Bengals Pound Donovan Catholic, 28-7, in Season Opener
While the Barnegat High School varsity football team is dominated by underclassmen, it was a group of seniors who led the way for a 28-7 opening night victory over Donovan Catholic on Friday, Sept. 9.
Running back Jake Schmitz had two rushing touchdowns, a 37-yard run with 9:39 left in the second quarter and a three-yard run with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
Quarterback Connor Lustenberger connected with Jacques Picault on a 45-yard score with 7:45 left in the first quarter. Running back Alioune Diagne scored on a two-yard run with two minutes left in the game for the Bengals.
Donovan Catholic had their only score when freshman Ryan Clark ran the ball in from two yards in the third quarter.
“We’re a young team, but we’re getting better each day,” Barnegat head coach Rob Davis said. “It was great to start off with a win. We’ve won nine of our 11 season openers.”
Schmitz carried six times for 57 yards for an average of 9.5 yards per carry. He also made six tackles from his defensive back position.
On defense, senior linebacker Eric Becker had 11 tackles, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and a blocked pass. Junior wide receiver/defensive back Nico Adorno had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. The speedy track standout would have had a bigger evening if his kickoff return for a touchdown wasn’t called back due to a penalty.
The Bengals look to bounce back from a 2-7 (2-5 in B-South) 2015 campaign. Last year they won the opener against Manchester Township, 24-15, but then lost seven straight before beating Pinelands Regional on Thanksgiving Day, 31-7.
Other key returnees this year include senior quarterback Joe Monaco, senior center/defensive lineman Kyle Kessinger, senior offensive/defensive linemen Andrew Meany and Brian Madej, senior tight end/linebacker Dennis Sullivan, senior wide receiver/defensive back Hunter Mauro, senior fullback/linebacker Eric Becker, junior running back/linebacker Juan Abraham and junior running back/defensive lineman Levin Musawa.
Davis said both Lustenberger, who is also the place kicker, and Monaco will be taking snaps this season.
“We’ll go with the hot hand,” he said.
The Bengals’ next game is at Shore Regional in West Long Branch on Friday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m. The first game under the home lights is Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. against Manchester.
— Eric Englund