Howell’s goal on ice is a return to the Rock

By TIM MORRIS
Staff Writer

 Howell High School goalie Bobby Dovenero gloves a shot during the Rebels’ Dec. 22 game against Westfield High School at the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall Township. Howell won the non-conference matchup, 4-1, to improve to 5-2 this year.  FRANK GALIPO Howell High School goalie Bobby Dovenero gloves a shot during the Rebels’ Dec. 22 game against Westfield High School at the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall Township. Howell won the non-conference matchup, 4-1, to improve to 5-2 this year. FRANK GALIPO Having gotten a taste of the Prudential Center in Newark, also known as the Rock, the Howell High School ice hockey team wants more.

The Rebels made a stunning run to the NJSIAA Public A championship game last winter, getting to play at the Rock, home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. It was an experience that no one on that team will forget and, for the core coming back from that team, the goal is to get back and finish what it didn’t last year, according to head coach Bill Daley.

The Rebels want to prove they are not a one-and-done team.

They lost the finals in their historic season to Randolph High School, 2-1. By getting to the finals, Howell became the first Freehold Regional High School District ice hockey team to play for a state championship.

This year’s Rebels will differ from last year’s Shore Conference A North Division championship team, which finished 22-5. The team graduated much of its offense, including the program’s all-time leading scorer, Kyle Hallbauer.

“It’s going to be more of a defensive-type season,” Daley said.

The Rebels have a franchise goalie in junior Bobby Dovenero, who is in his third season between the pipes for Howell. He has proved to be a difference-maker and his play breeds confidence in the Rebels. He has a .911 save percentage thus far this season and has allowed fewer than two goals a game

“With Bobby in goal stopping everything, the team feels he can steal a win from any team on any given night,” Daley said.

Getting back to the Rock is a realist goal for the 2015- 16 Rebels because, despite the loss of some key offensive players, they have a lot of talent back.

“We are returning a good core group of boys that helped Howell get to the state finals last year,” Daley said. “With the return of captain Anthony Gallicchio, Zac Turcotte, Matt Goeller, Zac Mazik, Louie Kuka, Greg Bernhardt, Anthony Mauro, Mike Camaroto and Evan Ganz on offense and captain Ryan Damelio, captain Steven Ramos, newly converted [defenseman] Kyle McEvoy (played third line forward last year), Sean Mylod, Mat Nekrasz and Tyler Kunzmann and the return of captain goalie Bobby Dovenero and backup goalie Eric McMahon, we have a strong core that knows what it takes to get us back to the finals and this year make history.”

Howell has received help where it needed it most — scoring — from Christian Brothers Academy transfer Timmy Clifton. He is playing on the first line, which is centered by Gallicchio with Turcotte on the opposite wing.

In the team’s first seven games (5-2), Clifton has scored eight goals and assisted on five. Gallicchio has six goals and seven assists.

Other newcomers contributing are freshman defensemen Anthony Lopardo and junior Jason Musselman.

“We are a fast team with great team chemistry,” Daley said. “The boys have set their goal. We have a tough schedule this year with games against teams from every conference.”

Patriots ready for a rebuild

Freehold Township High School, which, with Howell, has been the Freehold Regional High School District’s most consistent team, is young this winter.

Head coach Mike Celano noted that his team has no seniors. The Patriots have six juniors and a pair of sophomores on the roster, and the rest of team is made up of freshmen.

“Needless to say, this will be a rebuilding year,” Celano said. “We are going to take our lumps and learn our lessons.”

The Patriots appear to be fast learners. They took their lumps early, going through a five-game winless streak (0- 4-1) that had them at 1-4-1 to start the season. But three straight wins evened the record at 4-4-1 and have the Patriots looking like a team with a future in the postseason.

Celano’s goal is to be a .500 or better team.

The Patriots’ strength this year is the back line and goal. Freehold Township has defensemen Julian Kislin, Erik Borshchevsky, Ryan Ford and Matt Golba back from last year’s 12-8-2 squad. Junior Nick Raiola is a three-year starter in goal and has a .930 save percentage this season.

On the front line, Freehold Township returns captain Tyler McNamara and assistant captains Brendan Liebross and Max Halvorsen.

Halvorsen has 13 goals in the club’s nine games. Liebross leads the team in assists with nine.

Freehold Township’s impact freshmen include Niko Neron, Evan McNamara and Kyle Nestephy at forward and Kennan Alkoc and Nick Bianca on defense.

Mustangs look to build on sectional championship run

By TIM MORRIS
Staff Writer

MARLBORO

As the Marlboro High School girls’ basketball team embarks on its 2015-16 season, the Mustangs carry over the momentum of last year’s championship season.

Last winter, spurred by guard Nicole Shatsky, Marlboro captured the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV championship, defeating Monroe Township High School in an overtime thriller. Shatsky willed her club to the championship, and the graduated standout’s presence will be missed.

