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Wall hoping for a special homecoming ‘knight’

October 20, 2011

WALL TOWNSHIP — The Wall football team knows that around this time every calendar year, the Crimson Knight faithful look forward to their team’s homecoming game under the lights.

“It is a good week here because it’s a big town with a small town atmosphere,” said Wall head coach Chris Barnes on Monday, prior to practice. “The school and the community always get into it. For our seniors it’s important, because you only have so many home games each year.”

One of those seniors, two-way player Derek Gardner, knows that prior to each season, you can circle the team’s homecoming game as a night where the fans come out in the largest bunches.

“We have been getting big crowds, but homecoming and Manasquan [on Thanksgiving] are definitely our biggest crowds,” Gardner said. “It feels great to win in front of a huge crowd and that is something we are going to remember when we play Friday.”
 
Wall will be coming off of its bye week tomorrow, when the team hosts C Central Division opponent Monsignor Donovan at 7 p.m. in its homecoming game. The squad last played on Oct. 6, beating Ocean Township 14-7 on the road.

Both Crimson Knight players and coaches alike are looking forward to getting back on the gridiron. The team will enter the game against the Griffins undefeated at 5-0.

“We are looking forward to getting back and playing some football,” said Barnes. “The bye week of was great, but the kids are [ready] to get back in the mix and play. It is a big game in the division and it means a lot for the state playoffs.”

“It was nice to have the break, we just have to come back with the same mindset,” added Gardner. “We had a rough game against Ocean and pulled out a win. This was kind of a re-focus type week.”

Wall will have to be refocused and ready to go against a Monsignor Donovan team that has surprised the Shore Conference this season, by jumping out to a 4-2 record [2-2 in the C Central Division].

The Griffins have picked up road wins over Pinelands, Jackson Liberty and St. John Vianney, while also earning their first home win of the season last week against division foe Point Pleasant Borough.

Monsignor Donovan topped the Panthers 14-13 and will enter tomorrow’s game against Wall on a three-game win streak.

“Monsignor Donovan is on a real nice run,” said Barnes, discussing the Griffins. “They are well coached and well disciplined team. We’ve got our hands full.”

Like Point Pleasant Borough, Monsignor Donovan is a triple-option style offense, which has the ability to score points. The Griffins have averaged 34 points in their four victories, including a 56-point performance in a week one win over Pinelands.

Barnes knows that his defense, which has played stellar in the team’s last three victories over Lakewood, Point Pleasant Borough and Ocean, will be tested by Monsignor Donovan’s speed tomorrow.

“They like to get to the perimeter with their wings out of their sets,” said the coach. “They do a real good job of it and their team speed is real good.”

They have two or three skill players, who, if you miss and make a mistake, you won’t be able to close the gap on,” Barnes added.

Gardner explained that with option football, you have to win with your mind as opposed to your strength. Like his head coach, the senior is well aware of the big play ability of the Griffins.

“Really, it is all assignment football,” said Gardner. “All my reads come off of the tackle. If you don’t follow your assignment, you will pay the price.”

Monsignor Donovan brings a solid offense to the table, but has has shown its vulnerability on defense, allowing 28 points to Lakewood in a week two loss, which was followed by a 39-13 defeat at the hands of the Crimson Knights arch rival, Manasquan in week three.

Wall will look to attack the Griffins both through the air and on the ground.

“We are looking to be a little more balanced this week,” said Barnes. “We want to throw the ball well, do what we have to do and execute well.”

• Last season, Wall topped Monsignor Donovan 33-6 on the road, rushing for 264-yards on the ground.

• A full-game story of the C Central matchup will run in the Oct. 27 edition of The Coast Star.

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