Two points kept the Barnegat High School football team from a winning season last year. The Bengals finished 4-6, losing to Pinelands Regional 20-19 and to Jackson Liberty 22-21. Those defeats served as motivation in the offseason.
"We've worked real hard in the offseason on conditioning," senior quarterback Nick SanGiacomo said.
Barnegat returns several talented players, especially at the skill positions, and should contend for a Shore Conference B South Division title.
"I feel confident in our guys and the ability our guys have," SanGiacomo said. "I'm going to toss the ball around and let them run with it."
The 6-foot-4 SanGiacomo already has verbally committed to attend Tulane University on a scholarship.
"It's such a big relief to know where I'm going to college," he said. "I can just worry about Bengals football."
The Bengals should be entertaining to watch. SanGiacomo threw for 2,187 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2009.
"We're going to loosen teams up with the pass and then run it right at them," SanGiacomo said. "It's a lot of fun to drop back and throw."
Receiver Mike DeTroia, a 6-4 senior, is also a Division I college prospect.
"He's tall. He's fast. He's very athletic," SanGiacomo said. "I just throw the ball up to him and he goes and gets it."
But teams can't focus solely on DeTroia. Jordan Salt, a speedy transfer from Toms River East, is the other receiver. Ryan Morris, a 6-6, 225-pound junior tight end, is a player on the rise.
Senior right tackle John Frigon is one of the few veterans back on the offensive line. The Bengals are solid at running back with Tom Erb, Casey Pinto and Lou Buscio.
The strength of the defense is the secondary, which features DeTroia, Pinto and Buscio.
"The defense is flying around the ball," SanGiacomo said.
SanGiacomo says there's an excitement about this year's team.
"Everybody is real pumped," he said.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 1
LAST APPEARANCE: 2006
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-1
LEAGUE/GROUP: Shore Conference B South/South Jersey Group II
COACH: Rob Davis (17-23, four seasons)
2009 RECORD: 4-6
2010 PREDICTION: Contender. Bengals should be fun to watch with quarterback Nick SanGiacomo and wide receiver Mike DeTroia.
GAME TO WATCH:
Oct. 8 vs. Lacey Township.
This contest features two of Ocean County’s best quarterbacks in SanGiacomo and Craig Cicardo of Lacey Township.
Jordan Salt, Jr., WR, 6-2, 177; Nick SanGiacomo, Sr., QB, 6-4, 207; Mike DeTroia, Sr., WR/DB, 6-4, 198; Lou Buscio, Sr., RB/DB, 5-9, 188; Casey Pinto, Sr., RB/DB, 5-10, 162; Tom Erb, Sr., RB/LB, 5-11, 223; John Frigon, Sr., OL/DL, 5-9, 251; Ryan Morris, Jr., TE/DE, 6-6, 225; Joe Peters, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 234; Anthony Ragozzino, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 195; Billy Caffyn, Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 211; Matt Schofield, Jr., OL/LB, 5-9, 207; Mark McCoy, Jr., QB/DE, 6-1, 183; David Smithman, Jr., RB/LB, 5-9, 173.