While the 1,000-point career scorer sparked the Mustangs, her teammates learned how to win and the role players stepped up to play crucial roles. This year, those players will take on more important roles for head coach Brad Hagensen and his staff.

“Tatum Evans, Jessie Iacobellis, Molly Weiss and Jessica Broad each played major minutes during our run to last year’s [Central Jersey] Group IV championship,” Hagensen said. “They are sharing that experience with this year’s group to lead the way.”

The 5-foot-11 Evans, a four-year starter, and 5-foot-7 Iacobellis are the only seniors on the team, and they give Marlboro one of the strongest front lines in the Shore Conference A North Division, along with Broad, a 5-foot-9 sophomore. Evans plays center and has good post-up moves, and Iacobellis and Broad are forwards.

The Mustangs are off to a 2-0 start with Evans averaging 20.5 points and nine rebounds a game. Broad is averaging 17 points and 10.5 rebounds, while Evans has 13 points per game. Broad is also averaging five assists a contest.

Weiss and freshman Gisella Romeo are the starting guards.

Marlboro is young with three freshmen — forwards Theresa Besso and Allie Garcia join Romeo — and sophomore forwards Broad and Isabella O’Hare.

Completing the team are junior guards Jean Angelone and Jillian Krantz.

The Mustangs are deeper than last year, and Hagensen hasn’t been hesitant about using his bench.

Hagensen likes what he’s learned about his team through practices, preseason scrimmages and the opening week of the season.

“They’re competitive, encouraging and, best of all, fun to be around,” the coach said.

“We’ve got a long way to go as far as understanding the system, but we get a little better every day.”

Middletown High School South has ruled A North the last few years, and Marlboro has been the team finishing behind the Eagles. The Mustangs would like to reverse that order this year. The teams meet for the first time Jan. 5 in Middletown.

COLTS NECK

Last year at this time, Colts Neck High School was the defending Central Jersey, Group IV champ.

Head coach Glenn Jansen has a Cougars team that finished last season playing its best in March and has key players Elise Brown (senior guard), Cara Volpe (sophomore forward) and Sam Roth (junior guard) back along with Amanda Hunt (senior forward) and Jamie Prestigiacomo (junior goad) returning. The Cougars will look to build on that momentum.

Lexie Iglesia (junior forward), Lola Mullaney (freshman guard) and Alana Janniello (senior forward) have been the team’s impact newcomers.

Colts Neck is off to an impressive 3-0 start, led by Brown, who is averaging 18 points and eight rebounds.

“Elise Brown is one of the most underrated players in the [Shore Conference] senior class,” Jansen said. “She is the team leader in so many ways.”

Mullaney has extended defenses with her 3-point shooting. She has seven treys while averaging 14.7 points.

Prestigiacomo and Roth have been chipping in the scoring column as well.

The Cougars offense has team averaged more than 60 points a game with a high of 74 against Long Branch High School. Even more impressive, they are allowing only 35 points a game.

Completing the Cougars are Camryn Allmers (sophomore guard) and Lauren Feaster (sophomore forward).

Colts Neck plays in the B North Division, where Red Bank Catholic High School looms as the team to beat.

Jansen is looking for his team to be in the title chase for B North and to make the Shore Conference and state tournaments, where he would like to make deep runs.

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP

There are some big shoes to fill at Freehold Township High School (0-3). The Patriots will have a new look with four-year starters Sam Famulare and Tori Wagner now off to college — Famulare to Florida Southern College and Wagner to St. Francis College of Brooklyn.

The career 1,000-point scorers were the focal point of the team’s offense the last four years, and finding a way to replace those points will be a challenge for head coach Mike Stoia. He’s starting three sophomores in Theresa Sanzone, Sarah Hughes and Katie Potter.

The Patriots have point guard Harlie Kneler as a floor general to guide the underclassmen. She’s a four-year starter.

“Harlie has been great throughout this process,” Stoia said. “She has been a coach on the floor and is tremendous at building up her teammates.

“I can’t say enough about how well she is playing and how well she is transitioning to more of a leader with our loss to graduation.”

Kneler is still the team’s playmaker but is also scoring more (10.3 points per game).

Completing the starting lineup is senior Kaela Chadziutko.

Hughes, who provides an inside presence, and Potter have added to the offense.

Sydney Rathsmith and Christina Heintz have the potential to provide more scoring.

Stoia’s goal for the Patriots is to improve each week and qualify for the postseason tournaments.

FREEHOLD

Just three years ago, Freehold High School (0-1) carried the day, winning Central Jersey, Group III. This winter, Colonials head coach Jenn Brzucki is looking to rebuild to be competitive in A North after being hit hard by graduation. Career 1,000-point scorer Rebecca Cobb is gone, as are her points, rebounds and leadership.

