with teenagers who read what is being written about them, and hear what is being said about them. We feel that, when we’re winning, you have to coach them harder. When you’re losing, you have to have some compassion for the kids, because they’re trying and not seeing results. But when you’re winning, you have to keep them focused.”
Still, it would be hard to argue that No. 7 Colts Neck (4-0, 2-0) isn’t at least on the right track. The Cougars amassed 462 yards of total offense, including 363 on the ground. Senior tailback Anthony Gargiulo compiled 187 yards and three second-quarter touchdowns on 16 carries. Junior tailback Abdul Quddus added 117 yards and two scores on five tries – all in the second half.
“We have a 225-pound tailback (Gargiulo) and a 165-pound tailback (Quddus),” LaCava said. “They both can create problems for a defense. We’re going to need that.”
LaCava’s defense, meanwhile, spent the night creating problems for the Lions’ offense, forcing five turnovers and recording a goal-line stand. On its first possession of the night, Middletown North (0-3, 0-2) moved from its seven to the Cougar one in seven plays. But Colts Neck stopped three consecutive runs from the one, causing a fumble on the final fourth-down try. The ball found is way back to the Colts Neck 19 before the Cougars fell on it.
Colts Neck then proceeded to move 81 yards in 15 plays to take a 7-0 lead when Gargiulo broke a draw play for an 18-yard touchdown run with 9:42 left before halftime.
“A goal-line stand is always great,” LaCava said. “They rose to the challenge. But we can’t get into that situation where someone does something to you before we react. Middletown North is a tough team. You know going in that they’re not going to back down. They have talent and we knew that they could hurt us in the passing game.”
The lead became 14-0 with 1:14 left before halftime when Colts Neck moved 49 yards in seven plays after an interception by Michael Ververka. Gargiulo again did the honors, running in from the 12 for the score. Ververka’s pick was one of four for the Cougars.
Zachary Celmer’s interception with less than a minute to play in the first half gave Colts Neck possession at the North 34. Gargiulo then broke free for a 26-yard score.