It was a special Saturday for OCHS sports

By TOM WILLIAMS

Ocean City High School celebrated a special day for its sports teams today.

The boys and girls cross country teams both successfully defended their South Jersey Group 3 championships at Delsea Regional in Franklinville.

And, at the Mustang Corral in Linwood, the OCHS football team came from behind to defeat Mainland, 21-14, in a game with a heart thumping final five minutes. The Mustangs were undefeated and had won 10 straight dating back to last season.

The football win advances the Raiders (7-2) into the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 4 semifinals on Friday at Long Branch (4-5). Most of the players on the team were not even born yet when Ocean City last won a football playoff game – Sat. Nov. 10, 2001 – when Gary Degenhardt’s team defeated Lacey, 21-14, in a first round game.

In Franklinville, Trish Henry’s undefeated girls (above) won a third straight South Jersey title. The only time the Raiders have done that in girls cross country was when they won four straight from 1986-89.

Grace Wassell of Highland finished first in the girls race but junior Alexa Palmieri and senior Casey McLees were the next two to cross the finish line. It was a long road back for the two talented runners, who had missed a good part of the season with injuries.

Senior Becca Millar was seventh, junior Erin Hanlon took 16th, junior Isabella Padula was 18th and senior Emma Sardy 19th. That worked out to 46 points, 35 points better than second place Mainland.

In the boys race, Mainland’s brilliant senior Kevin Antczak was the first to finish, nearly a minute in front of Triton’s Dennis Fortuna, who was second. Then came a red wave – senior Luke Kramer, sophomore Owen Ritti, junior Brendan Schlatter, senior Max Kelly, senior Anthony Conte and senior Mike Farley. That’s right, Ocean City runners swept third through eighth places in the meet and, just for good measure, senior Cameron DiTroia was 10th. Seven of the top 10 were from OCHS. Matt Purdue’s team finished with 25 points, an amazing 71 points ahead of second place Highland.

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The NJSIAA South Jersey Group 3 boys cross country champions

Both cross country teams will run next Saturday in the NJSIAA State Group 3 Meet at Holmdel Park.

Kevin Smith’s football team will be about 15 miles away from there on Friday night when they play the Long Branch Green Wave in a South Jersey semifinal. In the other semifinal, Millville (5-4) will visit two-time defending champion Shawnee (7-2).

Ocean City had a 21-7 lead midway through the fourth period but could not get that elusive first down that could have helped them run out the clock. The Mustangs, with their large crowd loudly behind them. marched 78 yards, largely behind the arm and legs of senior quarterback Zack Graziotto, to score on a four-yard pass to Dan Misa with 4:46 left, cutting the lead to seven points.

Mainland got the ball back with 1:14 left and executed a pass and lateral play. The ball ended up in the hands of dangerous senior Jake Cook and he got inside the Ocean City 10 before being taken down by Jacob Wilson. The Mustangs had first and goal, needing a touchdown to tie, but had no timeouts.

On second down, Graziotto completed a short pass on the right flat but OCHS senior Lou Conte pulled the receiver’s arm away and the ball came loose. Senior Chris Armstrong. a team captain and two-way starter, covered the fumble on the seven yard line, the visiting bleachers exploded and Ocean City only had to take a knee a couple times for its big win.

In the first meeting between the teams eight days earlier, the Raiders’ junior quarterback, Joe Repetti, was a focus of the defense. The Mustangs sacked him eight times and caused all kinds of other problems. But Repetti threw two touchdowns – a 49-yarder and an seven yarder to Jake Schneider – and ran 32 yards for the third score to supply the necessary points this time.

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Repetti, with his mother, Sue, a teacher at Mainland and a former athlete and coach at the Linwood school

Repetti completed 4 of 11 passes for 78 yards, his lowest yardage of the season. And he carried 11 times for 56 yards to lead OCHS rushing. He was only sacked twice and averaged 37 yards per punt to have great impact on the field position in the game.

The game was filled with big defensive plays.

Brian Beckmann intercepted two passes for the Raiders (he has six this season, two short of the school record). Mainland intercepted three passes, two of them by senior Amir Vick and the other by senior Elijah Williams, who made a key interception in the end zone the week before.

There was also a blocked extra point by Mainland and a blocked field goal and blocked punt by Ocean City. While Graziotto totaled 224 yards (150 passing, 74 rushing) the Raiders defense limited freshman Ja’Briel Mace to 72 yards, less than half of his per-game average. Mace has 1,167 rushing yards this year.

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It was quite a day. Three Ocean City teams – competing 44 miles apart – made this Saturday one to remember.

 

 

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