An All-New Look, Amabile Steps Down at SJV, Music Videos and Things I May Have Screwed Up

Well, I have joined the world of WordPress like any other self-respecting blogger these days, so hopefully this will streamline things and make it easier for you to read all of the posts and for me to blather on incessantly on a regular basis about football, basketball, baseball and a million other things.

I will be sprucing up the surroundings on this blog and adding more stuff once I get a few minutes to do it, as I am currently knee deep in writing a million things. I just wanted to touch on some stuff really quick. I also will be jumping into boys and girls basketball the minute the football stuff is dead and buried, so check back frequently as I try to burn through a ton of previews in the next week before I am driving all over the countryside for holiday tournaments.

As we know by now, legendary coach John Amabile has stepped down at St. John Vianney. I reached him yesterday at about 1 p.m. but he wouldn’t confirm it or deny it or talk about it, but obviously spoke about it to the APP because I guess he wanted them to have the story. They have been covering him for 30 years or so, so I won’t take it personally. Amabile ranks third all-time in victories among Shore Conference coaches with 252 career wins, trailing only Brick’s Warren Wolf (a state-record 361) and the late Vic Kubu of Manasquan (263). Talk about a changing of the guard. Since Kubu’s death in August of 2007, three coaches with a combined 876 wins are no longer coaching now that Wolf and Amabile have called it quits.

The Lancers went 3-7 this season and even in the preseason I could sense that the chemistry there was a little off and it looked like it could be an uphill battle. Amabile, who won five state sectional titles combined in stints at Wall and Neptune, was 22-38 with one state playoff appearance in his six years at St. John Vianney.

Amabile was able to attract some top players from his old stomping grounds in Neptune, but the Lancers just never seemed to be able to put it all together and depth always seemed to be an issue. Besides the search for the new coach, the real question now remains as to whether top players like sophomore RB Charles Davis and freshman RB/LB Jazzmar Clax stay at the school. If it really was about the whole institution and the academics, I would think they’ll finish their careers there. If it was more about playing football and playing for Amabile, you may see both hit the road. The rumor mill is already circulating that Clax will return to his hometown school of Freehold Boro, which would add another stud to the stable on the defending Central Jersey Group III champs, although I would think he would have to sit out his sophomore year under the new NJSIAA transfer rule. Same would go for Davis, a sophomore who is from Neptune.

I also don’t know what will become of Amabile’s staff, but if someone is smart they will snap up defensive coordinator Ed Lowe. I know the Lancers had a tough time defensively this year, but Lowe was also the D-coordinator on the 2003 Brick Memorial team that won it all so he has put together championship units.

I’ll tell you who has to be happy about this development to a degree, and that is Neptune coach John Fiore. The Scarlet Fliers were seemingly losing one top player a year to St. John Vianney, and those kids may opt to stay home now. It also can’t hurt that Neptune just went 8-3 and reached a state sectional semifinal.

In more low-profile coaching news, I have solid info that Nick Varanelli has resigned at Mater Dei after two seasons, I just haven’t been able to catch up with him yet. The Seraphs, who are really struggling to compete and build depth, went 0-20 the last two years.  Who knows what’s next for them.

Now on to the “Stuff I May Have Screwed Up” Department. I’ve gotten some e-mails and response on the All Shore Media All Conference teams, and there are a few players who deserve mention who didn’t make the team.

RBC senior defensive end Connor McHeffey was a standout for the Caseys but I just couldn’t seem to find a spot for him on a team where I already put a host of RBC players on the all-conference teams. Still, he definitely deserved consideration for a spot.

Another reader e-mailed me that I was shorting Monsignor Donovan by not having any Griffins on the team after they went 5-5 this year. I think junior wideout Kevin Carter was probably the most deserving, with All-Patriot Division selections Jon Curtin (QB/UT) and Chris Winn (OL) also in the mix. I had a handful of Barnegat players on there, and Mon Don beat Barnegat, so that is a fair point and I think the aforementioned players deserve some recognition as well from one of the Shore’s more prolific offenses this season. I also didn’t get many players from teams that were .500 or below, but I saw a ton of teams in person and on film, and that’s the way I felt. I thought Matawan DBs John Short and McArthur Underwood were also deserving but just couldn’t find a place for them. Both are potential stars, and luckily they’re only sophomores.

Finally, check out some music videos below celebrating the state champion teams from this season. Sorry we couldn’t get one done for Brick Memorial, as the recent widespread power outage caused a minor calamity. I have to say that the Freehold one is probably my favorite. Enjoy.

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