Throughout football history, iconic images of quarterbacks, from Johnny Unitas in his black high-top cleats to Y.A. Tittle on his knees, blood dripping down from his bald head, have helped created an aura about the position.
It’s no different at the Jersey Shore, where incredible mental images of signal callers over the years, as well as faded and more recent photos, have helped drive the popularity of high school football.
Over the past few weeks, much of the input provided for our series of stories has centered on running backs and quarterbacks. And it’s easy to see why, with the area having produced some great ones over the years. Their styles range from pure pocket passers to option threats, running everything from the run-and-shoot to the single-wing.
With that in mind, I’ve tried to expand the list a bit this week to include as many names and photos as possible, with this latest trip down memory lane providing some incredible insight into the rich history of Shore Conference football.
While this is the fourth in our five-part series – we’ve already covered defensive players (linebackers and defensive backs), linemen (offensive and defensive) and receivers – we still have the running backs (Nov. 10) to come. And it’s not too late to provide input for that story or feedback on any of our stories, so feel free to contact me: via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on Twitter and send me a direct message; or go to my Facebook page and comment.
So take a look at the players, check out the photos, and enjoy our latest installment, listed in alphabetical order:
Brian Boland, Brick Memorial – A three-year starter for the Mustangs, the 6-2, 210-pound Boland threw for more than 4,300 yards, with 33 TDs, during his career. As a senior in 2001, he completed 110 of 176 attempts for 1,715 yards and 16 TDs, while running for 11 TDs.
As a four-year starter at Monmouth, Boland is still the school’s all-time leader in passing yardage, throwing for 7,812 yards, while leading the Hawks to three Northeast Conference crowns. He secured the final one as a senior by completing 17 of 18 passes for 213 yards on a windy afternoon at Albany.
Dave Cerchio, Middletown South – As a senior in 1992, Cerchio led the Eagles to an 11-0 mark and the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV crown, their third in four years. He set a school record with 28 career touchdown passes, including 19 as a senior, when he completed 94 of 166 for 1,698 yards, as the Eagles finished ranked No. 1 in the state under coach Bob Generelli.
Cerchio went on to play at Wake Forest, where he was a member of the Demon Deacons’ squad for two seasons.
Eddie Conti, Ocean – A game-breaking threat as a runner, receiver and returner, Conti was All-State as a quarterback for the Spartans as a senior in 1993, when he led the team, coached by his father, George Conti Jr., to an 11-0 record and the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III title. He topped 1,000 yards rushing and passing, producing 21 TDs and 180 points in all.
Conti went on to break Jerry Rice’s Div. I-AA receiving mark when he caught 91 passes for a record 1,712 yards for Delaware in 1998, one of 43 school, conference and NCAA records he set. He played two seasons with the Barcelona Dragons in NFL Europe.
Ryan Davies, Howell – Running a Texas Tech-style offense for the Rebels, Davies set the Shore Conference single season record for passing yardage in 2011, throwing for 3,060 yards, completing 253 of 355 attempts, and 32 TDs. He became the seventh passer in state history to reach 6,000 yards for his career, finishing with 6,079 yards and 70 touchdowns.
Davies is currently in his third season as the starting quarterback at Montclair State.
Bob Davis, Neptune – A three-sport standout for the Scarlet Fliers, Davis always felt he was a better basketball player. But the 6-2, 200-pound quarterback with great running ability opted to play football at Virginia, where he set a then-ACC record with 39 career TDs, passing for 3,095 yards and running for 930. He was the ACC Player of the Year in 1966.
Drafted in the second round by the Houston Oilers, he also played for the Jets and New Orleans Saints, as well as the World Football League’s Florida Blazers and the Philadelphia Bell.
Todd Durkin, Brick – A two-time All-Shore performer for coach Warren Wolf’s Green Dragons, he helped the team reach the 1988 South Jersey Group IV final, where they lost to Cherry Hill East and quarterback Glenn Foley. They beat Camden in the semifinals in a rematch of the epic 1974 playoff game in which Durkin’s older brother Paul was the quarterback.
He went on to play quarterback at William & Mary.
Pete Graham, Rumson-Fair Haven – A pure pocket passer, Graham threw for 1,543 yards his senior season for the Bulldogs in 1984, completing 92 of 152 attempts, with 11 TD passes. He closed out his career throwing for 222 yards against RBC in a Thanksgiving Day victory, as coach Joe Barley-Maloney’s team finished 7-1-1.
Graham went on to play four years at Notre Dame as a backup for the Fighting Irish.
