Friday, September 28, 2007

Basepaths & Gridiron

You may not care about baseball but for different reasons the Yankees, Mets and Phillies have made this the most exciting September there’s ever been for fans in our area. While Sunday is the end of the regular season it would seem only fitting for Monday to find the Mets and or Phillies involved in special playoff games to get in to the post-season…possibly against one another.

The Lakewood BlueClaws and Greensboro Grasshoppers will share the South Atlantic League’s prestigious Club Merit Award which will be presented at the league’s annual awards luncheon next month in Asheville, North Carolina. The teams ranked atop the 16-team league in attendance for the third consecutive year and Lakewood has attracted the most fans in all 7 years of their existence.

All is not rosy at Rutgers University over the recent success of the football team and a longtime critic of the effort to make the Scarlet Knights a big-time program has to now deal with criticism from others. English professor William C. Dowling was interviewed for a New York Times article and responded to arguments that athletic scholarships provide opportunity for low-income, minority students. Dowling said that’s fine if the student is brilliant and just happens to be an athlete but then added…”but they give it to a functional illiterate who can’t read a cereal box and then make him spend 50 hours a week on physical skills.” The school’s President and Athletic Director have both questioned those comments as being racist
and inappropriate.

Monmouth University football coach Kevin Callahan has certainly done a terrific job in building a program but he’s an even better person than he is a coach. Callahan does a weekly segment on our “AutoLenders High School Football Show” each Thursday. Last night we did the show live from Klee’s in Seaside Heights and despite an 0-3 start Callahan made the trip down from Monmouth County to appear in person. A quality guy who deserves success.

Our Shore Sports Network will broadcast our first-ever game from Barnegat High School tonight when the Bengals host Raritan. You can here the action on 1160AM or on the web at

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Facts About Indian Summer

It’s time to separate fact from fiction and today’s topic is “Indian Summer” which many in Ocean County think we’re experiencing. After all summer is over and temperatures have been soaring into the 80’s making those fall clothes some have been wearing seem out of place. Of course there are those of us who refuse to accept brown, black and navy just yet and are clinging to white, beige and pink.

Back to the topic. We are not having an “Indian Summer” because it’s too early for that. The term which dates back to the 18th century is usually given to a period of sunny and warm weather that occurs in October or early November after the first frost. It can last for a few days or even a week or more and is generally associated with dry and hazy conditions caused by a south or southwesterly breeze.

The earliest that anyone can find the term written is in a 1778 letter but that means it would have had to been used before and nobody seems to know where it came from or if it has anything to do with Indians. There are a bunch of theories on that but I’m not going to make this a history lesson.
However we do know that “Indian Summer” does not occur until after the first frost and since we have not experienced that yet all we really have now is unseasonably warm weather.

A couple of quick hits:

Yankee fans have reason to celebrate the clinching of their 13th straight playoff appearance because it’s an amazing streak even if they do have the deepest and most talented roster.

I’m going to find it hard to accept a post-season with the Yankees and Phillies playing baseball and the Mets playing golf.

We’ll take our “AutoLenders High School Football Show” on the road tonight with a two-hour live broadcast at Klee’s Bar & Grill in Seaside Heights. On location guests include coach Charlie Diskin and standout lineman Mike Murphy of Toms River East and Barnegat coach Rob Davis and his quarterback Brandon Clarke. The show begins at 6pm and can heard on 1160 WOBM AM.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday Thoughts

Three apparel companies are vying to have their names displayed on the building now known as Continental Airlines Arena although most refer to it simply as the Meadowlands Arena. Izod, Southpole and Rocawear submitted proposals to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, who could make a decision at their next meeting on October 4th. Izod of course is an established name and probably is the most desirable as Southpole and Rocawear are clothing brands marketed to an urban demographic.

Continental is pulling out because the New Jersey Devils are leaving for a new arena in Newark and the airline company’s contract allowed for them to end their relationship for such a reason. Before they had their name on the building in which the Nets play basketball it was known as the Brendan Byrne Arena for the former Governor.

