In only his second year leading the program, Holmdel football coach Jeff Rainess is leaving his mark.
The program is off to its best start in years, with a 4-3 record through week six and people are beginning to take notice.
“Being able to look up in the stands and see the student section filled up, it’s pretty neat to see,” Rainess said. “The community has been deserving of a winner for a long time and it’s pretty cool to go out to the store and have random people giving me high fives because we’re doing a job. That’s pretty neat.”
The Hornets opened their season on the road against Brearley and picked up a 17-12 win.
“From a standpoint of gaining the confidence and the buy-in of the team, I think it was huge. To go beat a program like Brearley that is well-respected and in the playoffs every year is big for the program, but we asked the kids to work really hard and when they start to see a positive result, I think it gives you a platform to build on.”
The Hornets also have victories over Spotswood, Red Bank Regional and Manchester. They outscored their opponents, 108-21, in those three games.
“I think it’s due to expectations and consistency,” Rainess said. “I think when I took over, I was the fourth head coach in four years, so there was a whole bunch of different schemes and messages that I think contributed to some of the difficulties the team had in the past. Having the same voice and same scheme for two years in a row definitely enabled the kids to play faster and feel more comfortable with what was expected of them. Thankfully, it’s showing up on the field.”
Holmdel has been led by three key players on offense: quarterback Jeff DeCicco, running back Dean Gallo and wide receiver Mac Byrne. All three players are juniors.
“The game has definitely slowed down for Jeff,” Rainess said. “As an offense that relies on the option, we rely on him to make good decisions a lot of the time. He worked hard in the off-season at his trade and it is showing up. He is making smart decisions and with a year under his belt, he’s able to play faster and be more confident in his reads. It’s allowing the offense to be more efficient.”
Rainess wants people to know the kids deserve all the credit.
“I’m so proud of the effort that the boys put in. Where they were to where they are now is a pretty amazing story and it doesn’t come easy,” Rainess said. “I want people to understand how hard these kids have worked because we ask a lot of them. There’s a lot of effort that goes into this thing between the weight room and the practice field. Any time I get a chance to talk about it, that’s what I want to portray.”
Holmdel looks to continue their success on Friday, Nov. 3 on the road against Matawan.