After a pair of seasons hovering around the .500 mark, a close, heartbreaking loss was not the way East Brunswick wanted to start the 2021 football season.
But that feeling didn’t last long.
After a tough 27-24 season-opening loss in the Battle of Route 18 to Old Bridge, the Bears reeled off eight straight regular season wins, before falling in the first round of the playoffs to Toms River North.
Their 8-2 mark – following a 4-5 debut season under head coach Andy Steinfeld, and a 4-4 mark in his second campaign during last year’s COVID-shortened season – earned them this year’s Central Jersey Sports Radio “Turnaround Team of the Year” award.
Representing the Bears on Thursday night’s awards show was runningback/linebacker Gianfranco DeGuida, a senior co-captain who ran for 442 yards this season, while contributing on defense, and blocking two extra points on special teams.
Click below to listen to Gianfranco DeGuida talk with Mike Pavlichko:
St. Thomas Aquinas checks in as an honorable mention. The Trojans had a steadier progression over three years under Joe Vigilante, who debuted with a 2-8 season, went 4-6 last year, and finished this year 9-1, with 8 wins on the field (one was a COVID-related forfeit). They allowed just nine points in the regular season, all coming in their finale against Delaware Valley, after shutting out their first seven opponents of the campaign.