Special thanks to Southern Regional High School teacher Heather Clarey.
In response to an earlier Hometown View segment in which I expressed frustration as a Field Hockey parent over referees calls Heather sent me an email which shows what each call means. However she could not answer my question as to why the whistle has to blow every 30 seconds. The sport may not be very exciting to most but when a game goes into sudden death overtime than it’s a different story. Instead of 11 girls on a team they play a 7-on-7 period which is fast and furious. Class A South-leading Toms River South beat both their cross-town rivals 1-0 on overtime goals in the last week. Tuesday night it was Rae Drach scoring just over a minute into overtime to give them a win over Toms River North in a well-played game by both teams.

Southern Regional is calling for their fans to wear black t-shirts for Friday night’s home football game against Brick Memorial. Before the game the Athletic Department will present the prestigious Shop Rite Classic Award
to student-athletes. The Rams are off to a 2-0 start and Friday’s game is a big one for their program so they’re looking for a blackout in Manahawkin.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

OceanFirst Foundation Awards

Who says there’s no good news to report? OceanFirst Foundation recently announced awards of $325,000 in grants and gift certificates to area schools as part of its Third Annual Library/Media Center Enhancement Program with school representatives getting the good news during a reception at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood.

The program is designed to encourage students to read and learn with the money helping schools purchase materials and supplies to upgrade libraries and media centers. 116 applications were received from eligible public and private schools in Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex counties for the 2007 grant program and the biggest of the awards was $25,000 which went to four high schools and four middle schools.

The high schools receiving $25,000 grants were Brick Township, Monsignor Donovan, Southern Regional and Toms River South. The Mill Pond Middle School in Lanoka Harbor and Toms River Intermediate North each received that amount as did two Monmouth County middle schools.

In addition ten elementary schools in Ocean County received $10,000 with those grants going to the Lavallette Elementary School, Spruce Street School in Lakewood, Walnut Street Elementary School in Toms River, Waretown Elementary School, Brick Community Primary Learning Center and Drum Point Road School in Brick, H&M Potter and Clara B. Worth Elementary Schools in Bayville and the Manchester Elementary School and Ridgeway School in Manchester Township.

The schools that applied for a grant but did not receive one were awarded $250 gift certificates for books or supplies which made the total contribution from the OceanFirst Foundation $325,000 this year and nearly $1 million in just three years. While this program is relatively new the OceanFirst Foundation was established in 1996 and has given millions of dollars to local charities focusing on Housing, Health and Wellness, Improving the Quality of Life and Youth Development.

Good news may be hard to find at times but it is out there.

Monday, September 24, 2007

One Person's Junk Is Another's Treasure

They're called “garage sales” or “yard sales” and what they are can simply be summed up by the following….”one man’s junk is another’s treasure.” In truth these events are the perfect win-win as the seller gets rid of items they no longer need or want and the buyer gets them for a fraction of what they are really worth.

We participated in Beachwood’s annual town-wide yard sale on Saturday & Sunday and I’m happy to report that for the first time in months I can actually put a car in my garage. It seemed like a couple of hundred homeowners took part in which we paid a small fee to be listed on a map as a participant and our first buyers showed-up Saturday at 8AM, an hour
before things were supposed to begin. Veterans of these sales know that the early bird gets first choice and buyers were out in droves, coffee mug in hand looking for anything and everything.

What makes these events interesting to me are the buyers, who range from browsers to those looking for specific items. Some don’t even get out of their cars and instead will just eye things from a distance or even shout out things like….”hey do you have any old tools” or “I’m looking for Halloween costumes.” I’ve dubbed these as “drive by shoppers.”

Others are not looking for anything but then something will catch their eye
and they are ready to buy but often only after serious negotiation. Some believe that it’s important to label items with prices but my wife does not and some of the best moments of the weekend were these often hilarious negotiations. My sister-in-law came down from North Jersey to sell some of her stuff with us and we would laugh as prices changed by the split second. All of these back-and-forth exchanges were good natured and in the end you were often talking about a quarter or fifty cents and let’s be honest…the idea is to not bring anything back in the garage.

