BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Mike Ciccotelli realizes his Keyport football team has a lot of work to do — after a season-opening 44-24 loss at non-divisional foe Metuchen on Sept. 10 — to compete in the NJSIAA playoffs again this year as the Red Raiders move up to Group II.“We have to regroup and correct some of our mistakes. I feel we can,” said Ciccotelli, whose team has a showdown at home on Sept. 17 at noon against Shore Regional, the team that beat Keyport in the Central Jersey Group I playoffs last year and in the game that decided the Shore Conference B Central title in an 8-3 season.But Ciccotelli feels his defense will not be facing a player like Metuchen’s Errol Lindo, who rushed for 222 yards on 31 carries and scored five touchdowns.“That hasn’t happened to me, with a player scoring five touchdowns, since my first year of coaching in 1978 when a kid from St. John Vianney did that,” said Ciccotelli. Keyport High School running back Sam Bellamy is running to daylight against the Metuchen defense during the Sept. 10 season-opener in Metuchen. The Red Raiders fell to the Bulldogs, 44-24, despite two touchdowns by Bellamy. ERIC SUCAR staff But he did express some satisfaction with the play of his 6-4 sophomore quarterback Alex Thomson, who completed 10 of 17 passes for more than 100 yards.“He looked very poised out there,” said the coach. “He’s the tallest quarterback I’ve had, and he can see the field, make good decisions and takes control of the huddle.”Thomson helped rally his team behind a veteran offensive line from a 16-0 deficit to a 17-16 lead as veteran kicker Angelo Miragliotta, a junior, kicked a 31- yard field goal to close the first half and give Keyport that 17-16 lead. After that, the only bright spot was senior halfback Sam Bellamy scoring his second touchdown of the game as Metuchen pulled away.“I was proud up to that point,” said Ciccotelli, referring to the halftime break. “We showed a lot of guts coming back.”With no injuries reported from the opening game, the play up front will determine what lies ahead for Keyport, with returning starters Omar Elgohail (6-1, 245) at right tackle, Thomas J. Frick (6- 0, 205) at right guard, David Hamilton (6-3, 225) at left tackle and Connor Thompson (Alex’s brother, 6-2, 270) at center all back in the starting lineup from last year. All are seniors except for Connor Thomson, a junior. Junior Rich Shevlin (6-0, 205) starts at left guard.“As the line does, we go,” said Ciccotelli. “We have to get it done to be successful.”They’re blocking for returning senior starter Rich Smith at halfback in the wing-T. Seniors Kevin Churak and Bellamy also play at running back.TylerAlvarez (6-0, 185), a junior, starts at tight end while junior Greg Armstrong and senior Nick Williams are wide receivers. Ciccotelli is the offensive coordinator. Frick and Hamilton are back at the end spots on defense under defensive coordinator Jay Grahm, and Connor Thomson plays nose tackle, where he drew praise from Ciccotelli for his efforts against Metuchen.Smith, who had a lot of tackles last year, is an interior linebacker in the 3- 5 formation with Shevlin and senior Ryan Hynes. Junior John Olsen and Bellamy play on the outside. Churak and Armstrong are the cornerbacks, and Miragliotta is the safety. Miragliotta also is punting this year and has shown ongoing improvement, according to his coach.The rest of the staff includes Brian Brady coaching the offensive line and linebackers, Nick Christphakis coaching both lines, and Ezara Hill working with the secondary.