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Nov 07, 2021

Rumson-Fair Haven 14U American Youth Football Team Runs Out of Time in Quest for Title

By Les Pierce

RFH QB Tyler Palumbo scrambles to avoid a tackle by Holmdel’s Jack Cannon.

The Rumson-Fair Haven 14U American Youth Football team picked up win after win during the season. As they watched Holmdel do the same, it became clear they would be facing the Hornets down the line for the division title.  

The Jersey Shore American Youth Football B Division North championship was a classic matchup of two powerhouse undefeated units. The game was contested under the lights at Holmdel’s Bob Roggy Field on Oct. 2.  

Holmdel secured good field position at the start of the game when Mike Todisco returned the opening kickoff to midfield. Moments later, running back Carmine Aliperti broke away for a 21-yard run to the RFH 27. However, the drive was ended when Tyler Palumbo intercepted a pass at the Rumson six-yard line.  

The Hornets were undeterred and came back determined on their next series. The march stalled at the RFH 32-yard line, then Cannon connected with a 25-yard aerial to Todisco at the seven-yard line on a fourth-down play. On the next snap, Cannon found Alex Reyes in the end zone for a 6-0 lead with 9:51 left in the half.

Holmdel attempted another drive early in the second quarter.  A quarterback sack by Tobias “Toby” Najenson squashed the effort.

Late in the second quarter, the Bulldogs shocked the crowd with a 70-yard scoring play. Cole Flemming pulled in a pass from quarterback Palumbo 17 yards downfield at the 47. He then sidestepped the defender and outraced the secondary to the end zone to deadlock the score at 6-6 with 34 seconds remaining in the half.

RFH received the kickoff for the second half and QB Palumbo completed an 11-yard pass Andrew Cavise to the RFH 41-yard line on the first play. However, on the next snap, Holmdel’s Jack Cannon intercepted a tipped pass and returned to the Bulldog 40. This set up the final scoring of the contest.

On the third play of the ensuing set, QB Cannon connected with wide receiver Reyes for 23 yards to the RFH four-yard line. On the next snap, Cannon tossed to Reyes for the score. The two-point conversion by kicker Brandon Mueller established a 14-6 advantage that held up as the final score.

Rumson made a last gasp surge in the fourth quarter that started at their 17-yard line. QB Palumbo completed a 13-yard pass to the 30 with Kellen Murray on the first snap.

Palumbo couldn’t find a receiver on the next play and broke away for a 44-yard jaunt to the Holmdel 36. Palumbo fired an aerial to Grant Zimmerer that advanced the Bulldogs to the 14-yard line. However, the threat was ended when defensive back Kieran McGonnell batted away the final pass attempt as time expired. The Bulldogs found themselves stranded 14 yards from the end zone when the buzzer sounded.  

A division win would have been a dream season. However, the Bulldogs nevertheless experienced a great season. They went 8-0 leading up to the contest, posting three shutouts and outscoring opponents by a combined 247-48 margin.

Palumbo led the team in rushing touchdowns with 10, followed by Christopher Gibson (9), Murray (3), Jack Harris (3) and Luke Dougherty (3). Palumbo also passed for scores eight times with TD receptions by Gibson (3), Flemming (3), Gyimesi (1) and Cavise (1).  Gibson also returned a kickoff for a touchdown earlier in the season.

Head Coach Chad Palumbo attributed the team’s strong defense to the work of defensive tackle Harris, defensive end Najenson and outside linebacker Dougherty. “Dougherty was solid for us consistently throughout the season,” stated Coach Palumbo.  

Tyler Palumbo (quarterback/ linebacker) and Harris (offensive line/ defensive line) were selected to the Jersey Shore AYF All Star travel team that will go to Florida to compete in the AYF Nationals.

Guiding the 14U Bulldogs this season with Head Coach Palumbo were Assistant Coaches Bryan Dougherty and Hans Zimmerer.