Barnegat Leader

Football Bengals Win First Two, Eye Return to Postseason

Sep 21, 2018

It was two years ago when the head coach of the Barnegat High School football Bengals, Rob Davis, found himself in an unenviable position.

The core members of the team that went all the way to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 championship game in 2013 had all departed, and Davis was left to pick up the pieces with mostly inexperienced underclassmen. But those sophomores who were taking their lumps are now seniors, and they look to help the Bengals end a playoff drought of three years.

The Bengals finished 5-5 in 2017 (4-3 in B-South) and just missed out on a South Jersey Group 2 playoff spot. This year has gotten off to a promising start as the Bengals won the opener at home against Jackson Liberty, and then won at Shore Regional, 17-14.

In the opener, senior quarterback Brian Finucan passed for 111 yards and threw a 10-yard touchdown to junior receiver Devyn DeFilipo. Senior running back Charlie Cotton ran for 88 yards and a TD, and senior fullback Brian Ewan ran for a 35-yard score.

In the win against Shore Regional, Finucan passed for 110 yards and connected again with DeFilipo for an 18-yard score. Ewan scored on a 2-yard run.

Finucan, Ewan, Cotton and first-team All-Shore tight end Sean Morris are the keys on offense. Last year, Finucan, in his first year on the team, threw for 1,010 yards and eight touchdowns. Cotton rushed for 1,015 yards and 10 touchdowns, and already has 357 yards this season. He was first-team All-Conference and third-team All-Shore.

Morris, who has committed to Holy Cross, showed game-breaking ability last season with 38 receptions for 671 yards and eight touchdowns.

On the offensive line, Barnegat brings back four starters, with senior Phil Gogarty (6-2, 275) and junior Griffin Jackstadt (6-3, 240) at the tackles. The center is 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior Tim Lauterbach, while Joseph Lauer (6-0, 245) mans the right guard post. Senior Eric Feroldi (6-0, 220) is the newcomer at left guard.

DeFilipo returns as the starting ‘X’ receiver while fellow juniors Dominique Dorphin and Caleb Schafer will also see action at wide receiver. Schafer and senior DeWight Smith will be the kick returners.

On defense, Morris was just as dominant as a defensive end as he was at tight end, with 41 tackles, including 15 hits for loss, 3.5 sacks, 14 hurries, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), three forced fumbles and two safeties. Seniors Anthony Grimes and John Pannone return as the starting defensive tackles while sophomore Robert Armstrong Jr. will start at the other defensive end position. The 278-pound Grimes had 41 tackles.

Ewan leads the returning linebacker corps. As the middle linebacker, he made 83 tackles with 11 coming behind the line of scrimmage.

Anchoring the secondary will be senior Sean Madej, who was in on 64 tackles last season at free safety. Junior Matt Scott will start at strong safety. Senior Tristan Porcelli and DeFilipo are the starters at cornerback.

On special teams, junior Aaron Osborn is the kicker and Finucan will be the punter. Juniors Livi Bowen and Tyzon Jackson are the punt returners

The Bengals host the Pinelands Regional Wildcats on Friday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m.

—E.E.

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