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The Journal magazines are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Oct 26, 2021

Football Heating Up in Middletown

By Tim Morris

Quarterback Tom Schork leads the 2021 Middletown High School South football team. Photo by Les Pierce

Middletown High School South football is back. With a 21-14 win at home over Southern Regional on Oct. 9, the Eagles captured the Shore Conference Colonial Division championship. The win kept Head Coach Steve Antonucci’s team undefeated in 2021 (5-0) and allowed the athletes to reclaim their position as one of the Shore’s top units.

“We’re playing well,” said Antonucci, who earlier in the season registered his 200th career win at South. “This is a good team that loves playing together.”

That togetherness may help explain the Eagles’ success in close games. They’ve won two games on the last play of the game, 15-12 over Manasquan and 13-7 at Manalapan. The win against Southern was another close victory. It’s the sign of a championship team to win those close ones, and that’s what the Eagles are this fall after a rare sub-.500 year (2-4) in the 2020 season.

The Eagles have been balanced on both sides of the football, Antonucci pointed out, as they are led by their offensive and defensive lines which have dominated games. Defensively, the Eagles have held teams to seven points a game and have been especially good at stopping the run.

“We’ve been pretty good on defense,” said Antonucci. “We’re getting contributions from players that we didn’t expect. It’s a complete package.”

Jack Latore, a three-year starter at defensive end, has led a veteran unit that returned seven starters. Jake Williamson, at tackle, and returning linebackers Jack Willi and Tyler Carey have helped stuff the run.

Offensively, quarterback Tom Schork’s growth has been provided the team with more balance this year. The Eagles have gone from the flex bone to a spread option.

“Tom is throwing the ball better,” Antonucci remarked. “We missed that last year. That has opened things up for (running back) Dan Primiano. We’re multi-faceted.”

Schork’s passing has been critical. It was his TD pass off play action to tight end Latore that beat Manalapan in overtime, paving the way for the division title. In the title clincher against Southern, Schork passed for 140 yards with TD passes to Anthony Brasco and Logan Colleran.

Primiano continues the Eagles’ tradition of power running.

Dante Miranda, Williamson, a three-year starter at center, and Ian Schwerdt are the veteran mainstays on the offensive line.

With the division title behind them, the Eagles can now look ahead to the NJSIAA state playoffs and the pursuit of their 11th state sectional title. The Eagles are in North Jersey Section II Group III.

There is also the battle of Middletown on Thursday, Nov. 25 against a talented Middletown North team that is 4-1 as of this writing and headed to the playoffs as well. This promises to be a competitive game.

Coach Steve Bush’s Lions have bounced back themselves from a 1-5 season in ’20. Quarterback Tommy Giannone is averaging 200 yards a game passing and has eight TD passes.