When it was all over Sunday we had a car load of stuff left to donate to good will, a relatively empty garage and a few extra dollars which will probably be used to buy things we’ll sell at next years yard sale.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nobody Asked Me But...

Nobody has asked my opinion but if they did I would tell them:

We need to push back the age in which children can get their driver’s permits in New Jersey. 16 is simply too young for them to be behind the wheel under any circumstances because our state is too congested
and many if not most of them are simply not mature enough. I don’t know what the right age is but even if we extended the permit age to 16 ½ it would seem to be a step in the right direction.

If the baseball playoffs were starting today I’d pick the Yankees with the Angels being the biggest obstacle to them claiming a 27th World Series. As for the Mets…..I can’t even talk about it.

I was captivated by the FOX TV show “Prison Break” when it began in 2005 but it’s obvious the creators never expected it to last this long. The story line is getting too bizarre and straying way off the original theme
but I’ll keep watching for a while.

DVR is the best thing to happen to television since the remote control.

If Ryan Dolan of Toms River East is not the most complete and versatile football player in Ocean County then I can’t wait to see who is.

Field Hockey coaches should make one-sheet flyers for parents explaining some of the basic rules and what it is the referees are signaling when they blow the whistle every 30 seconds.

O.J. Simpson and Brittany Spears would make a nice celebrity couple.

As much as I find local politics interesting I hate this time of year because candidates, especially those who are not holding office find fault in everything that’s happening. Even when there is no smoke they believe there has to be fire.

Just because summer ends this weekend doesn’t mean you have to dress differently if the temperatures are still in the 70’s and 80’s. For me that means no socks and who says you can’t wear white after Labor Day?

If you’re looking for a garage sale this weekend Beachwood is holding a community-wide one Saturday & Sunday. I’ll be looking to sell my garage.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are You Ready For Some Early Football?

Because of Yom Kippur the third week of the high school football season finds most teams playing today and some as late as Sunday and die-hard fans could actually attend as many as 7 games before the weekend is over.

There’s a trio of Thursday afternoon games involving Ocean County teams
with Toms River South visiting Colts Neck, Southern heading to Marlboro and Pinelands hosting Neptune. Tonight’s schedule features a meeting of American Division rivals as Jackson travels to Toms River East to face a Raiders team that’s scored 88 points in two games and might be the best in the shore. The teams have played some memorable games in the past and
the Jaguars should give East their first real test of the season. Tonight’s game will be broadcast on 1160 WOBM AM.

Also tonight Toms River North should have little trouble with Freehold Township as the Mariners seek a 3-0 start. Brick visits Manalapan with both teams coming off bitter late-game losses a week ago and the question is which team will bounce back. The shore’s top-ranked team Middletown South visits Central where the Golden Eagles appear to be no match for a team that’s won 49 of their last 50 games. Jackson Liberty, coming off their first varsity win takes to the road against St. Augustine.

The Friday evening schedule finds Barnegat visiting St. John Vianney, Manchester at powerful Red Bank Catholic and explosive Point Boro hosting Keyport in a game that will be broadcast live on 1160AM.

Saturday afternoon Monsignor Donovan heads to Manasquan with the Griffins looking to build on last week’s win at Raritan. Also, Point Beach is at Asbury Park in a Patriot Division match-up. Sunday afternoon is usually reserved for pro football but Lacey fans can watch their Lions host Long Branch in the only weekend meeting of teams ranked in the Asbury Park Press Top 10. The Green Wave should test the Lions but in the end I expect they’ll pass that test as they are among the top teams in the area and state.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sleep Depravation & Pennant Races

There has been a lot in the news lately about the dangers of sleep depravation and while I don’t want to make light of this it’s a fact of life for many of us for different reasons. I know studies say that we need about 8 hours of sleep each night but that can be difficult and I’m not even speaking about those who have trouble getting to sleep. That has never been my problem as can usually fall asleep within minutes but for me to get even 7 hours of sleep I would have to be in bed by 7:30 and that’s just not happening. This time of year I’m usually out at least four nights per week and then there’s the matter of being a sports fan and watching games on TV.

