A longtime assistant prior to becoming the Carteret High School football program’s head coach a decade ago, Matt Yascko said he never saw his home field, affectionately known as “The Pit,” in such horrible condition as it was for a game against heavily favored Colonia on Friday night.
And Yascko would not want it any other way.
“Obviously, the weather was the major story of the game,” Yascko said of his team’s stunning 14-6 upset of the previously undefeated and incumbent North 2 Group IV finalist Patriots. “With the field conditions, it deteriorated quickly.”
The Patriots, who entered the contest averaging 32.3 points, scored on their first possession but didn’t enter the red zone until their final drive, a 20-play march that Jalen Harris ended with a pass break-up in the end zone with 14 seconds remaining.
“The conditions suited us a lot more, especially with what they try to do,” Yascko said of Colonia’s spread offense.
Carteret employed a five-man front against a four-wideout look, figuring the driving rain and gusting wind would aid the secondary.
“We weren’t concerned, obviously, about the pass,” Yascko said. “It was just an old-fashioned slugfest.”
Colonia ran the ball 56 times and attempted just six passes. Carteret rushed 45 times and attempted just three passes. Colonia’s Bashir Lauderdale carried 32 times for 101 yards. Carteret’s Da’Avion Ellington rushed 19 times for 80 yards.
With the exception of Old Bridge quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who completed 5 of 8 passes for 149 yards and four touchdowns, no Greater Middlesex Conference signal caller had success throwing under adverse Week 4 conditions.
“Those were the worst field conditions I’ve ever seen,” Yascko said of “The Pit,” which is one of just six natural grass fields in the 24-team league.
“There was a puddle from the 35-yard line to about the 20 on our sidelines (where the water) was over the top of our ankles. It was like we were literally standing in a lake. The middle of the field was chewed up and one end zone area was real bad.”
After Carteret made an adjustment to space their offensive linemen further apart to start the second half, Ellington broke off a 30-yard gain that set up Sam Kamara for a 6-yard scoring jaunt as the Ramblers snapped a 6-6 deadlock. Ellington’s subsequent conversion run produced the final margin.
Justin Taylor made 11 tackles and forced a fumble, while Ellington had six tackles and a forced fumble.
Kamara recorded seven tackles including a sack. He also finished with 85 rushing yards.
Expecting inclement weather, South River head coach Rich Marchesi scrapped his spread offense and made Mario Nigro the focal point of his team’s attack in Saturday’s game against Keansburg.
“He was the focal point going in because we were kind of preparing for this weather all week,” Marchesi said.
Marchesi, on occasion, moved Nigro from quarterback to either tailback or fullback, replacing him behind center with freshman Michael DeSantis.
With Nigro being more of a straight ahead, between-the tackles-rusher than the illusive Khaliyl Everett, the maneuver seemed to make sense playing on a sloppy field.
“The field was pretty muddy,” Marchesi said. “We were able to go North and South that way. Some of our spread stuff was not working as well with the wind and the rain.”
Nigro had a stellar all-around game, completing 4 of 8 passes for 53 yards, rushing 25 times for a game-high 128 yards and catching a pass for eight yards.
“He works 110 percent,” Marchesi said of Nigro, noting he wants all the Rams to “try as hard as he tries.”
St. Joseph, which has played the last 13 games on the road, will christen its new artificial turf field on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Perth Amboy.
The Falcons, who began the year ranked No. 5 in the Home News Tribune Top 10, fell out of the rankings with a season-opening loss to South Plainfield. They rebounded to play well in a setback to state power Red Bank Catholic and defeated J.F. Kennedy 34-0 on Friday night.
The backfield combination of Luke Yakely (24 carries) and Manny Resto (17 carries) rushed for 137 and 133 yards, respectively, as the Falcons did not attempt a single pass against the Mustangs.
GMC TOP 10
1. Piscataway (3-0): The Chiefs had a bye. Next: J.P. Stevens, Friday, 7 p.m.
2. South Brunswick (3-1): Jaier Garrett intercepted two passes – one of which he returned for a score – forced a fumble and recovered a fumble as the Vikings turned Sayreville over four times en route to a 32-12 win. Next: at East Brunswick, Friday, 7 p.m.
3. Old Bridge (3-1): Sophomore quarterback Artur Sitkowski – the lone Greater Middlesex Conference signal caller to throw for more than 100 yards in Week 4 – completed 5 of 8 attempts for 149 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-18 rout of J.P. Stevens. Next: at Brick Memorial, Friday, 7 p.m.
