South Jersey Glory Days’ “Bunting Family Pharmacy Football Game of the Week” to kick off the season features Egg Harbor Township matching up against rival Mainland Regional at Ocean City’s Carey Stadium as the leadoff game of the second annual Battle at the Beach, which has quickly become a marquee event in South Jersey and already has a waiting list several years long for teams trying to get involved. Here’s a breakdown of the matchup between the Mustangs and Eagles:
Game Info: 10 a.m. on Friday at Carey Stadium on the campus of Ocean City High School. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the field, and are good for all four games played on Friday. Here’s a look at the schedule for the entire weekend:
Battle at the Beach
10am EHT vs. Mainland
1pm Cedar Grove vs. Salem
4pm Downingtown West vs. Highland
7pm Ocean City vs. Neshaminy
10:30am Wayne Valley vs. Delran
1:30pm TR North vs. Washington Township
4:30pm St. Peter’s Prep vs. St. Augustine Prep
7:30pm St. John Vianney vs. Red Bank Catholic
11am Thomas Jefferson vs. Millville
2pm Holy Spirit vs. Cherokee
5pm Edison vs. Cedar Creek
Last meeting between EHT and Mainland: In last season’s opener, Mainland erased a 6-0 deficit with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns from quarterback Marlon Leslie, one rushing and one passing, to score a 14-6 win.
Last season’s records: Mainland 4-6; EHT 7-4.
What to watch for: You know EHT will be smarting from last year’s loss to the Eagles’ traditional Thanksgiving Day rivalry, and both teams will be looking to put on a good show in front of what should be a great crowd on a hot Friday morning at the beach. This will be the first game of the season in the state of New Jersey, so look for both teams to be amped up even with the early start time.
Matchup to consider: Mainland’s defensive line vs. EHT offensive line: The Mustangs are bigger than normal on the D-line and have guys like Hunter Watson and Paul Lombardo who can get after the passer. EHT loves to run the ball and will have to establish some push early on. If the Eagles can put some points up early that will really put some pressure on a young Mainland offense, which features freshman John Franchini starting at quarterback.
Players to Watch for Mainland: Absolutely Villanova commit Ja’Briel Mace at running back. He’s one of the best backs in the state and can rip off an 80-yard touchdown run at any time. Also, keep an eye on freshman QB John Franchini to see how he reacts vs. varsity defensive opponents. He was outstanding on the eighth-grade level, but now he’ll be going against 18-year-olds. Also watch for Cohen Cook and Stephen Ordille on the offensive side, both are very athletic and can make plays in the passing and running game. Cook spent much of last season on the injured list, but had a tremendous sophomore basketball season last winter and is one of the best athletes in the school.
Players to Watch for EHT: Christian Rando (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) is a senior QB with a ton of experience and he’ll be a focal point of the offense, especially with both of EHT’s running backs from last year having graduated. Xavier Bullock has the potential to be a breakout star at WR, and watch out for Evan Mensh on defense. He’s an undersized linebacker, but really plays hard and gets in on a lot of tackles. DE Mike Simeon is a load on the line at 6-foot, 230 pounds and has several years of varsity experience, both at Absegami and EHT.
What the game will come down to: Can Mainland make enough plays in the passing game to put some points on the board? No doubt EHT will load the box to stop Mace, so the Mustangs receivers will have to do some work to get open and move the chains on third down.