The Colonials have one returning senior from last year’s team: guard Stephanie Giardina. Also back are juniors Kayla Fletcher (guard), Sierra Strong (forward) and Olivia Duffy (guard) and sophomores Emme Leung (point guard) and Sydney Przygoda (forward).

The newcomers include Jenna Huskey (senior guard), Shayla Hunley (junior forward), Sholanda Hickman (junior guard), Jennifer Finnegan (senior point guard) and Samantha Wiles (senior forward).

Freehold is a very athletic team that can play defense. Hunley (5 feet 10 inches tall) and Wiles (5 feet 9 inches tall) provide a presence in the paint.

The Colonials will need consistent scoring to be competitive in A North this year.

MANALAPAN

At Manalapan High School (0-2), head coach Scott Horton will continue to go after teams with “the system” — the up-tempo game that features liberal substitutions that keeps fresh legs on the court to pressure teams from end to end. Over the years, the Braves have pulled off some big upsets in the postseason.

As always, Horton has a very deep bench that he utilizes.

Sophomores Arielle Kaplan (10 points per game) and Kerry Tanke (9.5 points per game) have been the team’s leading scorers thus far.

The roster includes seniors Emily Gresco, Briana Waring, Carly Niro, Erin Rotondo and Jenna Goldberg; juniors Danna Meier, Sarah Girolamo, Marisa Presby, Gina DeLorenzo, Mya Donnelly, Christine Critelli and Nicolette Conforth; and sophomore Grace DiPalermo.

The 3-point shot is an important part of Manalapan’s offense, and Kaplan and Critelli have been the team’s leading longrange shooters.

The Braves are an all-around athletic team that will again be a challenge for teams to play.

The goal is to get back to the postseason, where Manalapan will go up against teams, unlike in A North, that are unfamiliar with their game.

HOWELL

Joe Santopietro is the new head coach at Howell High School, and he has a club that is a mixture of all classes.

Senior Rebecca Hamilton and sophomores Lauren Kocsis and Perri Clifton form the trio sharing the scoring load for the Rebels (0-2).

Led by soccer standout Hamilton, they are a very athletic group.

Seniors Brittany Lucey, Gianna Ciaccarelli and Katie Capestro; juniors Jen Hodge, Michelle Hodge, Caroline Osborne and Erin Cannon; and sophomores Rachel Gazzola and Elizabeth Capestro complete the 2015-16 Rebels.

Mission Belief is NJ’s Horse of the Year

Trotting filly Mission Brief has been named the winner of the Secretary of Agriculture’s Trophy as New Jersey Standardbred of the Year for 2015.

Also selected New Jersey Sire Stakes Horse of the Year, Mission Brief will be honored Jan. 24 at the 59th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Luncheon at 1 p.m. at O’Connor’s Restaurant (formerly Charley’s Other Brother) in Eastampton.

Voted the nation’s 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in 2014, she also won the Dan Patch Award as 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in 2015.

The daughter of Muscle Hill-Southwind Serena wrapped up her 3-year-old campaign with 10 wins and three seconds in 14 starts, banking more than $1 million toward a career total of $1,599,587 for the ownership of the Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The Ron Burke trainee was regularly driven by Yannick Gingras.

Undefeated in her New Jersey Sires Stakes competition, including the $100,000 final at the Meadowlands, she also won the $307,040 Elegantimage at Mohawk Raceway, the $185,000 Zweig at Vernon Downs, the $187,400 Matron at Dover Downs, the $144,000 Continental Victory at the Meadowlands and the $174,000 Money Maker at The Meadows. She made a bid to best the boys in the $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands, winning her elimination but finishing second to Pinkman in the $1 million final Aug. 8.

Bred by Steve H. Stewart, Black Creek Farm and Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc., she sold for $150,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale.

At 2 years old, she won both the Merrie Annabelle and Breeders Crown, for nine wins in 13 starts and earnings just shy of $600,000.

She collected 150 of 156 votes for freshman honors in 2014 and 118 of 136 votes for 2015 divisional honors.

Her 1:50.3 mark still stands as the fastest mile by a 2-year-old trotter, male or female, and she lowered her personal best to 1:50.2 Nov. 12 on the five-eighths mile track at Dover Downs in the Matron Final.

Her sire, Muscle Hill, was the 2009 New Jersey Standardbred of the Year.

Tickets for the luncheon cost $40 per person and may be purchased from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Markets & Development, Horse Industry, PO Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625.

For further information, email Lynn.Mathews@ag.state.nj.us or call 609-984-4389.

Patriots’ sectional championship highlighted boys soccer season

Freehold Township High School helped make it another championship season for Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) boys’ soccer.

In Todd Briggs’ final year as the Patriots head coach — he stepped down at the end of the season — Freehold Township backed up the head coach’s expectations by capturing the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV championship.

