Everyone at Brick Township’s fabled Keller Memorial Field on Friday night knew there were not many plays the Brick coaching staff could call the entire second half.
The Green Dragons were playing without a true quarterback. Starter Carmen Sclafani was sidelined for the second straight game because of a shoulder injury. Backup Joe Phillips, was sidelined for the second half with what Green Dragons head coach Rob Dahl said might be a “mild concussion” after a hard tackle from Mike Petrizzo late in the first half.
Lining up in the “Wildcat” formation with bruising junior running back Ray Fattaruso taking the snap, Brick ran mostly “Wildcat Counter” with Fattaruso and “Jet Sweep” the entire second half. It did so effectively.
However, with under 5:30 remaining, Jackson Memorial finally found the answer it was searching for on defense the entire half as junior outside linebacker Zach Tetro dropped Muratore for a 4-yard loss on a third-and-3 “Jet Sweep” from the Jaguars’ 24.
Brick punted on the next play and Jackson Memorial ran out the final 4:32 as it recorded a 9-7 win and captured the Shore Conference Class A South championship. It is the Jaguars’ first divisional championship since 2005. Brick was denied its first divisional title since 2008.
Brick (6-3, 5-2), which had cut a 9-0 halftime deficit to 9-7 on a 2-yard Fattaruso TD run with 9:24 left, had driven from the Jaguars’ 48 when Tetro came up with the big play.
Jackson Memorial (6-2, 6-1) lined up in a defensive set where its linebackers jammed the middle of the field.
“We weren’t bringing a lot of pressure because we knew they were trying to take the edge,” said Jackson Memorial senior inside linebacker Ken Bradley, who had an outstanding game. “I came up the middle and forced them to give it to the outside. That was kind of on my own. I’m sure coach (Jaguars head coach Walt Krystopik) will be happy about it and not happy about it at the same time because it wasn’t what we called. But, it was the stop we needed.”
Dahl then made an interesting decision to punt with Brick facing a fourth-and-7 at the Jaguars’ 28.
“Our defense was playing great all night long,” Dahl said. “We wanted to pin them inside their own 15 or 10 and force them to punt the ball again.”
However, the Brick punt traveled just 7 yards.
Three plays later, Jaguars junior quarterback Joe DeMaio made a huge play on a third-and-5 bootleg, when he juked a defender and ran over another for 7 yards and a first down.
“They were pinched down and coming down hard playing the run,” Krystopik said. “We wanted to let Joe (DeMaio) get on the edge.”
Khani Glover ran for 5 yards and a first down on a third-and-3 and Bradley sealed it with a 3-yard run and another first down on a fourth-and-1 with 1:18 left.
“In the end there, it just ended up where we’re going to hand the ball off to our biggest thickest, kid — Kenny Bradley — and we’re going to win or lose with him,” Krystopik said.
The first half was marked by both turnovers and hard-hitting. Jared Calhoun gave Jackson Memorial a 3-0 lead with a 26-yard field goal with 8:38 left in the first quarter after a Vinny Celidonio fumble recovery and 10-yard return to the Brick 10.
Glover made it 9-0 with a 26-yard TD run with 2:40 left. Phillips was injured on the next series.
“It wasn’t even confirmed that it was a concussion or not. They just throught as a precautionary measure based upon concussions nowadays to keep him out,” Dahl said.
Brick moved the ball on all three of its second half possessions with the first one ending when Anthony Starego hit the left upright on a 25-yard field goal attempt with 3:43 left in the third quarter.