By Tom Szieber
Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2018 9:00 am
A year ago, Rumson-Fair Haven’s defense allowed just 13.8 points per game and routinely frustrated any team that tried to move the ball on them.
And this year, somehow, they’ve come back even better.
After five games, the Bulldogs are allowing just 6.0 points per contest, and look very capable of leading them back to the Central, Group 3 finals.
“It is a lot of the same guys,” said Bulldogs head coach Jerry Schulte. “It is always hard to tell if you’re better or not better, but I think our defense is pretty good. We are an attacking type of defense. We go after people.”
That attack was on full display in Rumson’s 13-0 shutout of Brick Township last week. The Green Dragons simply couldn’t solve a unit lead by a front four that includes defensive tackles Henry Sullivan -- a top-flight run stuff and pass rusher -- and Joe Afflitto and ends Isaac Vernon and Gordon Forsyth. Defensive end Ken Rainey and defensive tackle Von Factor provide depth and fresh legs.
“The defensive line does a great job plugging holes and allowing our linebackers to make more tackles,” said Schulte. “We tell our kids all the time, that you don’t have to make tackles to be doing your job.”
Keegan Woods, the middle linebacker, and Chris Lanzlotto, who plays the strong side, have both been reliable, as has backup Liam Horan, who can play both spots.
Brooks Brennan and Drew Frankel play the corner slots in the 4-2-5 scheme, while Ryan Ruane is the safety in the middle. Michael Lizotte -- a physical former linebacker -- is the strong safety, while Ryan Dupree plays the weak side.
The group is talented, no doubt, but they have also improved on last season’s outstanding showing thanks to defensive coordinator Jeremy Schulte, whose ability to dissect opposing offensive schemes is second-to-none.
Skill. Athleticism. Good coaching.
It’s a simple formula -- and one that has Rumson-Fair Haven rolling towards another deep run in the postseason.
“We get good athletes, and we have a tremendous offseason strength and conditioning program,” said the head coach. And Jeremy does a really great job breaking down films. He just has a knack for matching up the defenses with what the offenses are doing. We always say the goal is to be 1-0 in December. If everyone stays healthy, we think we have a shot of being there.”
Tom Szieber can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.