Looking at the agenda for the Upper Freehold Regional District’s Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, legendary coach John Amabile was approved as the new head football coach for the Redbirds, inheriting the program from new Brick head coach Pat Dowling. Allentown went 2-8 last season under Dowling after going 0-10 in 2007 and 0-10 in 2006 as well as 1-9 in 2005.
Amabile, who stepped down as the St. John Vianney head coach on the heels of a 3-7 season. He went 22-38 with the Lancers in six seasons with one state playoff appearance after highly successful stints at Wall and Neptune. He won two NJSIAA sectional titles at Wall (1982 and 1983) from 1977-84 and three with Neptune from 1985-2000. Amabile’s 252 career wins rank third all-time in Shore Conference history.
This obviously is going to be his biggest challenge yet, and he doesn’t have the advantage of drawing talent from all over like he did at St. John Vianney (even if all that talent then migrated right back to its local public schools the minute Amabile left). Allentown has largely been football Siberia for a long time, where more than two wins in a season has been cause for a parade. The Redbirds have been in the news lately because of Dowling getting the job at Brick in controversial fashion against the wishes of legendary coach Warren Wolf and a large chunk of the Brick community and for another former Allentown coach, Greg LaCava, getting the head job at Colts Neck.
It’s obvious Amabile really had the itch to coach again. I know he applied or at least inquired about the open jobs at Red Bank Regional and Holmdel, which went to Nick Giglio and Frank Papalia, respectively. Red Bank has gone 3-27 in the last three years, so it’s a somewhat similar situation to Allentown, meaning that Amabile had no qualms in taking over a program that needed to be rebuilt. I wish coach Amabile luck, and maybe this is one final great chapter to write in a brilliant career after a frustrating stint at St. John Vianney. Still, the looks and responses I got from a few other coaches after telling them Amabile was probably going to land at Allentown were mostly incredulous. Amabile is known for his boisterous approach and passion for the game, so we’ll see how that plays out in Redbird-land.
Also, a few late additions to the Stumpy Awards. I might as well add a broadcasting wing to the awards, so I am adding Joe Giglio and Mike Krenek of The Shore Sports Report, which airs weekdays from 3-6 p.m. on Fox Sports 1310 am. Anybody that can listen to me babble about Shore Conference sports from 20 minutes or so once a week deserves some kind of award (blatant plug alert – my segment is on at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays). Plus they gave me crap for not getting one, and I agree with them. These guys have done a great job mixing sports talk about the pros and local colleges all the way down to Shore Conference athletics. Make sure to check it out.
Also, I made another addition to the “Sophomores to Watch” list that was an oversight on my part. Barnegat shortstop Kyle Anderson is definitely one to watch, as I had some kind of mental block that he was a junior. He made the coaches’ All-Division team in Class B South after hitting .438 and is part of a very young Bengals team that played a bunch of freshmen and sophomores this season. My apologies to Kyle.
At the rate we’re going, the Carpenter Cup tournament should be over a few days before football training camp begins. The rain has been relentless, and today’s game has been moved to Saturday at 10:30 a.m., when there still appears to be more rain in the forecast. Also, the SBCA Senior All-Star Game is now Monday at 7 p.m. at FirstEnergy Park after beign postponed because of rain.
As for some football news, the annual North-South All-Star Game has been moved to Kean University this year from Rutgers and will be on June 29 at 7 p.m. The Shore Conference players participating for the South squad include the following: Freehold Township wide receiver Ryan Spadola; Middletown South linebacker Matt Martino; Shore defensive back Gerard Carnevale; Toms River South wide receiver Aaron Terry; Neptune running back Michael Peavy; Point Boro defensive tackle Jeff Keffer; Freehold quarterback Nick Tyson; Barnegat wide receiver Dan Cintron; Matawan wide receiver Kyle Hardy; Lacey running back Tom Rickmers; and Toms River North offensive lineman Evan Regas.
In case you missed it recently on the college commitment list on the site, Tyson, the 2008 All Shore Media Offensive Player of the Year, has committed to The College of New Jersey. Also, Peavy, Neptune defensive end Roderick Tillery and Roderick’s older brother, Rodney Tillery, a 2007 graduate, have all committed to Missouri Valley College, where he will play football and run track, according to Neptune coach John Fiore. Missouri Valley’s quarterback is former Manasquan standout Chris White.