The Bishop Ahr High School football team entered last Friday’s game against winless J.F. Kennedy having performed well in most of its first four outings, all losses to teams with a combined 17-3 record.
So, it should come as no surprise that the Trojans completely dominated the Mustangs in a 39-7 drubbing during which it appeared Bishop Ahr realized its potential.
“Obviously, it’s not where we want to be,” Bishop Ahr head coach Joe Vigilante said of his team’s 1-4 record, calling the .200 winning percentage “a testament to our opponents.”
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Bishop Ahr led incumbent North 2 Group IV finalist Colonia by two scores and, with the exception of a lopsided defeat to incumbent sectional semifinalist Woodbridge, has had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter of every game.
“It’s a matter of us trying to finish those games,” said Vigilante, whose team’s setbacks include a 14-6 loss to undefeated Point Pleasant Boro and whose team’s 10-point defeat to New Brunswick was the unbeaten Zebras’ narrowest margin of victory this season.
“I’m very proud to be able to coach a team that as a group is not wanting to leave a (losing) mark at Bishop Ahr. “We’re looking forward to the second half of the season.”
The schedule does not get much easier, however, for Bishop Ahr, which is off to its slowest start since 2003, when it finished 1-9.
The Trojans host South Plainfield, ranked No. 8 in the Home News Tribune Top 10, on Friday night, and incumbent Central Group II finalist Carteret the following week before closing out the regular season at winless Perth Amboy and at ninth-ranked St. Joseph.
Bishop Ahr has had success running the ball with the backfield tandem of Andrew Brazicki, who is developing into one of the Greater Middlesex Conference’s top all-around performers, and Dane Lupton. Both double as linebackers.
“He’s been one of our top offensive players and one of our top defensive players,” Vigilante said of Brazicki. “Him and Dane have carried us on defense.”
Brazicki has rushed 94 times for 493 yards and caught 11 passes for 136 yards to lead the team in all those categories. He has also recorded 19.5 tackles on defense including four for a loss. Lupton has amassed 290 all-purpose yards and leads Bishop Ahr with 39.5 tackles.
Quarterback Tommy Galante, who completed 5 of 7 passes for 112 yards against J.F. Kennedy, has also been impressive.
“What I really admire about Tommy is he’s steady,” Vigilante said of Galante, who has completed 36 of 69 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns. “With him you don’t know if you’re losing or winning by 20. He’s always focused and is a real student of the game. Two weeks ago against New Brunswick we asked him to throw the ball in some horrible (weather) conditions. He did everything we asked him to do.”
Robert Gee (21 tackles) and Marcus Adeniyi (19 tackles) have been defensive stalwarts all season, while cornerbacks Reminiss Funderburk and Connor Holmes have also exceled. Moving Kristian Polycarpe to free safety, a maneuver for which defensive coordinator Ron James should be credited, has allowed Bishop Ahr to utilize Jonathan Edwards at running back.
Edwards rushed twice for 65 yards and a touchdown and Bishop Ahr hopes to utilize Edwards similar to the manner in which it utilized the versatile Tim Howard in the two previous years. Edwards could also spell Brazicki and Lupton on offense, meaning both could be fresher at linebacker.
Alonzo Green, a transfer from now defunct Cardinal McCarrick, has played well at strong side linebacker.
“It,” Vigilante, whose team was decimated by injury last season, said of Cardinal McCarrick transfers, “has really helped us.”