Nov 20, 2018 | Other
MANASQUAN – Two schools, two towns, forever connected, supremely motivated and on Thanksgiving Day, bitter rivals who in many cases live and play less than five miles apart, come together with one goal in mind – Break the Tie!
Manasquan vs. Wall is a Turkey Day rivalry dating back 19 years to two well known coaching names in Shore Conference folklore – the legendary Vic Kubu and Chris Barnes. This year, one of these teams will break the 9-9 tie, claim the Superintendent’s Trophy for a tenth time and walk away with bragging rights both coaches recognize “the boys will brag about at the beach” during the upcoming summer of 2019.
Last year’s game saw Manasquan senior defensive back Tommy Antonucci rush for two touchdowns and play shut down defense as Manasquan put on a show in a 20-6 win over Wall. The excitement that flowed from a Manasquan team that for three years prior had come up empty on Thanksgiving Day, made the feast of the harvest that much better.
For 2018, let’s preview the two teams, their strengths, composition, recap their season and see what remains for the balance of the season.
The Crimson Knights come into this year’s contest with a 5-3 record after a tough loss to Timber Creek Regional, 28-33, in a first round Central Jersey Group III home playoff game on Nov. 2. Wins over Lakewood, Lacey, Marlboro, Southern Regional and Neptune helped propel the Knights into that playoff game.
Led by senior captains quarterback Dylan Richey, tight end Tanner Powers, and offensive linemen Joe Fardella and Brady Scott, the Crimson Knights balance their squad with three freshmen and three sophomores who also start for second-year head coach Tony Grandinetti.
“Were in a good place” said Grandinetti, with senior leadership and the youngsters making an impact at such an early age. “It’s a rivalry the boys look forward to. The communities are close, the kids are close, many played Youth Football together, so we look forward to Thursday.”
Three other standouts for Wall are sophomores running back Casey Larkin and wide receiver Logan Peters, as well as freshman inside linebacker Charlie Sasso, who leads the team in tackles.
Wall’s three losses this season came at the hands of Jackson Memorial, Long Branch (CJ Group IV finalist) and Timber Creek Regional (SJ Group III semifinalist).
The Warriors have their own plans on how to break the tie. Manasquan’s 25-year assistant, and eight year head coach Jay Price has his team firing on all cylinders at the right time of year, with an 8-1 record and representing the Shore Conference as one half of the Central Jersey Group II playoff final against Hillside this past Saturday. (See game story on page 12.)
Led on offense by seniors Canyon Birch – a 1000-yard rusher at tailback, and fullback Rashid “Scooby” Tuddles, the Warriors look to control the clock and the ground with this one-two punch.
Defensively, the Warriors are led by defensive back James Pendergist and defensive lineman Alec Wells.
A senior heavy squad – of 22 starters, 18 are seniors – Squan is looking to close out this campaign with two wins in six days and its second consecutive Thanksgiving Day win versus its rival in the Crimson Knights.
An undefeated season until week six, the Warriors’ only loss this season was to Mater Dei Prep, while chalking up wins against Point Pleasant Boro, Neptune, Raritan, Monmouth Regional, Colts Neck and Ocean Township. Playoff wins over Delaware Valley and Cinnaminson put Manasquan in the battle for 2018 CJ Group II supremacy. Currently riding a three-game winning streak, Manasquan will look to keep the string alive.
As Wall travels to Manasquan, look for an exciting game as both teams have playmakers on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Thursday morning at 11:00 a.m. at the Vic Kubu Warrior Field, a football tradition far beyond the 19 years this rivalry was formalized on Turkey Day, will be on display.
To the winner go the spoils. Many of the young men on both sides are as close as the communities they represent. The bragging rights gained from a victory on Thursday will be discussed long into the summer at the beach with one difference, the young men will still be friends and associates and the 9-9 tie will be broken.
Good luck to both teams!