No division had more postseason success last year than Class A Central, which was home to the Shore Conference Tournament champion (Rumson-Fair Haven), the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II champion (Manasquan) and the Central Jersey Group I champion (Shore Regional). Holmdel also joined the postseason party with one of the bigger first-round upsets in the NJSIAA Tournament – a win at No. 2 Red Bank as the No. 15 seed in the Central Jersey Group III Tournament.

While Shore lost basically its entire team to graduation, Class A Central stands to be just as good this season, perhaps even better with respect to talent from the top of the division to the bottom. Rumson-Fair Haven returns the Shore Sports Network Player of the Year in Brendan Barry, while Manasquan returns top scorers Ryan Jensen and Jack Sheehan from its championship team, and St. John Vianney, Raritan and Holmdel also return solid teams as well.

Barry suffered a hand injury that requires a 2-to-3 week rest period that would keep him out until the Bulldawg Classic on Dec. 29 at the earliest, but coach Chris Champeau indicated his star guard could be cleared to practice when he visits the doctor on Friday morning. That may not get him into the lineup in the opener against Manasquan later that night, and if Barry misses any time, it could have some level of impact on a division that figures to be competitive from start to finish.

Ryan Jensen (32) and his Manasquan teammates will look to add a Shore Conference title to their collection of hardware from last year. (Photo by Larry Muprhy, Sports Pix NJ)

In Predicted Order of Finish

Manasquan

Head Coach: Andrew Bilodeau, eighth season
2014-15 Record: 22-7 (10-2, tied first in A Central)
Returning: Jack Sheehan (Sr., 6-1, Guard), Ryan Jensen (Sr., 6-5, Forward), Devin Jensen (Jr., 6-4, Guard), Tom Sheehan (Jr., 6-3, Forward), Shane Flanagan (Sr., 6-0, Guard), Kyle Coyne (Sr., 6-2, Forward)
Key Losses: Aidan McMenaman (6-3, Forward), Luke O’Shaughnessy (6-2, Guard/Forward), Kyle Bradshaw (6-4, Forward), Liam McAllister (6-7, Center), Matt Paturzo (5-10, Guard)
Key Newcomers: Pat Kinneally (Sr., 6-1, Guard), Tyler Hobbie (Jr., 5-11, Guard), Kevin Dempsey (Sr., 6-4, Forward), Seamus Hogan (Jr., 6-5, Forward), Brian Paturzo (Jr., 6-1, Guard), Dan Mopsick (Sr., 6-2, Forward)

As they have been known to do over the years, the Warriors played some of their best basketball at the end of the season in 2014-15 and won the Central Jersey Group II championship for the second time in a seven-year span. After losing to CBA in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals and watching Class A Central rival Rumson-Fair Haven go on to win the conference tournament, the Warriors regrouped for the state tournament and won the championship game against a Bordentown team that took down both Lakewood and Rumson-Fair Haven on the way to the final.

Manasquan will look to make it two straight sectional championships this season as the Warriors bring back their top two sall-around players from a year ago and each has a younger brother ready to contribute in the starting lineup this year as well. Senior forward Ryan Jensen enters his third year as a starter and fourth as a varsity player and is coming off a season in which he averaged 12.2 points, 2.2 blocks and a Shore-Conference-leading 13.9 rebounds per game. Senior guard Jack Sheehan – a Notre Dame baseball recruit – has started in each of his three seasons since transferring from CBA and averaged 12 points, and 3.4 assists a year ago. Juniors Devin Jensen and Tom Sheehan – the latter of which is also committed to play baseball at Notre Dame – will also move into the starting lineup, with Jensen playing on the wing and Sheehan battling down low.

With every team in Class A Central at full strength, Manasquan still stacks up well against Rumson and the rest of the field with the amount of talent it has coming back this year. For an example, one need not look further than two head-to-head wins over Rumson-Fair Haven last season, and factor in an early-season injury to Barry, and the Warriors have a chance to make it four straight wins over Rumson when the two meet on Friday while taking an early lead in the Class A Central race. The season is long and games in December have little to do with postseason games in February and March, but the first week of division games are a chance for the Warriors to separate themselves from their primary competition.

