Green Dragons one step closer to state playoffs

Brick squad shows character in win
over Southern

By wayne witkowski
Staff Writer

Brick squad shows character in win
over Southern
By wayne witkowski
Staff Writer


JERRY WOLKOWITZ Brick Township’s Hanieff Rodriguez runs around a Southern Regional defender during the Green Dragons’ 15-13 win on Saturday. With the win, Brick (6-2) improved its chances for a NJSIAA playoff berth, and will have to sit and watch this weekend as teams play their final games before the playoff cut-off before knowing who and where they will play in their first-round game.JERRY WOLKOWITZ Brick Township’s Hanieff Rodriguez runs around a Southern Regional defender during the Green Dragons’ 15-13 win on Saturday. With the win, Brick (6-2) improved its chances for a NJSIAA playoff berth, and will have to sit and watch this weekend as teams play their final games before the playoff cut-off before knowing who and where they will play in their first-round game.

Brick Township’s football team has had some dramatic victories this season since losing its season opener to Howell, 7-6, like a 20-14 victory over Lakewood after trailing 14-0 and an overtime triumph over Central after taking the lead late in the game and seeing Central tie it in the closing seconds.

Last Saturday’s 15-13 triumph at home over Southern Regional High School, West Long Branch, on a long game-ending drive may be the defining one for this year’s young team.

"I really think we’re still in a growing stage this late in the season, but we do have the character to come back," said coach Warren Wolf after his 327th career victory. "Southern dominated in the second half and should’ve won the game, but we showed character in the determination to win the game. That’s a pivotal thing for us."

It may signify that Brick, which is 6-2 with only 10 seniors and many big plays coming from juniors and sophomores, is coming of age.

"We really have a young team and they’re maturing," said Wolf. "They’re very positive. They’re getting better all the time. Our character is the leadership by the seniors, six of whom play. The juniors and sophomores do a lot of the playing."

One of the seniors, tight end Brian Rykaczewski, caught the game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Giratore on fourth down and 10. It capped an 84-yard drive. Giratore alternates at quarterback with Kyle Watson. That play could be the one best remembered for making the NJSIAA playoffs, if Brick has the power points to make it.

The cutoff for selection follows this weekend’s action, and Brick appears to have enough points to qualify for the eight-team South Jersey Group IV bracket.

"This was a major win for us," said Wolf. "From what I understand, we’ll probably be the eighth seed playing the No. 1 seed, and [whether] we’re able to come back at the No. 1 seed is up to the boys because it will take effort, determination and hard work. If we do qualify, we want to be a good representative and do our best because the Green Dragons have a lot of pride, tradition and a great work ethic."

Making the playoffs will represent a great comeback for a team that Wolf said has been in an "uphill battle" since its opening game against Howell, which it lost in the last two minutes.

"We didn’t play well that day," said Wolf, whose team has won its last three games after its other loss to Toms River South. "Things looked really bleak for us and I’m really proud of the team."

Along with the aforementioned players, Wolf saluted the efforts of senior defensive tackle Wayne Neidermeier, senior running back-defensive end Haniff Rodriguez and junior Nick Mullins, another of the many versatile two-way players who will help the Green Dragons qualify for the playoffs.


Sport Shorts

The Jersey Intensity 12U girls’ fast pitch softball team is looking for a catcher and utility player for the upcoming season. The Intensity fast pitch team is an ASA Junior Olympic softball program, offering full-year instruction with winter indoor training, strength and conditioning programs, and spring, summer and fall tournaments. The team will compete in the nationals. Dedicated players who are interested can arrange for a private tryout by contacting Kevin O’Donnell (732) 577-0797 or e-mailing bightr17 @aol.com

The New Jersey Xplosion, a 12U baseball team, will be holding tryouts for all positions. The team is in need of at least five quality pitchers; left-handed pitchers are a plus. Serious, committed players are needed to play according to full MLB rules. The team will begin training indoors for spring play and tournaments, including a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y. For more information, call (732) 580-8950, or e-mail Boschvac@ optonline.net.