Colin Gaynor, Toms River East – No area thrower was as prolific as Gaynor, who thrived in head coach Frank D’Alonzo’s run-and-shoot offense. When his four-year career was over in 1999, Gaynor, also an All-State baseball player for the Raiders, had set the Shore Conference record with 6,619 passing yards, including 2,330 passing yards as a junior.
Gaynor attended Northeastern for a year to play football, before transferring to Rutgers where he played baseball for the Scarlet Knights.
Jax Landfried, Manasquan – A pure playmaker with his legs and his arm, Landfried, 5-9, 175, was a centerpiece of coach Vic Kubu’s offense when he started at quarterback during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. He accounted for 51 touchdowns during his career either running , passing or receiving, catching four TD passes as a receiver as a freshman and sophomore.
An outstanding baseball player as well, he attended Wake Forest where he played wide receiver for three years.
Robbie Keyes, Central – It was Keyes prowess under center that helped the Golden Eagles roll to an undefeated season in 1971, part of a 16-game winning streak the program put together under head coach Joe Boyd. During his senior season, the Golden Eagles went 9-0, outscoring the opposition by a 404-79 margin.
Keyes, 6-4, 195, was an All-State performer, and was selected to the High School Coaches Association All-American team. He signed to play quarterback at Florida State.
Ken Mandeville, Matawan – A four-year starter at quarterback, and a three-year starter on defense for the Huskies, Mandeville was a mobile signal caller who could throw when he had to from coach Barry Rizzo’s single-wing offense. As a junior in 1975 he helped guide the Huskies to an 11-0 record by throwing for 910 yards and 11 TDs, while rushing for 360 yards and four TDs as they won the Central Jersey Group IV title and earned the No. 1 ranking in the state, .
Mandeville, at 6-0, 215, went on to play fullback at Syracuse, where he topped 1,000 yards rushing for his career, scoring 13 touchdowns.
Rip Scherer, Toms River – The son of a football coach, Scherer was one of the leaders of a team that won 19-straight games at one point, rising to No. 1 in the state when, as heavy underdogs, they beat Bayonne 40-0 during his senior season in 1969. That streak ended in “The Game,” when they lost to Middletown in a battle of the top two teams in the state.
Scherer went on to play three seasons at William & Mary for coach Lou Holtz, before spending the next 33 years coaching in college, where he was a head coach at Old Dominion and Memphis, and the NFL.
Paul Struncius, Point Beach – As a junior in 1982, Struncius was under center as the Garnet Gulls reached the Central Jersey Group I championship game, losing to Middlesex, 25-14. But it was as a year later that Struncius, running the West Coast offense, broke the Shore Conference record for passing yards in a season, throwing for 2,451 yards.
Struncius went on to play quarterback at Lafayette, throwing for 319 yards and five touchdowns against Army in a 1986 game at West Point.
Tom Tarver, Jackson Memorial – With Tarver under center for the Jaguars, coach Bill Ruddy’s teams had a 32-7 record, including an 8-1 campaign in 1985 when Tarver, a junior, threw for a school-record 18 TD passes. Tarver still holds that mark, as well as the school’s records for career passing yards (3,607) and single-season passing yards (1,362).
Tarver was the Rutgers starting quarterback for two seasons (1990-91), leading the Scarlet Knights to a winning record as a senior.
Marc Taylor, Asbury Park – As a junior in 2001, Taylor shattered the Shore Conference single-season mark for passing yardage, throwing for 2,462 yards. A battle over eligibility with the NJSIAA resulted in a settlement that forced to sit out the first two games of the 2002 season. So while he led the Blue Bishops to the Central Jersey Group I playoffs, he was unable to reach Colin Gaynor’s career passing yardage record of 6,619.
Taylor went on to play a season at New Haven.
Timmy White, Asbury Park – A heavily recruited Parade All-American with blistering speed – he was a state champion sprinter as a senior in 1978 – for coach Ed Hudson, White was a dynamic playmaker for the Blue Bishops. He finally settled on USC, where coach John Robinson initially converted him to a tailback, and later a wide receiver. In three seasons, White played on two Rose Bowl-winning teams and a national championship squad for the Trojans.
White played briefly with the Denver Broncos before spending a season with the New Jersey Generals as a wide out and kick returner in 1984.
Staff writer Stephen Edelson is an Asbury Park Press columnist: email@example.com
STARS OF TODAY
While this has been a great stroll down Memory Lane, you can find the best coverage of the current-day stars on the Shore gridiron right here at APP.com. For example, check out the latest episode of our new video series that takes you inside the locker room. We call it “The Battle Room.”
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