Red Bank Regional’s turnaround on the gridiron began on the practice field.
When the Bucs started the season 0-2, Head Coach Shane Fallon saw a team just needed to put it all together.
“We felt we weren’t playing complete football games,” Fallon said of Red Bank’s start. “We needed to play four full quarters of football to be more consistent.”
What Fallon noticed early on was that the Bucs were also inconsistent during practice.
“The intensity wasn’t there,” he recalled.
The point that Fallon wanted to make to his team is that “we play how we practice.” Practice well, and you play well. The Buc players got the message.
“As soon as we started practicing better, you could see the results,” he remarked.
The results were three straight wins that put life into the Bucs’ season. Suddenly, the division title (Shore Conference Freedom) was in play as well as state playoff possibilities. However, Fallon isn’t letting the Bucs get ahead of themselves. It’s one game at a time. The 0-2 start did provide the Bucs with the challenge of lifting themselves off the mat.
“The kids have been resilient,” said Fallon. “They’ve faced adversity and responded well. They’ve improved each game. We’ve improved in all three phases.”
The offense, with playmakers all over the field, has scored 28 or more points in three of its five games.
“We’ve been pretty balanced,” noted Fallon. “We can hurt you with the run or the pass. We do a good job of spreading defensive out. We’ve had different kids step up each game.”
Quarterback Pierce Olsen has been the leader. His strong arm makes the vertical passing game a big threat.
“He has shown nice senior maturity and leadership,” said Fallon. “He’s not just a pocket quarterback. He’s more of a threat this year running the ball.”
Jah’Cire Jones is a productive running back who compliments the passing game. He has had multiple 100-yard running games. The wide-receiving tandem of Lamar Hicks and Ky’Yam Martin are Olsen’s big targets. Both are downfield, big-play threats.
Because of the Bucs’ balanced defenses, opponents have tried to attack them in different ways. When teams play deep zone to take away the deep pass, they run Jones at them. If teams try to stop the run, it opens things up for Hicks and Martin.
“We can be patient and take what the defense gives us,” Coach said.
Fallon is quick to point out that the offensive line has been the key to it all. It has gelled and is both pass blocking and pushing defensive lines back on the line of scrimmage.
Center Hank Dal Pra and returning starters tackles Nick Gandolfo, Griffin Egan and Brendon Jervert have been playing, Fallon said, “as a cohesive unit that is communicating.”
For the defense, it’s been a matter of tackling better and everyone doing their job.
“We’ve been flying to the ball,” said Fallon.
The defensive cornerstones are Jervert and Gandolfo on the line and linebackers Brendan Laughlin and Kyle Borenius and defensive backs Evan Eckstein, Liam Stack and Jones.