By TOM WILLIAMS
Saturday’s thrilling win over Mainland marked the fifth time the two schools have played twice in one season. And, for the fourth time, they split the two decisions. The last time was in 2000. The only time the same team won both games was in 1995 when the Mustangs won twice at Carey Stadium.
2001: It was also a Saturday – Nov. 10, 2001 – the last time Ocean City High School won an NJSIAA playoff football game. The Raiders defeated Lacey, 21-14, at Carey Stadium. The last road playoff win was the year before when OCHS defeated Delsea in the South Jersey final at Rowan. In that 2001 win, Jim Thomas scored twice – a 36 yard run and a seven yard run – and Tom Brunetti caught a 20 yard TD pass from Drew Love. Dan Kennard kicked all three extra points. Thomas gained 157 yards in the game. A junior that season, he would complete his OCHS career with 1,910 rushing yards, seventh most in school history, though that does not include his senior year. Thomas, also a champion wrestler, transferred to Buena for his senior year. After that Lacey win in 2001, the Raiders lost in the next round, 7-3, to Egg Harbor Township in a South Jersey Group 3 semifinal.
Repetti the Runner: Eight days earlier at the Mustang Corral, Ocean City quarterback Joe Repetti was practically running for his life. He was sacked eight times, was forced out of the pocket another eight times, was hit five times and hurried four other times. He did manage 72 yards on the ground, including two long runs. In Saturday’s game, he ran well again, particularly on one play. Repetti carried the ball 11 times Saturday for 56 yards, the Raiders top ground gainer. He threw for 78 yards and two scores but it was his 32 yard TD run that turned out to be the winning score in the game. In fact, it was only the second rushing touchdown Mainland allowed all season. (The other was a nine yard run by Oakcrest’s Angel Casanova.) Repetti had a big opening in front of him on the play when Chris Armstrong. Jack Baker and C.J. Conti overwhelmed the Mainland defensive line. He made a quick cut to elude a defender in the backfield and got some downfield blocks, particularly one from Mike Rhodes, to sprint untouched into the end zone. In the first meeting, Mainland’s defensive pressure on Repetti was a big factor in its win. This time, Repetti turned the tables, with his arm and his legs.
No. 33: Junior Brad Jamison wears that number and, on Saturday, he was involved in 12 tackles, including five solos. He broke up one pass, caught a pass for a first down and made a great catch in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion. On the season, he shares the team lead in solo tackles and is second with 55 total tackles. That includes 6.5 for losses and 2.5 sacks. He is also second on the team with 268 receiving yards on 14 catches for four TDs, including two for more than 50 yards. Jamison is the latest member of his extended family to excel in sports. His brother was a basketball all star and his sister a successful college gymnast. His father and uncles were all successful athletes and his mother was a devastating tight end in midget football. Two of his aunts were successful basketball players, another an equestrian and his cousin is one of the best girls basketball players in the state. Its an impressive family tree and Brad seems to be heading for one of the top branches.
Defense: The OCHS defense came up big in many situations. Brian Beckmann made two more interceptions to increase his team-leading total to six this season. The school record is eight by Josh Grande in 2009. There were other big plays. LIke Chris Armstrong’s block of a Mainland field goal in the final seconds of the first half. The block of a punt by Mike Gray in the third quarter. Jacob Wilson running down Jake Cook on the pass-lateral play to prevent a tying touchdown. And, of course, Lou Conte’s strip tackle in the final seconds, forcing the fumble that was recovered by Armstrong to end Mainland’s final threat. But don’t forget the play before that. First and goal on the OCHS four yard line. Mainland gave the ball to Ja’Briel Mace, their outstanding freshman back. He swept the right side with a blocker in front. But Rhodes and Jake Inserra drove Mace and his blocker backwards to stop the play.
The two Jakes: It was a 1990 movie starring New Jersey’s Jack Nicholson and Brooklyn’s Harvey Keitel. Ocean City has its own version. Jake Schneider caught three passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. He now has 1,083 career receiving yards, fifth most all-time at OCHS, and 535 yards this year, tied for ninth with Ray Rogers (1997), whose son is his teammate. On Saturday, Schneider also played a lot of defense, too, making three tackles and breaking up a couple passes. And there is Jake Inserra, the leader of the Raider defense with 14 tackles on Saturday and 66 on the season. He also carried the ball effectively six times in the game. And these two Jakes are both juniors.
NJSIAA Group 4: Saturday’s win moved Ocean City into the South Jersey semifinals at Long Branch (4-5) on Friday night. Long Branch defeated Highland, 33-3, though Highland had key players missing. Long Branch has won the Central Jersey Group 4 championship the last two years and every one of its nine opponents this year qualified for the playoffs. In the other semifinal, Millville (5-4) will visit two-time defending South Jersey champ Shawnee (7-2). This weekend’s winners will play the following weekend, Nov. 21-23.
The black pants: Visually, only one thing was different about the two Ocean City-Mainland games (except for the bright sunlight). Ocean City changed from the white pants they wore in the first game to the black pants they had not worn before during this season. The Raiders wore all white in both their losses and they are 4-0 wearing red pants. What will Friday bring?
Kevin Smith says: “Obviously, I was thrilled with the result. I thought our kids played as hard as they have all year and executed the game plan well. We had a great week of practice leading up to the game and that really paid off.”
Links: The complete Ocean City-Mainland stats are here. Complete nine-game OCHS stat totals are here. The video of the game is here. Playoff schedule for CAL teams is here. Links to online coverage of this weekend’s games are here.