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In the jungle, the mighty jungle the Lions are working their way through some obstacles to once again thrive in the sunshine and restore order as King of said jungle.

It's been a tough stretch for the Jackson Liberty Lions over the last couple of seasons, so close to taking that next step, but just trying to find some consistency from play to play and game to game.

For Jim Sharples, who is heading into his 10th season at the helm, he's had to work overtime to put together a roster, whether that's finding depth and players to fill spots -- which this year includes finding a kicker -- or trying to implement the right offensive system to fit the team's personnel.

One of the positives heading into the 2022 campaign is that there is a good amount of seniors.

"I have a nice senior class, I have a lot of talented kids, I have a lot of four-year starters," Sharples tells Shore Sports Network. "Expectation-wise, we expect to be able to run the ball. I have a pretty solid line."

There's been a shuffle in the coaching staff under Sharples as well heading into the new season with a couple of vacancies filled in by some outside help which is changing the look of the Lions heading into the 2022 season.

"I did lose Jeff Schmidt, my defensive coordinator, I did lose Gerard O'Donnell, my offensive coordinator, so, we are starting pretty fresh," Sharples said. "I brought in a defensive guy and his brother, actually (Brian and Dan Ballantine) two coaches who are not Shore Conference guys, they're not really familiar with the conference, they're Staten Island guys who moved down this way, so that's a whole new thing for us on defense. I don't want to say I took over the offense, but, I have two younger coaches -- Matt Schmidt, and then another guy, Matt Spader, who's been with me. We're going to kind of collaborate to do the offense -- I'll probably be calling the plays, and we're going to separate our run and pass game."

Things will look a little different for the Jackson Liberty Lions this season with players and coaches -- but sometimes, change can be a good thing if it produces the results you're been looking for on the field.

Left to right: Joseph Celentano (3), Zackary Corrado (1), Brendan Gallagher (2), Brandon Bittar (75).
Left to right: Joseph Celentano (3), Zackary Corrado (1), Brendan Gallagher (2), Brandon Bittar (75).


At A Glance

Projected Starters: RS=returning starter

Offense: Multiple Pro

QB: Ryan Kinsman, Sr., & Dennis Caswell, So.

RB: Zach Corrado Sr., RS

WR: Brendan Gallagher Jr.

WR: Connor Hills, Sr.

TE: Corzeek Palms, So.

LT: Donovan Louis-Jacques, So.

LG: Anthony Georgiano Jr.

C: Brandon Bittar Sr., RS

RG: Theo Wojo-Grasso, Sr.

RT: Brennan Coger, So.

Defense: 4-4

DE: Donovan Louis-Jacques, So.

DT: Dave Lidziev, Sr.

DT: Brandon Bittar Sr.

DE: Dan Lidziev, Sr.

OLB: Corzeek Palms, So.

ILB: Theo Wojo-Grasso, Sr.

OLB: Brennan Coger, So.

CB: Joey Accordino, Jr.

CB: Joey Celentano, Sr.

SS: Brendan Gallagher Sr.

FS: Ryan Kinsman, Sr.

Special Teams


P: Connor Hills, Sr.


Head Coach: Jim Sharples, 10th season

Career Record: 25-59

Team Record Last Five Years: 

2021: 2-8

2020: 1-4

2019: 2-7

2018: 3-7

2017: 3-7

Assistant Coaches: Brian Ballantine (DC/ILB); Dan Ballantine (DB); Matt Schmidt (OL/Special Teams Coordinator); Jimmy Lopez (OLB/Sub Varsity Coordinator); Matt Spader (Pass Game Coordinator/QB/WR); Ryan Azzolini (DT); Alex Menzies (RB/Sub Varsity Assistant); Chris Grande (Athletic Trainer).


Players to Watch: Ryan Kinsman, Sr., QB & Dennis Caswell, So., QB

There's a new offensive system being run by Sharples with one, possibly two new quarterbacks taking snaps.

"Our quarterback situation is interesting. One of those freshmen that lettered -- Dennis Caswell -- it was pretty much determined early from freshman year to now that he's probably going to be the guy for the next three years," Sharples said. "Out of the blue, a player who took the year off last year, Ryan Kinsman, wants to play his senior year. He played for me his freshman and sophomore year. He's a pretty good player, now he's an older kid, he's grown a bit and now he's been playing quarterback as well. I have an interesting little situation at quarterback, there's a healthy competition, and Ryan is a dynamic kind of athlete, where Dennis is more of your pocket style/big, strong-armed kid."


Players Under the Radar: Joey Accordino, Jr., RB and Imere Smith, So., RB

Zach Corrado will be taking a majority of the carries in the backfield for the Lions but junior Joey Accordino and sophomore Imere Smith impressed during training camp and the preseason and add some depth to the running back position.


Impact Newcomers: Dave Lidziev, Sr., DT and Dan Lidziev, Sr., DE

There's a well-noted new look to the defense and that includes the line. Dan and Dave Lidziev are new to the varsity team and are looking to make a difference in 2022 and build on a defensive line that's been a strong point in the past for Jackson Liberty.


Rivalry Game: Sept. 30 vs. Jackson Memorial

Things always get exciting playing a crosstown rival. There are bragging rights on the line, of course, but it's also about earning some respect. Jackson Liberty is trying to prove to big brother Jackson Memorial that they're ready to roar and show just how good they are this season.


Season Schedule

Sept. 1 - vs. Keansburg, 6 p.m.

Sept. 9 - vs. Matawan, 7 p.m.

Sept. 16 - @Barnegat, 7 p.m.

Sept. 23 - @Manchester, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 30 - vs. Jackson Memorial, 6 p.m.

Oct. 7 - @Pinelands, 7 p.m.

Oct. 14 - @Point Beach, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21 - vs. Toms River East, 7 p.m.



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