Red Raiders, Fans Excited for Home Opener Friday Night

Red Raiders, Fans Excited for Home Opener Friday Night

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Ocean City’s Matt Christy closes in to drop Lower Cape May quarterback Connor Eckel during last week’s 35-0 victory. (Photos courtesy of OCHSfootball.com)

By TIM KELLY

The excitement of Ocean City High School football players and fans for Friday’s home opener at Carey Stadium was only enhanced by the events of the season’s Week 1.

The Red Raiders scored touchdowns on their first five possessions of the game to take early control of last week’s season opener at Lower Cape May Regional, a 35-0 rout in a non-league game.

The atmosphere at Carey Field should be electric when the Raiders host their first 2019 contest on the historic gridiron in a West Jersey League Independence Division game against Egg Harbor Township.

“Egg Harbor Township is a big and physical team,” Ocean City Head Coach Kevin Smith said. “This should be an old-school kind of game, a battle of the trenches, where the team that controls the line of scrimmage will probably win.”

“They have a very strong defensive line,” Smith said of the Eagles (0-1), who dropped their season opener, 21-13 at Atlantic City last Friday. “This is going to be a big challenge for our offensive line.”

EHT is also likely to be in a surly mood for the game, which kicks off at 6 p.m. They were up 13-0 over Atlantic City at halftime and 13-7 after three quarters. They lost it by relinquishing two fourth quarter TDs.

Adding fuel to the Eagles’ incentive is last year’s meeting between the two teams, a 25-6 Red Raider win at EHT.

Some might also suggest that the domination Ocean City displayed last week and being in front of the home fans for the first time could lead to overconfidence this week, something Smith and his staff are guarding against.

“As coaches, we are perfectionists and we can always find areas for improvement,” he said, “regardless of how well we played previously.”

Brandon McGonigle gets off one of his five extra-point kicks, out of Brian Beckman’s hold.

With that on the table, Smith said there was a lot to like from last week’s win.

“The thing I probably was most pleased about is we were stressing to the kids that we needed to get off to a good start and to keep the pressure on them,” he said. “A team in (Lower Cape May’s) position, the longer you allow them to compete, they will gain confidence as the game goes on. We did a very good job of preventing that, particularly in the first half.”

Despite windy conditions, Ocean City scored touchdowns on each of its first five possessions. The Raiders were equally strong on defense and on special teams, holding the Caper Tigers under 50 yards total offense for the first half and going 5 for 5 on extra points.

The Raiders took their coaches’ pleas seriously to start the game strong and to keep their collective foot on the gas pedal.

Jake Inserra opened the scoring with a 19-yard run, followed by a 22-yard scoring scamper by Isaac Wilson. Then Jake Schneider hauled in a 42-yard TD pass from quarterback Joe Repetti. Brendan McGonigle’s third extra point kick made it 21-0 before the first quarter expired.

Ocean City didn’t stop there. Brad Jamison caught Repetti’s second TD pass of the game, a 58-yard hookup to open the second quarter. Wilson’s second rushing TD, a 35-yarder, and McGonigle’s fifth and final point-after kick made it 35-0.

That was significant, as the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association adopted a new “mercy rule” that kicks in when one of the teams has a 35-0 lead.

The rule calls for a running clock following incomplete passes as long as the lead holds up. Because of the great play of the Ocean City defense, Lower stayed off the scoreboard, keeping the clock rolling the rest of the game.