By Jim Hintelmann
OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Unbeaten Red Bank Catholic (7-0) was a team on a mission Friday night and accomplished it with, perhaps, its best offensive game of the season.
Facing an Ocean Township team that had been playing strong defense this season, the Caseys, led by tailback John DiStefano, who rushed for five touchdowns, rolled to a 49-14 romp which clinched the B North championship. It was the first outright division title for RBC since 2008, when it won the Liberty Division crown. It shared the title with Freehold last year.
“I’m happy with the production we gave on the defensive side of the ball,” said RBC coach Jim Portella. “We’re pretty young there. We have 10 seniors that play a lot on offense.”
DiStefano, enjoying a fine season with 16 touchdowns, rushed for 187 yards in just 16 carries with his touchdowns coming on runs of 6,7,18, 23 and 77 yards. DiStefano’s game-total gave him 1,042 rushing yards for the season, and it was the ninth straight season that RBC had a 1,000-yard rusher.
“DiStefano is tireless and always gives a great effort,” said Portello. ”The way the offensive line blocked didn’t hurt either.
“This (winning the division) was a great accomplishment,” he said. “The kids worked real hard and I’m proud of them.”
Ocean, led by quarterback Withler Marcelin, making his first varsity start at the position, stayed with RBC in a high scoring first quarter which saw RBC lead, 21-14.
Marcelin scored one touchdown on a 65-yard run and set up the other with a 62-yard sprint, but the RBC defense shut him and the rest of the Ocean team down the rest of the game while the offense scored four straight touchdowns before turning the game over to the reserves in the final period.
“That kid (Marcelin) is very athletic and made a couple of great moves,” said Portella. “He played wide receiver before this game. We made a couple of slight adjustments, but he didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect.”
The Caseys have picked up their offense since a close 14-7 win over Long Branch and have averaged almost 40 points a game over their last four contests.
RBC plays host to Toms River East Friday night. A win would give RBC a chance at getting the third seed and a home game in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 3 Playoffs.
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