Matawan Regional High School is not far away from winning football games in 2018.
The Huskies can move the ball and slow down opponents.
They proved those traits at home on Sept. 21 against Jackson Liberty High School, averaging more than 10 yards per pass and forcing the Lions to earn their touchdowns with long, methodical drives.
But Matawan did lose to Jackson Liberty on Sept. 21, 21-0, dropping to 0-3 overall and 0-3 in Shore Conference’s Patriot Division play.
“We made some plays. We messed some up. But we’re together as a team, always,” said Matawan quarterback Trevor Garland. “If somebody messes up, we all mess up. We’re a team. We’re for each other. We lose together. We win together.”
Garland and his receivers played pretty well on Sept. 21. The quarterback completed eight passes of 10 yards or longer. He is a tall quarterback who sees the field and moves well, both inside and outside the pocket.
Garland was just not able to hit his receivers downfield for big plays. Jackson Liberty’s sure tackling also prevented the receivers from breaking free when they did catch balls and get moving.
“I thought receivers got open pretty well. I got the ball out pretty quick,” Garland said. “People stepped up.”
One Matawan player who stepped up was junior running back Marc Andrew Gagneron. Matawan’s starting and standout running back, Devin Williams, missed the game on Sept. 21. And the Huskies did not trust their running game in the first half, calling just seven runs and gaining only 18 yards.
In the second half, though, Gagneron entered and provided a spark, carrying the ball 10 times for 46 yards. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound back showed burst, second level speed and tackle-breaking ability. He often got to the second level before getting tackled short of the secondary.
Gagneron helped the Huskies reach the red zone for the first time in the third quarter, though Matawan turned the ball over on downs.
“The line did well blocking, which allowed me to get those holes. I give it all to the linemen. Without the linemen, I wouldn’t have gotten any runs,” Gagneron said. “We just have to go out and capitalize on all cylinders. If one person fails, we all fail. We have to get better as a whole.”
Defensively, Matawan allowed 196 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Jackson Liberty back Jimmy Celentano amassed 178 yards on 28 carries. The Lions also punched in three touchdowns from inside the five-yard line.
So, the Lions converted their red zone opportunities while the Huskies did not. Matawan Regional is a capable football team that is not quite putting it all together.
The Huskies only lost by four, 26-22, to Pinelands Regional High School in week two, on Sept. 15. Matawan Regional will look to break through on Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. at home, against Barnegat High School.