By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
OCEAN CITY — Two years ago, following a game-winning field goal in the waning seconds, a Mainland Regional player took the giant team flag with the green letter M and staked it on the 50-yard line at Carey Stadium, home of hated rival Ocean City. This rivalry dates back 49 years now, and things like a perceived show of disrespect aren’t easily forgotten in one of South Jersey’s most intense rivalries.
The Red Raiders were waiting for the opportune time to deliver some payback, and they did so — with vengeance — on Friday night, when a Mustangs team in rebuilding mode made its return across the 9th Street Bridge. Ocean City put its foot on the gas pedal early and didn’t let up, scoring nine touchdowns in the most lopsided final this rivalry has ever seen — 63-0. The previous high for scoring margin came in 2008, when Mainland scored a 56-7 victory.
Ocean City didn’t even miss an extra point. That’s how well everything went for the Red Raiders, who improved to 5-0 ahead of next week’s “playoff pod” showdown with Burlington Township, the No. 11 team in Glory Days Magazine’s Best 11 poll of West Jersey Football League teams. Ocean City came into the Bunting Family Pharmacy Game of the Week ranked No. 10.
Ocean City (5-0) had five first-half possessions, and scored on all five of them while also blocking a punt for a touchdown to take an insurmountable 42-0 lead into halftime. The second half featured a running clock and plenty of playing time for some of the up-and-comers from both school’s junior varsity teams.
“Defense, I think, is our strong suit. We have some great coaching with coach Matthews and we play with intensity and passion every game. It’s always a battle with Mainland and it’s always great to get a win against them. Nobody expected it to be like this, but it made it that much better. It’s a great feeling. There is always talk between the two teams, but to quiet that is a good feeling,” said Ocean City senior linebacker Brad Jamison. “We want to go undefeated. We’re going to take it one game at a time, but that’s definitely our goal, and I think we can do it.”
Mike Rhodes, a senior defensive lineman, said he and his Red Raiders teammates have been hyper-focused since getting knocked around in a loss to Shawnee during last season’s sectional championship game.
“No one expects and O.C. team to come out here and be rowdy. Everyone thinks we’re just surfers and we’re sitting on the beach all day and not putting in the work. Nobody knows what we do in the offseason. Every practice, we’re coming out here and hitting, making each other better — trying not to hurt each other, but we go as hard as we can to make one another better,” he said. “After we got our snot knocked in (against Shawnee), we were like, ‘we can’t let this happen anymore, we have to come out here next year and if we see a team like Shawnee in a championship game, it’s the other way around.'”
Senior quarterback Joe Repetti got things started on Ocean City’s first possession, as a couple of his own runs set up his 5-yard touchdown run that made it 7-0 and on the Raiders’ next possession senior tailback Jake Inserra plowed his way to an 18-yard score. Early in the second quarter, Repetti did a Houdini to avoid a potential sack then found a wide-open Jamison in the end zone as the lead reached 21-0 before Mainland (2-4) even recorded a first down. The lead would grow much larger before the Stangs got their initial first down, as that didn’t come until the third quarter.
Another Repetti-to-Jake Schneider hookup — which has been happening all season — set Ocean City up at Mainland’s 13-yard line midway through the second quarter, and Repetti capped off the drive with a touchdown run to the left side that pushed the lead to 28-0. Repetti then found Schneider for a 31-yard scoring strike on Ocean City’s next possession to make it 35-0, and Kyle Hendricks scooped up a punt that was blocked by Jack Hoag and raced into the end zone to give the home team a 42-0 advantage headed into halftime.
Ocean City scored three more times in the second half, as Sam Williams ran back an interception 62 yards to paydirt, Hoag added a 35-yard touchdown run and backup quarterback Riley Gunnels capped off the scoring with a seven-yard TD run in the fourth. Junior Brendan McGonigle was a perfect 8-for-8 on extra points, while senior Tim Waller converted one as well.
Now, the Red Raiders turn their attention to an unbeaten Burlington Township team in their pod semifinals next week. Ocean City is the No. 3 seed and travels to No. 2 Burlington Township, while Winslow is the top seed and will host No. 4 St. Joseph Academy.
“We don’t care what it is, whether it’s a state championship, a pod championship, we’re going to be champions. That’s all we know. We’ve known that from Day One of this season, Day One of last season — we will be champions,” a confident Rhodes said. “Now it’s just the time to execute. The chemistry we have is something we’ve had our whole lives from being friends. We’re all brothers. It’s a brotherhood at Ocean City, there’s no other way to explain it. If something happens, we have each other’s backs, no matter what.”
What’s next: Ocean City travels to Burlington Township on Nov. 13, time TBD. Mainland hosts Atlantic City on Nov. 13, time TBD.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays