The journey of RBC’s 1976 State Championship season began the previous year when the Caseys suffered a loss to Camden Catholic in the state tournament. Coaches and players were determined to get back to the states, so the players initiated an off-season program of intense training in order to be ready to hit the ground running when the season began.
The first game was against cross-town rival Red Bank, a team holding the state’s longest winning streak at 28. New coach Lou Montanaro (RBC Athletic Hall of Fame ’17) was at the RBC helm and for Red Bank was former RBC Coach, Lou Vircillo. The Caseys ended the game with a convincing 20-6 win, ending the streak and setting the tone for the rest of the season.
Throughout that season, the 1976 RBC Football Team was a family. They showed this in the spirit with which they played; and whether they won or lost, these Caseys held together and kept their faith in one another.
The success of the team rested heavily upon the shoulders of the superb coaching staff. Lou Montanaro and his assistants, Pat Farmer, Greg Jones, Doug Woodin, Paul Franzen, Chris Merli, and Joe Tucker devoted countless hours both on and off the field.
Tailback Lonnie Burgess (RBC Athletic Hall of Fame ’16) led the powerful Casey attack, gaining close to 1,400 yards during the season. With Lonnie in the backfield was quarterback Mike Mahon, along with fullback Mike Madsen, tailback Jerry Bruno, and slotback Ron Mangarelli. The offensive line is credited for much of the backfield’s success, and strong performances were turned out by centers Tony Abbatemarco and Ned Robinson, guards Frank Flaherty and Tim Guinnessy, tackles Brian Blaine and Mike Servidio, and ends Rich Kelly, Jim Lake, and John Plain.
The Casey defense, rated second in the shore, was led by tackles Chris Shellenbach, Brian Feehan, and Chip Hesse, nose guard Bill Berth and ends Jeff Messer, Tim Rich, and Greg Wilcom. Bill Black and Jim Mayer backed up the defensive line and the stingy defensive backfield consisted of Jim Lake, Bob Bruno, Tim Skinner, Jeff Marino, Mark DeRouen, and Drew Devine. Mike Largey and his golden foot were also key to the team’s success.
Red Bank Catholic defeated St. John Vianney in the state semi-final 27-3. The Caseys then traveled across the state to play Notre Dame of Trenton in the finals. Lonnie Burgess rushed for 233 yards and threw a halfback option touchdown pass for the game’s first points leading the Caseys to a 40-6 victory and the first Red Bank Catholic NJSIAA South Jersey Parochial A Championship since 1964.
The team will be inducted into the 2018 Class at the ceremony to be held on June 23rd in the RBC Vincent J. Eck Center. Click HERE for details and tickets!