(WORTH MENTIONING is an ongoing feature from the South Jersey Glory Days staff in which we recognize a player, coach or team for doing something outstanding, give our thoughts on why it’s important, and what it means for the particular program mentioned. If you see or hear about something worth mentioning, email South Jersey Glory Days Publisher Dave O’Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org).
To put together a season like the one the Woodbury High football team has, a lot has to go right. Guys have to stay healthy, seniors have to play well, you need a few breaks along the way in key games. But you also need guys who I call “grinders.” Those dudes who aren’t the biggest, aren’t the fastest but will run through a brick wall if you tell them a championship ring is on the other side.
I’ve seen a few Woodbury games this fall and sure, there are plenty of guys who stand out — senior middle linebacker Derron Moore, quarterback Bryan Johnson, running back Anthony Reagan Jr., receiver JaBron Solomon. The Herd have a ton of talented guys, and that’s a big reason they are headed to the Group 1 state championship game after beating Salem this weekend in the semifinals, avenging a loss from during the regular season.
Another big reason is because Woodbury has guys like Dominic Abbatelli. Guy is 5-foot-8, 155 pounds and plays a hybrid safety/linebacker position. You look at No. 7 in blue-and-gold and he doesn’t scare anybody, but every game this kid just finds ways to make an impact. And they aren’t the big, flashy type of plays that resonate with reporters on the sideline to where they say, ‘I have to mention that kid in my story.’
In the win over Salem he pounced on a bad snap, saving Woodbury from a turnover. Doesn’t seem like much, but in a tight game every possession matters. He’s also the team’s punter, helping flip field position after a bad offensive series, and on defense his aggressiveness, timing and vision help neutralize big plays by the opposition.
The senior’s stats aren’t eye-popping (9 catches for 49 yards as a receiver, 60 tackles and an interception on defense) but there’s definitely something to be said for a player who does a lot of things, and does a lot of things well. Coaches love having guys who they don’t have to worry about making the right play, and Abbatelli fits that mold. The coolest thing is he’s a Woodbury kid through-and-through, born-and-raised, and now he’ll get a chance to represent the school he’s loved since childhood in a state championship game.
That’s the beauty of high school sports.
Dave O’Sullivan, South Jersey Glory Days