Football: Week Four Picks
Kind of a mediocre showing for me last week as I lost some toss-up games in A South and B North.
This week could either be tremendous or a train wreck given the number of toss-up games and high-profile showdowns on the schedule. At least I am holding my own in the Shore Sports Network picks every week with Kevin Williams, Ed Sarluca and Matt Harmon, as I am one game behind Kevin off the lead.
Obviously, Middletown South at Manalapan is the big one this weekend, but there are plenty of other great games as well. Let’s get to it.
Reminder that Friday night’s big A South showdown, Lacey at Toms River South, will be live on The Shore Sports Network on 105.7 f.m. and streaming live on 1057thehawk.com.
Last week: 16-5
Marlboro (0-3, 0-2) at Freehold Twp. (0-2, 0-1), 6:30 p.m.
Marlboro best-case scenario: The Mustangs get their offense in gear after facing two tough opponents in a row and finish drives, the defense creates turnovers, and new head coach Jason Dagato gets his first win. Freehold Township best-case scenario: The Patriots used their bye week to refine an offense that struggled against two tough opponents to start the season and will take a jump forward to break into the win column. The pick: Freehold Township.
No. 4 Midd. South (2-0, 1-0) at No.2 Manalapan (2-0, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Middletown South best-case scenario: The Eagles establish the run game to set up game-changing throws downfield to Tayler Hendrickson and Andrew Wisialko, and the defense limits the running game and harasses QB Charles Lombana all night to force some key turnovers. Manalapan best-case scenario: The Braves win the battle up front, establish Tyler Leonetti and give Lombana time to get the ball to Saeed Blacknall in position to make game-changing plays, and the defense stuffs the Eagles’ run game and forces Kyle Brey to make plays with pressure in his face all night to extend the Braves’ divisional winning streak to 19 games. The pick: Manalapan.
No. 5 Colts Neck (3-0, 1-0) at Midd. North (0-2, 0-1), 7 p.m.
Colts Neck best-case scenario: The Cougars just keep doing what they’ve been doing. Pounding teams with Anthony Gargiulo in the run game and play dominating defense. Middletown North best-case scenario: The defense comes up with turnovers to give the offense some short fields, the line gets a stalemate against Colts Neck’s offensive line, and the offense moves the ball methodically to shorten the game and keep it close into the final quarter. The pick: Colts Neck.
Raritan (0-3, 0-1) at No. 1 RB Catholic (3-0, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Raritan best-case scenario: RBC makes a ton of mistakes and turns the ball over inside its own end frequently, the Rockets execute better than they have all season to get into the end zone and the line plays the best it has played in years. RBC best-case scenario: The Caseys just continue to dominate up front, spring big plays for the running backs, mix in a few passing highlights and continue to be a shutdown defense. The pick: Red Bank Catholic.
Red Bank (0-2) at No. 7 Rumson-FH (3-0), 7 p.m.
Red Bank best-case scenario: The defense jams up Charlie Volker and the run game and forces Rumson to go to a Plan B that it hasn’t shown yet while also creating turnovers to give the offense good field position, and the offense rides the adrenaline of The Battle of Ridge Road rivalry to make enough big plays to stay in the game late into the fourth quarter and pull out a win. Rumson-FH best-case scenario: Volker and the offensive line continue to dictate the tempo and pace of games, and the defense stifles the Bucs like it has the last four years by erasing Red Bank’s running game. The pick: Rumson-FH.
No. 3 Lacey (3-0, 2-0) at No. 10 TR South (2-1, 1-1), 7 p.m.
Lacey best-case scenario: The Lions’ defense can create turnovers to limit Toms River South’s possessions and shows improvement against the run after getting torn up by Toms River East. The offense carves up the Indians like Brick did last week behind a balanced attack and continues to be one of the Shore’s best units. Toms River South best-case scenario: Lacey just cannot stop the run game of Tymere Berry, Otis Kearney and Khaleel Greene as well as deep shots downfield to wideout Darrius Hart and the Indians put up 40-plus points and win a shootout. The pick: Lacey.
No. 9 Brick (2-1, 2-0) at Southern (2-1, 1-1), 7 p.m.
Brick best-case scenario: The Green Dragons’ zone read offense with Carmen Sclafani and Ray Fattaruso continues to churn up yards on the ground and puts Southern on its heels the whole way, while the defense gets consistent pressure on Logan Sheehan. Southern best-case scenario: The Rams establish the running game with Rob Yaiser and protect Logan Sheehan enough to take some shots downfield with Mike Gesicki and underneath with Vinnie Colecchia, while the defense does a good job of limiting Brick’s gains on first down to make the Green Dragons’ offense more one-dimensional. The pick: Brick.