I’m wondering if it makes a difference as to your frame of mind when you finally get to sleep because if it does I’m in even deeper trouble. This is the result of being a Mets fan and staying up late to watch what may be the greatest collapse in baseball history. After another lost evening the Mets are just a game and a-half ahead of Philadelphia just a week after having a 7-game advantage. No team has ever blown a 7-game division lead this late in the season and I’ve actually tossed and turned the last couple of nights. That’s because I’m in the middle of a baseball version of “the perfect storm” as the Mets lose while the Phillies and Yankees continue to win. It’s almost too much to take.

Back to the central issue of sleep depravation which medical experts tell us has many pitfalls and I’m not questioning any of them. It’s not good for your overall general health and it leads to other problems like driving when you’re exhausted and the impact it has on those in the workplace. The truth is when you’re tired you are simply not as effective and that’s not good, especially if the sleep-deprived person happens to be a surgeon, pilot or even heavy-equipment operator.

However for those who work odd hours or commute great distances as well as many others 7 or 8 hours sleep is a rarity usually reserved for weekends and vacations. It’s just the way it is.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

All Politics Is Local

When you talk about local politics you have to realize that interest is limited to those who live in that particular area and those that are interested in politics period. We know that is not exactly a majority of the people as turnouts in most recent elections have been small as more and more voters are tuned out and turned off.

With that said the already interesting race for mayor in Toms River took another turn Monday when Council President Greg McGuckin dropped out just a couple of weeks after it was learned that unpaid income tax liabilities had resulted in IRS tax liens being placed against him. McGuckin quickly found out that this was going to be a major campaign issue and everything else he had to say about Ocean County’s largest town would fall on deaf ears. What’s even more interesting about his 11th hour withdrawal is the Republican earmarked to replace him in the three-man race for the mayor’s office, former Ocean County Prosecutor Thomas Kelaher. That development is expected to become official today, which is the deadline for such a change to be made. Kelaher was the county prosecutor for 5 ½ years and drew high praise from law enforcement officials for his work in that post. He would challenge Democrat Richard Strada and Independent Carmine Inteso in the November election.

Beachwood/Pine Beach PBA Local #253 will be holding a fundraiser for their Student Scholarship Fund on Friday, September 28th and if you like
beer, wine and food than this one is for you. The Beers From Around the World and Wine Tasting event will take place at the Pine Beach Fire House from 6:30-9:30. Tickets are $50 per person and all proceeds will go towards the scholarship fund to help local students. For tickets or more information on this worthwhile fundraiser contact Beachwood Patrolman Glen DeMarco at (732) 286-6000 x191.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Thoghts

Just a little of this and a little of that on a Monday:

I love going to the movies and I especially like the new Marquee Cinemas on Route 37 West close to the Toms River/Manchester border. They have very comfortable stadium seating so the person sitting in front of you never blocks your view. Over the weekend we saw “The Brave One” starring Jodie Foster, who plays sort of a female version of Charles Bronson’s old vigilante character and it’s always nice to see the good guys prevail.

Speaking of good guys congratulations to Dan Duddy, who collected his first win as the head football coach at Monsignor Donovan at Raritan over the weekend. Duddy had great success at Central before moving to the Griffins last year and he never lost his enthusiasm despite an 0-10 season. What’s especially nice about his inaugural win at Donovan is that his son Michael ran for two long touchdowns in the 4th quarter. Also collecting milestone victories were Tim Osborn at Jackson Liberty…the first in school history and Walt Currie at Brick Memorial, his first as a head football coach.

A former Brick Memorial player is having some surprising success for the
University of Wisconsin. Tight end Garrett Graham has caught a pair of touchdown passes to help the Badgers get off to a 3-0 start. Graham redshirted his freshman year and saw very limited action last fall but has worked himself into a solid player for Wisconsin, who is ranked 7th in the nation. With two more years of eligibility remaining he could have a very good college career after being an All-Shore and All-State player for the Mustangs.

