Eagles Looking to Rebound After Colonia Loss; Falcons Searching for 1st Win
METUCHEN, NJ—On Saturday afternoon, Big Central Gridiron will venture out to Brenner Family Field to see the St. Joseph’s Falcons take on the Edison Eagles in a BCC Division 5D contest. Both teams will be looking for a much needed win. Edison (1-1) is looking to rebound after a stunning road loss at Colonia (38-7) while St. Joseph’s is searching for its first win over being dealt crossover losses to Union (40-21) and Westfield (31-20).
Edison, which had thrilling wins over Summit (20-17) and Hillsborough (50-49) in games covered by BCG a year ago, has a lot of talent back this year with the likes of QB Matt Yascko and WRs Malcolm Stansbury and Jaden Peart. Meanwhile, St. Joe’s has a new QB in North Hunterdon transfer, Christian Solino, and returning players such as Omari Jones and Anthony Roige.
The Eagles from Edison’s Southside, which were 4-2 a year ago, lost their two games by a combined total of only 2 points with the second loss versus North Brunswick ending in controversy. So, Edison could have been undefeated in 2020. Ranked No. 7 in the Big Central Gridiron Pre-Season Top 10, and No. 4 in BCG’s Middlesex County Pre-Season Top 10, the Eagles will be looking to prove something this weekend.
Meanwhile, the Falcons have arguably played the toughest schedule of any GMC/Middlesex team in the Big Central by taking on the likes of perennial powers, Union and Westfield over the first two weeks of their season. In the teams home opener on September 4th, St. Joe’s lost to Union, currently ranked 2nd in the Big Central Gridiron Top 10 and first in BCG’s Union County Top 10, and then lost at Westfield last weekend. The Falcons played a brutal schedule a year ago against the likes of Elizabeth, Union, Westfield, Ridge, Delbarton, Rahway, Cranford, and Woodbridge.
Of those teams the Falcons played in 2020, five of them were ranked in the Big Central Gridiron Top 10, two were ranked in BCG’s Union County Top 10, and Delbarton took on the likes of Bergen Catholic and Wall Township for the top spot in NJ.com’s statewide Top 20 by the end of last season. Yet, the Falcons, despite losing the likes of football and hoops standouts K-Shawn Schulters (Villanova) and Tyree Ford (Kean) to graduation in June 2020, managed to compete with a 3-5 overall mark, and knocked off Elizabeth (17-12), Westfield (20-3), and Cranford (21-9) while almost defeating Ridge and Rahway.
Solino is one of the keys for the Falcons on offense. So far this season, the Falcons quarterback has thrown for 426 yards and completed 38 of 71 passes including a touchdown. Solino has also rushed 22 times for 88 yards and another score. Jones has rushed 19 times for 101 yards and 2 TDs while catching 6 passes for another 43 yards.
Newcomer Jermey DeCaro leads St. Joe’s in receiving with 9 receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown while senior Anthony Roige has chipped in with 8 catches for 95 yards and Lucas Mannello has contributed with 5 catches for 97 yards. JoJo Huntley is another top target with 7 catches for 76 yards. Through two games, Solino has spread the ball around very well throwing completions to 8 different receivers. DeCaro has also thrown a completion for 7 yards and a touchdown.
Leading the way on defense for the Falcons has been Christian Maglicano with 6 total tackles and 2 sacks while DeCaro has added 2 interceptions to his offensive stats. Will Amasi has also contributed with 2 solo tackles, 7 assisted tackles, and a tackle for loss. South Brunswick native, Danny Belavia, who also plays basketball for the Falcons along with Kwame Herod, who is also on the football team’s roster as a receiver, has 2 solo tackles, 5 assisted tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks.
In addition to his receiving exploits, Huntley, a transfer from Franklin, has a 50 yard fumble return for a touchdown, 6 solo tackles and 2 assisted tackles so far this season. On special teams, look out or the likes of Jones, Herod, and WR Richard Davis, who have combined for 181 kickoff return yards this season with Davis leading the way with 141 of those yards. Placekicker Tyler Huseth has made 5 of 6 extra point attempts.
For Edison, Yascko, who burst on to the scene two years ago as a freshman along with the younger Stansbury (older brother Noah, former Edison standout, now playing at New Hampshire), can beat you with his arm and his legs. For his career, he has completed 142 of 244 passing attempts for 1875 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has also rushed 63 times for 317 yards and another 3 scores.
So far this season, Yascko has completed 22 of 33 passing attempts for 259 yards and 2 TDs while rushing 8 times for 44 yards and another score. Stansbury has caught 59 passes for 729 yards and 5 TDs including three last season. Stansbury has also rushed 8 times for 34 yards and another score while collecting 6 tackles and an interception. Over the first two games of Edison’s 2021 campaign, he has caught 9 passes for 71 yards and a TD.
Peart, who has excelled in the classroom as well as on the field with a 3.9 GPA, can make plays in all facets of the game. The 5’10”, 170 pound senior, who received a D1 offer from Morehead State where legendary Giants QB, Phil Simms played college ball, has caught 27 passes for 419 yards and 4 TDs in his two year career for Edison. He also has 17 total tackles and an interception, and a kickoff return for a TD.
The kickoff return for touchdown by Peart came in the season opener against crosstown rival, J.P. Stevens, where he took a free kick that followed one of two safeties recorded by the Eagles defense, and returned it 65 yards for a score. Other weapons to consider with Edison include Chase Priester, Jameel Parrott, Anthony Egnozzi and Christian Shao.
Also, be careful since the Eagles also have a very capable backup QB in Bishal Bhat, a junior. BCG saw both Yascko and Bhat play QB at the freshman level two years ago, and they both can air it out. On defense, beware of Adekunle Shittu, who had 50 of his career 58 tackles and 7 of his 10 career sacks last season as a sophomore. Selbin Sabio has made 4 of 6 extra point attempts so far this season for Edison. Senior basketball standout, Joe Greer is on the roster as well with one catch for 12 yards.
Prediction: Edison wins, 24-23.