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August 14, 20132012 In Review: The Braves were 11-1, losing to South Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group 5 finals, after beating Hunterdon Central and Monroe. They scored 425 points for a 35.42 average, while allowing 128 points for a 10.67 average, including two shutouts. Wins included Colts Neck, Middletown South, and Toms River North.
Departures: WR Anthony Firkser - Harvard, OL/DL John Appice - East Stroudsburg, QB Mike Isabella - Montclair State, OL Derek Brooks - Lackawanna JC (Pa.),
Offense: Manalapan runs a multiple I and returns five starters. Quarterback has a competition between juniors Dan Anerella (5-foot-10, 170) and Charles Lombana (5-foot-10, 175). Both running backs return, as senior Tyler Leonetti (5-foot-7, 165) rushed for 1,400 yards last year and senior Nelson Rivera (5-foot-11, 225) is back at fullback.
Two three year starters return at the receivers: senior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall (6-foot-3, 205) and senior tight end RJ Krause (6-foot-0, 235). The open wide receiver position will have seniors Omar Dogbey (6-foot-2, 185), Gerard Rocort (5-foot-11, 180), and Quintin Hodge-Grant (5-foot-8, 165). When two tight ends are used, it will be junior Kyle Mullen (6-foot-4, 235).
The lone returning starter to the line is senior Shane Pelles (6-foot-1, 235) at right guard. The left guard will be sophomore Joe Sellmeyer (6-foot-2, 265) and senior Nick Douglas (6-foot-3, 205) will be the center. The tackles will be senior Matt Colella (6-foot-4, 215) on the left side and senior Giorgio Ceciarelli (6-foot-4, 250) on the right side. Both Colella and Douglas started on defense last year.
Defense: The Braves run a 3-4 and return eight starters, two co-starters, and three who played. The line has Krause returning as the nose guard, while Colella and Douglas are back as ends after being co-starters a year ago. Mullen and junior Christian Ferrante (6-foot-4, 265) will rotate into the lineup.
All four linebackers are back this year. The outside linebackers are junior Joe Mendez (6-foot-2, 215) and senior Mike DeAngelo (6-foot-0, 205), with seniors Matt McCann (5-foot-8, 190) and three year starter Chris Noesges (5-foot-10, 215) on the inside. On the outside, senior Will Meaney (5-foot-11, 190) will rotate in for the second year in a row.
Three starters return to the secondary. Senior Chris Cruz (5-foot-9, 165) returns at one cornerback and senior Anthony Barone (6-foot-1, 185) returns at one safety. The other corner will be junior Dan Debner (5-foot-11, 180) and he started some games when injuries broke out. The other safety will be senior Vinnie DeAngelo (5-foot-9, 175), after seeing action. Blacknall is a returning starter at safety, but he will only play when needed and will do most of his playing on offense. At cornerback, senior Nick Macchio (5-foot-10, 165) will spell the two starters.
Special Teams: Senior Mike Caggiano is a three year starter at both kicker and punter. The return game will have Blacknall and Leonetti will be kick returners and the punt returners will be Debner, Leonetti, and Blacknall.
Thursday, 9/12, Jackson Memorial at home, 7PM
Friday, 9/20, at Freehold Township, 7PM
Friday, 9/27, Middletown North at home, 7PM
Friday, 10/4, Middletown South at home, 7PM
10/11-12, bye week
Friday, 10/18, at East Brunswick, 7PM
Friday, 10/25, Colts Neck at home, 7PM
Friday, 11/1, at Toms River North, 7PM
Friday, 11/8, at Howell, 7PM
Wednesday, 11/27, Marlboro at home, 7PM
Question Marks: Replacing four offensive starters and the quarterback, although Head Coach Ed Gurrieri has confidence in his two quarterbacks.
Recruiting: Blacknall, who committed to Rutgers, had offers from Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and others. Noesges, Krause, Rivera, and Leonetti are 1-AA/D2/NESCAC types. Colella has a body that can fill out and has interest from Navy and 1-AA schools. He is also a good basketball player. Cruz and Barone have also received 1-AA looks. Others can go D3 with a good year.
In the junior class, Mendez and Mullen are 1-AA candidates, plus have some 1-A interest from Pitt, Temple, Boston College, and Maryland. Caggiano has interest from Rutgers and other 1-A schools and has kicked well in camps.
Coach's Comments: "We hope to have a good year. We have nine starters back on defense. On offense, we have both running backs, a tight end, an offensive lineman, and a top wide receiver in Saeed Blacknall returning. Our biggest concern is rebuilding our offensive line and replacing our quarterback. We have guys stepping in on the offensive line who have played and two good guys competing at quarterback." - Head Coach Ed Gurrieri
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