 

Rumson-Fair Haven

Head Coach: Chris Champeau, seventh season
2014-15 Record: 24-5 (10-2, tied first in A Central)
Returning: Brendan Barry (Sr., 6-2, Guard), Elijah McAllister (So., 6-7, Center), Mickey Schluter (Sr., 6-2, Guard), Mike O’Conner (Jr., 6-2, Guard)
Key Losses: Thomas Famulary (6-2, Guard), Morgan Maguire (6-3, Forward), Alex Geiger (6-1, Guard), Kenny Ferrare (6-3, Forward), Jack Luby (6-2, Guard)
Key Newcomers: Colin McDevitt (Sr., 6-1, Guard), Reid Bedell (Sr., 6-6, Forward), Tyler Pierson (Jr., 6-4, Forward), Henry Sillen (Sr., 6-4, Center), Matt Healy (Sr., 5-9, Guard), Teddy Sourlis (So., 5-11, Guard), Tommy Oakes (Jr., 5-11, Guard), Robby Coene (Sr., 5-10, Guard), Jonathan Kelly (Sr., 6-2, Forward), Charlie Curran (Jr., 6-2, Forward), Mike Ruane (Jr., 6-0, Guard), Jack Higgins (Jr., 5-11, Guard), Jacob Black (Sr., 6-1, Forward), Pat Russo (Jr., 5-10, Guard), Jack Solano (So., 5-11, Guard)

Rumson senior Brendan Barry is the defending Player of the Year and his Bulldogs are the defending Shore Conference Tournament champions. (Photo by Larry Murphy, Sports Pix NJ)

The Bulldogs have been to two Shore Conference Tournament finals and won one last year and in both trips to the championship game, they have carried with them a seed in the double-digits. Not only did Rumson win the SCT as a No. 11 seed last year, but they did so in convincing fashion by beating top-seeded CBA 50-24 for the first conference title in program history. The point is, the Bulldogs may or may not win the Class A Central title, but regardless of how the regular season plays out, their story will be far from written by the second week of February. No season is defined by December performance, but it’s quite possible that the left hand injury suffered by Brendan Barry that is likely to keep him out of action for another week could turn out to be a blow against Rumson in the race for the Class A Central title. The Bulldogs open up the season at Manasquan on Friday and will host St. John Vianney on Tuesday.

The Bulldogs could be playing catch-up once Barry returns to the lineup in late December, but bringing the senior guard back to the lineup instantly gives Rumson SCT and state-title-contender status. Despite losing four other starters to graduation, the Bulldogs return a good portion of their offense simply because Barry accounted for so much of it. As a junior, the 2014-15 SSN Player of the Year averaged 22.2 points, 4.1 assists and 4.2 steals per game while also drilling 103 three-pointers, which was 26 more than the next highest total in the Shore Conference. The rest of the starting lineup did an exemplary job of executing and exploiting mismatches when opponents began to roll extra defenders at Barry, and finding role players comfortable enough to do that this year will probably be the No. 1 challenge for Champeau.

While scoring outside of Barry might be an early question mark, the Bulldogs have developed a sound defensive reputation and they might have a chance to be even better now that sophomore Elijah McAllister is older and more physically mature than he was as a freshman shot-blocking specialist off the bench. With Barry’s length on the perimeter and McAllister protecting the rim, opponents will have to earn their points against the Bulldogs. As for the offense, senior Mickey Schluter gives Rumson one returning player with some shooting ability and junior Mike O’Conner will step into a larger role on both ends of the floor. Overall depth should not be a problem, but it’s worth keeping an eye on Rumson over the first month of the season to see which players solidify starting spots and roles in key situations. Once whole, Rumson will be ready to challenge for a second SCT title and pursue an elusive state title after reaching the Central Jersey Group II sectional semifinals – including one trip to the finals – in four of the last six years.

 

St. John Vianney

Head Coach: Matt Conklin, fifth season
2014-15 Record: 12-12 (4-8, tied fourth in A Central)
Returning: Grant Goode (Sr., 6-5, Forward), Zach Howarth (Sr., 6-2, Guard), Kevin Callari (Sr., 6-4, Forward), Matt DeBrizzi (Sr., 6-3, Guard), Ryan Simmonds (Jr., 6-0, Guard), Austin Baron (Sr., 5-10, Guard), Dan Saker (Sr., 6-0, Guard), Jake Guempel (Sr., 6-4, Forward)
Key Losses: John Michael Broderick (Sr., 6-0, Guard)
Key Newcomers: Marcque Ellington (Sr., 6-6, Forward/Center; transfer from Neptune), Mike Facchino (Jr., 5-11, Guard), Matt Donato (Jr., 6-5, Forward/Center), Rocco Giorlando (Jr., 5-10, Guard), Alex Romero (Jr., 6-0, Forward), Zach Moran (So., 6-0, Guard), Dan Dinneny (Jr., 6-0, Guard), Mitchell Okere (Sr., 6-0, Guard)