FirstEnergy Park, best known as the home of the Lakewood BlueClaws, will host a slow-pitch Softball Home Run Derby on Saturday, October 20th. The event will benefit three charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Gates open at 8AM on October 20th and pre-registration is preferred. For more information call (732) 300-3551 or you can visit wobm dot come and click on “Hometown Happenings.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Night Lights & Saturday Afternoon Sun

In their very first varsity football game last September Barnegat beat Monsignor Donovan 42-21 and opened up a lot of eyes that this was not your typical first-year program. In week number two they went into Manasquan and got walloped 56-0…a bit of a reality check. The Bengals would go on to qualify for the state playoffs and even though they lost their final three games the inaugural season had to be considered a major success and with all underclassmen 2007 promised to be an even better one.

Barnegat opened the season by routing Donovan 34-0 last week and here comes Manasquan again but things are a bit different 12 months later. While the Bengals have all their players back, including quarterback Brandon Clarke, running back Bob Fitzpatrick and linebacker Mike Riley the Warriors graduated 28 players from a team that reeked havoc on opponents on their way to a perfect 12-0 season. Last weekend Holmdel stunned Manasquan 10-7 at Vic Kubu Field in what had to be one of the biggest upsets at the shore in recent years.

With that backdrop the National Division rivals meet tonight on the Bengalis home field and not only do many expect a close game some of the so-called
experts are predicting a Barnegat victory which would send shock waves around the shore. I’m not ready yet to pick against Manasquan but I have to admit it might be the most intriguing match up of the weekend.

Also tonight Brick visits Toms River North with both teams coming off season-opening victories. The Mariners will have a huge advantage in size and boast talented players like Zach Kane and Marlon Brinson while the visiting Green Dragons will probably rely on the skills of quarterback Jordan Roshala and Kurt Loftus, who caught a touchdown pass last week and ran a punt back for another score. The Brick-North game will be broadcast on 1160AM and the Shore Sports Network and tomorrow afternoon we’ll be at Toms River East, where the explosive Raiders host Ocean.

Another game to watch tonight will find Jackson Liberty traveling to Wildwood where they could pick up their first varsity victory,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Big Time Bad Behavior

The beginning of the school year brings changes that effect just about all of us whether or not we have school-aged children. If we do then of course it’s often constant chaos, especially if they are involved in athletics and extra curricular activities. You try and juggle schedules which often leave dinner as an after-thought and make you at times nothing more than a glorified chauffeur.

Those who don’t have kids in school have to very aware that traffic patterns tend to be quite different especially just before and after the school bell rings. There’s also the matter of school busses, which if you get behind can make even a short trip take a lot longer. And of course all drivers need to
be especially careful in neighborhoods where children walk to and from school as often they are not looking so we better be.

There’s a downside to the era of big time football at Rutgers University and it apparently reared its ugly head last Friday when the Scarlet Knights hosted Navy. Reports say that some fans in student sections were less than hospitable in their treatment of Navy players, mocking them at times and even cheering when one was injured. The Middies did not react and when
the chants got a bit offensive their band would just play “Anchors Away” to drown out the students, who probably had a couple of cocktails before the nationally televised night game. You might say that heckling the opponent is part of the game but keep in mind those attending the Naval Academy (like those at the other service academies) owe this country a military commitment after graduation and many put their lives on the line overseas. They deserve to be treated with respect and admiration. Word is that Rutgers officials sent a letter of apology to Navy for the fan behavior.

On what would have been his 90th birthday, the Yogi Berra Museum at Montclair State University will celebrate the life of beloved Yankee Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto with a special remembrance program on Tuesday, September 25th at 1pm. The two-hour event is open to the public and will include personal stories from a number of people with longtime associations with the “Scooter.” Tickets are $20 with proceeds benefiting the St. Joseph’s School of the Blind and the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. For reservations and information call (973) 655-2378.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday Random Thoughts

Just a couple of random thoughts and notes:

I don’t know about other schools but I have to say that at Toms River High School South “Back to School Night” is a happening filled with a lot of vibe and energy. The basic intent is for parents to spend a few minutes in each of their children’s classes so they can meet the teachers and get an idea of what will be expected during the year. I’m sure High School South is not alone in using the evening to showcase clubs, organizations, teams and spirit as many of them set up in the cafeteria and were selling everything including themed clothing, yearbooks, key chains and bumper stickers. It was organized chaos and parents came with shopping lists and their checkbooks while student leaders enthusiastically solicited sales and support. A very positive way to begin the school year.

