By Brian Deakyne
RED BANK — For most teams, losing a starting quarterback and running back by week two would be detrimental.
Even good teams find ways to struggle with offensive production without, arguably, the two most vital players to an offense.
Not Red Bank Catholic.
The Caseys, who lost starting quarterback Mike Corcione this preseason and running back Larry Redaelli in a week-one victory over Red Bank, have continued their offense as if nothing ever happened.
A dominant running attack from senior Jesse Flaherty and sophomore Mike Cordova may have even made their offense more explosive.
Flaherty and Cordova combined for 297 rushing yards and a touchdown in the Caseys (2-0) 10-0 win over Manasquan (0-2) last Friday night at Count Basie Field.
“I think our offensive line just does a consistent job, I’m going to give them the credit,” Flaherty said.
As a team, Red Bank Catholic rushed for 353 yards on a strong Manasquan defense that went to the playoffs a year ago. Versatility seemed to be the deciding factor, being able to use both Flaherty and Cordova all game.
“I think we’re a good duo because we both start on defense and when we get tired we take each other out,” Flaherty said. “It’s good that I have him since Larry [Redaelli] is hurt.”
The Caseys also featured a wildcat-type offense, using senior wide reciever Chris Whitlock as the quarterback and sending Cordova in a jet sweep play — a formation that worked well in the second quarter against the Warriors.
Overall, Red Bank Catholic dominated possession against Manasquan, but struggled to put the ball into the endzone.
“We didn’t finish drives. We felt good about how we were running the ball. Unfortunately we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit,” Red Bank Catholic head coach Jim Portela said. “And then in the second half, we felt like we had to play the game as it was dealt to us.”
The Caseys scored on a 75-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter from Flaherty, and junior quarterback and kicker Chris Toomey belted a 27-yard field goal mid-way through the third quarter.
Toomey missed a 36-yard field goal at the end of the first half wide right, and the Caseys turned the ball over on downs with 10 seconds left because they spiked the ball on 4th and 1 on the Manasquan 10-yard line to stop the clock. The RBC coaching staff was under the impression that it was third down at the spike, but officials turned the ball over saying, it was a fourth-down play.
The Caseys defense continued to be impressive, getting their second straight shutout to open the season. The Warriors were able to open a few big plays, but nothing came of it.
“We gave up no points, but we had some breakdowns that better be fixed. No points is always good and we’ve played two games with some teams with some good athletes,” Portela said.
“Our defensive line has three of the four guys returning and we return a lot of seniors on defense,” senior Richie Curran said. “The senior leadership definitely helped.”
Red Bank Catholic’s stout defensive line — which includes Rutgers recruit Josh Klecko alongside Curran — seemed to be in the Warriors backfield on every play.
“We wanted to contain the pass and fill our gaps,” Curran said. “We don’t try to look ahead, we just focus on what we have to do game-by-game.”
Red Bank Catholic will host St. John Vianney tonight at Count Basie Field. The Lancers fell to Rumson-Fair Haven last week, 35-13 and beat Monsignor Donovan, 40-0 in week one. It will be the Caseys first match-up since 2005 against St. John Vianney, as they will look to move to 2-0 in A-Central play.