Monmouth County got in an extra day of practice compared to Ocean County on Monday, as they were dodging the lightning bolts and torrential rain down in Toms River to cut practice way short. That’s a tough break when there’s only six days to prepare, but it sounds like Ocean County has been on the same page since Day One so it shouldn’t be the end of the world. I will be checking out the Ocean County squad for the next two days after seeing Monmouth County for a few days to start the practice week.
I was at Matawan on Monday night for the Monmouth County practice doing a story on the offensive linemen. I have a few more features coming as the day goes along on Tuesday before I head to Ocean County practice, so make sure to be on the lookout for those.
If you can’t make it to the game, just a reminder that it will be broadcasted live on the radio by Fox Sports 1310 am and 105.7 fm “The Hawk” as well as streamed live over the Internet.
As for the offensive linemen, it’s been no surprise that Rumson’s Taylor Brown and Red Bank Catholic’s Chris Spahr have stood out, as they are headed to UPenn and Bucknell, respectively. One surprise has been Shore Regional’s Jason Reid, a small-school player who has impressed with his strength. The Middletown North duo of Frank Constantini and Pat Donlin have also been solid and are used to paving the way for teammate Uly Gibson, who will be one of Monmouth’s running backs. Long Branch’s Sean Williams has made definite strides since the first practice and Nick Hungerford is the quintessential Raritan player – undersized, tough, and coachable with a high motor. RBC’s Shawn Smith was with the O-linemen for the first three days but was switched to the defensive line after Monday’s practice, which is where I think Smith wanted to be all along.
An intriguing player has become Monmouth Regional’s Anthony Fruncillo. He was the Falcons’ quarterback during the fall, was originally slated to be a tight end for Monmouth County but is now at receiver. He is a 6-4 target with a big frame who is an added weapon in the passing game and has the size to catch passes over the middle.
Freehold wideout Brandon Brown was showing off his throwing arm in the drills as he aired out a bomb to Monmouth’s Davaughn Norfleet that nearly went 50 yards in the air and was perfectly thrown. Brown most likely would have been Freehold’s quarterback this past fall had Nick Tyson not transferred from Marlboro, and he certainly has the athletic ability to do it. Tyson, meanwhile, has become a clear leader on the Monmouth County team, and he had a long run during the live period of the practice near the end. Manalapan’s Jim Gilburn also broke off a nice touchdown run.
Asbury Park wideout Derrell Bell will not be participating in the game for Monmouth County, while Wall offensive lineman Kevin Orender is also out with a back injury. Matawan receiver Kyle Hardy has not dressed since suffering a hip injury at the first practice. With the night practices, you also get more people coming to check out the teams, as Middletown North coach Joe Trezza, Holmdel coach Frank Papalia, former Colts Neck coach Mike McArthur, Red Bank assistant Joe Passo and others were all hanging out as well as a group of Freehold players who will be returning for the upcoming season.
Also, I caught up with Howell coach Cory Davies, who is the general manager for the Monmouth County team, and he mentioned that Howell’s 2009 season opener against Piscataway, which is currently scheduled for Friday, Sept. 11, could possibly be moved to Sunday, Sept. 13 at Rutgers Stadium as part of a double-header also featuring St. Peter’s Prep. That’s a nice way to ease into the season – playing Piscataway in a big stadium in their backyard. Piscataway also happens to be the defending North II, Group IV state champion and is geared up for another run.
As for Ocean County, Toms River North punter Jon Tynon and wide receiver Pat Szukics, Lacey wide receiver Andrew Burt, and Southern linebacker Mike Bonsky will not be participating after originally being on the roster. Also, the Lakewood tandem of Wilton Morgan and Wilson Figueroa have both opened some eyes on defense in the secondary and at linebacker in the first few days and are ones to keep an eye on.