MaxPreps High School Football Presented by Burger King
TEAMS: St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.) Green Knights at Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) Ironmen
TELEVISION: CBS College Sports
STATE RANKINGS: No. 3 St. Joseph (7-0), No. 1 Don Bosco (6-1)
NATIONAL RANKINGS: St. Joseph NR, Don Bosco No. 30
TEAM STATS: St. Joseph, Don Bosco
By Mitch Stephens
It’s all about the clock for the St. Joseph Regional Green Knights in their quest to knock off New Jersey’s top dog, the Don Bosco Prep Ironmen.
1) They have to turn back the clock.
The Green Knights knocked off Bosco the first 13 times the teams faced starting in 1985. It’s been pretty much all Bosco of late with the Ironmen winning the last six of seven, including the last three by a combined 104-10 count.
“Since 1987 we’re the winningest program in North Jersey,” St. Joseph coach Tony Karcich said. “But no doubt, Don Bosco has recently become the top program in the state.”
2) They have to control the clock.
Led by a quintet of talented backs, the slasher Kamal Hogan (410 yards, 9.1 average, 5 touchdowns) and solid runner Kevin Adams (362, 7.4, 7), St. Joseph must keep the ball for long chunks of time to keep Bosco’s versatile attack off the field.
“We have to hold on to the ball,” Karcich said. “We have to settle down and get our feet underneath us.”
3) They have to — for a lack of a better term — clean the clock of Brett Knief, Bosco’s do-all quarterback
Kneif, whose future appears actually in baseball, not football, makes the Ironmen click on all cylinders. He’s completed 73 of 135 for 1,047 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 366 yards and seven more scores leading an offense that rushed for 1,623 yards.
“(Kneif) is awesome,” Karcich said. “He should be a tailback. We have to find a way to not let him beat us.”
Said Bosco coach Greg Toal: “I think Brett can play Division I in football and baseball. He’s definitely a winner and a special guy. Thank God he’s on our team.”
Kneif will have quite a defense to try to exploit. The Green Knights have given up a scant 13 points all season while recording five shutouts.
They are led by a pair of Division I linebackers, headlined by Maryland-bound Ryan Donohue, a 6-1, 220-pound senior who led the team in tackles last year (116) and does so again this season with 68.
“He’s sort of our quarterback out there on defense,” Karcich said. “He’s even bigger and stronger and faster than he’s been the last two years.”
Rutgers-bound Steven Beauharnais, a 6-2, 220-pound senior, transferred in this season and has immediately contributed not only with his skills (he’s second on team with 48 tackles), but his leadership. “He’s imposed his will on the team,” Karcich said.
Where St. Joseph’s true will needs to be focused is up front, where Bosco often wins games. The Ironmen are led there by John Templeton (6-4, 255).
“We’re pretty (darned) good up front and (Templeton) is one of the best we’ve ever had,” Toal said. “I think the line on both sides is the heart and soul of our team.”
The Ironmen have plenty of offensive punch with the running tandem of Dillon Romain (127 carries, 907 yards and nine touchdowns) and Tony Jones, a 5-8, 180-pound junior coming back from a shoulder injury.
Though Jones hasn’t received much work – just 19 carries overall – Karcich is concerned because his team hasn’t got that many reps all season.
The Green Knights have been in so many blowouts — their average margin of victory is 38-2 — a competitive edge at this point goes to Bosco, which has played two nationally ranked teams, losing to St. Xavier-Cincinnati 17-10 to start the season before knocking off De La Salle-Concord 23-21 in week 3.
Both games were on the road.
St. Joseph had an impressive opening night victory over 2005 state champion and three-time defending state finalist St. Peter’s Prep-Jersey City 14-0, but its next six opponents had a combined 21-24 record.
“We haven’t had the competitive schedule Bosco has,” Karcich said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been in a competitive game. If we can settle and be right there in the first half we’ll be fine. If they jump on us real quick I’ll be a little concerned.”
E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com.