Barnabas Health 2015 Final Football Top 10
When the 2015 season began the Shore Conference was coming off a record-setting season in which it had six NJSIAA state sectional champions crowned. Seeing what the conference did for an encore was something special.
The Shore sent a record nine teams to state finals and once again came away with six champions as it dominated championship Saturday around New Jersey. Middletown South and Shore both finished undefeated, the first time the conference has had an unbeaten team since 2010. The Eagles went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, and ended up finishing as the No. 1 team in New Jersey. The Blue Devils crushed everyone in their path to win their second straight Central Jersey Group I title and extend their program-record winning streak to 20 games.
Jackson Memorial capped a brilliant turnaround to win its second straight Central Jersey Group IV title, while Rumson-Fair Haven won the Battle of Ridge Road with Red Bank in the Central Jersey Group III final to become just the fifth Shore Conference team to claim three consecutive state championships.
Raritan finished off one of the most memorable playoff runs in recent years by stunning previously-unbeaten Lincoln with a last-minute, game-winning drive to win the Central Jersey Group II crown. Toms River North won what is usually considered the toughest public school bracket in the state, South Jersey Group V, for its sixth sectional championship.
St. John Vianney fell just short in its pursuit of perfection when it fell to DePaul in the Non-Public Group III final.
After weeks of summer practice and 13 weeks of games, heroics and heartbreak, disappointment and delirium, we present the final 2015 Shore Sports Network Top 10.
1. Middletown South (12-0).
The Eagles snapped their title drought in a major way by finishing 12-0 and capturing the North Jersey Section 2, Group IV title with a 35-7 win over Phillipsburg for their 10th state title and first since 2005. The Eagles started the season by coming from behind to beat eventual Central Jersey Group V champion South Brunswick and never looked back, storming through the Shore Conference schedule before dominating in the playoffs. The Eagles also captured the Class A North division title, their first since 2009. The offense was fantastic again led by a dominant running game and efficient passing game, and averaged over 40 points per game. Senior tailback Cole Rogers ran for 1,570 yards and 24 touchdowns, and senior quarterback Matt Mosquera threw for 1,509 yards and 19 touchdowns. Middletown South’s defense was again among the best in New Jersey in allowing a conference-low 7.4 points per game. Senior linebacker Dylan Rogers broke his own single-season program record for tackles with 132 and led the ferocious unit that also included standout linebackers James McCarthy and Kevin Higgins, defensive backs Maxx Imsho and Tom Coffey, and defensive linemen Will Gulick and Jake Krellin. Although Middletown South will lose several talented players to graduating, the Eagles have an outstanding junior class that should have them once again competing for a state championship and the top spot in the Shore in 2016.
2. Toms River North (11-1).
Arguably the most talented team in the Shore Conference, the Mariners put it all together in 2015 to win their final 10 games and claim the South Jersey Group V title with a 14-7 win over Williamstown. After a 52-20 loss to Brick Memorial in Week Two threatened to derail its season, Toms River North regrouped to start an epic run that ended with the program’s sixth sectional title. Among Toms River North’s wins was a 33-23 victory over Central Jersey Group IV champion Jackson Memorial. The Mariners also beat Brick 26-14 to clinch a share of the Class A South division title. In the playoffs, the Mariners’ defense came to life in allowing just 14 points in three games, which also included a 35-7 win over Kingsway and a 14-0 shutout of top-seeded Lenape in the semifinals. The Mariners had one of the most dynamic offenses in the Shore with dual-threat junior quarterback Mike Husni and powerful senior running back Asante Moorer. Husni ran and threw for over 1,000 yards each and finished with over 2,500 yards of total offense and 31 touchdowns. Moorer ran for 1,550 yards and 17 touchdowns to form one of New Jersey’s most potent backfields. Senior defensive lineman Dashon Copes had an amazing season with over 100 tackles and double-digit sacks for a unit that finished 10th in the Shore in scoring defense. Husni returns next season along with his top wide receivers, Darrion Carrington and Bryce Watts, plus running back Daryn Blackwell, so the Mariners should once again be formidable on offense in 2016. The defense will also bring back standout linebacker Pete Laquaglia as the Mariners look to continue their resurgence.
3. St. John Vianney (11-1).
The Lancers fell just short of perfection and the program’s first state title in 35 years when it lost to three-time champion DePaul, 40-17, in the Non-Public Group III semifinals. The Lancers have won 20 straight games against Shore Conference competition and won 21 games in the last two seasons. Their 11 wins this year are a program record. Senior quarterback Anthony Brown capped a brilliant career with over 2,000 passing yards, 600 rushing yards and 43 total touchdowns for the No. 1 scoring offense in the Shore Conference. The Lancers defeated Central Jersey Group III champion Rumson-Fair Haven, Central Jersey Group II champion Raritan and blasted defending Non-Public Group III champion Red Bank Catholic 49-6 in the semifinals for one of the program’s biggest wins in decades. Senior wide receiver Mike Stapert led the Shore in receiving yards and junior Chris Chukwuneke fueled the running game with over 800 yards. Junior defensive lineman Micah Clark, linebackers Calvin Beaty and Tyler Tedeschi, and defensive backs Khalil Haskins and Jeff Sheard led a defense that finished sixth in the Shore in points allowed. St. John Vianney will have to replace numerous talented players, but are banking on continuing their run as one of the top programs in the Shore.