The Patriots did it in dramatic fashion by beating Monroe Township High School, 3- 2, on Nick Facendo’s late goal. Goalie Mike Christina made a save on a penalty kick in the first half that loomed large.

Chris Hoskins (18 goals and nine assists) stepped up in the postseason, scoring the game-winning goal in back-to-back 1-0 victories, and Mike Maltese anchored the Patriots’ consistent defense. Maltese was also important on offense, registering a schoolrecord tying 14 assists.

The Patriots, who were also the public school Shore Conference A North Division champions, finished 15-4-4.

During Briggs’ decade as the Patriots’ head man, Freehold Township won two Shore Conference Tournament and two Central Jersey sectional championships.

Manalapan High School, last year’s Central Jersey, Group IV winner, backed that title up with another fine season, going 11-6-2 for head coach John Natoli (bringing his career win total to 299). Mike McNicholas, who led the Braves’ defense, won the John Cobb Senior Excellence Award from the Shore Soccer Officials Association.

Marlboro High School may have been a year ahead this fall, as the young and inexperience Mustangs went 8-7-4 for head coach Dave Santos.

Art Collier’s Colts Neck High School team (8-9-3) was again in the postseason hunt. The Cougars gave the Patriots all they could handle in the first round of the state playoffs, falling, 1-0, on Hoskins’ goal that was assisted by Maltese.

Joining Hoskins (forward), Maltese (defense) and Christina (goalie) on the News Transcript’s 2015 All-FRHSD Boys Soccer Team are forwards Facendo of Freehold Township, Rocky Garretson of Manalapan and Andy Rizo of Freehold High School; midfielders Mitch Volis of Manalapan, Mark Fasano and Adrian Barajas of Freehold Township, P.J. Ringel of Marlboro and Rob Berdel of Colts Neck; and defenders Dean Raynor of Colts Neck, McNicholas of Manalapan, Jacob Boardman of Marlboro and Will Lee of Freehold.

Indoor track and field season opens with big victories by district athletes

Track and field athletes from the Freehold Regional High School District are setting the benchmarks for the indoor season.

In the early meets of the 2015-16 under cover season, a quartet of area athletes have turned in the top marks in the state.

It started at the Demarest Invitational Dec. 19 at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River, where Howell High School’s Niamh Hayes turned in the fastest girls 3,000-meter mark of the season at 10:30.65.

The Rebels’ junior was so far ahead of the competition that it was practically a solo effort on her part.

Freehold Township High School’s Jake Konig matched Hayes and turned in the fastest boys 3,000 mark of the season, winning in 9:01.85.

Two other Rebels were victorious in their first meet of the season. Stephanie Bock won the girls shot put at a distance of 37-9¾, and Bill Bajohr won the 1,000 meters in 2:41.15.

At the Shore Track Coaches Association’s Season Opener held at the Bennett Complex Dec. 21, Freehold Township High School’s Ciara Roche, running her first race since her all-state cross-country season, won the girls 1,600 handily in 5:02.50, which put her atop the state’s 1,600 list. Konig won the boys 1,600 in 4:32.00.

At the Spiked Shoe Holiday Festival in the New Balance Armory in New York City, Marlboro High School’s Matt Linder had a record-setting day.

Not only did the junior break the school indoor high jump record Dec. 21 with his 6- 6 jump, but he also won the competition and had the state’s best jump to date.

The next major meet at the Bennett Complex is the Monmouth County Relays on Jan. 3.

The Monmouth County Championships are Jan. 8, and the Shore Conference meet is Jan. 22.

The NJSIAA State Relays are Jan. 14-15 for Group IV, Jan. 16 for Group II and Non- Public A and Non-Public B, and Jan. 17 for Groups I and III.

Central Jersey, Groups II and III are Feb. 5 and Central Jersey, Groups I and IV are Feb. 12. The group meets are Feb. 19 and 20, and the Meet of Champions is Feb. 27.

All state meets are in Toms River.

Howell High School gives throwers, who are often overlooked, the spotlight when it hosts the Rebel Shot Put series during the winter. The next meet is Jan. 6, and the series finale is Jan. 20.

Tar Heels’ Wold is First Team All-American for third time

Emily Wold concluded a magnificent collegiate career at the University of North Carolina by making her fourth All-American Field Hockey Team.

The Freehold High School graduate was selected to the All-American First Team for the third consecutive year after making the Third Team as a freshman. She is just the sixth Tar Heels athlete to be named First Team All-American three or more times.

In addition to All-American accolades, Wold was All-South Region and All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team in her final season.

This fall, the ex-Colonials great led the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship finals, where they lost to Syracuse University, 4-2. North Carolina won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, beating Syracuse, 2-1, in overtime. Wold was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Tar Heels finished the season with a 21-3 record. Wold, a midfielder, had the most productive offensive season of her career, leading the team is assists with 14 and scoring 11 goals.

