A Manasquan game on Sept. 25 will hinder the Red Bank Catholic football team’s schedule this week – but not in the way one might think. 

While it might seem strange to say that a game during the season can upend a routine, that’s what happens with a community-minded team like RBC. Not only are the Caseys rated one of the best teams in the Shore Conference and the state, they also rank high in giving back to others.  

Each Saturday, players and coaches partner with RallyCap Sports Central Jersey of Monmouth County (formerly Challenged Youth Sports) to run a Buddy Ball Football Camp for kids with special needs. Since Manasquan is the lone Saturday game on the slate, it is the only camp RBC will miss.  

“Every week so far we’ve had 30 to 35 kids give up their Saturday morning from 10 to 11 to go work with these kids; it’s tremendous,” second-year coach Mike Lange said. “We have a sign-up for every Saturday, and I never have to chase kids for it. From the [senior stars] to our sophomore kids, they take turns rotating. It’s really good.” 

The camp is a strong reflection of Catholic values as the players embrace the mission of helping others.  

“It gives them a good lesson that there are bigger things than sports,” Lange said. “They all really connect with the kids. It’s really cool. I think it’s a good thing for our program, the kids and the school.” 

Adding to the experience for the RallyCap kids was the RBC-donated old game jerseys for them to wear.  

“They were all fired up,” Lange said. “It was awesome.”  

The Caseys’ on-field performance so far could also objectively be described as awesome.  

RBC invades Manasquan with a 3-0 record and is ranked 13th in the state and second in the Shore Conference. The Caseys opened with a 34-0 win over Timber Creek in Ocean City, rallied to defeat Wall, 20-16, with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and dispatched of Raritan, 49-7.  

“Our kids had a great summer, they worked hard,” Lange said. “We’re blending together nicely. I’m just happy with the effort we’re putting in. The kids are hungry after last year [with COVID restrictions]. Everybody’s trying to get back to normal, in a sense.” 

RBC benefitted from Mater Dei Prep’s football program shutdown this year, gaining several talented transfers. Leading the newcomers is senior Alex Brown. The Bucknell-bound quarterback has thrown for 519 yards and six touchdowns as he has quickly fit in with his team.  

“Obviously he’s a kid we’re familiar with because we coached against him,” Lange said. “Having him on our side now, you see he’s a veteran kid who’s played in a ton of games. He’s a great athlete [and] coachable kid – he wants to learn. He’s bought into our culture. He’s been a great find just the way he goes about his business.” 

Brown’s top receivers have been Najih Rahman (13 catches, 196 yards, 2 touchdowns) and tight end Alex Bauman (7 catches, 140 yards, 3 TDs). Bauman is being recruited by Notre Dame University, South Bend, Ind., where his brother Kevin is playing, and numerous other big-time programs.  

“He’s in the same mold as Kevin,” Lange said. “He’s a hard working kid. It seems like he’s been here for eight years. He’s one of the leaders on our team. He’s the same way as Kevin. He works hard, goes about his business.”  

Wrestling star Sabino Portella leads the rushing attack with 355 yards and four touchdowns, while Mater Dei transfer Rajahn Cooper has rushed for 171 yards and two TDs. Making it all go is a massive offensive line that features, from left to right, seniors Vince Carpenter (committed to Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.), Ahston Mejias and Michael Conneely, and sophomores Lorenzo Portella and Tyler Burnham. 

“We just have a really nice combo of athletes on offense,” Lange said.  

Defensively, Bauman and Ryan McPherson give RBC 6-2 bookends at defensive end, while veterans Joe Diorio, Portella and Corbett Cimini provide a solid secondary.  

Stepping up in a big way has been sophomore middle linebacker Davin Brewton, who leads the team with 33 tackles.  

“He was up with us as a freshman,” Lange said. “I’m not totally surprised at what he’s done, just because of what kind of player he is. At 6-foot-1, 215, he can run. If he wasn’t so valuable on defense, he’d probably be used more in our run game. I’ve gotten calls from some big schools already for him. I think as he grows and develops, I see a huge upside coming with that kid.” 

In assessing the season to date, Lange feels the victory over Wall was a big confidence booster. Trailing 16-7 in the fourth quarter, Brown found Emmanuel Ross with a 33-yard TD pass and hit Bauman with a 34-yard scoring strike with 1:27 remaining.

“That game is a good building block,” the coach said. “The challenge is ‘What are you gonna do in the fourth quarter when you’re down? Are you gonna fold up your tent are you gonna keep going here?’ 

“We really weren't rattled going into the fourth quarter. We knew some things were there, that we just had to hit. It’s a collection of Bauman and Brown, some of those kids on the offensive line. We have a lot of kids that have played in a lot of big games. They felt confident we were gonna come back, and it’s a good sign for what’s coming up and gets us ready for some bigger battles down the road.” 

The next battle features a tough, 2-1 Manasquan outfit that lost a three-point decision to Middletown South in the opener and defeated its last two foes by a combined 63 points. The Warriors are ranked eighth in the Shore Conference.  

“They’re a very talented team,” Lange said. “They’ve got a very good quarterback [Brett Patten]; they’ve got a lot of kids back from last year …We normally don’t play on Saturday or play on grass, so we’re gonna have to be on point and pay attention to detail this week.”