“The PA: War Eagle Weekly” #1: They Can Flip The Script


Danny DeCrescenzo, Sports Editor

The Eagles suited up in Week 0 for their inaugural 2019 matchup against Manalapana team that they defeated in spectacular fashion a year beforeto immeasurable fanfare. Everyone at The Swamp under the not-so-rainy clouds and the Friday night lights was itching to see their boys in blue.

What we got was a tale of two halves.

The Eagles had a sluggish start to the game: the passing game couldn’t connect, they committed false starts, they allowed a safety, and they couldn’t handle Manalapan’s running back Andre Johnson, who scored all three of Manalapan’s touchdowns and racked up 113 yards. His dominance on the ground was eerily similar to that of Kavon Chambers of SJV, who was a notoriously tough cover for the Eagles at the Swamp last season. New QB Vinny Bonavita was able to find some life through keeping the ball himself or passing to his favorite target, wideout Matt Krellin (a dynamic duo dubbed “The 234” through combining their jersey numbers). Although the Eagles made some headway on a few drives, the first half ended with the Eagles down 23-0.

Then the second half changed everything.

The defense suddenly cackled to life: Johnson ran for 90 yards in the first half, but the Eagles buckled down and held him to less than 20 in the second. In fact, they shut out Manalpan in the second half (including a spectacular force of a fumble), a testament to the sheer potential that unit has. On the offensive side, running back Vinny Condito was unchained and flexed his muscles against the Braves with his signature tough runs up the middle, but more impressively The 234 of Bonavita (129 total yards) and Krellin (6 receptions) did the bulk of their damage and linked up for two passing touchdowns. If were not for a controversial call that cost Bonavita a conversion for 2 points, the Eagles would have narrowed the score to 23-15 with plenty of time to get a stop with their rejuvenated defense to set up a game-winning drive. The Eagles were a brand-new team in the second portion of the contest, one that could have easily won the game in spite of what occured in the first half. It was evident that the Eagles have the ability to play with anybody in the Shore when things click.

What the Eagles brought to the table in the second half was truly superb, and they absolutely must carry this momentum forward. It’s one thing to have a slow start against a good team like Manalapan at home, but against more potent squads on the road (on what Coach Antonucci calls his “best schedule” in his time here) like their next opponent SJV (with Chambers), Red Bank Catholic, Rumson Fair-Haven (who beat Red Bank Catholic for the first time since 2002), or Long Branch, the Eagles need to be ready to rumble from the kickoff. South plays so hard, and is coached so well, that betting against a new collective mentality manifesting itself against the Lancers next week is blasphemous. Let’s hope that this promising Eagles team brings the intensity from the very beginning next week, and that we can chalk up Week 0’s opening half to first game jitters.