Wold will now turn her attention to making the USA National Field Hockey Team that will compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. She played on the U.S. national team that won the gold medal at the Pan- American Games last summer in Toronto, Canada. The Games were a qualifier for the Olympics.

At Freehold, Wold had a legendary career, leading the Colonials to back-to-back NJSIAA Group III state championships her junior and senior years. She was a high school All-American and made the Junior National Team.

SPORT SHORTS

Manalapan High School is seeking nominations for its Athletic Hall of Fame. For an application or additional information, call Supervisor of Extracurricular Activities John Hein at 732-792-7200, ext. 5011, or go to www.frhsd.com/manalapan.

The Monmouth County Park System is keeping several of its golf courses open for play this winter: Bel-Aire Golf Course in Wall, Charleston Springs Golf Course in Millstone and Shark River Golf Course in Neptune. Golfers will enjoy reduced rates at these courses starting Jan. 1.

Weather-permitting, courses are open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both reserved tee times and walk-on play will be available. The tee time reservation system is available to those with golf cards. Golfers looking to purchase a golf card may do so at these courses. All cards will be sold at 2015 rates until 2016 rates are established. Weatherpermitting, the FootGolf course at Bel-Aire Golf Course will remain open through the winter.

To learn more about Park System winter golf, please visit www.monmouthcountyparks.com or call the Park System at 732-842-4000. For persons with hearing impairment, the Park System TTY/TDD number is 711.

The Monmouth County Park System, created in 1960 by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, is Monmouth County’s Open Space, Parks and Recreation agency.

The Edison Wizards Lacrosse Club is announcing registration for two boys teams: for grades 5-6 and grades 7-8.

Players will learn to play lacrosse from experienced coaches and players. The cost of registration is $100. Players are required to supply their own equipment.

Practice will be twice a week starting early March 2016. Games will be played on Friday nights and Saturdays.

Please visit www.wizardslax.com for information regarding registration. Call 732-710-0310 for further information.

Central Jersey RedLegs will hold tryouts for the 11U 2016 spring and summer baseball season. Winter workouts start the first week of January. Indoor tournaments, league play and multiple travel tournaments will be played.

Home fields are located in Michael Tighe Park, Freehold Township.

Contact Coach Tom at tfigliolino@aol.com for details.

Heath built legendary cross-country program at CBA

SPORTS VIEW

Tim Morris

The words “great” and “legend” get thrown out so often that they have almost lost their meaning.

In the case of retired Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) cross-country coach Tom Heath, those words hardly do him justice.

Heath, who stepped down as the Colts’ head coach after another championship year, leaves as one of the greatest coaches in any sport in New Jersey high school sports history. His legacy is unsurpassed. He is synonymous with cross-country in this state and, in the process, elevated the sport.

His list of accomplishments is staggering. There is the record 21 NJSIAA Meet of Champion (MOC) crowns, which includes the last six straight. There are the 27 group state titles, as well as team average course records all over New Jersey and New York (Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls). Maybe the most impressive achievement is winning the Nike Cross Nationals national championship in 2011.

Tom Heath’s Christian Brothers Academy cross-country teams won a record 21 NJSIAA Meet of Champions titles during his unparalleled career. Yet he ranks the national-record 343 dual-meet victories as the highlight of his career.LARRY LEVANTI/CBA

Tom Heath’s Christian Brothers Academy cross-country teams won a record 21 NJSIAA Meet of Champions titles during his unparalleled career. Yet he ranks the national-record 343 dual-meet victories as the highlight of his career.

LARRY LEVANTI/CBA However, when asked what stands out the most to him over his unprecedented career, his reply was the streak.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said.

The streak is CBA’s ongoing national record for consecutive dual-meet victories, which began in September 1974 and continued through the 2015 season. The mark now stands at 343.

The mark is a tribute to CBA’s unmatched depth. The Colts were so deep that Heath was able to run his B or even C team in most dual meets and rest his top runners. In that way, as Heath noted over the years, everyone contributed to the streak.

One of the Shore coaches linked to Heath’s streak is Colts Neck High School’s Jim Schlentz. In 1981, the streak was at 94 when Schlentz’s St. John Vianney High School team tied the Colts in a dual meet but lost on the sixth-runner tiebreaker. It was the closest any team came to CBA during its unfathomable five-decade streak.

“I like running against CBA,” Schlentz said. “The only way to get better is to race against the best.”

The Cougars’ coach, who has had his fare share of success in the sport (his 2006 Colts Neck girls were MOC champions), spoke highly of what Heath and CBA have been able to accomplish.

“To be at the top all those years is remarkable,” Schlentz said.

The Cougars’ coach had a simple explanation as to why the Colts have stayed on top all this while. “They outwork everybody,” Schlentz said. Heath, a CBA graduate who was a sprinter on the track team, took over as head coach of the cross-country team in the fall of 1971.

“There was a tradition at CBA for crosscountry,” Heath said.