Al Saner, one of the shore’s true coaching legends has been selected to receive the Dr. John F. Bateman Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award
during a banquet October 5th at the Hale Center at Rutgers University. Saner was the head football coach as well as track coach at Point Pleasant Boro High School and his Panther football teams won three state titles during his 28-year tenure. Retired from teaching Saner is now in his fourth season as a member of Tom Farrell’s coaching staff at New Egypt High School. The award he’ll be receiving is one of two given annually by the Bateman Foundation which was established in memory of the former Rutgers football coach by a group of his ex players.

Owner Joe Finley might get to celebrate his second minor league baseball championship in his many years but with different teams. Finley’s Lakewood BlueClaws won the South Atlantic League Championship last September and his Trenton Thunder are two wins away from the Eastern League Championship after winning the opener of their best-of-5 series with Akron last night at Waterfront Park.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11

Today is the sixth anniversary of the most infamous day in our history…a day in which all you have to say is 9/11 and everyone knows what you’re talking about. Although the horror of that day played out right in front of our eyes most of us were not directly effected by the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of some 3,000 at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and
a plane crash site in rural Pennsylvania.

While it did seem like everyone knew someone who knew someone who was somehow involved most of us were just witnesses to a horrific event. We were certainly affected, more so than most because of our proximity to New York but our grieving was for the losses of others, not ours. We pledged to never forget and signs of that were everywhere immediately following 9/11. It seemed like every car sported an American flag or yellow ribbon and patriotism was probably at its highest since World War II. But as time went on those signs went away and they’re more the exception rather than the rule today. We’re most likely to think back to that terrible day when visiting New York City where the missing Twin Towers remain noticeable by their absence.

Sure some may say we have failed to follow that pledge to not forget but in truth our greatest strength has to be our ability to persevere and move on. I’m sure there were those who questioned whether we could go on after Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK and other notable tragedies but the bottom line is we all have daily battles to live with and focus on. The war in the Mideast is front and center and we only have to follow that to know American families are dealing with horror and tragedy 24/7 and there is no end in sight. Lives are lost on a seemingly daily basis with our country being torn apart by a war admittedly I and many others don’t understand. Where 9/11 brought us together as a nation, the situation in the Mideast is having the opposite effect.

Today we pause to remember and think back where we were six years ago
and maybe just as much where we’ll be six years from now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Remembering David Larson

We often admire those with athletic, musical and artistic talents and can even be envious of what we usually believe are god-given abilities. When someone who possesses those skills dies their obituary will acknowledge
and often highlight that fact. With that said the obituary of David Larsen should have been headlined, “Dave Larsen, made people laugh and smile.”

Hundreds attended a service for the 52-year old lifelong Seaside Park resident Sunday at the Tri Boro First Aid squad and fought the grief and sadness of the occasion to share stories and memories. Dave died suddenly last Thursday while walking the boardwalk in the town in which he grew-up and along with his wife Denise raised two sons…Erik and TJ.

To say we go way back is an understatement. We became friends at Central Regional High School where we both were members of the Class of 1973.
I lived in Seaside Heights and at that time just about everyone in the Heights and Park knew one another…after all there weren’t too many of us riding the bus to school. Dave and I started at Ocean County College and he used to drive me to school just about every day. That was partly due to me holding him responsible when I flunked my driver’s test the first time since he was the one who took me.

At OCC we were part of a group of guys who to this day remain close friends….even if we only see each other a few times a year. It was there that he met his wife and it was there in which he became known for a sense of humor that would follow him for life. Dave always had a joke and we used to marvel as his never-ending inventory and wonder how he could recount them time and time again. For several summers he worked for my father on the boardwalk and even though I was often the brunt of his humor he made the roughest days a bit brighter.