4. Shore (12-0).
In pushing their program-record winning streak to 20 games and claiming their second straight Central Jersey Group I title, the Blue Devils cemented their legacy as one of two undefeated teams in program history. Shore walloped almost every single team on its schedule, and also boasts a 20-13 win over Central Jersey Group III champion Rumson-Fair Haven. The offense was against dominant in the running game with running backs Dough Goldsmith and Jack Britton leading the way. Shore’s defense was again among the best in the Shore, finishing No. 2 in scoring defense at 7.6 points per game with standouts Erik Graham, Connor Rempel, Jeremy Radaelli, Steve Fiumefreddo, Goldsmith and Britton. Plenty of talent will be lost to graduation, but the Blue Devils have proven to be one of the state’s most consistent teams and should be expected to reload in 2016.
5. Rumson-Fair Haven (10-2).
With a 21-0 win over Ridge Road rival and previously-undefeated Red Bank in the Central Jersey Group III title game, the Bulldogs became just the fifth program in Shore Conference history to win three consecutive NJSIAA sectional titles. Junior quarterback Mike O’Connor ran for over 1,000 yards and junior running backs Bryan Hess and Matt Veccharelli joined him to form a potent rushing attack. Junior linebacker Mike Ruane (153 tackles) led a defense that finished third in the Shore in scoring defense. Among the Bulldogs victories was a 21-20 win over Central Jersey Group II champion Raritan. Their losses were to No. 3 St. John Vianney and No. 4 Shore. With a loaded junior class and some promising sophomores, Rumson will be a threat to win a fourth straight sectional title in 2016.
6. Red Bank (11-1).
A memorable season for Red Bank came to an end with a 21-0 loss to Rumson-Fair Haven in the Central Jersey Group III final, but the Bucs captivated a community with their best season since 2003. Red Bank won its first division title since 1977 in claiming the Class B North championship, and posted a thrilling 24-21 victory over Red Bank Catholic in the regular season. The Bucs also defeated sectional semifinalist Ocean twice, and beat Central Jersey Group II champion Raritan 30-14. Senior Sadiq Palmer was an all-around threat with over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns combined between receiving and rushing. The Bucs defense helped carry it to the most wins in program history, and finished fifth in scoring defense at 10.2 points per game. A senior-laden team, Red Bank will try to carry the momentum of a historic season into 2016 with players like junior linebackers Chris Outterbridge and Tyrese Morris, and junior defensive end Jack Haytaian.
7. Jackson Memorial (8-4).
The Jaguars completed an amazing turnaround capped with a 42-14 win over Brick Memorial to claim their second straight Central Jersey Group IV championship. After junior quarterback Danny Barker went down with an injury midseason, senior Kyle Johnson took the reigns of a new-look offense that catapulted the Jaguars from 3-3 to state champs. Junior running back Mike Gawlik ran for over 1,500 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, and turned in an epic title-game performance with 365 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. Johnson was a playmaker at quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back all season. Jackson’s defense featured the best pass-rusher in the Shore, as senior defensive end Tyler Towns finished with 22 sacks to lead the No. 7 scoring defense. A strong junior class led by Gawlik and linebacker Zack Lubertazzi returns next season to lead the Jaguars.
8. Brick Memorial (9-3).
The Mustangs claimed a share of the Class A South division title and reached the Central Jersey Group IV title game before falling to Jackson Memorial, 42-14. Brick Memorial had one of the best offenses in the Shore running head coach Walt Currie’s flexbone, triple-option offense, averaging 30.4 points per game. Senior quarterback Tim Santiago finished with 1,706 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns and sophomore fullback Tony Thorpe ran for 1,305 yards and 17 touchdowns as the Mustangs ran for over 3,700 yards as a team. It’s defense featured standout linemen Mike and Anthony Nobile and Chris Hayes, and finished No. 9 in the Shore in scoring defense. Brick Memorial boasts a 52-20 win over South Jersey Group V champion Toms River North and a 31-17 win over Central Jersey Group V finalist Old Bridge. They also defeated Jackson Memorial 28-7 in the regular season. Their other losses were to Brick on opening day and to No. 1 Middletown South. Brick Memorial will need to find a new quarterback to run its offense next season, but has Thorpe at fullback to build around.
9. Raritan (7-5).
The Rockets earn a spot in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 after an incredible postseason run to win an unlikely state championship. Junior quarterback Marc Carnivale’s 11-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Nick Pasquin with 11 seconds left gave Raritan a 28-26 win over previously-undefeated Lincoln and the Central Jersey Group II title. It is the second title in program history for Raritan and first since going 12-0 in 2004. Senior running back Derek Ernst led the Shore Conference in rushing with 1,769 yards and scored 23 touchdowns, and Carnivale complimented the rushing attack by throwing for 1,704 yards and 17 touchdowns. Junior linebacker Ryan Dickens made over 100 tackles to lead the defense. Raritan started 3-0 before losing five straight, including losses to No. 3 St. John Vianney, No. 5 Rumson, and No. 6 Red Bank, before turning it round with a magical playoff run. Ernst, Pasquin and several others will graduate, the the Rockets will bring back several key players in 2016.
10. Brick (9-2).
The Dragons reached the Central Jersey Group IV playoffs before falling to eventual champion Jackson Memorial, 28-7. Brick’s defense was among the best in the Shore Conference in allowing just 8.1 points per game. Senior defensive lineman Jordan Keefe finished with 17 sacks and senior lineman Dan Finelli made 31 tackles for a loss. Linebacker Cory Wilson led a balanced group of tacklers with 94. Junior Ja’Sir Taylor played running back as well as wide receiver and was again among the most dangerous playmakers in the Shore Conference. Brick’s two losses were to state champs (Jackson Memorial and Toms River North), and they own a 36-6 win over Central Jersey Group IV finalist Brick Memorial. They also defeated Jackson 2-0 in the regular season.