With Shore Regional – the third of the three teams to share the Class A Central title last season with Manasquan and Rumson-Fair Haven – graduating its entire starting lineup and first two players off the bench, the door is open for one of the other four teams in A Central to burst onto the scene and compete with the Warriors and the Bulldogs for the top spot in the division. On paper, St. John Vianney looks like it has the best chance to join the race after going an even 12-12 last season. Like the rest of the division outside of the three co-champions, St. John Vianney did not beat any of the top three teams in the division last year and will hope that a long list of returning players plus some impact newcomers can change that.

Like both Manasquan, the Lancers return their top two scorers from last year in forward Grant Goode and guard Zach Howarth. Goode averaged 18.6 points and 6.8 boards per game despite missing four games due to an ankle injury and is a versatile, inside-outside scoring threat. Howarth, meanwhile, checked in with 16.1 points per night and knocked down 29 threes over the course of the season. The Lancers also return starters Kevin Callari and Matt DeBrizzi, the latter of whom buried 27 three-pointers as a junior. Forward Jake Geumpel and guards Austin Baron and Dan Saker also return as seniors who hope to contribute again in 2016, while junior Ryan Simmonds is also back after lettering last year.

Offense should not be a problem for St. John Vianney with two 20-point threats returning to the starting lineup, but improving on the defensive end will be critical if the Lancers are to take the next step this season. Adding 6-6 Neptune transfer Marcque Ellington – who played wide receiver for the 11-1 Lancers football team – will give Vianney some size around the rim to clean up the glass and deter cutters and slashers on opposing teams. Ellington averaged a little more than four points, five boards and a block on a balanced Scarlet Fliers team that reached the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals, so Ellington’s experience could be as valuable as his size and athleticism. It is possible Rumson will be without Brendan Barry when Vianney travels to play the Bulldogs on Tuesday, which could help give the Lancers and early-season edge in the race.

 

Raritan

Head Coach: Denis Caruano, 11th season
2014-15 Record: 10-13 (3-9, sixth in A Central)
Returning: Joe Strand (Sr., 6-3, Guard), Eddie Tynion (Sr., 6-3, Guard), Jordan Smith (Sr., 6-4, Forward), Jon Rodriguez (Sr., 6-0, Guard), John Guccione (Sr., 5-10, Guard), Danny Lehan (Sr., Guard), Mason Sheehan (Sr., Forward)
Key Losses: Dylan Dewysockie (6-5, Forward), Kevin Rodriguez (Forward), Chris Nicholl (6-2, Guard), Mike Kelleher (Center), Jepi Tonuzi (Guard)
Key Newcomers: Sean Agar (Jr., Forward), Tim Hayes (Fr., Center), Zack Johnston (So., Guard)

The Rockets have been restocking their talent pool over the last three seasons following the graduation of star center Mike Aaman and after three straight losing campaigns, there should be a payoff on the way for Raritan. The Rockets also could not figure out how to get over the hump against the top three teams in the division, but they did hang around in most of their 13 losses, including two losses to Manasquan by a combined 10 points. They also split the regular-season series with St. John Vianney, so if the Lancers are going to be moving up in the division, Raritan could be tagging along.

Three starters return to the lineup for Raritan, led by senior guard Joe Strand. A fourth-year varsity player and third-year starter, Strand will have a chance to join the 1,000-point club after making the coaches’ all-division team as a junior while averaging 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds. Seniors Eddie Tynion and Jordan Smith also return to the starting lineup after each averaged nine points as a junior, with Tynion grabbing six rebounds a game and Smith pulling down five. Coach Denis Caruano will also have four seniors in Jon Rodriguez, John Guccione, Mason Sheehan and Dan Lehan as potential starters and for depth.

Newcomers Sean Agar, Zack Johnston and Tim Hayes will also get a chance at playing time, with the junior Agar looking at playing time at forward and Johnston working into the backcourt rotation. Hayes is a 6-3 freshman with enough upside that Caruano expects him to make an impact right away, although to what degree remains to be seen. One of the underrated aspects of Raritan’s Shore Conference Tournament championship in 2011 was that the four guards around the 6-8 Aaman could all contribute in a lot of ways, including scoring, and this roster has the feel of that roster – minus Aaman, of course. While that’s a pretty big minus, that could still leave Raritan with a very competitive team, one that could once again compete in the postseason tournaments.