4. Woodbridge (4-0): Tracy Fudge completed 5 of 6 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, while Nate Lanier rushed for two scores in a 33-0 blanking of Perth Amboy. Next: at New Brunswick, Friday, 7 p.m.
5. New Brunswick (4-0): Jah’bree Jefferys-Seawright completed 4 of 5 passes for 45 yards and a score, Maurice Ffrench amassed 85 yards from scrimmage with a touchdown and Samad Davila carried 10 times for 65 yards and a score in a 22-12 win over Bishop Ahr. Next: Woodbridge, Friday, 7 p.m.
6. Colonia (3-1): Bashir Lauderdale carried 32 times for 101 yards, but inclement weather and a stout Carteret defense led by Sam Kamara (7 tackles, 1 sack) and Justin Taylor (11 tackles, forced fumble) conspired to neutralize Colonia’s potent offense as the Patriots endured a 14-6 loss. Next: Matawan, Friday, 7 p.m.
7. Sayreville (2-2): The Bombers committed four turnovers and were outgained 243-109 in yards from scrimmage during a 32-12 loss to South Brunswick. Next: at Monroe, Friday, 7 p.m.
8. Edison (2-2): James Stewart carried 35 times for 237 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Haaziq Daniels scored the game-tying touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion run in a thrilling 28-26 triple-overtime victory over East Brunswick. Next: North Brunswick, Friday, 7 p.m.
9. South Plainfield (2-1): The Tigers had a bye. Next: Carteret, Friday, 7 p.m.
10. Metuchen (3-1): Trevor Firgau rushed 15 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs coasted to a 44-0 win over Keyport. Next: at Keansburg, Saturday, 1 p.m.
GMC WEEK 4 RESULTS AND STORY LINKS
Carteret 14, Colonia 6
Shore 44, Dunellen 7
Edison 28, East Brunswick 26 (3OT)
Monroe 9, North Brunswick 0
New Brunswick 22, Bishop Ahr 12
Old Bridge 40, J.P. Stevens 18
South Brunswick 32, Sayreville 12
St. Joseph 34, J.F. Kennedy 0
Woodbridge 33, Perth Amboy 0
Point Pleasant Beach 17, Spotswood 7
Metuchen 44, Keyport 0
Keansburg 18, South River 13
Asbury Park 14, Middlesex 13
WEEK 5 GMC SCHEDULE
Woodbridge at New Brunswick, 7 p.m.
Sayreville at Monroe, 7 p.m.
South Brunswick at East Brunswick, 7 p.m.
North Brunswick at Edison, 7 p.m.
Carteret at South Plainfield, 7 p.m.
J.P. Stevens at Piscataway, 7 p.m.
Matawan at Colonia, 7 p.m.
Bishop Ahr at J.F. Kennedy, 7 p.m.
Old Bridge at Brick Memorial, 7 p.m.
Dunellen at Point Pleasant Beach, 7 p.m.
Highland Park at Keyport, 12 p.m.
Holmdel at Spotswood, 1 p.m.
Perth Amboy at St. Joseph, 1 p.m.
Metuchen at Keansburg, 1 p.m.
South River at Mater Dei, 1 p.m.
Middlesex at Sussex Tech, 1 p.m.
GMC DIVISION STANDINGS
(overall record in parenthesis)
Piscataway (3-0) 3-0
South Brunswick (3-1) 3-0
Old Bridge (3-1) 3-1
Sayreville (2-2) 2-1
Edison (2-2) 2-2
Monroe (2-2) 2-2
East Brunswick (1-2) 1-2
J.P. Stevens (0-4) 0-4
North Brunswick (0-4) 0-4
New Brunswick (4-0) 4-0
Woodbridge (4-0) 3-0
Colonia (3-1) 3-1
South Plainfield (2-1) 2-1
St. Joseph (1-2) 1-1
Carteret (1-3) 1-2
Perth Amboy (0-3) 0-2
Bishop Ahr (0-4) 0-3
J.F. Kennedy (0-4) 0-4
Metuchen (3-1) 2-0
Middlesex (3-1) 2-0
Spotswood (2-2) 2-0
South River (0-4) 0-2
Dunellen (0-3) 0-2
Highland Park (1-2) 0-2
Staff writer Greg Tufaro: firstname.lastname@example.org