Time moves on and you sort of lose touch with people but every time I saw him I broke out into a smile within seconds. We loved to laugh when talking about a famous trip to Boston’s Fenway Park in which he and his best friend Joe Perrone had an entire bus in tears as they held court for hours… it’s a memory that I’ll never forget.

His sudden passing is a terrible loss to his family, friends, co-workers and fellow members of the Seaside Park Volunteer Fire Company. We’re the lucky ones though….we knew and laughed with him. Two weeks ago I ran into Dave and he asked about getting the old crew together for dinner and I promised to do that after the summer was over. I’m going to follow through with that promise and we’ll leave a seat open just in case he wants to join us.

Friday, September 7, 2007

High School Football Begins Anew

As the high school football season opens there are two storylines that are as different as night and day yet very much connected. The first finds Warren Wolf leading the Brick Green Dragons on to the Keller Memorial Field tonight against Middletown North…his 50th season opener as the only coach in school history.

Wolf is New Jersey’s winningest coach with a sparkling record of 350 wins, 113 losses and 13 ties. His teams have won or shared 24 divisional titles, the last coming in 2003 and they’ve claimed 6 state crowns with the most recent in 1994. However Brick is just 14-16 over the last three seasons and the 80-year old legend, like his coaching contemporary Joe Paterno at Penn State, knows there are critics who feel its time for him to call it a career. Wolf, whose hobby is coaching football, might be able to answer those critics with victories and led by quarterback Jordan Roshala and a solid defense I expect them to battle Lacey for the Constitution Division title. Coach Wolf is an eternal optimist….after all he’s spent his life rooting for the Chicago Cubs.

One of the other stories to follow this fall is how Manasquan copes with the recent death of Wolf disciple Vic Kubu who coached the Warriors to their tenth state championship just nine months ago. A smooth transition had already taken place this summer when the then ailing Kubu announced that longtime assistant Pete Cahill would be the interim head coach. Now one of New Jersey’s best programs has to continue without its heart and soul and if that’s not enough graduation took away just about all the starters from what might have been the best team in school history. Those who count out Squan will be making a big mistake and the first to find out will be Holmdel, who invades Vic Kubu Field Saturday afternoon.

Manasquan was one of three shore teams to win a state title last season and the other two should also make runs this fall at championships. Middletown South opens the season as the consensus #1 ranked team and they visit Neptune tonight. Lacey, coming off a perfect 12-0 season, travels to Manalapan and the Lions of coach Lou Vircillo should be very good again with quarterback Warren Smith and a host of solid linemen.

We begin our 13th season of broadcasting games with a doubleheader on the Shore Sports Network. Tonight Manchester unveils its new lights with a game against Wall and Saturday night rivals Toms River North and Toms River South collide on the Indians home turf. The games can be heard on 1160AM and also via the web at

Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Second Summer"

Summer may be unofficially over but we know that September just might be the best month of year…it’s also one of the busiest. This weekend features a host of great events which can be enjoyed by us locals as well as visitors who might want to take advantage of the final weekends before fall arrives.

Mardi Gras is back in Seaside Heights with a Pub Tour on Friday night, Boardwalk Parade and Fireworks Saturday and Seafood Festival on Sunday. I fondly remember when a children’s costume parade used to be the highlight of the weekend and back when I was probably around 13 years old Kevin Smith and I won first place dressing up as plumbers. Our float was a broken toilet and one of us pushed the other who was working on the toilet with a plunger. Our prize was a black-and-white portable TV…funny how you don’t forget things like that.

Saturday also features the very popular Sailfest in Island Heights, Lavallette Heritage Day Festival, Pirates Day in Barnegat, Beachwood Soccer Club Opening Day Carnival and the Antique & Classic Boat Show at Tuckerton Seaport which will continue on Sunday. Speaking of Sunday….there’s the Beach Plum Festival at Island Beach State Park, Rock N’ Ride Bike Tour of Long Beach Island and NJ Geico Off Shore Powerboat Race near the Manasquan Inlet at Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant Beach. No shortage of things to choose from.

