Friday will be a unique day in the long, rich history of the Asbury Park High School football program.
When the Blue Bishops host Shore Regional at 6 p.m. in a key Shore Conference Class B Central game, it will be the first night home football game in the school’s history. Asbury Park will also have night home games against Point Pleasant Beach on Oct. 11, Metuchen on Oct. 25 and Keansburg on Nov. 8.
“It’s huge,” said Asbury Park’s first-year head coach Keith Killea. “It gives the people of the community and the students a sense of pride. “The surrounding towns have had lights and turf, and to finally say we have the same thing, it’s a source of pride.”
The game will be the Asbury Park Press
Red Zone High School Football Game of the Week
, after receiving the most votes in this week’s poll. Video of the game will be posted on APP.com.
FieldTurf was installed at venerable Asbury Park Stadium, located behind the high school, last season. Installing lights is something Killea said the Asbury Park School’s administration has been “pushing for a few years.”
Killea, who was an assistant coach at Asbury Park from 2007-09 under current Bishop Ahr head coach Don Sofilkanich when the Blue Bishops won three straight NJSIAA Central Group I championships, feels playing at night will enable more people to attend the games. Asbury Park usually played its home games at noon on Saturdays, with the exception of the years it hosted Neptune on Thanksgiving morning. This year, that game will be at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day at Asbury Park.
“There’s a lot of things going on in town Saturday at 12,” Killea said. “It’s a home field advantage just having fans coming out at night and cheering us on.”
Having night games will also help Asbury Park’s team on several fronts.
In years past, the school always had to rent portable lights late in the season, so it could have practices at the school. It will also give the team more time to prepare for games, when it has to play an away game on a Friday night.
Killea said school and city officials have gone to great lengths to make sure the night games will be an enjoyable experience for everyone in attendance.
The school had a test run Sept. 4 when the Blue Bishops hosted Trenton in a scrimmage.
“Dr. Barrett (Dr. Walter Barrett, Asbury Park’s athletic director) has had multiple meetings with our own security people and the Asbury Park police department,” Killea said. “They are beefing up security presence so everyone will feel safe coming to the game. At the end of the day, it’s a high school football game. It’s a matter of everyone going home to their family safe. They (security personnel) are trying to over-prepare.”
Killea, who is a history teacher, has spent all week telling his players they are on the verge of being part of something special.
“I’ve been telling them, ‘This will go down in history. Let’s make this history a positive one. Hopefully, there will be hundreds of night games in Asbury Park’s history, but there will never be another first,’ ” Killea said.
This and that
* Brick’s players will wear a decal on each side of their helmet this season, Brick coach Rob Dahl said.
On one side of the helmet will be a TO decal in memory of the late Tim Osborn, who died suddenly last April 13. Osborn was Jackson Liberty’s first head coach from 2006-12, an offensive tackle at Brick from 1974-76 and an assistant coach at Brick from 1982-99.
The decal on the other side of the helmet is the No. 75 for former Brick offensive lineman and 2011 Brick graduate Sean Martyn, who died last May at 19 years of age after a lengthy battle with cancer.
* Red Bank Catholic offensive lineman Quenton Nelson will officially be invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl a week from today at a ceremony at Red Bank Catholic. Nelson has already made a non-binding commitment to Notre Dame. The game is Jan. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game will be broadcast by NBC Sports.
* Jackson Memorial’s 2000 NJSIAA South Group IV championship team, the first team to win a football sectional championship in the school’s history, will be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame Friday night at halftime of the Jaguars’ season opener against Toms River East at Jack Munley Field.
That team, led by linebackers/running backs Nick Castellano and Joe Serratelli, went 12-0. The Jaguars also went 12-0 the following season and were the consensus No. 1-ranked team in New Jersey.
Jackson Memorial will also commemorate the 50th season of its varsity football program Friday night by inviting all varsity letter-winners in the history of the program to the game.
* Southern Regional named its field in honor of former head coach Ron Emmert last Thursday night at halftime of the Rams’ game against Freehold Township. Emmert coached Southern from 1972-86 and to a share of the 1972 Shore Conference Class C championship with Asbury Park and Wall and to NJSIAA playoff berths in 1975 and 1981. The divisional title and the playoff berths were the first in school history.
* Toms River South senior linebacker/wide receiver/placekicker/punter Russell Messler was scheduled to have the MRI on his knee on Wednesday, Indians’ coach Ron Signorino, Jr. said.