The Atlantic Coast Football League is holding registration for the winter men’s 2002 season. The league is offering players age 18 and over both flag and two-hand touch football. In flag, there will be an 8-on-8, two-count league and an 8-on-8, no-count league. In two-hand touch, there will be a 7-on-7 A League, and a 6-on-6 B League. Both teams and individual players are welcome. The league begins Dec. 8. For more information, go to www.onscore.com, or call Mark at 1-877-onscore.

Holmdel Park, whose 5K cross country course is the site for the state high school championships as well as college meets, will gain national attention on Nov. 24 when the park hosts the National United States of America Track and Field Masters Cross Country Championships. Women age 40 plus will start the meet off at 10 a.m., followed by men ages 50-59 at 10:45. Next up is men ages 40-49 at 11:20, and men age 60 plus at 11:55. The masters will race over the 5K course. The day’s events will conclude with the Holmdel Park Alumni Open 5K Shoot-Out. Preregistration postmarked by Nov. 14 is $10 fee; after that, $15. For more information on either the masters races or the shoot-out, call USATF-NJ at (732) 296-0066.


Brick Memorial girls’ tennis program progressing nicely

Interest in sport seems
to be building, leaves
coaches optimistic

By wayne witkowski
Staff Writer

Interest in sport seems
to be building, leaves
coaches optimistic
By wayne witkowski
Staff Writer

It has not been an easy road for coach Gene Monahan since he started the Brick Memorial High School girls’ tennis team 22 years ago.

However, after finishing a 3-15 season, Monahan exudes greater optimism for next fall and the start of what could be an upswing for the Mustangs.

"We had a lot of girls come out this year, so many that we had to start a junior varsity [team]," said Monahan. "That’s the first time we had that happen. It’s a great sign."

There were eight girls on varsity and 11 on the new junior varsity team, coached by Jason Bloom.

"It helps the team when you have younger players playing singles all the time," said Monahan. "All of the other schools we played have jayvee teams."

It presents a pleasant dilemma for Monahan, who has had seasons where he had trouble filling the lineup with capable players.

"The problem next year is that we could have 10 seniors and we’ll have younger players who will get a chance to play," he said.

The only players graduating are first singles player Kaitlin Friedrich and second doubles starter Caitlin Hermida.

The situation could encourage many veteran players to work harder during the off-season, and may encourage some to enter the Ocean County singles tournament and NJSIAA tournament next season.

"We don’t have a lot of girls who start playing tennis young, like they do in soccer and other sports here," said Monahan. "Most never played until high school and don’t get [outside] lessons. We don’t have the really good tennis athletes like the elite teams in Toms River do, but they do work hard. We have to get them to work during the summer."

What also makes it hard is that the school, unlike many others in the Shore Conference, does not have tennis courts on the grounds, and players have to travel to Ocean County Park for practice and home matches.

Nevertheless, the keener student interest showed in the greater number of students at tryouts this fall. Brick Memorial could be a more formidable opponent in the future, especially if second singles player Lisa Gorski continues to blossom.

Monahan said Gorski was the "most improved" player on the team after moving up from second doubles. She had a team-leading seven victories.

"She did a good job. She’s quick and hits the ball hard," said Monahan.

Megan Luckey, a junior, was pressed into third singles when the projected starter there decided not to play just days before the start of the season.

Juniors Loren Siegel and Leslie Douma had many competitive matches in first doubles, although one of them could move into a singles spot if none of the reserves or players from the junior varsity team emerge. Kim Lyons, a sophomore who played first singles on the jayvee and doubles on the varsity, is a singles candidate for next season.

"They were very aggressive at the net," said Monahan of his doubles tandem of Siegel and Douma. "Loren was very quick and Leslie played the ball well."

Hermida was accompanied in second doubles by junior newcomer Alana Gerrity. Junior Christine Anderson and freshman Alisha Evans, a junior varsity starter, could be solid prospects for next season.

Monahan also admired the determination of Friedrich in first singles, who moved up from the No. 3 spot a year ago.

"She hustled, worked hard and kept the ball in play," said Monahan.

Although she won only three matches, Friedrich made her opponents press for points. Monahan hopes that drive rubs off on the returning players for what could be a promising season next fall.