RBC football preview, 2021: The most talented team at the Shore, Caseys set bar high


NJAM | 8/25/2021


Red Bank Catholic Caseys
Coach: Mike Lange (second season, 4-2)

Last year: 4-2

2021 Starting SI rating: 74.45

Division: Shore Conference Constitution

Division opponents: Manasquan; Ocean Township; Raritan; Red Bank Regional.

Key players: Alex Bauman, TE/DE, Sr.; Vince Carpenter, OL, Sr.; Ryan McPherson, DE, Sr.; Najih Rahman, WR/DB, Jr.; Michael Conneely, OL, Sr.; Sabino Portella, DB/RB, Jr.; Jaidin Haynes, WR/DB, Sr.; Alex Brown, QB, Sr.; Rajahn Cooper, LB/RB, Sr.; Ashton Mejias, OL, Sr.; Robert Stolfa, WR/DB, Jr.; Lorenzo Portella, OL-DL, So.; Corbett Cimini, WR/DB, Sr.; Torin Harmon, RB/LB, Jr.; Tyler Burnham, OL, So.; Davin Brewton, RB/LB, So.; Ray Jackson, RB, So.; Emmanuel Ross, WR, So.; Zack Meeks, WR/LB, So.; Michael Palmieri, LB, Jr.; Aidan Donahue, DL, Jr.; Armando Melendez, WR/DB, Jr.; Frank Fufaro, QB, So.

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Outlook: It’s one thing to set lofty goals. It’s another thing having what it takes to reach those goals. Red Bank Catholic has the ability, the talent and the desire. RBC has a goal of winning every championship on the table in 2021 and it’s not just bluster. RBC returns seven starters on offense and seven on defense. The addition of three, quality, impactful, experienced transfers from Mater Dei added even more spice to what already a gourmet roster. Senior quarterback Alex Brown started 20 games for Mater Dei in two seasons. A passer with a 64 percent career completion rate, 2,674 career yards and a more-than-respectable 23-10 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio, Brown appears tailor-made for RBC’s versatile spread offense. When Brown takes a snap he will have a smorgasbord of options to choose from. There’s returning All-State tight end Alex Bauman -- a match-up nightmare for opponents whether the 240-pounder is taking a check down in the flat, zipping across the middle or going for a jump ball in the end zone. Junior receivers Najih Rahman, Jaidin Haynes and Robert Stofla are sticky-fingered pass catchers on short and medium routes and double-move, deep threats as well. RBC also has options in its run game. Wrestling standout Sabino Portella and Mater Dei transfer Rajhan Cooper are both physical, downhill runners who can punish between the tackles and surprise a defense with their pass receiving ability. The Red Bank Catholic offensive line has developed a reputation as being one of the best annually in the Shore Conference. The 2021 group is no exception with the return of tackle Vince Carpenter, a 6-foot-6, 285-pounder headed for Purdue. Michael Conneely returns at center flanked by Mater Dei transfer and senior Ashton Mejias (6-2, 265) and sophomore Lorenzo Poretella (6-1, 275). On the defensive side, RBC allow 16 points per game. However, just like on offense, the Caseys expect better. In 2020, the RBC defensive unit was inconsistent. It allowed only three points versus Mater Dei and 14 against Rumson. I also gave up 32 points to Middletown South, 20 to Middletown North and 28 against Donovan Catholic. Bauman is as good an edge player as there is in New Jersey. Veteran Ryan McPherson is at the other end. Cooper strengthens a solid linebacking corps and Sabino Portella and Rahman headline a quick and athletic secondary. RBC will find out how good its defense is right out of the gate when it goes against Timber Creek and its outstanding QB Donovan Leary in the Battle at the Beach in Ocean City on Saturday. RBC’s second game is against last year’s NJ.com’s No. 1 team, Wall. Raritan, the next best team in the Constitution Division is on the schedule in Game 3. The Caseys are a clear favorite in a division they should dominate. They have enough of everything to be in the Shore Conference Tournament Final Four and win the first “official” conference football title. RBC believes it has the muscle to contend for an NJSIAA championship against the powerhouses in the north.


Saturday, Aug. 28: vs. Timber Creek at Ocean City, 2 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 10: vs. Wall, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 17: vs. Raritan, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 25: at Manasquan, 1 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 1: vs. Red Bank Regional, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 8: at Ocean Township, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 15: at Rumson-Fair Haven, 7 p.m.