By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
Ocean Township High School put on a football showcase last Friday night as they hosted neighbor Long Branch in a Shore Conference B North battle.
Don Klein, who is in his tenth season as the Spartans head coach was pumped before game time. “B North is a very tough division. When you have to compete against Middletown South and North, Wall Township, Red Bank Catholic, Manasquan and Long Branch you really never get a rest. As for Long Branch they are having an off season, but you can never underestimate their speed and athletic ability,” said Klein.
“We will have to be at our best on defense today as they have some speed backs,” added Klein. Offensively the coach didn’t seem worried about his team’s preparation. “When you have a kid like Kenny Pickett in the pocket and players like Anthony Tedesco, Joey Aldarelli and Jasher Pena able to run and catch the ball and an offensive line that is getting better each week, were okay.”
After going 80 yards on three plays capped off with a five-yard touchdown run by Tedesco and an extra point by Simon Lee, Ocean had a 7-0 lead on the Wave. Most of the fans weren’t even seated when Tedesco crossed the goal line.
Long Branch was forced into a three and out. On the Spartans second offensive possession they marched right into the Green Wave end zone. This time it was Pickett who ran in untouched from eight yards out. Long Branch blocked the extra point kick. Ocean was now up 14-0 with 4:48 left in the first quarter.
On their first possession of the second quarter the Spartans increased their lead on the Green Wave, 20-0, after a one-yard Tedesco touchdown. Lee was good on the kick.
However, Dan George, head coach of Long Branch and his staff, didn’t fold under the quick and aggressive Ocean start. They came right back scoring two second quarter touchdowns. The first was a 19-yard run by Keith Cooper. The extra point kick failed.
Long Branch then connected on the biggest play of the game. Juwan Wilkins, junior quarterback, found Timothy Fosque, 6’4” junior wide receiver wide open behind the Ocean secondary. Fosque bolted 80-yards for the touchdown. The Wave attempted a two-point conversion which failed. Going into the break the Spartans held a 20-12 lead.
The halftime was extended as it was homecoming for the Spartans (see separate photos on the queens and king). Long Branch came out to start the second half and was motoring as they scored a touchdown on a 22-yard run by Cooper. They went for two again and failed.
“I’m not a big fan of the longer halftime. It’s difficult, especially in an emotional rivalry game like this one to have a longer halftime. It was something else we had to deal with and we overcame it,” said Klein.
Ocean was now leading the Wave 20-18 and it appeared as if the game had tightened. That was until Tedesco and Pickett touched the ball. In the third quarter Tedesco ran eight yards for his third touchdown of the game. Kick by Lee was good and Ocean was now up 27-18. Then Pickett followed that with his second touchdown of the game on a five-yard run. The Spartans attempted a two point conversion which failed.
Going into the final quarter of the game Ocean was out in front 33-18. The Spartans scored again, this time it was Pickett’s third score of the game, five yards out. Lee was good on the kick and Ocean was way out in front 40-18.
Final touchdown was another big play by Wilkins. This time he connected on a 64-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Clark. Luke Arnold made the extra point and the game ended with Ocean taking a 40-25 victory.
The Spartans had 29 first downs to the 11 of Long Branch. On the ground Ocean ran the ball 46 times for 316 yards. In the air Pickett completed 10 of 16 passes for 97 yards, an off night for the big gun. Tedesco had 129-rushing yards, Pickett finished with 73, Pena had 54 and Rosseback 44. Aldarelli had four catches gaining 41 yards.
Long Branch had only 180-rushing yards with Cooper getting 94. Marc Dennis finished with 73 yards on the ground. In the air the Wave completed four of five passes for 151 yards.
The B North now has Middletown South in first at 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the division. They are followed by Wall 6-1, Manasquan 5-1, Red Bank Catholic 4-3, Middletown North 4-2, Ocean 3-4 and Long Branch 1-5