HS FOOTBALL: Baccarella gets offensive, carries Carteret past Woodbridge

HS FOOTBALL: Baccarella gets offensive, carries Carteret past Woodbridge


HS FOOTBALL: Baccarella gets offensive, carries Carteret past Woodbridge



As a penetrating defensive tackle, Cory Baccarella spends so much time in opposing teams’ backfields, one gets the impression he wants to carry the ball.

Seldom used as a fullback, Baccarella got his chance to carry the load Saturday, largely due to an injury to tailback Terell Merricks, who watched his teammate rush for 101 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries – all career-highs – as a vastly improved Carteret High School football team rolled to a 33-7 victory over Woodbridge at Priscoe Stadium.

“We had planned to use (Baccarella) as a fullback some and get him a carry or two each game,” Carteret head coach Matt Yascko said. “When the Merricks kid got hurt, that opened the door for him. We had to get somebody in there who could run the ball, and he’s just gotten better and better the more touches he gets.

“He’s tough to bring down. He’s a big, thick kid. When Terell gets back – which he will shortly – it will be a nice complement to have the speed guy and the power guy and hopefully that’s something we can ride for a while.”

In reverting to its old smash-mouth style of football, Carteret spoiled the homecoming of Woodbridge’s 1993 state championship team, which was honored in a 20th anniversary pregame ceremony.

The Barrons (2-4), who have dropped four straight after averaging 245 rushing yards in a pair of season-opening wins, mustered just 138 yards of total offense, 79 of which came through the air and 68 of which came in the final three minutes.

Carteret did not allow an offensive touchdown and its defense got on the scoreboard when safety Isaiah Castillo returned an interception 104 yards for a score with a minute remaining.

Facing Woodbridge’s newly installed double wing, the Ramblers did not divert from their base 4-3 defense, but disguised it as a 6-3 by pinching the cornerbacks, essentially stuffing the box with nine players to negate the run.

The front four of Cory Guzman, Javier Gonzalez, Sam Kamara and Baccarella allowed Carteret’s linebackers to make plays from behind against a completely balanced formation in which it is difficult to identify the rusher.

Woodbridge’s lone touchdown came on Griffin Thomas’ 30-yard interception return off a tipped pass from quarterback Nelson Baez, whose individual progress is a big reason for Carteret’s turnaround.

“I do a lot of individual work with him on defensive days and I think it’s starting to pay off,” Yascko said of Baez, who also had a career day, completing 7 of 13 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.

“I can’t say enough about the effort that Nelson puts in every day. He comes ready to work and is always willing to listen. He’s a true student of the game. He missed last year because of an injury so I think earlier in the year he was kind of playing like a sophomore. But he’s growing in (the position). This is five varsity games now, and you see his ability and he’s getting better and better and hopefully he’s peaking at the right time.”

The defending Central Group II champion Ramblers (3-2), who have won three of their last four, looked like a completely different team than the one which scored just one offensive touchdown in a 23-14 season-opening loss to St. Joseph.

Surprisingly, the Ramblers rolled up 265 yards from scrimmage without Merricks, who left the game when he re-aggravated an Achilles heel injury early in the first quarter.

After Thomas knotted the score at 7-7 with seven minutes left in the third quarter, Baez rebounded, throwing a perfectly executed 32-yard screen pass for a touchdown to Charles Faulkner.

Baccarella put the game out of reach, scoring on each of Carteret’s next two possessions with runs of 13 and 4 yards. His first touchdown, a 2-yard plunge with 3:05 left in the first half, came after the Ramblers made a huge defensive stop on fourth-and-inches from the Woodbridge 31 yard line.

As the game progressed, Baccarella appeared to get stronger, often carrying the pile for short-yardage gains that kept alive scoring drives.

“Coach just let me keep powering the ball,” Baccarella said. “Our tailback was hurt. I knew I had to step into some shoes and take care of my team and be a captain and do what I have to do for my team.”

Carteret 0 7 6 20 33
Woodbridge 0 0 7 0 7


C – Baccarella 2 run (Lopez Kick)

W – Thomas 30 interception return (Thomas kick)

C – Faulkner 32 pass from Baez (kick failed)

C – Baccarella 13 run (kick failed)

C – Baccarella 4 run (Lopez kick)

C – Castillo 104 int. return (Lopez kick)


RUSHING: C – Baccarella 29-101, Merricks 3-11, Baez 3-18, Faulkner 6-19; W – Muzzio 15-36, Maina 7-17, Shuler 4-0.

PASSING: C – Baez 7-13-1-116; Shuler 6-15-1-79.

RECEIVING: C – Faulkner 4-49, Gilder 1-30, Williams 2-37; W – Muzzio 1-38, Maina 1-9, Thomas 3-20, Lanier 1-12.


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