Plenty of important divisional match-ups this week and several key games involving teams off to 2-0 starts highlight this week.

Senior quarterback Kyle Brey and Middletown South head to Howell in Week Three for a Class A North match-up of unbeatens. (Photo by Bill Normile).

This should start to give us a clearer picture of the front-runners in several divisions and start stamping the teams that look like they could be high seeds down the road in the state playoffs. Reminder that Friday night’s Southern-Toms River North game will be live on The Shore Sports Network on 105.7 f.m. and streaming live on 1057thehawk.com.

Last week: 22-3

Season: 38-7

Friday’s Games

No. 4 Midd. South (1-0, 0-0) at Howell (2-0, 1-0), 6:30 p.m.

X-factor:  Howell’s run defense. If the Rebels stuff Middletown South’s run game, which has dominated them in recent seasons, and turn this into a passing shootout, it could get interesting. Recruit(s) to watch: Tayler Hendrickson, Sr., TE/DL, Middletown South. Hendrickson committed to the University of Pennsylvania last week before catching two touchdown passes in a win over Brick, and also is one of the top defensive linemen in the Shore. The pick: Middletown South.

No. 9 Barnegat (2-0, 1-0) at Msgr. Donovan (1-1, 1-0), 6:30 p.m.

X-factor: Monsignor Donovan’s run defense. Barnegat has pounded teams up front so far with A.J. Opre and the running game. If the Griffins can’t slow that down, they are in trouble. Recruit(s) to watch: Barnegat quarterback Cinjun Erskine and junior two-way lineman Sam Madden both have multiple FBS offers. Madden is the top offensive line recruit in New Jersey for the Class of 2015. Monsignor Donovan WR/DB Kyle Carrington and RB/DB Joey Fields have received FCS interest/offers and some looks from FBS schools. The pick: Barnegat.

Midd. North (0-1, 0-0) at No. 2 Manalapan (1-0, 1-0), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Turnovers. Middletown North is going to have to create some short fields and kill drives by the explosive Manalapan offense by creating takeaways to stay in this game. Also a little nostalgia involved in this one as new Middletown North coach Steve Bush was once the head man at Manalapan, leading the Braves to consecutive division titles in the late 1990s. Recruit(s) to watch: Obviously we all know Manalapan WR Saeed Blacknall is headed to Rutgers. Senior LB Chris Noesges has gotten Ivy League interest, and junior Mike Caggiano is one of the top 2015 kickers in the state. Keep an eye on Middletown North quarterback Donald Glenn, a freshman who started the season opener. He could develop into a high-level prospect in the coming years. The pick: Manalapan.

No. 1 RB Catholic (2-0, 1-0) at SJ Vianney (1-1, 0-1), 7 p.m.

X-factor: St. John Vianney’s pass protection. The Lancers have to give Billy DeMato some time to work after Rumson-Fair Haven sacked him eight times last week. RBC’s pass rush is equally as relentless behind Shawn McCord and Ryan Schoer. Recruit(s) to watch: Clearly, RBC OL/DL Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame) is well-established, so another one to watch is junior LB/DE Jamie Gordinier. He already has an offer from Pittsburgh and heavy interest from numerous FBS schools. St. John Vianney DE Justin Gille has multiple FBS and FCS offers. Also keep an eye on sophomore back-up QB and DB Anthony Brown, an electrifying athlete in the mold of former Matawan QB Jared Allison, who is now at New Hampshire. The pick: Red Bank Catholic.

No. 7 Rumson-FH (2-0, 1-0) at Holmdel (1-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Holmdel’s run defense. Charlie Volker and the Bulldogs’ O-line have won the battle up front decisively in the first two games. If Holmel can’t stop him, it will be a long night. Recruit(s) to watch: Rumson senior DE Donald Bedell is committed to Rutgers. Volker is on the rise and should be attracting more FCS interest as the season progresses. Senior offensive tackle Peter Righi also has received FCS looks for Rumson. Holmdel has a solid FCS prospect in junior RB/LB Frank Condito, but he is out with an ankle injury. The pick: Rumson-FH.

Manasquan (1-1, 0-1) at Raritan (0-2, 0-0), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Raritan’s offensive line. The Rockets’ defense is clearly much improved but the offense has only managed seven points in two games. They have to get a push up front against a tough Warriors line to jumpstart the running game or it will put a ton of pressure on the defense to keep Manasquan off the scoreboard. Recruit(s) to watch: Raritan senior two-way lineman Pat Toal has verballed to Old Dominion. Manasquan senior two-way lineman Matt Forst has received FCS interest, and junior linebacker Tanner Cowley is an FBS prospect. The pick: Manasquan.

