Manley's Blog

A Year Older, a Year Better?

Posted in Uncategorized by mattmanley on September 1, 2010

I caught the Howell-Colts Neck game today, and while I’ll save the details on each team for the preview stories on each that I’m currently working on, but a few points on today’s 1-1 tie.

Both teams have most of their big players back, with Howell losing only John Riccio  from their starting lineup and Colts Neck looking to replace forwards Brendan Murphy and Marco Guzman (their leading scorer last year) and sweeper Bill Kallas. Long story short, both teams bring a lot back after pretty good years in Class A North last year.

It seems like Howell is a little farther along than Colts Neck at this point,  but that’s probably because I, like most o the people I’ve talked to, expect Colts Neck to be one of the best two or three teams in the Shore and they had a few rough patches on Tuesday. They showed some flashes of the ground skill that impresses so many, but coach Art Collier was a little disappointed in the amount of balls his team try to play over the top. In so many words, he said they have a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

Howell was interesting because they have starters back from last year playing in new positions, at least new at the high school level. Connor Doherty moves to sweeper after playing an outside back, while Rob Hart, a coach’s all-division selection last year, goes from outside back to center midfield, where he will pair with John Hlava. Hart looked pretty comfortable in the middle and should do a nice job there. Kyle Dougher was playing more of a stopper/defensive center mid as opposed to the center midfield he played last year. The handful of times I saw Howell play last year, Dougher, Hart and striker Ozcan Onder were the standouts, but I also thought Hlava, Drew Lyon and Joe Raccuglia looked like they’ll be even better this year.

Chris Hill will move from the middle to the outside midfield while playing some forward and watching him develop there should be interesting. He has the tools to be dangerous up top but coach Rich Yuro is now just looking for him to show the ferocity it takes to be a scorer. Hill has been on the radar since his freshman year, so it’s easy to forget he’s only a junior and last year was his first year on varsity.

Last thing on Howell, they have a pretty solid freshman class that will not start on varsity but could make an impact late in the year. Depth is one of Yuro’s concerns and he said the freshmen could definitely start popping up on the big field.

Back to Colts Neck for a bit of an editorial point. This group reminds me of Howell about four or five years ago when they made the leap from a top three team in A North to a dominant team in the Shore Conference. Obviously keeping the club players like Ross and Brandon Tetro through their high school careers may change things, but there is reason to believe Colts Neck could be a SCT title favorite over the next three years. The parallels are similar right down to the brothers two years apart in the center midfield (Howell had Paul and Cody Calafiore). On the other hand, there isn’t a player the caliber of Kyle Bethel and along the same line, Collier made sure to point out that the Howell teams were much bigger and more athletically gifted than this Colts Neck team, although the Cougars stack up technically. That Howell team ran into some tough Manalapan teams, so Colts Neck, even if they’re not quite as loaded, could accomplish just as much if no rival emerges. Chances are, one will.

I’ll be sure to post the link to the stories when they’re finished, or you can check out the website every now and again.

The TR East story was the last to go up, so check that out if you haven’t.

Tomorrow’s stop will be Marlboro, where Southern will pay a visit. Should be interesting to see how each has reloaded after landmark seasons last year.

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