By TOM WILLIAMS
The Ocean City High School football season was entertaining and impressive in 2019. Kevin Smith’s Raiders were a win away from winning the Independence Division of the West Jersey Football League and a win away from winning the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 4 championship. And the big games in those races were all played on the road.
They did win possession of the Mike Slaveski-Bob Thomas Memorial Trophy for another season by beating Pleasantville on Thanksgiving. The season was also filled with individual accomplishments by a team that loses some important seniors to graduation but has a very large number of key players returning.
WJFL All Stars: Six OCHS players were named to the first team on the WJFL-Independence all stars. On offense, junior Joe Repetti was the quarterback, junior Jake Schneider was a wide receiver and sophomore Brendan McGonigle was the kicker. On defense, junior Jake Inserra was a linebacker, senior Mike Williscroft a lineman and senior Brian Beckmann a defensive back. Three other Raiders were named to the second team – junior wide receiver Brad Jamison, senior guard Jack Baker and junior defensive lineman Will Drain.
Banquet Awards: The Raiders held their annual post-season gathering at Greate Bay Country Club and presented a number of awards. The co-Most Valuable Players on offense were Repetti and Schneider. Inserra was the MVP on defense. The Archie Harris Award to top seniors went to Beckmann and Chris Armstrong. The Ron Moretti Award to the top juniors was presented to Jamison and Mike Rhodes. The Bobby Miller Award to the top sophomores went to Zach Mazzitelli and Jacob Wilson. The Drew Steindl Unsung Heroes were Lou Conte and Ted Grimley. The Wally Johnson Most Improved Player was Jack Baker. And the Iron Mike Slaveski Award for outstanding weight room work went to Williscroft and Lou Williams.
QB HS: For years Penn State was known as Linebacker U when it produced a string of great backers like Jack Ham, Matt Millen, LaVar Arrington and Sean Lee, among many others. Should Ocean City now be considered QB HS? The last five seasons have produced performances at quarterback unlike any similar stretch of seasons in OCHS history. In fact, very few CAL schools have had a string of four QBs as impressive. Andrew Donoghue started it when he set a new school record for career passing yards. Then Harry Pfeifle set records for rushing yards and TDs by a quarterback. Next was Ian Aungst with the most passing yards in a season. And this year, Repetti threw 20 touchdowns, the most at OCHS in a single season. It has been quite a ride and with Repetti returning there should be more to come.
The Two Jakes: Jake Schneider caught three passes for 55 yards on Thanksgiving to finish the season with 46 catches (nine short of Ryan Taylor’s school record) for 691 yards and 10 TDs. Schneider increased his career receiving yards to 1,239, tied with Taylor for third in school history. The top two are Scott Lipford (1,710) and Ray Rogers (1,378). Jake Inserra was involved in five tackles against Pleasantville to finish as team leader with 90. He has 145 over two years. Inserra also emerged as a strong runner late in the season, finishing with 284 yards and two touchdowns.
Red shoes: McGonigle had four field goals in four attempts this season. He was 34 for 38 kicking extra points, the second most in a season at Ocean City. He has 44 PATs in 49 attempts for his career, the fourth highest career total. And he has two full seasons ahead of him.
Triple Threat: The top seven players in tackles this season will all return next year, giving OCHS a strong base on which to build a defense. But juniors Drain, Rhodes and Matt Christy were quite a trio. They combined for 41 tackles for losses totaling 169 yards. Included in those stops were a combined 12 quarterback sacks.
300 Points: The Raiders finished with 326 points, tying the 2000 team for the fifth most points in a season at OCHS. The 2019 Raiders also outscored opponents by 195 points, the fourth highest margin in school history.
2020 Schedule: Two-time champion Mainland and Bridgeton have both been removed from the Independence Division for the next two years by the West Jersey Football League and replaced by Seneca and Pemberton. So, the Raiders will compete for the division title in 2020 and 2021 with those two teams plus Absegami, Egg Harbor Township and Oakcrest. The crossover games and the home/away schedule has not yet been determined but OCHS has already agreed to open the season next year with defending state champion Holy Spirit somewhere around Labor Day weekend.
The Seniors: There is an excitement about what Ocean City has returning next season right after the impressive 9-3 season this fall. But the seniors who will graduate set a tone and made contributions that led to the great success. Isaac Wilson leaves with 734 career rushing yards, among the top 50 all-time at OCHS, and scored 10 TDs this year to share the team scoring lead. Beckmann caught 25 passes this season, 19 from Repetti and six from the the other team, just two off the school record for interceptions in a season. Jaden Tocci-Rogers averaged nearly 22 yards per catch this year with two scores and broke up three opponents’ passes, second best on the team. Armstrong, Williscroft, Baker, Grimley, Conte, Williams, Drew Eget, Colby Felix, Tom Oves, Henry Souto, Ethan Mullins and Micah Waid will all move on. But they take with them the pride of accomplishment.
Highlight Video: Veteran video journalist Bill Shallcross has created another of his great highlight videos, this one of the memorable 2019 football season. You can get your copy for just $10.00 by emailing him at BillShallcross@gmail.com.