TR North (0-3, 0-2) at Jackson Mem. (2-0, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Toms River North best-case scenario: The young Mariners learn from the mistakes of the first three games, show improvement and better play up front on offense that allows them to control the clock with the running game, and the defense slows down the Jaguars’ running game enough to get them out of their comfort zone and potentially create turnovers with pressure on passing downs. Jackson Memorial best-case scenario: Khani Glover continues his hot start in the running game, which then gives Joe DeMaio some opportunities on play-action downfield, and the defense continues its strong play against the run game. The pick: Jackson Memorial.
Wall (3-0, 2-0) at Long Branch (2-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.
Wall best-case scenario: The defense swallows up Long Branch’s running game and creates turnovers when the Green Wave have to pass. The offense establishes Pete Miceli in the running game and Jack Gifford makes Long Branch pay in the passing game for stacking the box. Long Branch best-case scenario: The offensive line gets a consistent push up front to allow Deon Williams and Co. to work, and Shabazz Shuler makes a few big plays in the passing game to keep Wall honest. The defense swarms Miceli and forces Gifford to have to throw the ball 15-plus times to beat them. The pick: Wall.
Matawan (2-1, 1-1) at Neptune (1-2, 0-2), 7 p.m.
Matawan best-case scenario: The Huskies finish drives and spring a few big plays to the outside in the running game to get an early lead and sit on it by having their defense swarm Neptune quarterback Shakeem Richardson. Neptune best-case scenario: Another running back emerges out of a crowded backfield to help take the pressure off Richardson and generate more offense, the passing game improves after a dismal week, and the Scarlet Fliers’ stout defense holds down a Huskies’ offense that scored three points against Ocean last week. The pick: Matawan.
No. 6 Ocean (3-0) at JFK-Iselin (1-2), 7 p.m.
Ocean best-case scenario: The offense wakes up behind Royal Moore and Tyler Thompson after scoring 14 total points the last two weeks, and the defense continues its dominance, particularly against the run game. JFK best-case scenario: The Mustangs slow down the Spartans’ running game one year after getting lit up for 200-plus yards by Thompson and hit some big plays early to get a quick lead and try to shorten the game. The pick: Ocean.
Mater Dei Prep (3-0, 1-0) at Pt. Beach (2-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.
Mater Dei Prep best-case scenario: The Garnet Gulls can’t handle Mater Dei’s speed to the outside, and the Seraphs break some big plays early for touchdowns to put a Point Beach offense that has been struggling into a hole. The defense comes up with enough turnovers and stops to keep the Seraphs ahead if it becomes a high-scoring game. Point Beach best-case scenario: The Garnet Gulls dominate up front, pounding Mater Dei with the run game in the Wing-T, eating up the clock, and keeping that Seraphs’ offense off the field. Defensively, the front seven stuffs the run, contains the perimeter and forces the Seraphs to have to throw the ball more than they would like. The pick: Point Beach.
Asbury Park (1-1) at Pt. Boro (0-3), 7 p.m.
Asbury Park best-case scenario: The Blue Bishops used their bye week to get their offense on track after scoring a total of seven points in two games, while the defense bottles up the Panthers’ running game. Point Boro best-case scenario: The young Panthers snap out of their own offensive woes with Dan Nobbs and Jack Fitzsimmons, while the defense stops the run to make Asbury Park one-dimensional and forces some turnovers to put the offense in good spots. The pick: Asbury Park.
Keansburg (0-3) at Dunellen (1-2), 7 p.m.
Keansburg best-case scenario: The Titans find a way to generate some offense after struggling all season, the defense does a much better job against the run and comes up with turnovers or even touchdowns like last week with Yacir James, and new coach Chris Damian gets his first win. Dunellen best-case scenario: The Destroyers bottle up Keansburg’s running game and the offense picks up where it left off from a 49-35 loss to Mater Dei Prep last week. The pick: Dunellen.
Lakewood (2-1, 1-1) at Manchester (0-3, 0-2), 7 p.m.
Lakewood best-case scenario: Chapelle Cook is back and healthy running the ball, the passing game improves, and the defense contains Manchester quarterback Kashaun Barnes and forces Manchester to beat them with the running game. Manchester best-case scenario: The Hawks take the high-scoring offense of their first two games and combine it with the defensive effort they gave against Jackson Liberty last week to break into the win column. The pick: Lakewood.
