Playing in the Shore Conference Class B North is no easy task, but it has been nothing but improvement year in and year out for Red Bank head coach Nick Giglio and his Bucs.
After finishing last season at 5-5, the Bucs have their sights set on the NJSIAA playoffs this season.
A push to improve last season’s record and qualify for the playoffs will likely be led by 6-foot-2 senior wide receiver Sadiq Palmer.
Last year, was a breakout year for Palmer. He finished the season with 36 catches for 748 yards, to go along with his seven touchdowns. He is a threat to opponents in many ways. He finished the season with 13 total touchdowns from receiving, interceptions, rushing and kickoff returns.
It’s something that caught the eye of Syracuse University recruiting coordinator and former Monmouth and Marlboro head coach Bobby Acosta, who made an offer to Palmer over the summer.
Palmer was quick to make a non-binding verbal commitment to Syracuse.
“I felt the love from the coaches there right away,” Palmer said. “It felt like I was home there. That’s what I liked most about the visit.”
Although Giglio will be looking for others to step up on the offensive side of the ball besides Palmer, it will be an added bonus to have his star wideout playing without the burden of deciding on where to continue his career next fall.
It’s something that will only help as Red Bank starting quarterback Jack Navitsky will look to continue what he and Palmer were able to do together last season on the field.
“I’ve been playing with him for a long time, so the chemistry is there,” Palmer said. “He’s my brother on and off the field. Whatever he needs me to do, I’m there for him.”
It’s not just at the wide receiver position that teams will have to worry about Palmer this season. He found the end zone last season as a receiver, rusher, defender and specialist.
“We feel like that’s not going to change, and we are going to try and do more with him there,” Giglio said. “At the same time we think we are more balanced around him as well, and that’s something we hope we can take advantage of this year. With teams focusing on stopping him, we have to try to take advantage of that with someone else on the field.”
The evolution of Navitsky and Palmer has also been something that has impressed Giglio over the past two seasons. During their sophomore season, both Palmer and Navitsky were new to their starting positions at the varsity level. They showed the promise of a special chemistry after continuing to find each other on broken plays and turning nothing into something positive.
“Last year, it was more in control of the offense and understanding it,” Giglio said. “Jack’s interceptions went down, and this year, I feel like their control and understanding of the offense can take an even greater step for us. We are looking forward to great things from both of them this season.”
Giglio and his staff are looking to see more consistency.
“Last year, we had spots where we looked like we were on fire and then spots where we were just a little flame,’’ Giglio said. “Hopefully we are able to do that this year.”
However for Palmer and his Bucs, the goals are simple.
“I just want to help my team as much as I can, be a leader on and off the field so we can win a state championship,” Palmer said. “That’s the main goal this year.”
Greatest Players in Red Bank History
Defensive end played for Nebraska and the San Diego Chargers.
Played for five teams in the National Football League from 1988-99.
Punter for nine seasons in the NFL. He led the NFL in punting average three times.
Greatest Teams in Red Bank History
Red Bank went 9-0 in a season in which three teams finished unbeaten in the Shore.
The Bucs went 11-0 and won the CJ Group II title over Hightstown 46-44 in one of the best playoff games ever.