By Ryan Fennell
Rumson – The Rumson Fair Haven Bulldogs continued to roll through the regular season with a 30-0 walloping of Monsignor Donovan last Friday night to improve to 6-0 on the year.
After dropping its season opener, 40-0, to Saint John Vianney the Griffins had racked up four straight wins to sit atop the B South heading into last week’s game.
That didn’t impress the Bulldogs, who effectively shut down the Griffins’ triple-option offense and quarterback Vincent Grasso for a full 48 minutes, holding Monsignor Donovan to just over 100 yards in total offense.
With only two games left on the schedule that count toward the state playoffs, against teams with below .500 records, the Bulldogs seem poised to earn a high seed, if not the top seed, when Central Jersey Group II play begins in mid-November.
However, both head coach Shane Fallon and starting quarterback Danny Roberto do not believe this team has reached its full potential and hope for a full onslaught of its capabilities heading into the playoffs.
“We’re not peaking yet,” Fallon said. “We’re a good team. We have a chance to be a great team, but we’re not there yet.”
“I don’t believe this team has reached its potential,” Roberto said. “I think we can go above and beyond what we’ve been doing so far. We have to take it one game at a time, one practice at a time, and everyone’s got to stay healthy.”
Although, with only two of Rumson’s eight state playoff qualifying games this season against teams with winning records, the question remains whether or not this team has come up against a true test.
“We’ve had a couple of close games,” Roberto said citing a 9-3 win over Red Bank Regional and a 13-10 overtime win against Shore Regional to open the season. “Our Shore game went into overtime. That’s been our biggest test so far, but every team we’ve played has given a great fight. We’ve just outplayed them.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” he said. “Our goal is to make the state final, but we’re young and getting better every single game.”
For the head coach, Roberto has been invaluable to this team this year and will be the key to its success in the postseason.
“We lost 26 seniors from last year and Roberto was one of the kids we had coming back,” Fallon said. “He’s been very patient with our kids. Offensively, we’ve made mistakes this year where we’ve blown assignments, we’ve dropped balls, and we’ve had penalties. But, he’s just very efficient. He takes what the defense gives us.
“When his teammates make a mistake he’s there to pick them up because he’s been in these big games before,” continued Fallon. “What he brings to the table for us is invaluable, and it doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet.
“It’s like having an extra coach out there because, when something breaks down, he’s able to improvise and fix it on the fly,” he added.
Roberto completed 10 of 14 passes against the Griffins for 98 yards and three touchdowns, a 21-yarder to John Ryan, a 5-yard toss to Sam Shaud, and an 11-yard strike to Denis O’Sullivan.
Sophomore running back Charlie Volker added a 17-yard touchdown run and kicker Jake D’Amelio booted a 25-yard field goal for the Bulldogs.
Rumson heads to Monmouth Regional (1-5) next Saturday to take on the Falcons at 12:30 pm.