By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
For the first time in 11 years the Flacons of Monmouth Regional defeated the Spartans of Ocean Township in a nondivisional football game. On September 3, the Falcons hosted Ocean Township and beat them 28-17 in what turned out to be an exciting game.
The Shore Conference has what they call “Week Zero” in which a few schools open their football schedules before school actually opens. This is the second consecutive year the two schools have started their seasons in “Week Zero” as they use to play on Thanksgiving Day but Monmouth pulled out two years ago. The last time the Falcons beat the Spartans was in 2006 with a 32-14 victory.
Ocean started the game on offense and were forced into a three and out. Monmouth Regional had a short first series as they also went three and out. Ocean didn’t do much better on their second offensive series, but Monmouth Regional did.
The Falcons started flying high on their second offensive series and never looked back. Going into the halftime break they had a surprising 21-0 lead on Ocean. And what was so shocking is that they did it with many different players and looks.
Klein and his staff made a few great adjustments at halftime and scored 17 unanswered points and were looking strong down to the final minutes. However, Monmouth Regional senior Ian Fitzgerald had a 20-yard touchdown run with 2:39 to play securing the Flacons win.
The Falcons had 134-rushing yards and 104-passing yards. The one weakness in their game plan was being able to hold onto the ball as they had four fumbles, losing two. Fitzgerald was leading rusher with 59, and Dayshawn Porter finished with 37 yards. In passing Monmouth
Regional had three quarterbacks getting yards; Porter completed 2 of 4 for 19 yards, Fitzgerald was 1 for 1 going 63 and Colin Miller was 1 of 2 for 22 yards.
Ocean ran the ball 35 times for 131 yards and completed 10-of 23 passes for 159 yards with one interception. They also had a problem holding onto the ball losing both of their fumbles. Jasher Pena was their leading rusher with 58 yards, his brother Tebor had 30 yards and Nungesser had 27 yards.
Monmouth Regional has a few big reasons for their success this season. They have 12 players over 200 pounds and their biggest player is Bradley Pietz who stands 6’5” and tips the scale at 300 pounds. William Schumacher is 6’1” and 275 pounds and his twin brother Robert, who is 6’0” and 240 pounds.
Another big change at Monmouth Regional is the coaching staff. Larry Nikola has taken over the program and has a new group of assistants who have instilled discipline, teamwork and a winning attitude. They also have a very good group of talented athletes, where they can rotate in three quarterbacks running a shotgun, under center or wildcat formations.
Over on the Ocean sidelines they have a few big shoes to fill this season. Kenny Pickett was their quarterback and team leader for three years, but now is playing Division 1 football. Don Klein has turned to sophomore Robbie Nungesser to take the snaps. Ocean has always had a few big boys on their line, however this season they are missing a few big bodies.
Ocean will be at Wall Township on Friday night, September 8, with kickoff at 7:00 p.m.
Monmouth Regional will host Holmdel on Saturday, September 9, at noon.