NEPTUNE SCARLET FLIERS
Head coach: Shane Fallon (1st year at Neptune, 16th overall 106-51).
Last season: 6-4; 2nd Shore Conference Freedom Division; Lost to Shawnee in SJ4 quarterfinals, 31-21.
Key players: Nino Bua, QB, Sr.; Junior Haughton, RB-LB, Sr.; Xavier Chisolm, RB, Sr.; Zahnier Hornsby-Carter, WR-DB, Sr; Mateo Andrews, WR, So.; Isaiah Kelly, WR, Sr.; Kevin Huff, TE, Sr.; Isaias Thomas-Palafox, OL, Sr; Anthony Banks, OL, So.; Tyler Persico, OL, Jr.; An’mere Booze, OL-DL, Jr.; De’Ondre Banks, DL, So.; Zaire Stewart, DL, Sr.; Jaquan Smith, LB, So.; Ra’Sun Banks, LB, Jr.; Kayvon Banker, LB, Sr.; Isaiah Leeks, LB, Sr.; Rakai Nedab, DB, Sr.; Kelly Beubrun, DB, Sr.; Thomas Lowe, PK, Sr.; Raymond Rogers, P, Sr.
Outlook: The Neptune football program has always been viewed as one with enormous potential and stocked with raw talent. In recent memory, the late John Amabile and Mark Ciccotelli have capitalized on the athleticism and turned the Fliers a statewide power and playoff winner. The Neptune job is seductive enough to lure Shane Fallon out of coaching retirement. Fallon, most recently the athletic director at Holmdel, is the man who reversed the Rumson-Fair Haven fortunes and turned the Bulldogs into one of the winningest programs in New Jersey. The Fallon-Neptune marriage will be one to watch in the Shore Conference this fall. The Fliers were 6-4 last season under Tarig Holman (now at JFK-Iselin). They return nine starters on defense — three on the defensive line, three at linebacker and three in the secondary. Only four starters return on offensive but QB Nino Boa and RB Junior Haughton are two of them. Boa, an All-Shore candidate, is the clear-cut starter for the first time in his career. Boa is strong-armed senior capable of making any throw. He also can scramble to extend a play or take off and run. Houghton is a slashing runner who can be effective between the tackles or turning the corner. The biggest issue confronting the Fallon and the Fliers early on will be practice time. Neptune did not hold its first practice until Sept. 14. The Fliers may not be fully up to speed for its season-opener against Jackson Memorial on Friday and its second game against Wall. Look for Neptune to make up ground quickly.
Oct. 2 vs. Jackson Memorial, 7
Oct. 9 vs. Wall, 7
Oct. 16 vs. Jackson Liberty, 7
Oct. 24 at Manasquan, 1
Oct. 30 at Point Pleasant Boro, 7
Nov. 7 vs. Asbury Park, 10
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Joe Zedalis covers Shore Conference football for NJ.com. He may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @josephzedalis. Like NJ.com HS sports on Facebook.