It is hard to not notice the size of Red Bank Catholic.
“I didn’t think we could possibly be bigger than last year, but I think we’re bigger this year,” said Red Bank Catholic coach Jim Portela.
Portela, who is in his fifth season as the head coach and was the defensive coordinator for several seasons before that under former head coach and current Cleveland Browns’ senior pro scout Frank Edgerly, said the average weight of his offensive linemen is “270-275” pounds.
“It depends on who our left guard winds up being,” said Portela, who said the offensive line last year averaged around 260 pounds. “One guy is a little bit smaller and one guy is a little bit bigger. One guy will bring up the average and one guy will bring it down. But, the four we’re pretty good with, go 305, 285, 275 and 270.
The four Portela is talking about are senior left tackle Quenton Nelson, who is listed at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds and has made a non-binding verbal commitment to Notre Dame; senior center Liam Coffey, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 280; junior right guard Ryan Kroeger, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 280; and senior right tackle Tim O’Hara, who is listed at 6-foot-5, 270, and who Portela thinks will rise in recruiting circles as the season moves along.
The candidates for left guard are senior Joe Castellano, who is 6-foot-0, 230; junior Neil Horenburg, who is 6-foot-3, 275; and junior Daniel Wilen, who is 6-foot-2, 245.
Nelson, who was an Asbury Park Press All-Shore First-Team selection, Kroeger and O’Hara are all returning starters.
The scary part for opposing defenders is that these linemen do more than just stand in front of defenders and make it tough to get around them.
“We’re athletic up front. All of our guys move well,” Portela said.
It is along the offensive and defensive fronts where Red Bank Catholic has been able to dominate Shore Conference opposition in recent years. The Caseys have won 24 straight against Shore Conference schools, have gone 10-1 each of the past two seasons and have been ranked No. 1 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10 the last two seasons and three of the last five.
“It’s great knowing I’m going to get great protection,” said senior quarterback Pat Toomey.
Toomey, who became the starter late in the preseason last season after Mike Corcione was injured, was holding off a stiff challenge from talented sophomore Eddie Hahn to be the starter early in the preseason. Hahn, who Portela describes as an “athlete,” will play somewhere. He could play some at either quarterback or receiver. He also could play some at safety.
Slashing running backs Larry Redaelli and Mike Cordova return, as does fullback Frank Olmo and tight ends Matt Golden and Shawn McCord. Both Golden and McCord are listed at 230 pounds.
The Caseys — with an eye on the NJSIAA Playoffs and the tough Non-Public Group III bracket, led by always powerful St. Joseph of Montvale — have tweaked their offense a little bit and will not just try to overpower everyone. Red Bank Catholic’s two losses the last two seasons have come to Delbarton in double-overtime in a 2011 Non-Public Group III semifinal and 42-7 to St. Joseph of Montvale last year in a Non-Public Group III semifinal.
“This is something that will give ourselves a chance when we play teams that are going to decide to stack up against the run,” Portela said.
The Caseys did graduate some standouts on defense, including current Rutgers University freshman lineman Josh Klecko, the APP Defensive Player of the Year last year. However, Nelson at tackle and McCord at end return up front. Ryan Schoer and Jamie Gordinier return at linebacker and Cordova returns in the secondary.