 

Holmdel

Head Coach: Sean Devaney, 10th season
2014-15 Record: 9-14 (4-8, tied fourth in A Central)
Returning: John Miller (Sr., 5-10, Guard), Kevin Ziznewski (Sr., 6-6, Forward), Kyle Cardaci (So., 6-1, Guard), Brian Wischerath (Sr., 6-0, Guard), Max Phillips (Sr., 6-7, Center), Jeff Zhou (Sr., 5-9, Guard)
Key Losses: Luke Mayell (5-10, Guard), Jeff Harris (6-1, Guard), Matt McDonnell (6-2, Forward/Center), Ray LaForte (5-10, Guard), Kyle Rooney (6-5, Forward)
Key Newcomers: Zach Samandarov (Sr., 5-10, Guard), Shaine Norton (Sr., 6-0, Guard/Forward), Nick Harris (Jr., 6-1, Guard), Mike Simuro (Jr., 6-1, Guard), Tim Zhou (So., 6-1, Forward/Guard)

Holmdel’s 2014-15 season appeared to take a big hit when senior and returning leader scorer Jeff Harris suffered a torn ACL, which almost universally means season-ending surgery. Not only did Harris play the season out with a brace on his leg – albeit in a limited capacity relative to his pre-injury abilities – but Holmdel created a memorable finish to an otherwise forgettable season by upsetting second-seeded Red Bank in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III playoffs as a No. 15 seed. Five seniors graduated from that team, but the Hornets have a good mix of size and guard play back. They have also shown an ability under coach Sean Devaney to handle roster turnover, gel as a team and compete year-in and year-out in A Central.

Senior John Miller and sophomore Kyle Cardaci return to the backcourt, which lost the hobbled version of Harris, point guard Luke Mayell and Ray LaForte to graduation. Miller will look to step in and handle the point guard duties that Mayell held down as a three-year starter, while Cardaci comes off a solid freshman debut as an off-guard. Brian Wischerath and Jeff Zhou also saw time in the backcourt last year and are likely to see more time this year. The Hornets have a pair of forwards that run 6-6 and 6-7 that should add a shot-contesting dimension to the defense and also make them tough on the boards. Senior Kevin Ziznewski (6-6) is back after playing major minutes last year and 6-7 senior Max Phillips will be a key down low playing more minutes at the center position.

Juniors Nick Harris and Mike Simuro, as well as sophomore Tim Zhou all look to fit into some role with the group of returnees, while senior newcomers Zach Samandarov and Shaine Norton will also add some depth to Devaney’s rotation. The A Central season hardened the Hornets enough to prepare them for a postseason upset at Red Bank, and while they will probably sign for a deep postseason run any way they can get it, this year’s Holmdel group would also like to punch back at the A Central field after taking some lumps last year.

 

Monmouth

Head Coach: John Rivera, second season
2014-15 Record: 2-19 (1-11, seventh in A Central)
Returning: Nick Cirlincione (Jr., 6-4, Forward), Matt Mooney (Sr., 6-4, Forward), Tyler Hawkins (Jr., 5-9, Guard), A.J. Delutis (Jr., 6-2, Forward), Taylor Crank (Sr., 6-1, Guard), Andrew Slinger (Sr., 6-0, Guard)
Key Losses: James Kelly (6-2, Guard), Tim Reynolds (6-0, Guard), Matt Taylor (5-11, Guard)
Key Newcomers: Myles Owens (Jr., 5-10, Guard), Alonzo Finch (Sr., 6-3, Forward), Tyler Rebmann (Jr., 6-6, Center)

Few teams in the Shore Conference have undergone the kind of rebuild that Monmouth has been hammering away at over the last five years, a span in which the program has gone 22-92 over five straight seasons with a losing record. The 2011-12 season and the past two seasons have combined to yield a record of 3-62, which has to have created a cloud over the current players to some extent. On the bright side, the Falcons are led by veteran head coach John Rivera, now in his second year at the helm and 27th as a high school coach. Year one was still a part of the overhaul that has been going on for five years, but Rivera is hoping that his vision will start to become clearer this year and actually translate to some better results in the standings.

