By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
September 1st, the Blue Devils of Shore Regional hosted and dominated Kipp Cooper Norcross Academy, from Camden, in a non-conference football game. Shore easily won the game 48-18 and improved to 1-1 on the season.
Last week the Blue Devils were in Manasquan where they were competitive and dead even with Big Blue Warriors until the last 34 seconds of the game, when Manasquan scored taking the 14-7 victory. “We are in a very tough division this year. Shore is a tiny Group 1 school and our numbers are on the decrease,” said Mark Costantino, head coach. The NJSIAA has five categories of public schools and Group 1 consists of the smallest. “We are playing teams that are large Group II and Group III schools. We’re competitive, but we don’t have the depth as those bigger schools.”
Costantino stated that a majority of his players are in the game from start to finish. They play offense, defense and special teams. “If we get one or two players injured, it has a dramatic effect on our team. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind playing the bigger schools, but playing them back-to-back every week, is brutal,” Costantino said.
The Titans of Kipp Cooper Norcross Academy is relativity new in football. They have had a program for four years, but this is only the second year that they have a varsity squad. “When we get a chance to play out of conference games, I prefer to play programs that are equal or bigger than we are. However, Kipp was on our schedule, so we had to play them,” said Costantino.
It didn’t take Shore long to get on the scoreboard. Senior Alex George took the opening kickoff 96 yards for the touchdown. “We haven’t returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a very long time. Alex got hit a few times on that return and I thought he was going down a few times. It just shows you how tough he is, as he powered his way into the end zone,” said Costantino. John Mazzacco kicked the extra point and Shore was up 7-0.
The Blue Devils defense held the Titans to a three and out. The offense for Shore then marched down the field and scored again in less than four plays. This touchdown was an eight-yard run by senior Lucas White. Mazzacco, a sophomore, was good on his second extra point kick.
Kipp Academy had an 80-yard pass play for a touchdown on their next possession. Senior Ja’Kere Ward was going deep with Alex George playing defense for the Blue Devils. George went up for the interception, but was pushed in the back by Ward. With George out of the play, Ward caught the ball and ran in for the score. The extra point kick was no good and Shore was up 14-6.
The Blue Devils scored two more times in that opening quarter. Josh Moeller, junior, had a one-yard run and then junior Brendan O’Brien had an eight-yard run. Mazzacco was one-for-two on the extra-point kicks. Shore took a 27-6 lead into the second quarter.
Closing out the first half, Shore Regional added two additional touchdowns in the second quarter. The first was a 10-yard run by O’Brien and then a six-yard run by Braeden Farmer. Mazzacco was good on both kicks and the Devils were up 41-6 going into the break.
During the second half, Costantino was able to rotate in some of the younger players to get some experience. Kipp Academy had the only touchdown in the third quarter, a 25-yard pass play. They attempted a two-point conversion which failed.
Shore had an early fourth quarter score, a two-yard run by freshman Cole Torres. He also made the extra point kick for all seven of those points. Shore was now up 48-12.
Kipp Academy had one last score, a 67-yard pass play. They attempted an extra point, but it failed. They lost 48-18 and dropped to 0-2.
Shore had 325 total offensive yards to the 206 by Kipp Academy. In the air, Shore had 78 yards and 247 on the ground. One number that’s not common to a Costantino-coached team were the penalties. Shore had six in the game compared to Kipp Academy which had two.
O’Brien was top rusher for the Devils with 74 yards on six carries. White finished with 39 yards on four touches. Enzo Cagliostro, sophomore, had three carries for 26 yards and George had one touch for 20 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Michael Marotta, sophomore, had two solo tackles, assisted on four and had one sack. Senior Jake Papera had two tackles, assisted on two and also had two sacks for Shore Regional.
The Blue Devils get a week off for September 8. They return to action on September 15, when they host Township of Ocean, which is coached by Don Klein, who played quarterback for Shore during his high school days.