Heath, though, took the program to high levels.

Heath noted that not being a cross-country runner was, in a strange way, an advantage for him.

“I never ran distance, which is probably good,” he said. “I never knew pain.”

There was no secret formula behind CBA’s and Heath’s success. He pointed out that it starts with recognizing that kids are smart. He explained they have to work hard, put in their miles in training and stay injury free. Pretty simple stuff, but something it seems only the Colts could achieve year-in and year-out.

I have watched the CBA program over the years as it went from a state power to national champion. I, like most, used to think, “Hey, anyone can coach CBA.” He gets the talent, but after observing Heath over the years and seeing how his runners were always ready for November and the biggest races of the season, I began to appreciate what he has done more. Getting your runners to come through when it matters in a single race takes more than talent. It takes coaching. In Heath’s case, it’s great coaching.

I remember the shocked faces of the Cherokee High School runners a few years ago when they were the heavy favorites to win the MOC only to have CBA take it from them as the Colts ran above their season-level. They did it this year, rebounding from a loss in the group championships the week before to snatch a 21st MOC title.

The 2012 MOC stands out as CBA’s signature win. With superstorm Sandy pushing the MOC back, it conflicted with the Nike Cross Northeast Regional. Heath couldn’t run his starters for fear that it would impact them at the regional three days later and jeopardize their chances of qualifying for the nationals. So he gambled on his “B” team, resting his top five runners.

“I told [the MOC runners] there was no downside,” Heath said. “If you do bad, I’ll take the blame. Just relax and be focused.”

The Colts all went out and ran their Holmdel Park personal bests for a stunning triumph that was a testament to CBA’s tradition.

When the Nike Cross Nationals started up to produce a national champion, did anyone doubt that Heath and the Colts would win it? They did in 2011, raising the profile for New Jersey cross-country. The Colts were also the runnerup in 2013. They’ve made the national championships the last six years.

It’s hard to think about it now, but it wasn’t always this way for Heath and his harriers. He pointed out that he lost the Monmouth County championships the first four times his teams competed in it. Clearing that hurdle opened the door for what would follow.

“As soon as you win something, you realize it’s not as hard to win as you thought,” he said. “It was the same thing with the states (MOC). I thought it was impossible. Then you win it, and it’s not as hard to do.”

How do you get everyone to race so well at the same time?

“You just have the kids relax and realize it’s just another race and it can be won,” Heath said.

Now that Heath has retired, he said that he won’t appear at any cross-country meets next year so as to not be seen as looking over the shoulder of the coach who has the impossible task of following him.

He may not be at Holmdel Park next year, but his shadow certainly will be.

Boys basketball season holds promise for district teams

By TIM MORRIS
Staff Writer

 Colts Neck High School’s Lloyd Daniels, middle, looks to put up a shot between a pair of Long Branch High School defenders — Ron Anderson, left, and Brandon Yutko — during the season-opening game played in Long Branch Dec. 18. The host Green Wave won, 57-54.  STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Colts Neck High School’s Lloyd Daniels, middle, looks to put up a shot between a pair of Long Branch High School defenders — Ron Anderson, left, and Brandon Yutko — during the season-opening game played in Long Branch Dec. 18. The host Green Wave won, 57-54. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR The 2015-16 high school basketball season holds a lot of promise for the Freehold Regional High School District’s boys’ teams.

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP

It seems every year Freehold Township High School finds a way to win a Shore Conference A North Division title.

Last year, the Patriots emerged out of the pack to capture the public school crown and were the only team to defeat Christian Brothers Academy.

Graduation hit last year’s division champions and NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV finalists hard, but head coach Brian Golub will have another deep bench that he will use to wear teams down.

The Patriots have trusty point guard Nick Facendo and center John Carroll back. They will be the foundation of the 2015-16 team.

The important newcomers include Steve Staklinski (forward), Ryan Zyskowski (forward), Ja’Zeem Foster (guard), Tyler Von Nessen (center), Bobby Weise (guard) and Stefan Williams (guard)

The Patriots are not without talent and are relying on players making the jump from the junior varsity team to the varsity. How quickly they make the adjustment will determine just how good this year’s team will be.

Golub expects his team to remain competitive while still being a work in progress that looks quite different in February than it does in December.

“We have more size than we’ve had in the past and are still pretty athletic, but we are a long way from championship quality,” the coach said.

“Hopefully in February, we will be much better and much more experienced.”

COLTS NECK

At Colts Neck High School, veteran head coach Lou Piccola is poised to have another season that goes into March.

“We have a number of upperclassmen with experience,” he said. “We’re seniorbased. It should be a fun year.

“We should be competitive. It comes down to staying healthy.”

Senior guard Lloyd Daniels could be ready to join the Shore’s elite this winter. The 6-foot-3 Daniels has proved to be a clutch shooter for the Cougars and can score from the inside or outside.

