Update: Huge 43 - 6 Win Over Manchester Tonight On the Road

HOLMDEL, N.J. - The Holmdel High School football team rose up under the radar in the Shore Conference last season, earning its first winning season in 10 years and making it into the NJSIAA Central, Group II tournament.

With a good veteran group of players back in year three under head coach Jeff Rainess, the Hornets will not be surprising many people this season and are primed to continue their success from 2017.

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Coach Rainess said, “We’re taking things one game at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves.  I keep reminding the guys how far we’ve come over the last couple of years and that we have to work even harder to continue that growth.” 

Back under center for his third straight season at Holmdel, is senior quarterback Jeff Decicco. Running the show in a triple-option offense is a tough roll for any quarterback, but Decicco doesn’t see it that way now as a three-starter.  He’s confident in his abilities and focused on being a good leader for his team, which means making sure everyone on the offense is in the right spots and know their assignments.  “We’re talking the same language all the time. It’s great,” Rainess said on having Decicco back under center.

Senior Dean Gallo and Junior Cameron Lamountain or, as Rainess likes to call them; “Thunder and Lighting”, both return behind Decicco in the backfield at running back for the Hornets.

Gallo is coming off a great junior campaign, where he ran for 1,017 yards and nine touchdowns.

Both Ryan and Evan Jennings are expected to make significant contributions to the Hornets rushing attack at running back, as will junior Tommy Ammirati.

Up front in the trenches, the Hornets have an excellent group of 'hog mollies,' as New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman would say.

Seniors Austin Fischer and Mike Iulo will anchor the right side of the Hornets’ line, while seniors Sean McCann and Jack Tedeschi will hold down the fort on the left side of the line. Senior Chris Muldoon will take over at center for Holmdel.

Senior Dan Tempone and junior Quinn Pavilnetz will both play pivotal roles in the Holmdel offense at the tight end position.

The Hornets offense looked good in their scrimmage against a good Rumson Fair-Haven team last week, including punching in a touchdown on fourth and goal from the one-yard line to finish off a long scoring drive.

“It was great to capitalize on the opportunity and finish the drive off with a touchdown,” Decicco said after the scrimmage. “The offensive line and Dean (Gallo) did a great job on that drive. To move ball like we did against a good team is a big confidence booster for us going into the season.”

On defense, the Hornets will run primarily out of a 4-3 base set with senior Brandon Saghafi stepping in to take charge at the middle backer spot. He’ll be flanked there in the middle by juniors Joe D’Acunto and Nick Bauman at the outside linebacker spots.

Fischer and Tedeschi will once again anchor the middle of the Holmdel defensive line in the tackle spots, while Tempone and senior Alex Starr will man the defensive end spot. Starr is a three-year starter on the defensive line for the Hornets.

Senior Dan Kipnis will also see time on the defensive line for Holmdel this season.

In the secondary, Mack Byrne heads up a talented group of defensive backs at the safety position. Byrne will also be Decicco’s top target on the outside at the wide receiver position on offense, coming off catching four touchdowns last fall for Holmdel.

Senior Ryan Day will provide depth at the wide receiver spot too for the Hornets.

Gallo and Evan Jennings will start at the cornerback spots, while Ryan Jennings and junior John Tomasulo will both see time in the secondary at either safety or corner for the Hornets.

Seniors John Eknoian and Nick Fanzini are both expected to see time in the Holmdel secondary and at the wide receiver spot on offense.

After giving up a touchdown to Rumson Fair-Haven on its first defensive series of last week’s scrimmage, the Holmdel defense shut down the Bulldogs’ offense and finished the first half with four straight three and outs.

After the scrimmage, Byrne said, “Our defense really started to click well in the second quarter. We got into a good groove and were communicating well. Our team definitely took a step forward, it's evident from how we played in the scrimmage.”

Holmdel played even with Rumson Fair-Haven when the starters appeared in the first half, battling to a 7-7 tie at the half, giving Rainess and the Hornets a lot to feel good about themselves going into their season opener against Manchester Township on Friday night.

Update:  Holmdel 43 to 6.  Blowout of Manchester at publication time.

The Hornets defeated Manchester last season 42-14.

“Manchester is a very well coached team and they have good players there,” Rainess said. “We’re going to have to execute our game plan if we want to come out with a win to start the season.”

Update: they did.

After their scrimmage against Rumson Fair-Haven, Holmdel knows they can play well up against the top competition the Shore Conference has to offer.

“We took some great strides this offseason to continue to grow and become a better team,” Gallo said. “We definitely are showing that we can have a great season this fall.”

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