Before his freshman year of high school, Ryan Schellin moved to the Jersey Shore from California.
He knew he was a boys’ lacrosse player, but he thought he was a defender.
Then in the spring of 2016, Schellin played defense for Red Bank Catholic High School, where he was unable to distinguish himself.
So the following season, after a few practices, his coaches realized two things.
- Schellin was too small to play defense.
- He had the stick skills to play offense.
“I told him it’s not going to happen for you (on defense),” said Red Bank Catholic coach Don Femminella, then an assistant. “He didn’t want to take to it right away.”
But Schellin really wanted to play varsity lacrosse, so he begrudgingly accepted the evaluation of his coaches. Then he realized they were right.
The realization transformed the Caseys from Shore Conference doormat to rising contender. In 2019 Schellin, now a senior, is the leading scorer, with 46 goals and 17 assists, on a 7-5 Red Bank Catholic club.
Granted, the Caseys are nowhere near the likes of Manasquan High School, widely considered the Shore’s best program, just yet. But they are getting there.
On April 22, RBC went on the road and upset the program widely considered the second best on the Shore behind Manasquan, Wall High School. The Caseys won, 14-13, behind six goals from Schellin and three goals from his tag team partner on offense, junior Jack Zenkert.
The junior has 38 goals and 17 assists this spring. He made the Red Bank Catholic program’s varsity team in the same year, 2017, that Schellin did. Only Zenkert knew exactly who he was as a player: a scorer.
“Jack could do that as a freshman,” Femminella said. “He was always a good dodger.”
Once Schellin accepted his new identity and role, he started shooting every day in his backyard. After some growing pains as a sophomore in 2017, he broke out as a junior last spring, recording 39 goals and 21 assists. Zenkert posted 64 goals and 16 assists.
“When I first got here, I didn’t know too many guys. Me and Ryan clicked the fastest,” Zenkert said. “That helped me grow as a player. I think it also helped Ryan.”
“We have a good connection. We know when one another is open,” Schellin said. “It’s technically only my second year on the attack and he has helped me develop.”
Even with two dynamic scorers though, Red Bank Catholic still only finished 8-11 last year. But when Femminella took over the program in the offseason, he at least had two players to build around.
On April 24, 2019 at RBC, the Caseys lost to Manasquan, 20-4. But after the game, Manasquan’s coach, Sean Cunningham, walked over to Femminella and paid the duo the ultimate compliment in Shore lacrosse.
“He said, ‘The two of them would probably start for Manasquan,'” Femminella said.
With Schellin and Zenkert leading the way, people may start holding RBC in similar esteem soon enough. Femminella has more talent around his duo than the Caseys had a year ago.
Three other players, Brennan Frederick, Anthony Muniz and Kyle Boggio have scored double digit goals in 2019. Jack Pollackov has added seven goals and 11 assists. Goalkeeper Declan Grigg has made 145 saves.
The Caseys will not be a pushover in the Shore Conference Tournament and in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group A Tournament.
“This is just the start of something,” Femminella said.