Southern (1-1, 0-1) at TR North (0-2, 0-1), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Toms River North’s secondary. This unit has struggled in losses to Howell and Lacey and will be under fire again in trying to defend the Rams’ tandem of Mike Gesicki and Vinnie Colecchia. If they can show improvement, the Mariners’ offense has shown it can put up points and is certainly capable of pulling an upset here. Recruit(s) to watch: Gesicki is one of the nation’s top tight end prospects. Toms River North 315-pound junior defensive lineman Adam Kakar has generated some FCS interest. The pick: Southern.

No. 8 TR South (2-0, 1-0) at No. 10 Brick (1-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Toms River South’s pass defense. The Indians have been burned at times in their first two games by opposing passing games. If they can slow down quarterback Carmen Sclafani in the air, that could make it tough for the Green Dragons to keep up with the Indians’ potent offense. Recruit(s) to watch: Toms River South senior Otis Kearney has an offer from Michigan State and several other FBS and FCS programs. Junior quarterback Tymere Berry also has received FCS interest. Brick has some solid juniors like Sclafani and RB/LB Ray Fattaruso who should generate more interest as the season progresses. The pick: Toms River South.

 

Jackson Mem. (1-0, 1-0) at Brick Mem. (1-1, 0-1), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Brick Memorial’s offensive line. It’s clear when Joe Hans and Mike Basile have room to make plays, they are two of the most dangerous running threats in the Shore. Jackson Memorial’s defense is coming off a dominant performance against Toms River East, so the Mustangs have to find a way to move the Jaguars off the ball. Recruit(s) to watch: Brick Memorial RB/S Mike Basile has multiple FCS offers and FBS interest. Jackson Memorial senior RB/LB Ken Bradley also has FCS/FBS interest as a linebacker, and senior WR/TE Marcus Ademilola has an offer from UPenn and other FCS interest. The pick: Brick Memorial.

No. 6 Ocean (2-0, 1-0) at Matawan (2-0, 1-0), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Cole Mehr and Jair Bernier. The two Ocean wideouts could be the difference if they can make plays downfield if both teams are stuffing each other’s run games. Also, Matawan standout kicker Mike Creamer could loom large in what could be a low-scoring, field position war that goes down to the wire. Recruit(s) to watch: Ocean soph. RB/LB Tyler Thompson has an offer from Temple and interest from numerous FBS schools. Junior QB/DB Royal Moore has received FCS interest. Matawan TE/DL Nick Tomkins has Ivy League and other FCS interest. The pick: Ocean.

Freehold (0-2, 0-1) at Wall (2-0, 1-0), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Freehold’s offensive line. If the Colonials can’t back a tough Wall defense off the line of scrimmage, it is going to be tough to maximize the running ability of Josh Dixon in what could be a low-scoring slugfest. Recruit(s) to watch: Dixon, a junior, should generate more interest as the season progresses, and keep an eye on sophomore back-up QB Jack Curry, who could be a recruit to watch in the future. Wall senior QB Jack Gifford is also a solid baseball prospect and standout on the diamond for the Crimson Knights. The pick: Wall.

Metuchen (0-2) at Shore (1-1), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Shore’s passing game. With a host of newcomers in the receiving corps, if the Blue Devils can really get this area cranked up to go with their running game, they should only get tougher as the season progresses. Recruit(s) to watch: Shore QB Matt Muh is committed to Bucknell, and senior OL/DL Chris Okupski has verballed to Albany. Keep an eye on soph. LB Doug Goldsmith, a rising prospect, and junior kicker Jake Monteiro is one of the state’s best, right there with Manalapan’s Caggiano among prospects. The pick: Shore.

Keyport (2-1) at Cardinal McCarrick (0-3), 7 p.m. – Keyport wins by forfeit

Manchester (0-2, 0-1) at Jackson Liberty (0-2, 0-1), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Jackson Liberty’s pass rush. Manchester QB Kashaun Barnes has caused havoc with his running ability and ability to extend the play. While the Hawks’ defense has really struggled, the offense and special teams have been explosive. If Jackson Liberty doesn’t want to get into a wild shootout, it is going to have to bracket Barnes and get him on the ground. Recruit(s) to watch: Jackson Liberty junior RB/DB Matt Castronuova has received FCS interest. Manchester QB/WR Devin Tomei is committed to Division I Campbell University for baseball. The pick: Manchester.

