Any questions about whether Red Bank Catholic deserved to be the No. 1 ranked team in the Shore were answered in an emphatic way on Friday night at Middletown High School South's "The Swamp.''
The Caseys spotted Middletown South, ranked No. 4 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10 Poll, the game's first touchdown and then thoroughly dominated the remainder of the game and recorded a 34-7 win to extend their winning streak against Shore Conference opposition to 21.
"We're the No. 1 team in the Shore and we're ready for any challenge,'' said Red Bank Catholic junior defensive tackle Quenton Nelson, who along with senior and Rutgers University-bound Josh Klecko dominated the interior.
"The Swamp'' has intimidated many a team over the years as Middletown South over the last 25 years has consistently been among the best teams in the Shore. "The Swamp'' was packed and filled with electricity on Friday night. The Middletown South fans were hoping to see another special chapter in the history of their home field.
"We loved it. 'The Swamp' pumped us up,'' said RBC senior wide receiver/cornerback Chris Whitlock. "It was fun playing here. Their crowd fueled our fire.''
"I knew they would come in and play like they had something to prove,'' said Middletown South coach Steve Antonucci. "I've been in that position, where you have to travel and prove every week who you are. It's not easy to do. Credit Jimmy (RBC coach Jim Portela and his staff for doing that).''
Middletown South (5-2) started with a lot of emotion. The Eagles drove 57 yards in 11 plays on their second possession to grab a 7-0 lead.
A Kyle Brey scramble of 12 yards on a third-and-9 and Brey completions of 19 yards to Andrew Wisialko and Eli Smit respectively and an offsides penalty on RBC as Middletown South's Connor Ryan was lining up for a 23-yard field goal set up Jake Ripnick's 2-yard TD run with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
However, Middletown South's lead was short-lived. RBC junior quarterback Pat Toomey scrambled for 26 yards on a third-and-8, and then on the next play, completed a 19-yard pass to Whitlock. Two plays later, junior running back Larry Raedelli (121 yards and two TDs on 24 carries ) tied the game with a 3-yard TD run.
"We answered the bell,'' said RBC coach Jim Portela.
Toomey and Whitlock hooked up for a 26-yard completion that gave the Caseys a first-and-goal at the Eagles' 8 on the next possession. Four plays later, Toomey snuck in on a fourth and-goal from the 1 to give the Caseys the lead for good with 7:36 left in the first half.
"I think some people had questions about Pat Toomey, and he made a couple of plays for us (on Friday night),'' Portela said. "He's a capable kid. He can do some things.''
Whitlock can do some things, too. He was outstanding on both sides of the ball. He broke the game open just 1:53 after Toomey's touchdown when he took a reverse handoff from Raedelli sprinted to the left sideline and scooted 47 yards for a TD that increased the lead to 21-7.
"We just installed it in practice (on Thursday),'' Whitlock said. "Everyone was going after Larry downhill hard. Pat Toomey sprinted down field blocking. Without Pat Toomey, it would not have gone.''
Raedelli added a 30-yard TD on a third-and-13 trap play on RBC's first possession of the third quarter and Jesse Flaherty added a 14-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Middletown South managed just 112 yards rushing and 70 yards passing. Brey was sacked five times.
"They are as advertised,'' Antonucci said.. "You watch them on film, they're different than anybody else on film. The first glaring thing is you see they're physical and they play that way.
"We preached all week about how physical we would have to be to match them. It's not as easy as you think it is. They're big up front and huge.''