Senior Matt Mooney returns as the team’s top scorer and rebounder from last year, when he averaged 8.7 points and 8.5 rebounds during his junior season. Guards Taylor Crank and Andrew Slinger also return as seniors with varsity experience, while 6-3 senior forward Alonzo Finch looks to make a mark in his first varsity season. The Falcons juniors will also be a significant part of Monmouth’s climb back to contention, led by guard Tyler Hawkins and 6-4 forward Nick Cirlincione. Hawkins was the second-leading scorer for the Falcons at six points per game, while Cirlincione averaged a shade better than four points to go with 4.7 boards.

A.J. Delutis and Myles Owens are two more juniors who will add some depth to the rotation, with Delutis earning some minutes as a sophomore last year. Rivera will also work in 6-6 junior center Tyler Rebmann, which gives Monmouth the potential to run out a frontcourt of 6-6, 6-4 and 6-4 with Rebmann, Mooney and Cirlincione. The Falcons have a lot of ground to make up in a division with five very competitive teams and another one that won a share of the division title this season. With that being said, the Falcons have a solid group of juniors and if they can nail down a few more division wins and climb out of the basement, that would signify marked progress as Rivera prepares his team to make its biggest move in his third season.

 

Shore

Head Coach: Frank Carmody, second season
2014-15 Record: 21-6 (10-2, tied first in A Central)
Returning: Ryan Jones (Jr., 6-2, Guard), Tom Treshock (Sr., 6-4, Forward), Jared Graff (Sr., 5-10, Guard), Marco Parrino (Sr., 5-10, Guard), Evan Coffey (Sr., 6-1, Guard), Tom Mannino (Jr., 6-3, Forward)
Key Losses: Kevin Bloodgood (6-3, Guard/Forward), Dan Largey (6-4, Forward), Jack Byrne (6-4, Forward), Matt McCarthy (6-2, Forward), Rob Gialanella (5-11, Guard), James Kelly (6-2, Guard), Billy Deerin (6-2, Guard)
Key Newcomers: Kevin DuBois (So., 5-9, Guard), Jack DuBois (So., 5-7, Guard), Kyle Koob (So., 6-1, Guard), Chris Panduri (Fr., 6-2, Guard), Ryan Flanagan (Fr., 6-2, Forward), Austin Paglia (Sr., 6-3, Guard)

The 2014-15 season was the one Shore had been building toward since Kevin Bloodgood, Jack Byrne and Dan Largey entered the program together as freshmen in November of 2010. After a somewhat disappointing 2013-14 postseason in which Shore lost an opening-round Shore Conference Tournament game at home and fell to Point Beach in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I final, the Blue Devils cashed in on their potential last year by winning the program’s first sectional championship in 48 years, beating defending sectional champion Point Beach on the road in the Central Jersey I final.

The downside to such a successful group of seniors is that they all eventually graduate. The Blue Devils and second-year head coach Frank Carmody will feel that hit this year and attempt to rebuild on the fly in a very competitive division from top to bottom. With the top seven from last year’s rotation all graduated, there is barely any varsity experience returning to this year’s rotation, let alone to the starting lineup. Junior Ryan Jones earned some spurts of playing time as a three-point threat and is a good candidate to lead this year’s team in scoring. Tom Treshock also saw a small helping of time and will bring some size to the lineup at 6-4.

Senior guards Jared Graff, Marco Parrino and Evan Coffey are also letter-winners from a year ago and junior Tom Mannnino has a chance to contribute to the front court as a 6-3 option. Beyond those players who have more experience in the program, the Blue Devils will turn to a sophomore class that has some promise. Guards Jack and Kevin DuBois, as well as 6-1 Kevin Koob will all compete for backcourt time as sophomores. Carmody will even take a look at freshman Ryan Flanagan, who could see time at forward in his first high school season. The Blue Devils will take some lumps this year, but if they can lay the groundwork for next year and stay out of the basement, that should be considered a success given how much production they lost from the best Shore team in nearly a half-century.

 

Players to Watch

Brendan Barry, Rumson-Fair Haven – Although he might miss two games or so with an injury to his non-shooting hand, Barry should be all systems go by 2016, when he will look to top his junior season that saw him win the SSN Player of the Year and lead the Bulldogs to their first ever SCT title.

