When Southern Regional battles host Mainland at 1 p.m. tomorrow for the South Jersey Group 4 football crown, Brent Caprio will be attempting to break another school record while lifting his team to victory.
Caprio, Mainland's quarterback, needs four touchdown passes to surpass the 2006 mark of 46 career TD throws by Matt Flynn. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound signal-caller has thrown 24 touchdown passes this year, breaking Flynn's single-season record of 23.
Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Penn are among the schools trying to woo the scholar-athlete with a weighted grade point average of 4.8
However, Southern Regional will provide perhaps the biggest test of the season for Caprio and the other top-seeded Mustangs (11-0). A defensive-minded team, the sixth-seeded Rams (10-1) have allowed 5.2 points per game while scoring 22.6.
Furthermore, Regional is shooting for its first sectional football title in the 50-year history of the school. The Rams are hungry.
"We're hungry too," Caprio said. "We played in this game last year and came away empty-handed."
Caprio this season has completed 127 of 201 throws for 1,902 yards, 24 TDs and seven interceptions. He has rushed for 861 yards and 21 touchdowns on 150 carries. In his three-year career, the 18-year-old has completed 297 of 553 passes for 4,112 yards, 43 TDs and 23 interceptions. He has rushed for 1,869 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Regional coach Chuck Donohue said, "We are a defensive team first, and offense is second. Offensively, we have to move the ball enough to keep the defense fresh.
"Mainland is well-coached in all phases of the game. They are a balanced team, offensively and defensively. They have good athletes and football players."
Donohue coached Buena against Mainland between 1986 and 1988 and said he is 1-2 against coach Bob Coffey, who is in his 23d year with the program.
Between the two, they have coached a total of 573 games. Donohue's career record is 198-136-4. Coffey is 156-77-2.
"I coached against Donohue many years ago, and I really respect him," said Coffey, who has nine conference titles and is going for his fifth sectional crown.
"Southern Regional is big with good speed. We've played big teams, but not as big and good. They put it all together."
Southern Regional quarterback Brian Sullivan works out of a spread offense. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior has completed 45 of 104 passes for 812 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. The top receiver is junior Nick Tampone with 15 catches for 348 yards and three TDs.
Sullivan has rushed for 364 yards on 65 carries for six touchdowns. Glenn Carson, at 6-3, 228 pounds, leads the team in rushing with 770 yards on 147 carries. He has nine TDs.
Caprio also works out of the spread for Mainland. His main target is Kyle Davis, a 6-2, 180-pound senior who has 50 catches for 756 yards and nine TDs. The other receivers include senior Troy Brennan (30 catches, 366 yards, eight TDs), and juniors Dan Boudreau (26 for 341, three TDs) and Ed Irizarry (16 for 365, three TDs).
Two key running backs are seniors Sa'eed Evans (52 for 315, one TD) and Tony Darrer (54 for 259, five TDs.).
On defense, Regional uses a 5-2 system. Junior nose guard Brett Cox anchors the middle.
Mainland employs a 4-4 setup. The tackles are senior Lance Miller and junior Antoine Lewis. The ends rotate among Frank Champion, Brendon Copeland and Mike Weatherby.
S.J. Group 4 Final
Southern Regional (10-1) at Mainland (11-0), tomorrow, 1 p.m.
Southern Regional is No. 6; Mainland is No. 1.
Southern Regional, Chuck Donohue (198-136-4); Mainland, Bob Coffey, 156-77-2).
Road to the final:
Southern beat third seed Toms River North, 20-9, in the first round and second seed Cherokee, 14-13, in overtime in the semifinal. Mainland defeated eighth seed Eastern, 42-14, and fourth seed Washington Township, 45-10.
This is the first game between the schools.
Southern Regional, 0; Mainland, 4 (2002, 1997, 1996, 1980, all in Group 3). Also won the 1995 Group 3 title game over Woodrow Wilson but later was forced to vacate the title because it used an ineligible player.
Last year's final:
Toms River North 22, Mainland 19.
Under Coffey, Mainland has won 10 or more games seven times. This is Southern's first 10-win season since the program began in 1958.
- Marc Narducci
A Look Back
Here is how Mainland and Southern Regional have fared during the season:
W-Sept. 12, at Vineland, 41-6.
W-Sept. 19, at Atlantic City, 41-0.
W-Sept. 26, Ocean City, 56-7.
W-Oct. 10, Holy Spirit, 24-0.
W-Oct. 17, at Hammonton, 31-0.
W-Oct. 24, Millville, 51-6.
W-Oct. 31, at Oakcrest, 55-3.
W-Nov. 7, at Absegami, 35-0.
W-Nov. 14, Eastern (S.J. 4 playoffs), 42-14.
W-Nov. 21, Washington Township (S.J. 4 playoffs), 45-10.
W-Nov. 27, Egg Harbor Township, 30-27.
Southern Regional (10-1)
W-Sept. 12, Pinelands, 27-2.
W-Sept. 19, at Brick Memorial, 28-7.
W-Oct. 3, Freehold Township, 34-0.
W-Oct. 10, at Jackson, 14-0.
L-Oct. 17, Toms River North, 7-6.
W-Oct 24, at Manalapan, 25-7.
W-Nov. 1, Howell, 27-7.
W-Nov. 8, at Marlboro, 20-0.
W-Nov. 14, at Toms River North (S.J. 4 playoffs), 20-9.
W-Nov. 21, at Cherokee (S.J. 4 playoffs), 14-13, OT.
W-Nov. 27, at Barnegat, 34-6.