If you like adult comedy you might want to catch the antics of Paul Venier who will be appearing on Saturday, September 15th at the Beachwood Community Center in a fundraiser for a local soccer team. Venier, who is from Toms River, has performed for many years in the shore area and across the state. The September 15th event will also include snacks, desert and a gift auction and tickets are just $20. For information call (732) 604-5738.

A programming note for those of you interested in high school football. The
“Auto Lenders High School Football Show” makes its season debut tonight
from 6-8pm on 1160 AM with a live two-hour broadcast from Val’s Tavern in Rumson. We’ll preview the upcoming season with guests Steve Falk of the Asbury Park Press, Scott Stump of Digital Sports and Monmouth University football coach Kevin Callahan. You can also listen live on the web at

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fantasy Football

When you work in an office dominated by women the water cooler talk is usually not about subjects I find very interesting. It’s not unusual for me to walk down the hallway and listen to conversations about babies, shoes, pocketbooks and celebrity gossip. Tuesday I walked into one of those discussions and proclaimed….”its time to talk fantasy.” The responses I received were not what I was looking for as I was seeking advice on whether I should take Larry Johnson or Joseph Addai with the 4th pick. What am I talking about?

It’s the time of year when us guys like to get together and play a game called Fantasy Football which many women I’m sure think is silly, juvenile and takes up way too much of our time. They are right but it’s also a lot of fun and allows for some much-needed male bonding. Simply put Fantasy Football is where you own a team of real NFL players and you get points based on how they perform each week. It’s become so popular that TV coverage of the NFL includes constant updates on how players are doing
because they know viewers are seeking the information.

Tuesday night the 12-team Luch Football League held its annual draft with about two dozen of us getting together for three plus hours and trading insults and occasionally compliments. Our league has been together for a long time and features a diverse group of teachers, coaches, professionals and retirees including our beloved Commissioner Ed “Luch” Sarluca who receives far too much criticism from my rival players.

We take turns picking players and when the evening is over have a team that hopefully will make our football weekends more enjoyable. Of course most of us left the draft thinking we did real well because we want to believe we know more than the other guys…that’s a male thing when it comes to sports.

Many of you don’t really understand this whole concept because when you play Fantasy Football you end up rooting for players who are not on teams you like very much. That’s why I don’t pick players like Terrell Owens….I just can’t bring myself to cheering for them.

So let the season of fantasy begin. Ladies you can have Brad Pitt…I have Joseph Addai and the Colts running back will lead me to the Promised Land.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back To School

What more could you ask after a picture perfect Labor Day weekend? The answer would be to either be retired or on vacation to take advantage of what looks like the best stretch of weather we’ve had all year as this entire week looks fabulous. Since most local students don’t begin classes until Wednesday or Thursday I’m sure some will be beach-bound so here’s a word of caution. Lifeguards for the most part have packed it in for the summer so be careful on beaches that are not protected. We know all to well that it does not take long for a rip to put swimmers in jeopardy and parents should especially watch young children.
Seaside Heights is among the beaches that will have lifeguards working this week.

While students may not be back in school yet most teachers will be heading
to work today after a long summer recess.

The ocean water has been not only warm but very clean most of this summer which made the events of the last few days very disturbing. Garbage and even medical waste showed up in the water and some beaches were closed for a while before re-opening. All beaches have been ruled safe for swimming but I hope officials follow up on their promise to find the cause
of the garbage which probably came from North Jersey or New York.
It’s inexcusable and unacceptable.

I always have a tremendous feeling of sadness when leaving the beach on Labor Day and it seems as I get older that feeling gets magnified. You get accustomed to this lifestyle, at least on weekends, where you drink your coffee and read the paper while watching the waves and just like that it’s over. While September can be a great month for me and many others I left the beach Monday knowing that the summer is all but over.

The only positive about that is football season is here with the high schools and pros kicking it off this coming weekend.

They did not successfully defend their South Atlantic League Championship but the 2007 season saw the Lakewood BlueClaws again lead the league in attendance. The BlueClaws have won the league attendance title in all 7 years of their existence…a true testament to their staff and shore area fans.