By Anthony Mauro Jr.
RED BANK – RBC and running back John DiStefano ran all over Toms River East last Friday night in a 49-0 trouncing to keep their undefeated season alive.
After RBC returned the opening kickoff, they surprisingly opened their first drive with two consecutive passes. Perhaps this was in hopes of catching the defense off guard, because on 3rd and 6 DiStefano carried the ball for a first down and the floodgates would open. The next play, he would carry the ball for 20 yards. Two plays later, on 2nd and 10, DiStefano would rush for a 25-yard touchdown with 8:43 to go in the first quarter.
Toms River East’s following possession would quickly end with a three and out. RBC’s Chris Whitlock would return the punt 36 yards to give the Casey’s outstanding field position at the Toms River East 16-yard line. On first down, Ryan Spahr completed a pass to Greg Golden for 11 yards. On second down, the ball was given to the reliable DiStefano for a 4-yard touchdown run with 6:16 to play in the first.
Toms River East would get a first down on their next possession but were quickly forced to punt the ball away again. RBC would hand the ball off to Larry Redaelli on three consecutive plays for a total of 33 yards. Then, DiStefano broke off an 11-yard rush. Spahr would pass to James Taylor to get the Casey’s down to the Raider’s 7-yard line. DiStefano took the ball again for a 5-yard run, followed by a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Spahr for a touchdown; giving RBC a 21-0 lead with 11:52 to play in the half.
Toms River East would be forced to punt again on their next possession. On RBC’s second play of the drive, DiStefano ran for 59 yards down to the Raiders’ 13-yard line. The following play, DiStefano would punch it in the end zone with 5:55 left in the half.
Another three and out for Toms River East led to a 35-yard pass from Spahr to Golden, bringing the Caseys down to the Raiders’ 18-yard line. DiStefano would eventually score from eight yards out with 22 seconds to go in the half; giving RBC a 35-0 lead.
“Johnny’s [DiStefano] a great running back. We’re fortunate to have him. He’s a hardworking kid. You’d never know that he’s scoring touchdowns and running for a thousand yards and all that stuff. The most humble kid you’re ever going to see. He just works hard and gets after it. But, you know, I think we’ve got a pretty good offensive line and they have a lot to do with it,” said RBC head coach Jim Portela. “They’ve been together for a couple of years and they’re pretty good too. I think Johnny mixes right in with that group because they’re all just like him; quiet, hardworking kids, smart, do what we ask them to do. It makes for a good combination, you better believe it.”
As the wind picked up throughout the second half, Toms River East could not get anything going on offense and continued to punt the ball away. This continued to give RBC ample opportunities for success. After DiStefano broke off a 27-yard rush, Redaelli would run for an 11-yard touchdown with 4:26 to play in the third quarter.
As the fourth quarter began, it became clear that DiStefano would sit the rest of the game as RBC clearly had the game in the bag with a 42-0 lead and playoffs around the corner.
“I think today the kids came out very focused and wanted to get a home playoff game. That’s been a goal of theirs and they really got after it tonight. We knew Toms River East was a good team, we knew we couldn’t take them lightly and we didn’t do that. We came out here and we wanted to finish our regular season hard and that’s what we did,” said Portela.
With 6:35 to go in the game, Redaelli carried the ball 33 yards for the final touchdown of the game. With DiStefano on the bench, RBC’s defense and clock management would carry them the rest of the way to a 49-0 victory.
“Shutouts are always good. We like that, mostly because we know when you get a shutout that means you played well in all three phases of the game. Shutouts don’t happen just because you played good defense; it happens because you controlled the ball, you played good offense, and you played good special teams to give yourself a chance and that’s what we did tonight,” said Portela.
DiStefano finished the game with 198 rushing yards, giving him 1,250 total rushing yards for the season.
“We’ve been lifting twice a week so we’re keeping our strength up, that’s definitely a big factor [in the success of the running game]. Our line opens up holes… Teams are going to be tougher [in the playoffs] but hopefully the blocking keeps up and we’ll keep doing the same thing offensively and defensively,” said DiStefano.