By Ryan Fennell
Red Bank – The bye week might have been a nice respite for the Red Bank Regional Buccaneers following two tough losses to open the season, but tonight (9/28) its back to business, and it doesn’t get any easier.
The Bucs (0-2, 0-1) were blown out in their season opener, 47-0, by Red Bank Catholic (3-0, 2-0) before bouncing back in week two by putting up 28 points and twice erasing 14-point deficits against Wall (1-2, 1-1) only to fall, 34-28, in double overtime.
And now, they return to the field to take on Ridge Road rival Rumson-Fair Haven (3-0, 2-0), which is off to a solid start with decisive wins against Saint John Vianney (1-2, 0-2) and Holmdel (2-1, 0-1) after squeaking out a 13-10 overtime win in its season opener against Shore Regional (2-1, 1-0).
Tonight’s game is a home game for the Bucs and will be played under the lights at Count Basie Field in Red Bank.
Red Bank has elected to play one of its home games at Count Basie Field each year for the past three years and has been playing one game a year under the lights for the past five, renting lights for the first two. Hosting a game at Count Basie Field also brings Red Bank’s West Side community out to the game according to Red Bank Regional Athletic Director Louis “Del” Dal Pra.
“Our attendance goes through the roof for these games,” Dal Pra said.
After routing SJV, 35-13, in week two, Rumson-Fair Haven managed three quick touchdowns in the second quarter against Holmdel, which hadn’t yielded a point to an opponent in its first two games, to jump out to a 20-6 lead, and eventually won the game 27-6.
However, the Bulldogs’ play was sloppy in spots committing several turnovers including quarterback Danny Roberto’s three interceptions and a lost fumble by Travis Clark.
“We made enough mistakes that we’ve got to have a big week of practice,” RFH head coach Shane Fallon said. “We’ll enjoy the win. It’s always good to go 3-0. I’m more concerned, though, about the fact that we didn’t execute when we needed to, and we made some penalties and turnovers. We were sloppy in spots tonight.”
RFH trailed Holmdel, 6-0, at the end of the first quarter after the Hornets scored on a 10-play 46-yard drive with 36 seconds remaining in the quarter. On third and long, Holmdel quarterback Robbie Cantelli connected with wide receiver Jeff Harris for a 16-yard touchdown strike to get on the board and led 6-0 after the extra point was no good.
The Bulldogs answered with an 11-play drive that began on their own 39-yard line highlighted by a 42-yard completion from Roberto to wide receiver Sam Shaud that brought the ball down to the Holmdel 5. Roberto connected with John Ryan in the endzone on the next play for the touchdown. Jake D’Amelio missed the extra point and the score was knotted at six. Roberto’s pass to Shaud seemed to ignite the Bulldogs offense as they went on to score two more touchdowns in the quarter.
“I thought Shaud splitting the safety and going down the seam and Roberto hitting him in stride was certainly a big play,” Fallon said.
Later in the second the Bulldogs were set up after Michael Clarke returned a Holmdel punt 25 yards to the Holmdel 45-yard line. Two plays later Rumson was in the endzone after Roberto hit Ryan for a 15-yard gain and a 30-yard touchdown to go up 13-6 after D’Amelio’s successful PAT.
Holmdel was flagged for a roughing the kicker penalty on the PAT and Rumson kicked off from the Hornets’ 45.
Rumson executed an onsides kickoff and successfully recovered the ball at the Holmdel 27 and three plays later, sophomore running back Charlie Volker charged into the endzone from 8-yards out to put the Bulldogs up 20-6.
Rumson added a touchdown at 6:18 in the third to go up 27-6 and cap the scoring when Roberto connected with tight end Henry Rosenberg up the middle for a 16-yard TD reception. Roberto finished 12-for-17 with 177 yards and three touchdowns.
“Things broke our way and we made some plays when we had to,” Fallon said. “Roberto made some key passes when he needed to. Charlie Volker, our sophomore running back, stepped in and did a nice job running the ball.
“Our tight end, Henry Rosenberg, had some catches tonight,” he added. “We needed to get Henry involved. He had a big preseason and we were not really able to get him involved in the first two games.”
Tonight’s game between the Buccaneers of Red Bank Regional and the Bulldogs of Rumson-Fair Haven at Count Basie Field in Red Bank kicks off at 7:30 pm.