By Jim Hintelmann
RED BANK – The 2011 Red Bank Catholic football team might not have the offensive power as some of the programs previous teams, but the unbeaten Caseys always seem rise up to the challenge, and they did so again in Friday’s key B Division North battle with Colts Neck.
Faced with a Colts Neck rally that twice cut a three touchdown RBC lead to just one, RBC came through with the big plays when needed, including a four-touchdown performance from John DiStefano, and held on for a 28-21 win and took sole possession of first place in the division.
“We played well and scored when we had to,” said RBC coach Jim Portella. “Colts Neck is a good football team and never quit. We didn’t expect anything else. There are no style points in the B North.”
A key part in the game came early in the final quarter when Colts Neck recovered an onside kick at the RBC 40 after scoring its first touchdown of the game to cut the RBC lead to 21-7.
The Cougars took 10 plays to score with quarterback Dylan Cottrell capping the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Oros. Cottrell passed to Cina Corrado for the 2-point conversion to narrow the RBC lead to 21-14.
“That onside kick was a big play in the game because it let them back in,” said Portella, “but we knew that they would come back.”
Colts Neck again tried an onside kick, but this time RBC was ready and recovered near midfield.
DiStefano ripped off a 40-yard run on the first play to the 12, and scored two plays later on a 9-yard run.
“We knew that we had to pull together after that onside kick,” said DiStefano. “The coach told us that Colts Neck wouldn’t give up. I got some great blocks from my fullback, Chris Donald.”
Again Colts Neck came back, this time on a 53-yard touchdown run by Vic Scalici with 2:21 remaining to make it 28-21.
Once again, though, RBC recovered another onside kick and came up big time when Donald sprinted 45 yards to the Colts Neck 7 where it ran out the clock with two quarterback kneel downs.
“Our offense stuck together as a team and moved the ball when we had to,” said guard Anthony Dorsi. “We just got the job done.”
RBC completely controlled most of the first three quarters, moving out to a 21-0 lead while holding Colts Neck to just two first downs and not allowing the Cougars to get past the RBC 38.
RBC scored on its first possession, rolling 82 yards in six plays with DiStefano scoring on a 14-yard run. A 35-yard run by Donald off a fake punt sparked the drive. Jim Toomey kicked the first of four extra points. He has been perfect in 18 attempts this season.
DiStefano, who rushed for 186 yards in 25 carries, led a 44-yard drive in the second quarter and scored from a foot out for a 13-0 lead.
RBC made it 21-0 in the third quarter when DiStefano scored on a 40-yard touchdown run.
“Colts Neck had size up front and stunted a lot,” said RBC center Jim Portella, “but we had a lot of practice for that in games against Long Branch and Neptune and picked it up well.”
After being totally shut down by the RBC defense for the first three quarters, Colts Neck finally got moving by going to a short passing game and scored on an 80-yard drive with Scalici scoring on a 1-yard run. He was apparently stopped behind the line of scrimmage, but he bounced off several RBC tacklers and went in.
“The effort from both teams was outstanding,” said Portella. “I think that the defenses on both teams got tired in the fourth quarter.”
RBC can clinch at least a tie for the B North championship if it beats Monmouth Regional this Saturday. It shared the division title with Freehold last year.