VIDEO: LCM looks to compete under new, but familiar, coach
September 29, 2020
Latest Cape Express youth soccer scores
September 30, 2020

VIDEO: Middle football team thankful for chance to play

The seniors on the Middle Township High School football team include (from left): kneeling – Albert Hickman, Devan Munzing, Eric Smith, Matt Gariano; standing – Jayden Matthews, Dom Caraballo, Brandon Rosensteel, Luke Salvo.


In a normal season, the players on the Middle Township High School football team would probably like to skip a few practices in order to have the season opener arrive early.

This, as we all know, is not a normal season. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back the start and reduced the length of the regular season. There will be no playoffs, only extra “bowl-type” games.

And who knows? An outbreak at a certain school or schools could cause cancellations and/or postponements.

So the Panthers have been enjoying every practice. They open the six-game regular season at Clayton Friday.

“The kids are obviously excited,” longtime Middle coach Frank Riggitano said. “They got to do some things over the summer but they weren’t sure if they were even going to play. So they were holding their breath. But, at least this Friday, they’re going to have an opportunity to play.

“It’s been difficult for them. At first they thought they might have something taken away from them. But now that we can be out here, they can’t wait to get to practice.”

Middle (5-5 last season) features three returning two-way starters in seniors Luke Salvo (TE/DL) and Matt Gariano (RB/DB and junior David Giulian (TE/LB) who will lead what is otherwise a very young team, with 18 freshmen among the 38 total players. 

Other returning letterwinners expected to make major contributions include seniors Charlie McNeal (RB/DB), Brandon Rosensteel (OL/LB), Dom Caraballo (RB/DB), Jayden Matthews (OL/LB) and Albert Hickman (TE/LB), along with juniors Brett Nabb (QB/DB), Matt Frame (OL/LB) and Matt Barcas (WR/DB) and sophomores Jared Curran-Cattell (OL/DL) and Chris Miller (OL/LB).

Many of the newcomers expected to contribute are freshmen. Among those expected to start or see significant action include include senior Eric Smith (WR/DB), junior Jim Kropp (OL/DL), sophomore Adrian LaBoy (RB/DB) and freshmen Dan Brown (OL/DL), Isiah Carr-Wing (RB/LB), Jeremiah Jones (RB/LB), Marco Salgado (OL/DL) and Michael Zarfati (WR/QB/DB). Two or three more freshmen could also eventually work their way into the mix.

“This freshmen crew we have has really injected life into the older kids,” Riggitano said. “They’re talented. A few of them are going to start and a couple others are going to play, too.”

Following the opener at Clayton, Middle will play two straight home games — Oct. 9 against Schalick and Oct. 16 against Pennsville. Then it’s away games against Absegami on Oct. 23 and Bridgeton on Nov. 6. The season finishes Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 25) at home against Lower Cape May in the Anchor Bowl.

“Our schedule is very friendly to a Group II school like us, so we’ll see how it goes,” Riggitano said. “The first one is obviously the most important one because it’s the one right in front of us.

“We need to stay healthy. If we do, we have a chance to be successful. We have some ability. We just don’t have a lot of guys.”

Riggitano’s assistant coaches include Matt Wolf, Ryan Freyer, Fred Nabb and Dylan Liepe. Also on staff is former Alabama, Arizona State and South Florida quarterback Blake Barnett.