KENILWORTH – The one thing that Brearley needs to do to win – its blueprint according to head coach Scott Miller – was halted by a Holmdel team that did its homework.
Brearley’s running game was held in check pretty much for the entire game, while Holmdel – which didn’t rush the ball that well itself in the first half – found a way to get the job done post intermission.
Brearley was limited to under 100 yards rushing for the game, while Holmdel – held to just 31 yards rushing in the first half – scored both of its touchdowns on the ground in the second half.
The first of those two TDs extended a brief halftime lead and kept the visiting Hornets ahead the entire second half.
Holmdel held off a late Brearley charge en route to a season-opening 17-12 triumph at Ward Field.
“They kicked our butts up front,” Miller said. “We had no running game and we couldn’t establish any momentum. It’s hard to win when you’re constantly faced with second and long.”
In the first 24 minutes Brearley produced just two first downs and only 33 yards rushing on 13 carries. Returning seniors Mike Ramos (quarterback) and Khalid Bonnet (1,000-yard rusher) were held to 13 and 20 yards running respectively.
“We did our research on them,” second-year Holmdel head coach Jeff Rainess said.
Holmdel, situated in Central Jersey, Group 2, is 1-0 for the first time since 2012. The Shore Conference school is seeking to finish above .500 for the first time since 2007.
“We know Brearley has a tremendous program and we knew they would be physical, which was a concern of ours.
“No. 6 (Bonnet), when he gets going he’s a downhill runner that’s tough to stop. I think we confused them a bit.”
Chris Pizzuto, Brandon Saghafi, Johnny O’Bierne (also the team’s punter) and Mac Byrne all turned in several key tackles to help the Hornet cause.
Thee Holmdel defensive players converged on Ramos in the second half, with the ball popping out and the Hornets recovering.
Ramos ran in from 11 yards out on a fourth-and-one with 8:24 left to pull Brearley within 10-6.
Ramos then threw the ball left to senior end Jordan Stewart, who took it the rest of the way – 11 yards – and bulled his way into the end zone to make it a 17-12 game with 3:23 remaining.
Brearley stopped Holmdel without a first down to get the ball back with 1:59 to go, but out of timeouts.
The Bears reached the 50 before their only possession to win the game concluded with an incomplete pass.
“We played hard up until the end,” Miller said. “We need to be able to run the ball to be successful.”
Brearley rushed for 60 yards in the second half, with Bonnet finishing the game with 15 carries for 45 yards.
Holmdel junior running back Dean Gallo was held to minus three yards rushing on five carries in the first half. His 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, which came on a second effort after eluding Brearley’s first hit, put the Hornets ahead by two scores for the first time at 9-0.
Holmdel junior quarterback Jeff DeCicco, a southpaw thrower, completed six-of-seven passes for 80 yards in the first half.
“He’s a real smart kid on the field and in the classroom,” Rainess said. “He just needs to trust his skill set.”
Brearley freshman middle linebacker Michael Dotro is already making a name for himself. In his first varsity game and start his name was called the most when it came to making tackles.
Holmdel was called off sides eight times, including illegal procedure, delay of game and illegal substitution (too many men on the field).
“I think – and I hope – that’s just a product of opening Week Zero,” Rainess said. “We never opened Week Zero before.”
HOLMDEL (1-0) 00 03 07 07 – 17
BREARLEY (0-1) 00 00 00 12 – 12
Holmdel – FG Alex Unanski 21 (H 3-0)
10 plays, from own 37 to Brearley 4, 5:01 used
Holmdel – Dean Gallo 10 run, Alex Unanski kick (H 10-0)
4 plays, 44 yards, 1:53 used
Brearley – Mike Ramos 11 run, kick failed (H 10-6)
4 plays, 20 yards, 1:33 used
Holmdel – Cameron Lamoutain (according to MaxPreps,
there was no No. 20 on roster) 33 run, Alex Unanski kick (H 17-6)
4 plays, 54 yards, 1:43 used
Brearley – Jordan Stewart 11 pass from Mike Ramos, pass failed (H 17-12)
8 plays, 70 yards, 3:02 used
ROSELLE PARK SOLID AT SUSSEX TECH
Union County’s other North 2, Group 1 school that opened Friday was Roselle Park, which played at Sussex Tech in a 4 p.m. start.
Roselle Park scored four of its five touchdowns in the first half and did not yield a point until the second half – according to head coach Terry Hanratty – on its way to producing a convincing 33-7 triumph.
Roselle Park senior tailback-middle linebacker Dylan Camilo had a game to remember as he rushed for 100 yards on 10 carries, including three touchdowns. He also caught a pass for a touchdown and led the Panthers with 11 tackles.
“We saw a lot of different things, tried a lot of different things and had a great first game,” Hanratty said.
Sussex Tech, situated in North 1, Group 2, returned a kickoff to the Roselle Park 10 in the second half and then scored its lone points against RP’s first string defense.
Roselle Park senior wide receiver Enzo Brutus caught two passes for 55 yards, including a touchdown reception covering 40.
Roselle Park junior quarterback Pat Gergich completed six-of-nine passes for 110 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Brutus had an interception for the Panthers, who led 27-0 at the half.
Also excelling on defense for Roselle Park were senior end Jawahn Gasque with eight tackles and two blocked passes; fellow senior end Devin Hilburn with nine tackles and senior outside linebacker Abel Crespo with a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Roselle Park had plenty of support for its excursion to Sussex County (Sparta).
“I was so happy that our cheerleaders and band were there for us on a holiday weekend,” Hanratty said. “That’s what high school football is all about – the whole student body taking part.”
Hanratty also said that former Roselle Park head football coach and present athletic director James Foy helped transport the kids.
“He took the bus with the cheerleaders,” Hanratty said. “He will do any job that is necessary.”