Central (1-1, 1-0) at Pt. Boro (0-2, 0-1), 7 p.m.

X-factor: Point Boro’s secondary. Central QB Marquis Drumright has established himself as a playmaker in the passing game, so the Panthers have to avoid getting beat down the field. Central also will get Point Boro’s best shot after the frustration of the Panthers losing to a Pinelands team that ended a 22-game losing streak last week. Recruit(s) to watch: Drumright is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and has gotten some FCS interest. Keep an eye on Point Boro freshman WR Hayden Frey, who is making an impact already and should be a prospect to watch down the road. The pick: Central.

Saturday's Games

No. 5 Colts Neck (2-0, 0-0) at Marlboro (0-2, 0-1), 1 p.m.

X-factor: Turnovers. Marlboro is going to have to limit Colts Neck’s possessions and get short fields for its offense against the Cougars’ rugged defense to have a shot to stay in the game. Recruit(s) to watch: Colts Neck senior RB/LB Anthony Gargiulo has an offer from Navy and other FCS/FBS interest, senior OL Ryan Wetzel has multiple FCS offers, and senior LB/DE Nick Volpe has FCS interest. The pick: Colts Neck.

TR East (0-2, 0-1) at No. 3 Lacey (2-0, 1-0), 1 p.m.

X-factor: Toms River East’s offense. The Raiders have really struggled, being shut out twice to start the season. They are going to have to take a quantum leap to keep up with a high-octane Lacey team that has put up 61 and 34 points so far. Recruit(s) to watch: Lacey senior QB Tom Kelly and senior WR/DB/P/KR/PR Christian Tutela both have FCS interest, and sophomore OL/DE Tarique Smith has FBS potential. Sophomore kicker Pat Davis also has the makings of a future standout. Senior RB/S Matt Gudzak has FCS interest for Toms River East along with linemen DeVante Rodriguez and John Laird. The pick: Lacey.

Neptune (1-1, 0-1) at Long Branch (1-1, 0-0), 1 p.m.

X-factor: Long Branch’s offensive line. If the Green Wave can’t establish the run against Neptune’s fast and physical stack defense, it will be in a lot of trouble. Recruit(s) to watch: Long Branch junior DE Hunter Baillie has FCS/FBS interest and senior DE Saquan Gwaltney has FCS interest and is off to a strong start. The pick: Neptune.

Pt. Beach (2-0) at Spotswood (2-0), 1 p.m.

X-factor: Point Beach’s run defense. Spotswood running backs Chase Fee and Jack Dalrymple rolled up a combined 250 yards on the ground in a rout of Keansburg last week. If a physical Point Beach team forces them consistently into second-and-long, the Garnet Gulls will be in a good spot. Recruit(s) to watch: Point Beach junior RB/LB Joe Wegrzyniak is a rising talent who should attract Division II-FCS scholarship interest as his film circulates. Senior lineman Sean Struncius is another prospect. The pick: Point Beach.

South River (2-0) at Keansburg (0-2), 1 p.m.

X-factor: Keansburg’s run defense. The Titans have given up 34 and 60 points in their first two games and most of that damage has been done on the ground. They have to be better against the run to stick with the Rams for an upset. Recruit(s) to watch: A 280-pound lineman, Richie Squeo is starting as a freshman up front for Keansburg and should be a prospect to watch down the road. The pick: South River.

Dunellen at Mater Dei Prep, 1 p.m.

X-factor: Dunellen’s run defense. Mater Dei Prep has several players in the backfield who can break big runs. If the Destroyers jam them up early in drives and force the Seraphs to throw it, it will be interesting to see how Mater Dei adjusts. Recruit(s) to watch: Eddie Lewis and Ishmael Glasco are starting as freshmen in the secondary and have the chance to develop into prospects in the coming years for the Seraphs. Junior Tyson White is another to watch. This is the first real test for Mater Dei in its best start since 1986, so this is a gauge of just how good its skill players are considering Dunellen battled Point Beach in a 15-6 loss last week. The pick: Mater Dei Prep.

Pinelands at Lakewood, 1 p.m.

X-factor: Pinelands’ confidence. Can the Wildcats ride the momentum of last week’s big upset win to battle Lakewood to the wire, especially if the Piners are without junior RB Chapelle Cook? Recruit(s) to watch: Lakewood senior OL/DL Ben Watson has multiple FCS and FBS offers, junior DE Datrell Reed has FBS interest, soph. LB Amir Tyler is starting to generate interest, and Cook has an offer from Temple and FBS interest, although he will be a game-time decision with an ankle injury. The pick: Lakewood.