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Jan 06, 2022

Senior Running Back Sets School Rushing Record

By Tim Morris

Photo courtesy of Tom Smith. Jaden Gallo scores one of his 17 touchdowns during the 2021 season, which saw him set the Holmdel High School single-season rushing record of 1,400 yards.

Once Jaden Gallo puts his mind to something, nothing holds him back. “I give 100 percent. I’m very competitive,” said Gallo, a senior running back at Holmdel High School. Gallo did not make an immediate impact on the football field, yet he will graduate holding the school’s single-season rushing record, 1,400 yards. 

Becoming the single-season record holder did not come easy for Gallo. It wasn’t until the end of his sophomore year that he decided he had to give more. As a freshman, he had an outstanding wrestling season, qualifying for the Region tournament. A great career loomed. However, wrestling would become a casualty of his football goals.

“I had to lift in the winter for football,” Gallo explained. “I had to keep my priorities straight.”

It was goodbye wrestling.

“He’s a very dedicated kid, very focused,” said Holmdel football Coach Jeff Raines.

Gallo’s decision was proved to be the right one for the 5-foot-11, 175-pound runner.

“When he showed up his junior year, he was different,” said Raines. “His breakout was the second game (against Ocean Township) when he scored four touchdowns.”

Despite the 2020 season being shortened due to the pandemic, Gallo still rushed for 1,011 yards and notched 14 touchdowns in seven games, which indicated that the single-season rushing record was within his grasp. That record was held by none other than his brother, Dean Gallo, who ran for 1,202 yards in 2018. That gave Jaden added incentive to break the record. He and Dean are the only Holmdel runners to have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season.

“We’re a competitive family,” Jaden pointed out.

Break the record he did with those 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns (including his 195 yards receiving and two TDs, he accounted for 1,595 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns). He also set the single-game rushing record, thrashing a good Colts Neck team for 302 yards and four scores.

A 70-yard touchdown record gave him the single-season mark.

“It was a pitch. I read the linebacker, used my blockers and found open space,” he said of his touchdown scamper. That run was symbolic of one of Gallo’s strengths as a runner. “I don’t get caught.”

Raines agreed.

“He’s a slashing runner with legitimate speed,” the coach said. “And he’s not afraid of contact.”

His dedication wasn’t just in the weight room; it was in the football classroom as well, which may have had as much to do with his success than his athletic talent.

“I really know what’s going on. I learned the offense,” Gallo said.

“I didn’t understand the offense [at first]. It takes patience. You have to wait for the play to open.”

Like all running backs, Gallo credited his offensive line with opening the holes that allowed him to run wild.

With his high school football career over, Gallo is returning to the wrestling mat this winter, looking to pick up where he left off as a freshman. In the spring, there’s his third sport: lacrosse.

“I have to do it,” Gallo said of staying active in sports. “I need to dominate something.”