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Sep 08, 2022

Holmdel Football Team Facing ‘Bear of a Schedule’

By Tim Morris

Junior Brayden Savage takes over as the Holmdel High School 2022 football team’s quarterback.

Jeff Rainess isn’t going to take youth and inexperience as an excuse to lower his expectations for the Holmdel High School football team in 2022.

“We are young and untested, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be successful,” said Rainess. “We have a good group of kids, nice kids that really like football and care for each other. What I promised them is they will be held to the standard of the teams before them.”

Holmdel, 3-6 in ’21, graduated its record-setting running back Jaden Gallo, who had a spectacular season leading Shore in rushing yards. Gallo ran for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns, setting a single-season rushing record in the process. Minus Gallo’s production this fall, Holmdel’s offense may be more spread out and open, but that doesn’t mean the team is getting away from what it does best.

“We are still a triple option ball club,” said Rainess.

Junior Brayden Savage takes over at quarterback. Joining him in the backfield are Tim Haggerty (Sr.), Anthony Setteducate (Sr.) and AJ Todisco (Jr.). The downfield wide receiver threats are seniors Brandon Rooney (Jr.) and Trey Tulenko (So.). The tight end is Andrew Piscatelli (Jr.). The offense line starters are Nick Bachmann (Sr.), Casey Brew (Jr.), Ryan Hammer (Sr.), Liam Hansen (Sr.) and Dante Calcaterra (Jr.). In junior place kicker Connor Mendini, the Hornets have a weapon who can punt field goals beyond 40 yards.

Senior Tim Haggerty is part of a backfield lineup hoping to bring offensive power to the team.

Holmdel’s defense has a sprinkling of seniors, juniors and sophomores. The defensive linemen in Holmdel’s 4-3 alignment are John Steele (Sr.), Chris Heyduk (Sr.), Marc Dietz (Sr.) and Evan Savarese (So.). The linebackers are Dylan Lagana (Sr.), Connor Fields (Jr.) and Jack Podesta (Sr.). Rounding out the starting defense in the secondary are Malik Taskier (Jr.), Gary Collyer (Jr.), Will Gilfillan (Jr.) and Matt Tempone (Jr.).

Holmdel did qualify for the state sectional playoffs last year despite playing its toughest schedule in memory, battling the likes of Middletown South, Manalapan, Freehold Borough and Jackson Memorial – all teams with state championship pedigree. The Hornets fell to another team with championship credentials, Manasquan, in the Central Jersey Group II quarterfinals.

Holmdel moves from the Colonial Division of the Shore Conference this fall to the Independence Division where they won’t be facing Group V schools (Holmdel is Group III). 

The Hornets will be playing Manasquan, Matawan, Saint John Vianney and Ocean Township, among others in the new division which is no walk in the park.

“It’s still a bear of a schedule,” Rainess pointed out.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Rainess