Developing Devils: 2022 Shore Regional High School Football Preview
The situation Shore is facing heading into this season is similar in many ways to how the team entered the 2021 season. The Blue Devils were tasked with replacing several standouts and faced plenty of question marks for a program used to contending for championships.
The Blue Devils had Jamie Mazzacco, however, and the standout senior had a monster season to lead Shore to a 7-4 record and a trip to the South Jersey Group 1 semifinals. With Mazzacco having graduated and just a handful of returning starters remaining, the Blue Devils will once again be banking on the development of the new starters to keep their status as one of the best small schools in the Shore Conference.
The strength of the Blue Devils' Delaware Wing-T offense under head coach Mark Costantino, now in his 31st year, is along the offensive line where three of five starters return. Senior Aidan O'Brien is the elder statesman of the group and will be at right guard. Junior Jake Papera is a returning starter at left guard and junior Connor Haney is a returning starter at right tackle. Sophomore Xavier Moro and junior Sean Fisher are working at left tackle and junior Paul Giglio and senior Walker Hunter are at center.
The backs and receivers are all new starters. Senior Ty Koch takes over at quarterback with a backfield that consists of senior Lucas Rosa, juniors Lucas White, Alex George, and Jake Pennell, and sophomore Brendan O'Brien. The receivers are senior Donovan Hughes and juniors CJ Sears, Parker Feegan, and Jack Sweeney.
Both tight ends are returning starters with standout junior Jackson Whitacre and senior Michael Furlong.
Shore was 10th in the conference last season averaging 24.6 points per game but there is a huge void to fill since Mazzacco accounted for a conference-best 191 points and was second in the conference with 1,642 yards rushing and first with 26 touchdowns.
Shore's defense was seventh in the conference allowing 13.9 points per game but returns just three starters. Thankfully, one of them is Whitacre, who will be entering his third year as a starter and is coming off a huge sophomore season in which he tied for second in the conference with 10 sacks and also recorded 62 tackles. Furlong and Moro are also returning starters along the defensive line and will be joined by Fisher, Papera, Giglio, Haney, senior Jake Ellison, and junior Kenny Hayes.
The inside linebackers are Aidan O'Brien, junior Malachy Connors, and Brendan O'Brien. The outside linebackers are Rosa, White, and Koch.
The secondary features Sears, Feegan, George, and Pennell.
Mazzacco was also the kicker last season and Furlong will assume those duties this year.
Shore remains in the Patriot Division but the landscape has changed drastically as the Blue Devils and Asbury Park are the only two teams remaining from a group that also included Point Boro, Barnegat, Manchester, and Jackson Liberty. The Patriot Divison now resembles the old Class B Central division with Shore, Keansburg, Keyport, Asbury Park, and Point Beach, plus Lakewood.
Also noteworthy is that Costantino, who is a Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Famer, sits two wins away from 200 career victories.
At a Glance
Offense: Delaware Wing-T
Returning Starters: 5
QB: Ty Koch, Sr.
RB: Lucas Rosa, Sr.; Lucas White, Jr.; Alex George, Jr.; Brendan O'Brien, So.; Jake Pennell, Jr.
WR: CJ Sears, Jr.; Parker Feegan, Jr.; Donovan Hughes, Sr.; Jack Sweeney, Jr
TE: Michael Furlong, Sr., RS; Jackson Whitacre, Jr., RS
LT: Xavier Moro, So.; Sean Fisher, Jr.
LG: Jake Papera, Jr., RS
C: Paul Giglio, Jr.; Walker Hunter, Sr.
RG: Aidan O'Brien, Sr., RS
RT: Connor Haney, Jr., RS
Returning Starters: 3
DL: Jackson Whitacre, Jr., RS; Michael Furlong, Sr., RS; Xavier Moro, So., RS; Sean Fisher, Jr.; Jake Papera, Jr.; Jake Ellison, Sr.; Paul Giglio, Jr.; Connor Haney, Jr.; Kenny Hayes, Jr.
MLB: Aidan O'Brien, Sr.; Malachy Connors, Jr.; Brendan O'Brien, So.
OLB: Lucas Rosa, Sr.; Lucas White, Jr.; Ty Koch, Sr.
DB: CJ Sears, Jr.; Parker Feegan, Jr.; Alex George, Jr.; Jake Pennell, So.
K: Michael Furlong, Sr.
Head coach: Mark Costantino, 31st season
Career record: 198-109-1
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Jon Remedios (OL/DL); Pete Vincelli (RB/DB); Joe Rankin (QB/MLB); Mike Whitacre (OL/DL); Chris Riley (WR/LB); Jon Vacarelli (Freshmen); Paul Christopher (Freshmen); Mark Costantino Jr. (Gameday coordinator); Joe Amacucci (Athletic Trainer).
Player to Watch: Jackson Whitacre, Jr., TE/DE
Whitacre will be entering his third year as a starter and is coming off a sophomore season in which he recorded 62 tackles and tied for second in the conference with 10 sacks. He is a difference-maker at defensive end and will also help the run game and contribute to the passing game as a tight end.
Player Under the Radar: Ty Koch, Sr., QB/LB
Koch was a contributor last season and is also an all-division wrestler. He steps into the starting quarterback role where Mazzacco reigned last season and will also be in the mix at outside linebacker.
X-Factor: Player Development
Every team is facing the same scenario to a certain degree and for Shore, its success will likely be defined by how well its younger players improve from a season ago.
Rivalry Game: Oct. 7 vs. Point Beach
The Blue Devils and Garnet Gulls are longtime Class B Central rivals in nearly every sport. In football, they've gone toe-to-toe in some big games over the years and this year's Week 6 game should be a good one with an improved Point Beach squad heading to West Long Branch.
Sept. 2 - vs. Westwood (at Rutgers), 4 p.m.
Sept. 10 - @Lakewood, 6 p.m.
Sept. 17 - @Keansburg, 12 p.m.
Sept. 23 - vs. Keyport, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 - vs. Monmouth, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 - vs. Point Beach, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 - @Manasquan, 1 p.m.
Oct. 21 - vs. Asbury Park, 7 p.m.