Bishops Sanctuary: 2022 Asbury Park High School Football Preview
When it comes to Asbury Park football, few people have more credibility than Lamar Davenport. He won three consecutive NJSIAA sectional titles as a player from 2007 to 2009, played at Monmouth University and returned to Asbury Park High School as an assistant in 2015.
Seven years returning to join the coaching staff, Davenport will now be leading it as the new Blue Bishops head coach and his hiring could not have come at a better time. Asbury Park changed coaches in the middle of last season after replacing accomplished coach Tim Fosque a year-and-a-half earlier, so Davenport taking over the production restores a sense of stability and direction.
“It’s special,” Davenport said of becoming the head coach at his alma mater. “I can’t tell you the amount of pride I have in being the head coach here. Just being around the city, to here people happy for me and excited for the team, it’s exactly what you want for your program. I just feel blessed to have the opportunity and I just want the community to be proud of this team.”
For as unstable as the 2021 Asbury Park season might have seemed, the team had a solid overall showing with a young roster. Only two opponents on Asbury Park’s 2021 schedule were Group I schools and both were losses: a one-point loss to Shore Regional and a first-round loss to Penns Grove in the South Jersey Group I Playoffs. Despite the schedule heavy on larger-sized schools, Asbury Park managed to go 5-5, all while dealing with the midseason turmoil of the coaching change.
“One thing we have always preached to the players over the years is that football is a sanctuary,” Davenport said. “Whatever is going on, whatever you’re dealing with in your life, you come to the field for two or three hours and you zone everything out and just go to work. That even goes for the coaches. When we are out on the field, it’s all about your teammates and what we’re trying to accomplish that day.”
Looking ahead to 2022, the Blue Bishops have several key contributors back for the upcoming season. Jai’Sun Brown is a four-year starter at quarterback, Jashawn Carter fell just short of 1,000 yards as the team’s top rusher, Ralee Stephens was a major contributor on both sides of the ball and Javon King was an under-the-radar member of the defense with his eight sacks.
Asbury Park’s schedule starts with a challenging game at Weequahic and ends with a Thanksgiving rivalry showdown with Neptune, but in between the matchups are slightly more winnable than they were a year ago, when the Bishops battled to a 5-5 mark. Whatever the schedule, the goal at Asbury remains unchanged: be the last team standing in their Group I section.
“We have a really resilient group of kids,” Davenport said. “I don’t think they get enough credit for what they do and how tough they are.”
Asbury Park at a Glance
Returning Starters: 7
QB: Jai’Sun Brown, Sr. 4RS; Davon Foster, Sr.
RB: Jashawn Carter, Sr. RS; Jah’vell Carter, Jr.
RB: Iquann Crawford, Jr.
WR: Davon Foster, Sr.; Messiah Harris, Sr.
WR: Shaborn Goodman, Sr.; Preston Smith, So.
TE: Ralee Stephens, Jr. RS; Javon King, Sr.
LT: Darrin Bacote, Sr. RS
LG: Elijah Drake, Sr. RS; Nick Chathuant, Fr.
C: Fahkir Hercules, Jr. RS; Yazzir Johnson, Sr.
RG: Yazzir Johnson, Sr. RS
RT: Ra’zhon McNeil, Jr.
Returning Starters: 5
DE: Yazzir Johnson, Sr. RS; Ra’zhon McNeil, Jr.
NT: Fahkir Hercules, Jr. RS; Jorge Castellon
DE: Ra’zhon McNeil, Jr. RS; Lorezon Castellon, Fr.
OLB: Nick Chathuant, Fr.
ILB: Iquann Crawford, Jr. RS
ILB: Jah’vell Carter Jr.; Javon King, Sr.
OLB: Elijah Drake, Sr.
CB: Shaborn Goodman, Sr.; Cazir Robinson, Fr.
CB: Davon Foster, Sr.
SS: Messiah Harris, Sr.; Preston Smith, So.
FS: Ralee Stephens, Sr. RS; Jahmeil Brown, Jr.
K: Shaborn Goodman, Sr.
P: Jashawn Carter, Sr.
Head Coach: Lamar Davenport, first season
Career Record: 0-0
Record Last Five Years:
Assistant Coaches: Tron Golfarb (Off. Coordinator/QB/ILB), Rob Ward (Def. Coordinator/OL), Isaiah Calderon (RB/OLB), Tim Fosque (OL/DL), Leroy Hayes (Special Teams), Barry Baity (Special Teams/DB), Syron Davis (RB/DB), Martez Williams (WR), Mark Gerbino (Football Operations), Paul Zarella (Assistant Strength and Conditioning), Nancy Saphow (Athletic Trainer)
Player to Watch: Jai’Sun Brown, Sr., QB
Brown has been the starter under center since his freshman year at Asbury Park and he has been putting up numbers all along the way. A year ago, Brown finished seventh in the Shore Conference with 1,480 passing yards, posted a completion percentage better than 60 percent and connected on 14 touchdown passes against only four interceptions. Those numbers came with a young offensive line in front of him so with more experience blocking for him, expect more of the same from one of the steadiest quarterbacks in the Shore.
“Jai’Sun is more or a pure pocket-passer who can run if he needs to,” Davenport said. “He’s a four-year starter, so he understands his job and what the coaches expect from him and he knows what everybody else’s job is too.”
Player Under the Radar: Yazzir Johnson, Sr., RG/DE
Johnson is one of those returning linemen who will be protecting Brown and during his junior season and this preseason, the senior is establishing himself as a leader on both sides of the ball. He plays on the interior of the offensive line and he will be a defensive end in the 3-4 scheme on defense, so strength is his specialty.
“Yazzir played a ton last year and now he is going into his senior year,” Davenport said. “He is an anchor on our offensive and defensive line and he’s become a leading in that group and on our team.”
Top Position Group: The backfields
Whether offense or defense, Asbury Park is loaded with athletes who are equipped to play in the backfield. In addition to Brown, the Blue Bishops return senior running back Jashawn Carter, who posted more than 900 rushing yards to lead the team in 2021. Juniors Iquann Crawford and Jah’Vell Carter will also be threats out of the offensive backfield and senior Davon Foster could see some time at quarterback when Davenport is looking to put more of a running threat at the position.
On defense, the receiving corps will be doubling as a secondary, led by tight end and free safety Ralee Stephens. Messiah Harris is the other safety and Foster and fellow wideout Shaborn Goodman project as the starting cornerbacks.
Big Shoes to Fill: Davon Foster, Sr., WR/QB/CB
Whether he is playing quarterback, receiver or cornerback, Foster will have high expectations to live up to – which he is more than capable of doing. Lydell Brown was a standout receiver and corner for Asbury Park a year ago, which is the role Foster is set to assume this season.
“Foster brings a different dynamic with his speed,” Davenport said. “He is a guy who can make big plays, whether it’s running it, catching it or even throwing it. We’re going to try to get him the ball however we can.”
Rivalry Game: Oct. 21 at Shore
When both teams are at their best, the Asbury Park-Shore rivalry is one of the Shore’s best rivalries and both will have enough elements to compete in both the Patriot Division race and in the NJSIAA Group I playoffs. Regardless of whether or not their paths cross in the postseason, they are guaranteed to cross in late October in a game that could have ramifications in both the Group I playoff seeding and with regard to the division championship.
Friday, Sept. 2 at Weequahic, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 9 vs. Keyport, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23 at Point Beach, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30 vs. Barnegat, 6 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7 vs. Keansburg, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 15 at Lakewood, 1 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 21 at Shore, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 24 at Neptune, 10 a.m.