Both Raritan and Holmdel suffered losses in the NJSIAA quarterfinals and thus ended their state title hopes. For Holmdel, it was their first playoff appearance since 2007.
The two teams look to put those games behind them when they take the field at Bob Roggy Memorial Stadium in Holmdel at 10 am on Thanksgiving Day for their 10th annual Thanksgiving Day game. Raritan has won seven of the previous nine matchups, including a 44-14 victory last season at home.
Raritan finished the regular season 4-5 overall and fifth in A Central with a 2-3 in division record. They fell to top-seeded Point Boro, 41-12, in the first round of the Central Group II playoffs. Holmdel finished 5-4 under second-year head coach Jeff Rainess and finished fourth, just ahead of Raritan, in A Central, also with a 2-3 in division record. They earned the six seed in the Central Group II playoffs, where they were defeated in the first round by third-seeded Johnson, 34-6.
Raritan is led on offense by senior quarterback Dan Vanmeerbeke. He shined on Sept. 29 in a 28-9 victory against Donovan Catholic, when he threw for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Running back P.J. Buccine ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-14 victory over Red Bank Regional on Nov. 3.
Holmdel is led by junior quarterback Jeff DeCicco, who led a team that won only three games last season, to their first playoff appearance in 10 years. He went 8-12 for 139 yards and ran for 48 yards in a season-opening win on the road against Brearley on Sept. 1.
Holmdel’s rushing attack is led by Dean Gallo, who ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns against Rumson-Fair Haven on Sept. 23, and 104 yards and a touchdown against Matawan on Nov. 3. Cameron LaMountain also shined against Matawan in the 28-0 Holmdel victory with 158 yards and two scores.
This will be the final game of the season for both teams that look to be very evenly matched, so it figures to be a very competitive final game of the season and both teams hope to end on a high note.