2005-09-09 / Sports
Caseys look to reload after a solid season
BY VIN RAPOLLA
Gone are running back Donnie Brown, generally considered one of the Shore’s top backs in recent history, as well as quarterback Kyle Brown — the two cornerstones of last year’s offense.
Last year the Caseys went 6-4 in the regular season, but are looking to improve on that mark this time around with some new talent on the field.
Replacing Brown at quarterback is senior Ryan Kalish, who has already proved he’s ready to step up and lead this offense, according to head coach Frank Edgerly. In fact, Edgerly said he is very anxious to see Kalish in the regular season after an impressive preseason.
“He’s as talented a player as we’ve had at the QB position,” the coach said.
While replacing a talented player like Donnie Brown is a tough task, the Caseys will use a pair of backs to fill the void. Returning backup tailback Tasso Fortinos, a senior, and junior Donald Porzio will share the running back duties, with Fortinos getting the bulk of the carries due to his experience. But Edgerly promised that opposing defenses will also see quite a bit of Porzio as the Caseys look to take advantage of both runners’ abilities.
“We’re very fortunate to have these two guys. They have the potential to be special,” said Edgerly. “They’re two very different-style runners.”
One of the few positions where the Caseys get back returning starters from last year is at the fullback spot, where seniors Steven Giampiccolo and Gregg Geran return to the team.
In addition, with a new set of running backs in the backfield, the Caseys will rely heavily on their experienced offensive line for support.
Returning at center for the team is senior Nick Lucarelli. At guard is senior David Matthew and newcomer Andrew Rozanski. At tackle the team has two strong returners in seniors Andrew Mason and Tim Shortell.
“This is a tough, blue-collar group,” said Edgerly. “They are experienced and have the ability to make good players great.”
With a balanced offensive scheme, the team will look to its wide receivers, senior Corey Hardy and junior Ryan Smith, to keep defenses honest, along with returning tight ends senior Michael Kelly and junior Harry Flaherty.
“We’ve had a very balanced offense in the preseason,” said Edgerly. “Six of our 17 touchdowns have come in the air.”
On the other side of the ball, the Caseys will be set in a 3-4 defense. With most of their defense starting on offense, one of the only concerns Edgerly has thus far is the team’s depth factor.
The linebacker spots will be filled by Kelly and Flaherty, while at the defensive end will be Steven Giampiccolo. Andrew Mason will play defensive tackle.
The secondary will feature Kalish, Fortinos and Porzio.
“This group has done well in the preseason,” said Edgerly. “They’re as fast as we’ve been on defense and very active. We’ll just need some more depth.”
On special teams, the Caseys will also utilize many of their talented starters. The place kicker is Lucarelli, who hit 35 PATs last season, while the punter is Kalish. Returning the ball for the team are Fortinos and Geran.
With a similarly tough schedule as last year, the Caseys will have to play well throughout the season to return to the playoffs. Squaring off against teams like Raritan, Red Bank Regional, Matawan and Manasquan will certainly test this squad.
But Edgerly is confident that his team will get better every week and make another strong run at the playoffs.
“This is the strongest team I’ve had as far as work ethic and camaraderie,” he said. “We’re just going to try and play the best we can, week in and week out.”
The Caseys open the season this Saturday at Manchester. Game time is 1 p.m.