By TIM KELLY
The Ocean City High School football team put a complete effort together Friday night in a 49-0 destruction of Egg Harbor Township at Carey Stadium.
It was the defense, though, that stood out in the home opener at Carey Stadium.
“I’ll have to check the records, but I can’t remember the last time we opened with back-to-back shutouts,” Head Coach Kevin Smith told his team.
The defense set the tone on the very first play when junior interior lineman Will Drain pressured EHT quarterback Christian Rando, hit him and altered Rando’s pass. Jake Inserra picked off the pass and ran it back 25 yards for the touchdown.
“That play was all Will Drain,” said Inserra, a junior linebacker. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
Drain saw it the other way around. “I got a hand on (Rando) and Jake made a great play on the ball and did a great job of putting it in the end zone,” he said.
It was one of three defensive touchdowns for the Red Raiders, who improved their overall record to 2-0 and won their first West Jersey Football League Independence Division contest.
Senior defensive backs Louis Conte and Brian Beckman also had pick-6 scores for Ocean City. Conte made an acrobatic interception and somersaulted into the end zone after a 25-yard return in the first quarter to make it 20-0. Beckman made a leaping interception in the third, running it back 40 yards.
In the first two games of the season, Ocean City outscored opponents Lower Cape May and EHT by a combined 84-0, but Smith cautioned against reading too much into it.
“I never expected us to win our first two games by these margins,” Smith allowed, “but we haven’t accomplished anything yet. There are plenty of areas where we can improve.”
Smith said earlier in the week he expected the team that played the best in the trenches would win, and the Raiders dominated both sides of the football.
In the first half, Ocean City used a five-man rotation of its base four-man front consisting of Drain, Michael Williscroft, Chris Armstrong, Michael Rhodes and Matt Christy. The front line effectively shut down the Eagles (0-2) and limited them to a paltry unofficial total of 12 yards rushing and an unofficial 0-for-8 passing with two interceptions and two sacks.
For the second straight week, Ocean City rolled up a lead of 35 or more points to invoke the so-called mercy rule in which the clock runs after every play except after scores and/or injuries.
Ocean City’s offense also looked very sharp. Quarterback Joe Repetti rushed for a pair of touchdowns (3 and 1-yard option runs) and passed for two to Jake Schneider, in hookups of 26 and 28 yards.
Brandon McGonigle booted four extra points, and a bad EHT snap went out of the end zone for a safety in the third quarter to account for the rest of the scoring.
Inserra credited his coaches and film study of EHT’s offense for the stellar performance by the defense.
“Coaches (Sean) Matthews (the defensive coordinator) and (Frank) LaSasso are two of the best coaches I’ve ever had, since I’ve been playing football,” Inserra said. “They put us in a position to succeed and we were prepared. It showed tonight.”
NOTES: In the running clock second half, Smith was able to sit Ripetti and give some snaps to his backup quarterbacks, frosh Riley Gunnels and soph Charley Cossabone.
OC’s offensive line was dominant, knocking EHT off the ball all night. The Raiders did not have many sustained drives, instead scoring on big plays.
“The wind played a big role in both of these games, as we were able to move the ball with the wind and to get good field position after we stopped (both opponents) and forced them to punt into the wind,” said Smith.
A large and enthusiastic crowd came close to filling the stands at Carey, with a packed student section creating a “White Out” by wearing white T-shirts to match the Raiders’ all-white uniforms.