LINWOOD - Every Friday, the halls of Mainland Regional High School are decorated for that night's football game. This time, the students not only dressed the walls, but made T-shirts for the school's fiercest rivalry with Ocean City.
On Monday, the Mustangs (2-1) expect a celebration when they get back to school after beating visiting Ocean City 17-0 Friday in a Cape-Atlantic League National Division game.
"It's a big rivalry. We're seniors and we want to go out on top," said senior defensive lineman Andrew Monroe, who received a game ball. "We did it in a shutout - in such a big way."
Mustangs fans, many of whom enjoyed body paint, rushed the field after the victory. Ocean City (0-3) hasn't beaten the Mustangs since 2004.
The fans and players cheered under a goal post and then the Mustangs took a picture with coach Bob Coffey.
"It's a very special game," Coffey said. "They will remember this forever."
The rivalry between these schools is always big no matter the sport. The teams' defenses played that way in the first half. Neither the Mustangs nor the Red Raiders could get any momentum, and the only score came on junior Chris Kaczmarski's 1-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes, 26 second left in the first quarter.
The teams combined for just 66 offensive yards in the first half.
Mainland looked like a different team after halftime.
On the first play from scrimmage after the break, Tom Bradway broke for an 80-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0, surpassing the teams' combined offensive yards from the first half.
"At the end of the first half, they started putting seven, eight guys in the box so we were going to go to our wing package. " Bradway said. "It worked out to our advantage. On the first play, I got through and I all I saw was green."
The Mustangs didn't wait long to get the ball back. Sophomore Jim Cooper hit a 20-yard onsides kick and Mainland jumped on the ball. The Mustangs got the ball back with great field position.
Mainland drove to the 4-yard line, but Ocean City's defense pushed the Mustangs back to the 13.
Mainland settled for a 29-yard field goal by Cooper to make it 17-0 with 8:33 left in the third quarter.
"I thought it would be much closer than it was," Coffey said. "They were tough inside, so we wanted to run option more."
Mainland controlled the clock by sticking to the running game. The Mustangs carved out 131 rushing yards and were led by Bradway who had 68 yards on 10 carries.
Ocean City could never get into a rhythm. When the Red Raiders started to move the ball, Mainland put more pressure on them.
Ocean City couldn't seem to find the right combination of plays to work against the Mustangs. The Red Raiders had just 19 rushing yards, but 114 through the air.
Ocean City was so close to scoring and managed to muscle its way to the 1-yard line behind Craig Schultheis. But on third-and-goal, Ocean City fumbled the snap and then was stuffed on fourth down.
Mainland's players understand the rivalry, even the underclassmen.
Bradway attended the games over the last several years because his older sister and brother both went to Mainland.
"It's bigger than any one of us," Bradway said. "You feel like royalty that day. "
When the Mustangs walk the halls on Monday, the signs will be down, but their classmates won't forget what happened on Friday.
Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:
Ocean City 0 0 0 0- 0
Mainland Regional 7 0 10 0- 17
MR-Kaczmarski 1 run (Cooper run)
MR-Bradway 80 run (Cooper run)
MR-Cooper 29 field goal
TEAM STATS MR OC
First downs 3 5
Turnovers 0 2
Passing 5 114
Rushing 131 19
Ocean City-Schultheis 11-23, McGuigan 4- (-11), Murphy 3-3, Schuler 2-2, Nugent 3-( -1), Turner 4-3; Mainland Regional-Spencer 7-15, Kaczmarski 9-30, Bradway 10-68, Prince 2-23, Fortunato 1-( -5).
Ocean City-Schuler 2-4-23-1, McGuigan 3-9-91; Mainland Regional-Bradway 1-2-5; Fortunato 0-2.
Ocean City-Coccodrilli 3-37, Jacob 1-12, Turner 1-65; Mainland Regional-Kaczmarski 1-5.
Records-Mainland Regional 2-1, Ocean City 0-3.