Jackson Liberty (1-2, 1-1) at No. 8 Barnegat (3-0, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Jackson Liberty best-case scenario: The defensive front in the Lions’ stack alignment all flies to the ball and plays its best game to stand up to Barnegat’s imposing offensive line and running attack and make quarterback Cinjun Erskine throw the ball 20-plus times to win. The offense establishes the run, hits some big plays and produces two clock-draining drives to keep it close. Barnegat best-case scenario: The Bengals continue to dominate up front to pave the way for Erskine and A.J. Opre and grab an early lead, then force the Lions out of their comfort zone to throw the ball to have to catch up. The pick: Barnegat.
Pinelands (1-2, 1-1) at Central (2-1, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Pinelands best-case scenario: The defense creates turnovers to get some short fields and the pass rush consistently harasses Marquis Drumright, while the running game on offense allows the Wildcats to shorten the game. Central best-case scenario: Drumright and wideout Isaiah Akers produce some fireworks from the outset to put Pinelands in a hole, and the defense repeats its effort from a shutout win over Point Boro last week. The pick: Central.
Shore (2-1) at South River (3-0), 2 p.m.
Shore best-case scenario: The offense snaps out of a funk after a slow start and gets the running game in gear to set up some play-action throws, and the defense stuffs South River standout Doug Ryan, who is coming off an ankle injury, to limit a Rams’ offense that is averaging 37 points per game. South River best-case scenario: Ryan comes back strong after sitting out last week’s game against Keansburg and the defense forces Matt Muh to have to throw the ball 20-plus times to win by getting an early lead and stuffing the run game. The pick: Shore.
St. John Vianney (1-2, 0-2) at Manasquan (2-1, 1-1), 2 p.m.
St. John Vianney best-case scenario: The offensive line protects quarterback Billy DeMato enough to let him go to work on the Warriors again after he threw six touchdown passes against them last year. The defense stops Joe Murphy to put Manasquan into obvious passing downs and then pressures quarterback Tucker Caccavale. Manasquan best-case scenario: The adrenaline over blowing a 35-6 lead last year to lose to the Lancers fuels a strong effort up front to establish Murphy and let Caccavale hit intermediate throws to keep the chains moving. The pass rush consistently gets after DeMato, and the secondary and linebackers tackle well in space. The pick: Manasquan.
Holmdel (1-2, 0-1) at Monmouth (1-1, 0-0), 2 p.m.
Holmdel best-case scenario: The offense continues to gel at the skill positions and moves the ball consistently, while the defense plays good assignment football against the zone read and forces Monmouth to win by throwing the ball a majority of the time. Standout junior Frank Condito may also not be at 100 percent if he plays at all while trying to come back from an ankle injury. Monmouth best-case scenario: The Falcons used their bye week to correct some things on offense after being shut out by Long Branch and the defense plays great up front to prevent Holmdel from establishing the run. The pick: Monmouth.
Keyport (2-1) at Middlesex (1-2), 2 p.m.
Keyport best-case scenario: The Red Raiders quickly shake off the rust after not playing last week because of a forfeit by Cardinal McCarrick, hit some big plays early downfield with Alex Thomson in the passing game, and get Ky’sun Pryor and Desmond Underwood off to a good start in the running game. The defense continues to play well, stopping a Middlesex team that only scored a combined 13 points in its two losses. Middlesex best-case scenario: The Blue Jays catch Keyport coming slow out of the gate, get an early lead, and consistently mount a pass rush to get after Thomson. The pick: Keyport.
Brick Mem. (1-2, 0-2) at TR East (0-3, 0-2), 3 p.m.
Brick Memorial best-case scenario: The back-ups step up in the absence of star Mike Basile, who missed last week’s loss to Jackson Memorial, and the run defense improves from last week to keep the Mustangs right in the game and avoid their eighth loss in their last nine games dating back to last year. Toms River East best-case scenario: The new-look Raiders offense that exploded in a loss to Lacey last week continues on that path behind tailback Matt Gudzak, and the defense comes up with enough turnovers and stops to potentially win a shootout and get into the win column. The pick: Toms River East.
No. 4 Ohio State (5-0) at No. 16 Northwestern (4-0), 8 p.m. on ABC
Ohio State best-case scenario: Ohio State does the same thing to Northwestern that it’s done every year but once since 1973 – win, and usually by a big margin. Northwestern best-case scenario: Braxton Miller’s Heisman campaign goes off the rails in a hail of fumbles and interceptions, Northwestern’s spread offense wakes up after two sleepy weeks and lights up the Buckeyes, and Evanston goes crazy like it’s 1995 all over again. The pick: Northwestern, 42-38. (Realistic, non-biased pick: Ohio State, 45-28)