The 51st meeting!!

By TOM WILLIAMS

Here they go again – two of South Jersey’s top football rivals in another game that excites fans on both sides of the bay. It is Ocean City-Mainland #51 at Carey Stadium should be jumping.

More about the football is coming but look at what the day will be like at Carey Stadium.

At 11 a.m. the the OCHS field hockey team (19-2), ranked No. 12 in the state, will play Clearview (10-8) in NJSIAA Group 3. At 1:30, girls soccer (20-1), ranked No. 7 in New Jersey, will take over against Moorestown (9-8-2) in more Group 3 action. The Raider girls soccer team has won the Cape-Atlantic League Soccer Tournament and became the first CAL team to ever win the South Jersey Coaches Invitational. Then, at 6pm, it is that football game. A trio of OCHS teams with a combined record of 48-3 in tournament action all in one stadium.

Now, about the football game.

Coaches: Ocean City’s Kevin Smith is 57-52 in his 11th season, the third most wins in Raider football history. Mainland’s Chuck Smith is 54-65 in his 13th season overall, 26-31 in six years at Mainland and 28-34 in seven years at Oakcrest. Kevin Smith’s teams are 4-5 against the Mustangs, Chuck Smith is 4-4 all-time against the Raiders. The two coaches are both Mainland graduates and played together on the 1983 Mustangs team.

The coaches Smith

Ocean City Update: The Raiders have shut out five opponents, have not allowed a passing TD this season and lead all Cape-Atlantic League teams in defensive scoring. The defense is deep, led by senior LBs Sam Williams (6-0, 188) & Taylor Eget (6-2, 205), senior safety Charley Cossaboone (6-0, 170), senior CB Nasir Kelly (6-1, 168), senior DE C.J. Conti (6-1, 262) and the senior Mazzitelli twins, LB Sean (5-10, 184) and LB Zach (5-11, 202). Junior QB Riley Gunnels (6-4, 216) has thrown for more than 1,000 yards this year with 14 touchdown passes. He has also run for eight scores. Sean Mazzitelli is one of the CAL leaders in rushing with more than 700 yards and seven TDs. Mazzitelli just went over 1,000 career rushing yards, the 32nd player in school history to reach that number. Senior RB Jacob Wilson (5-8, 170), who missed six games with an ankle injury, was strong last weekend in his return and lifted his career rushing total over 700 yards. He did not play in the first game against Mainland. Junior WR Jack Hoag (5-7, 150) has established himself as one of the league’s most exciting receivers and dangerous whenever he gets the ball. And junior WR Patrick Lonergan (6-1, 178) averages 35.5 yards per catch, the second most among CAL receivers. Ocean City’s leading scorer is senior kicker Brendan McGonigle (6-0, 155) who has 147 career kicking points, third best all-time in the CAL and just six points away from becoming No. 1. He holds the school and county records for career extra points (114) and is tied with Chris Curran for the lead in field goals with 11. The OCHS roster is HERE.

Riley Gunnels

Mainland Update: The Mustangs have played a challenging schedule that includes Millville, Ocean City, Delsea and Burlington Township, four teams ranked among South Jersey’s best. Junior RB Ja’Briel Mace (5-9, 172), one of the league’s finest, has run for 844 yards and nine TDs in eight games. Mace has scored more career TDs than any player in Mainland history and is second in career rushing. Sophomore QB Brandon Dearborn (5-8, 145) stepped in last week after an injury and threw for 135 yards and a score. The MRHS passing game got a boost when junior Nick Wagner (6-1, 174), last year’s leading receiver, returned from injury and has caught two TDs. Senior kicker Brady Panas (5-9, 162) has kicked 41 career extra points, including 14 this year. On defense, sophomore LB J.J. Sinclair (5-8, 201) and senior NG Jeff Misa (5-10, 235) have combined for 146 tackles and 22 tackles for loss. Senior LB Noah Torres (5-10, 166) leads the team with 5.5 sacks and junior CB Joe Sheeran (5-10, 168) has intercepted two passes. The Mainland roster is HERE.

Ja’Briel Mace

Scoring Averages: Ocean City 31.8, Mainland 16.0.

Defensive Averages: Ocean City 3.9, Mainland 30.4

Significant injuries: Ocean City will play without a two-way force, senior Mike Gray, who is nursing an ankle. And senior Tom Schutta, a three-year star on defense, is likely to be out the rest of the season. Mainland will be without junior QB Marlon Leslie, lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Leslie, a transfer from Pleasantville, ran for 731 yards and eight TDs this year in eight games. He was the first player to score against the Raiders back in September.

Tickets – and parking: Tickets will be sold as normal at the gates to Carey Stadium, Fans are encouraged to wear masks and to separate as much as possible, though it could be challenging with the large crowd expected. Mainland fans should park in the Boardwalk lot while Ocean City fans can also use the lot at the tennis courts across Atlantic Avenue from the high school and available street parking.

Live Video Coverage: The live video stream produced by Matt Ulmer and Bill Shallcross, can be seen HERE, along with more than a decade’s worth of videos of other OCHS games. There is no radio coverage of the game but the video stream is available on virtually every mobile device.

History: Ocean City trails Mainland, 28-22, in the all-time series. This will be the 51st meeting. The Raiders won, 34-6, in Linwood on Sept. 17, their third straight win in the series. OCHS won, 63-0, in 2020 and eliminated Mainland, 21-14, from the NJSIAA playoffs in 2019. This will be the sixth playoff meeting between the two schools. Mainland won the first two (1995, 1997) and OCHS won the last three (1999, 2000 and 2019). Mainland has won 10 of the last 15 games played at Carey Stadium. The box score of the Sept. 17 game is HERE.

What’s At Stake: Advancement to the NJSIAA South Jersey semifinals. If Ocean City wins, the Raiders would play next Friday at Carey Stadium. If Mainland wins, it would be on the road again next weekend. The other two quarterfinals in South Jersey Group 4 find Toms River South (3-6) at Millville (7-1) and Central Regional (6-3) at Pennsauken (7-2).

South Jersey Rankings: Ocean City is ranked #9 in The Online 25 rankings. Other CAL schools include #1 St. Augustine, #2 Cedar Creek, #4 Millville, #10 St. Joseph and #15 Holy Spirit. The complete list is HERE.

Other Rankings: Ocean City is ranked #24 in New Jersey by MaxPreps. Mainland is #92. The Born Power Index makes Ocean City a 30-point favorite in the game.

Next week: The winner will play the winner of the game between Long Branch (6-1) and Freehold Boro (5-4). The Ocean City-Mainland loser can add a consolation game next week. The Raiders are scheduled to host Pleasantville on Thanksgiving morning. Mainland currently has no games scheduled after Friday.

This week’s full schedule of CAL teams in the NJSIAA, including consolations, is HERE.

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