Ryan Jensen, Manasquan – Although he came off the bench as a freshman, Jensen has played starter minutes for all four of his high school seasons and the defending rebound king of the Shore Conference (13.9 per game) has been a force in the paint and on the glass for all four.

Grant Goode, St. John Vianney – The versatile forward can step out for the three and score in the post, as he demonstrated while averaging better than 18 points and six rebounds during his junior season.

Jack Sheehan, Manasquan – After shifting to more of a point guard from the shooting guard position he played as a sophomore, Sheehan will carry the keys to the Manasquan offense as the Warriors chase their first SCT title in 59 years.

Joe Strand, Raritan – Strand has produced for a losing team in each of the past two seasons, but his pursuit of 1,000 career points should come with the backdrop of a postseason hunt for an improved Rockets team.

Zach Howarth, St. John Vianney – Along with Goode, Howarth is part of the highest-scoring returning tandem in the Shore Conference, with the two combining to average nearly 35 points per game. Howarth is the outside threat of the two, but he also got to the rim plenty while averaging 16.1 points per game as a junior.

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Kyle Cardaci, Holmdel – Only a sophomore, Cardaci broke into the Hornets rotation as a freshman and has a chance to lead his team in scoring this season.

Devin Jensen, Manasquan – With size, strength and shooting touch, the younger Jensen has a good mix of skills that should help the Warriors in a lot of areas after he had a nice debut season as a sophomore.

Jordan Smith, Raritan – A standout athlete on the football field, Smith began to hint at his ability last year with nine points and five boards per game.

 

Burning Questions

Can Brendan Barry carry Rumson to a second straight SCT title and beyond?

The Bulldogs graduated four starters from last year’s Shore Conference Tournament championship team, but the one they bring back is a defending Player of the Year who averaged 22.2 points per game and lit up CBA for 27 points in a 50-24 rout of the Colts in the SCT final. According to Rumson coach Chris Champeau, Barry is taller and stronger than he was a year ago, and while that bodes well for his recruitment, it will only take the Bulldogs so far if they can’t find some reliable players among the group of newcomers.

If Rumson is to repeat as SCT champs and win its first ever NJSIAA sectional title, it will likely be thanks to great team defense, led by Barry and 6-7 Elijah McAllister, who averaged three blocks per game as a freshman. The other four starters last year all had their moments as scorers, particularly as opponents began double- and triple-teaming Barry. Rumson should expect more of that this year and if there are enough players who can knock down open shots, Barry should be able to do enough heavy-lifting to make the Bulldogs tough to beat again.

 

Do Raritan, St. John Vianney and Holmdel have what it takes to challenge for a division title?

Among the three teams listed above, St. John Vianney looks to have the best roster on paper. The Lancers have two returning starters who averaged better than 16 points per game to go with two other returning starters, and also bring in a 6-6 transfer in Marcque Ellington who was a key contributor on a Neptune team that reached the SCT semifinals last year. St. John Vianney coach Matt Conklin will look for Ellington to bring some fire on the defensive end, which is where the Lancers stand to improve the most after allowing 62 points per game last year.

Raritan is also better equipped to challenge the top of the division that it has been in four years, with three key seniors – Joe Strand, Eddie Tynion and Jordan Smith – returning. The Rockets padded their record with some soft opponents on the non-divisional schedule, but that made up for the fact that they played the division very tough, particularly Manasquan. Holmdel is perennially a tough out in the postseason and even with a losing record last year, the Hornets won an NJSIAA Tournament road game. Raritan and Vianney look poised to be much better, but Holmdel is always a safe bet to be a surprise team, if such a thing exists.

 

Can Monmouth or Shore lay the groundwork for a move toward the top of the standings?

It’s hard to envision a scenario in which both Shore and Monmouth have a surprisingly good season because there are only so many wins to go around in a division with two proven powers and talented players on the other three. It is possible, though, that one team could have a breakout year, or in Shore’s case, a follow-up to a great year with completely different players. Shore might be the more interesting team because the Blue Devils will be working in a trio of sophomores and a freshman into the lineup while giving some of the players who sat behind last year’s senior class a chance to prove their worth.

Monmouth, meanwhile, has been rebuilding for five years and it probably seems even longer considering that in these past five seasons, they have gone 22-92 with four different coaches. The rebuild is starting to gain some stability now that the juniors who started as freshmen are entering their third year together and second year under coach John Rivera. If being “due” has any merit, than Monmouth’s turn at a winning season should be coming soon, if not this season.