Trio of Lions set for All-Shore grid classic


Three graduating seniors will play their final football game representing Jackson Liberty High School when they take the field at Matawan Regional High School on July 16 for the U.S. Army All- Shore Gridiron Classic.

Mike Patterson will play safety and return kicks and is taking his talents to Castleton State in Vermont this fall.

Despite missing about half of the 2009 season with an injury, Matt Filosa scored 11 touchdowns for the Lions and still was selected as a tailback and will begin a college career at Albright. He drew interest of college recruiters despite missing all of his junior season with a broken collarbone and then sitting out a chunk of his senior year.

Matt Tracy will play defensive end and will report to Parris Island, S.C., for Marine Corps training in September. Tracy started every game Jackson Liberty has played on the varsity level.

Lineman Brendan Kahle, regarded as the heart and soul of Jackson Liberty’s line, along with Tracy, that led the team’s drive to a 5-5 season, the most victories in its threeyear varsity history, also was selected but will sit out with a shoulder injury. He will attend the U.S. Naval Academy Prep School in the fall.

Lions coach Tim Osborn not only laments the loss of talent that was supplied by those players, but their leadership as well.

“We had more numbers selected but also had a better year,” said Osborn, the only football coach in the school’s young history. “The first couple of years we lacked the leadership, and these guys taught the younger guys what to do.”

But it is going to get better, said Osborn, based on what he saw in the players’ offseason commitment. Weight room sessions were well attended aside from the eight football players who played on the school’s lacrosse team in the spring.

No football players were on the Lions’ varsity baseball team, although Osborn said about seven football players played junior varsity baseball and will have an impact as they head into their senior year this fall.

About 30 returning football players participated in the 5:30 a.m. workouts at the school that were held for the first time and conducted every weekday but Wednesday. Osborn said he carried the idea over from his years as an assistant coach at Brick Township High School. And a few more beyond that number were in the weight room in the afternoons.

“I was concerned back in January that we were not as strong as we would like to be,” said Osborn. “And then we tested out in March and I was very pleased with the results. The offensive line was very strong overall and we had a couple of guys individually who really did well.

“This will be our strongest line at Jackson Liberty,” said Osborn, who said his staff remains intact for the 2010 season at this point as they prepare for the Lions’ Sept. 11 opener at John F. Kennedy High School in the Iselin section of Woodbridge.

Although some talented skill players graduated this year, there will be some good ones back, led by quarterback Dylan Wright and wide receiver Ronald Brown, who caught 22 passes (4 TDs). Christian Ruiz filled in well when Filosa was injured, scoring two touchdowns in a lateseason victory over Allentown. All three will be seniors.

“Wright has things to work on and he’s worked very hard,” said Osborn. “He was inconsistent last year. When he was good, he was very good, and he had some bad games, too.”

Other leading prospects are wide receiver and outside linebacker Anthony Ferullo, and Greg O’Connor, a fullback who will move on defense from linebacker to safety to replace Patterson at that spot.

The Lions have started their summer workouts, led by the captains every weekday from 8 to 10 a.m. and every weekday afternoon in the weight room except for Wednesday. Preseason practices officially begin on Aug. 11.