Senior forward Tom O’Reilly, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall, and 6-foot-2 Kyle Gordon and 6- foot-5 senior center Khalid Moustafa give the Cougars more size up front than recent squads.

Piccola said his club will look for mismatches with their size. Moustafa provides inside power, which is an added dimension for the team.

Seniors Jordon DeGroot, Tom Cavrak and Brandon Yutko will look for those mistakes and help out with the scoring.

Because of their front-line size, the Cougars will look to push the ball up the floor off defensive rebounds.

Juniors Chris Aquinas (forward), Brendan Clarke (guard/forward), Ronnie Anderson (forward) and Brandon Danis (guard) and sophomore Robby Hill (forward/center) complete a Cougars team that will be in the hunt for the B North Division title again this season and look to make a deep run in the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournaments.

HOWELL

It was a historic year for Howell High School, which secured the first home state playoff victory in program history.

The Rebels qualified for both the Shore Conference Tournament and state sectional playoffs. As they look to duplicate last year’s success, they will do it without five graduated players, including highscoring Aaron Trimble and Will Kocsis, who are both playing for Brookdale Community College.

Matt Morton, a senior guard who played in every game last winter, is the most experienced returnee. Also back are senior forward Steven Palumbo, who saw limited playing time last year, and Matt Morton’s young brother, Alex, a sophomore guard who gained valuable experience as a freshman.

“We are a young and inexperienced team and are building for next year and the year after,” head coach Patrick Ramsey said.

Ramsey is looking to a number of players from last year’s 19-5 jayvee squad to build this year’s team around.

Senior Connor MaCleod (guard); juniors Dan Cacciatore (guard), Bobby Cavallero (forward), Kyle Ferraro (guard), Tyler Hoops (forward) and Jordan Jones (guard); and sophomores Brandon Wilson (forward), Alex Bahjor (guard), Eddie Morales (guard), Ryan Mazik (forward) and A.J. Yagel (forward) make up the roster.

With the graduation of Trimble, Ramsey expects the Rebels to spread the scoring.

MANALAPAN

Rick Garretson’s Manalapan High School team, winners of the Huskies Holiday Tournament last year and a Shore Conference Tournament and state qualifier, also lost a lot to graduation, including Kyle Mullen, who was Huskies MVP and a big inside force.

For experience, the Braves have seniors Anthony Schimbeno (guard), Scott Scherer (forward), Justin Seeman (guard), Tim Broderick (forward) and Nick Carrolli (forward); and juniors Rocky Garretson (guard), Cody Wiener (guard), John Lugo (guard) and Sean Kinniburgh (guard).

The newcomers are senior Kyle Trinidad (guard) and sophomores Brian Broderick (forward), Zack Crockett (guard), Tyrel Horne (forward), Justin Lynch (guard), Naim Mayfield (guard) and Matan Zucker (forward).

The Braves have size with 6-foot-4 Scherer, 6-foot-4 Tim Broderick, 6-foot-3 Carrolli, 6-foot-4 Brian Broderick and 6- foot-3 Zucker.

“We are a young but talented team that can compete with anyone in our conference,” coach Garretson said.

MARLBORO

Marlboro High School head coach Michael Nausedas has steadily been building the program to the point that it is a consistent postseason qualifier, and he expects that growth to continue this year.

The last couple of seasons have been about developing talent and overall athleticism so that the Mustangs can go to the bench without a dropoff in play. That development will be on display this year.

“Our strength is our depth. We can play 12 guys,” Nausedas said. “We hope to be a quick team on both sides of the ball.

“Our goal is for our defense to ignite our offense. Because of our depth, we are hoping to play that style.”

The coach added that depth will be needed because of the nightly challenge that the A North Division presents.

The Mustangs have a mixture of seniors, juniors and sophomores.

The seniors include guards Nicholas Valenti and Noah Kiczales, guard/forward Michael Jastrtzebski, center/forward Brian Reilly and Chris Carlone.

Junior center P.J. Ringel gives Marlboro a strong inside presence. Guard Ryan Larocca, guard/forward Emir Anda and forward Dan Weiss are the other juniors.

Sophomores Elia Malara (guard) and Bran Levine (guard) and freshman Dylan Kaufman (center/forward) round out the 2015-16 Mustangs.

FREEHOLD

At Freehold High School, head coach Jesse Ryan will count on the experience the young Colonials gained last winter to be a difference-maker this season. The Colonials played several sophomores and freshmen in 2014-15, and they are now a year older and experienced.

The Freehold roster has just three seniors: guard/forward Jake Curry, guard Justice Jubilee and forward Chris Hannigan, who at 6 feet 3 inches tall provides the team with inside height.

The large junior class includes forward Richard Hurler, guard Jermaine Moore, guard/forward Jadakiss Thompson, center Joe Elias, forward Chris Cassandra and forward/ center Markee Gill.

