EAST RUTHERFORD — History and redemption were on the line in the rematch of the 2021 NJSIAA Non-Public B State Football Championship as Red Bank Catholic High School and DePaul Catholic High School met in the 2022 title game Nov. 25 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

The Red Bank Caseys were trying to become the first team in program history to win state titles, while the Wayne Spartans were looking for redemption for last year’s 13-8 loss against Red Bank Catholic.

Early in the contest, it looked like history was about to be made as Casey led 10-0 midway through the second quarter, but the Spartans responded with 19 unanswered points and held off a late RBC rally to win 19-17.

RBC coach Michael Lange said not winning a second state title won’t define what his players have accomplished over the past two years.

“(Today) is not the story of their career here. I am very proud of them,” said Lange.

After a scoreless first quarter, RBC took a 3-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter when junior Justin Lamort kicked a 21-yard field goal.

The Caseys found the end zone on their next possession with senior quarterback Sabine Portello leading the way. Portello rushed for the first three carries of the drive and scored on a four-yard run as RBC took a 10-0 lead with 4:10 left in the first half.

Portello rushed for 99 yards in the game. He rushed for 1,150 yards and 18 touchdowns his senior campaign. Portello finishes his high school career with a game-high 33 touchdowns.

The senior running back has committed to wrestle at the University of North Carolina after finishing fourth at the NJSIAA state wrestling tournament for the 2021-22 season.

“He’s a legend,” Lange said of Portela. “He was the best player in the Shore (Conference).”

The Spartans responded after falling behind 10-0. They scored on the first play of the ensuing drive on a 60-yard pass from Derek Zammit to Daisy Jones to make it 10-7.

With 16 seconds left in the second quarter, Luke Montaigne made a 29-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10.

The teams played a scoreless third quarter until the final 30 seconds of the period, when Anthony Almeida’s seven-yard touchdown run capped a 59-yard drive to give the Spartans a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Almeida’s touchdown was set up a few plays earlier on third-and-seven when Zammit threw a pass that hit the helmet of a DePaul lineman and bounced back into the hands of a defender. Zammit then ran to the RBC 20 for a first down.

With 7:18 left in the fourth quarter, the Spartans blocked an RBC punt out of the end zone for a safety that extended the lead to 19-10.

That all changed in the blink of an eye for Casey, who saw their chance to win a second straight state title dwindle. But RBC will not give up without a fight.

Sophomore quarterback Frankie Williams threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Robert Stolf with 3:22 left to make it 19-17.

During the 2022 season, Williams caught 20 touchdown passes.

RBC started after scoring and the defense forced the Spartans to punt after three plays.

The Caseys had 29 possessions with 2:53 to play, but couldn’t score and turned the ball over on four straight plays.

The Spartans took the ball with 2:04 left and ran out the clock to earn redemption and end Casey’s quest to win two straight state titles.

“They emptied the tank at the end, and that’s all you can ask for as a football coach,” Lange said of his players.

Red Bank Catholic finished the 2022 season 10-2 and was a combined 21-3 over the past two seasons.

“That’s what Catholic football is (all) in Red Bank. I’m proud of these guys. I am proud of the seniors and what they have done for the program. We will be back,” said Lange.

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