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Sep 12, 2022

RFH Football Graduates 35 Seniors, Looks to Build off Young Talent

By Tim Morris

Father and son have switched roles on the Rumson-Fair Haven football coaching staff, as Jeremy Schulte takes over as head coach and Jeremy Schulte assumes the role of defensive coordinator. Confused? That’s Jeremy Schulte, the son, taking over for Jeremy Schulte, the father, who stays on as the coordinator, his son’s previous position.

“It’s something we talked about last summer,” said Rumson’s new head coach. “I felt I was ready to step up, and my father wanted to go back to just being a coach. We’re all very excited.”

Nothing has changed regarding goals and expectations for Rumson, a team coming off a 9-2 season during which the Bulldogs won the Shore Conference American Division championship and advanced to the Central Jersey Group III final.

“We’re open about wanting to be able to compete for a state championship,” said Schulte. 

This year for the first time ever, the football playoffs will extend to Group state championships. It’s a chance for every Group champion to make history.

“It’s a huge motivation,” said Schulte.

Despite losing 35 seniors to graduation, the Bulldogs are ready to pick up where they left off in ’21.

“I’m optimistic,” Schulte said. “I know what we have.”

What the Bulldogs have is a dominating defense. Rumson led the Shore Conference in total offense last year and posted four shutouts. They allowed 20 or more points only twice all year.

“We bring back a lot of talented players,” said Schulte of the Bulldog defense. Defense has always been a priority, the coach pointed out. “We take pride in playing defense. We’re aggressive, using stunts and blitzes.”

Rumson is deep up front on the line with the return of Cooper Bunnell (Jr.), Julien Devlin (Sr.), Marshall Halfacre (Sr.) and Will Rehder (Sr.). Will Tencza is the leading returner at linebacker. The secondary is deep and experienced led by seniors John Connors and Zach Iwan (Sr.). Beau Kemler (Sr.) and Ryan Kalman (Sr.) were starters last year, and Markus Brow (Sr.) adds depth. Bunnell – who had 68 total tackles – Kalman, Kemler ad Devlin were among the top tacklers on last year’s outstanding defense.

There will be many new faces on offense and nowhere more than on the line where Bulldogs have to replace graduating seniors who are all now playing college football. 

“We’re young with only one senior,” said Schulte. “We’re not asking them to be last year’s line. We just want them to be themselves.”

The line has good speed and size. The smallest guy is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, the biggest coming in at 6-foot-3, 270.

Spencer Branin is the lone senior on the line. James Sharkey (Jr.), Caden Winters (Jr.), Matt Smith (So.), Will Timpone (Jr.) and Luke Marascio (Jr.) will do the work in the trenches that will make the offense go. 

The quarterback position is still up for grabs with Nick Costello (Sr.), Owen O’Toole (So.) and Jackson Gallagher (Jr.) all vying for the job. Schulte hasn’t ruled anything out, including rotating quarterbacks.

Alastair Orr (Jr.), Griffin Kolb (So.) and Brayden Dill (Sr.) will share the running back duties. They are versatile backs who can be receiving threats as well.

Rumson is blessed with a bevy of playmaking receivers.

“We have serious depth,” Schulte pointed out. “I’m very, very happy about that.”

Nick Rigby (Sr.), Scott Venancio (Sr.), Nick Thomas (So.), Markus Brown (Jr.) and Sean Trinder (Jr.) are among the receivers that Bulldog quarterbacks can throw to. Rigby and Venancio led the Bulldogs in receiving a year ago.

Rumson faces a challenging schedule this year, playing Red Bank Catholic (one of two teams to beat RFH last fall), Manalapan and Middletown South within the American Division. Navigating that schedule won’t be easy, Schulte explained, but if the Bulldogs get through it, they’ll be in a good position come state playoff time.