Completing the squad are sophomore guards Ashante Worthy and Kani Anderson.

The Colonials are a very athletic and quick team that will look to wear teams down with their depth. Worthy appears to be the player who can give the team doublefiguring scoring each night. Ryan, though, will look to get scoring contributions throughout the lineup in order to get back to the postseason and compete in A North.

Another thing working for the Colonials is that they have players like Curry, Worthy and Gill, who are proven winners in other sports (football).

Colonials’ quarterback Curry tops All-District football team

 Freehold High School quarterback Jake Curry was a dual threat this fall with his passing and running, which helped the Colonials reach the state playoffs for a second consecutive season.  SCOTT FRIEDMAN Freehold High School quarterback Jake Curry was a dual threat this fall with his passing and running, which helped the Colonials reach the state playoffs for a second consecutive season. SCOTT FRIEDMAN With three teams — Freehold High School, Freehold Township High School and Manalapan High School — all reaching the state playoffs this fall, the football season in the Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) was very competitive.

Manalapan has been the standard-bearer in the district the last several years with four consecutive appearances in the state sectional finals from 2011-14. Ed Gurrieri’s Braves won the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group V championship in 2014.

This fall was a transition year for the Braves. Gurrieri had few starters back on either side of the ball, and the team was exceptionally young at the skill positions. Add to that injuries, and it was a recipe for trouble. Yet the Braves still found a way to qualify for the postseason and play their best ball there. As the No. 5 seed, the Braves went on the road and beat No. 4-seed Trenton Central High School, 20-7.

They pushed eventual champion South Brunswick High School to the bitter end, losing on the last play of the game, 27-21, in the semifinals to finish 6-5.

The Braves rode their experienced offensive line led by Joe Sellmeyer on offense. Marcus Salinas continued the Manalapan tradition of 1,000-plus yard rushers, running for 1,325 yards and 11 scores.

For Dave Ellis’ Colonials, it was important to back up last year’s 7-3 playoff team. Thanks to quarterback/safety Jake Curry, Freehold did just that, going 6-4 and taking the Shore Conference A North Division race down to the final game before losing to champion Middletown High School South.

The Colonials lost to Allentown in the Central Jersey Group IV playoffs.

Curry accounted for 19 touchdowns, passing for 12 and running for seven, and he accumulated more than 1,600 total yards for Freehold’s offense.

Ashante Worthy gave the team an explosive running back, rushing for 1,398 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. The sophomore has given the team a building block for 2016.

At Freehold Township, Cory Davies brought excitement and the school’s first state playoff performance since 2001 in his first year with the Patriots. Davies’ pass-friendly Air Raid offense, which carried Howell High School to a state title in 2007, led quarterback Jack O’Brien to numerous school records — including 2,000 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes — and receiver Adrian Rybaltowski to a receiving mark of 44 catches.

Freehold Township (4-6) was beaten by No. 2-seed New Brunswick High School, 21-14, in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group V tournament.

The Player of the Year was the Colonials’ Curry, who shined on both sides of the football.

He was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the Shore and had some remarkable games, such as the 14 for 14 passing performance for 261 yards against Toms River High School East or his 335 yards of total offense against Marlboro High School.

“Jake is definitely the center of our offense,” Ellis said during the season. “He has a total understanding of our offense. With Jake running and throwing, we feel pretty good.” As gaudy as his offensive stats were, he may actually have been even better on the defensive side of the ball. He was among the leading tacklers on the team with 104 on the season, and his six interceptions ranked among the best in the state.

“Jake always gives 100 percent,” Ellis said. “He’s a true pleasure to coach.”

Curry tops the News Transcript’s 2015 All-FRHSD Football Team Offense, which includes quarterback O’Brien; running backs Worthy, Salinas and Cameron Caorsi of Marlboro; wide receivers Rybaltowski, Jamel Smith-Rush of Freehold and L.J. Holder of Manalapan; tight end Nick Galanti of Freehold Township: linemen Sellmeyer, Jake Levine and Anthony Tardogno of Manalapan, Gianni Mazzone of Freehold Township and Carson Mitchell of Howell; utility player Tyler Tanen of Marlboro; and kick return specialist Nick Rossi of Howell.

The All-District Defensive Team has linemen Reily Radosevich of Manalapan, Nnamdi Unachukwu of Marlboro, Todd Burger of Freehold, Khaled Mostafa of Colts Neck High School, Tyler Von Nessen of Freehold Township and Noah Powell of Howell; linebackers Quin Cleary of Freehold Township, Nick Gargiulo of Colts Neck and Mike Reilly of Howell; defensive backs Anthony Lotti of Freehold Township, Dave Blumberg of Manalapan and Markee Gill of Freehold; utility player Eric Keosseian of Howell; and punter/place kicker Cody Wiener of Manalapan.