The long high school football season which began in the heat of summer will end this weekend when 24 state sectional champions are crowned during the NJSIAA/SportsCare Institute Football Finals at MetLife Stadium, High Point Solutions Stadium, Kean University and Rowan University.

Jackson Memorial head coach Walt Krystopik (Ed Sarluca, Townsquare Media NJ)

Now is not the time to talk about how ludicrous it is to have 24 teams be able to proclaim themselves as state champs but instead focus on what might be a great weekend for the Shore Conference as we could have as many a six of those 24 champions.

We’re guaranteed of one because Saturday night at Rutgers Jackson Memorial will face Middletown South in the Central Jersey Group 4 Final, a game the Shore Sports Network will broadcast on News Talk Radio WOBM 1160 and 1310 AM as well as ShoreSportsNetwork.com

The Jaguars come in as the #1 ranked team at the shore and their 10-1 record includes a victory over #2 Red Bank Catholic as well as a resounding 44-0 rout of Brick in the sectional semifinals two weeks ago as they avenged their only loss of the season. 

Coached by Walt Krystopik, the Jaguars are a physically dominating team led by senior quarterback Joe DeMaio, two-way sophomore standout Mike Gawlik and a rugged offensive line featuring Glenn Kipila and tight end Brody Graham.  Jackson is aiming for its fourth state crown, having won previously in 2000, 2001 and 2005. 

Middletown South head coach Steve Antonucci (Ed Sarluca, Townsquare Media NJ)

Of course Middletown South under coach Steve Antonucci has been one of the state’s most successful programs and this is the 11th time in the last 14 years the Eagles have appeared in the finals and 20th time overall.  They’ve won 9 titles but have lost in their last four trips to the championship game and are seeking their first title since 2006. 

The quest for Shore Conference success begins tonight when Matawan faces Carteret in the Central Jersey Group 3 final at Kean University. Tomorrow at Rutgers, Manalapan will meet undefeated South Brunswick for the Central Group 5 title at 10 a.m;  The Braves have lost three straight finals. Shore Regional also has an early start on Saturday as they take on South Hunterdon at Kean in the Central Group 1 championship game and then in the evening Rumson-Fair Haven goes for its second straight Central Group 2 crown against Delaware Valley.

The long championship weekend concludes Sunday night (7pm) at MetLife Stadium where Red Bank Catholic seeks its first title since 1976 when they collide with Delbarton in the Non-Public Group 3 final.   For more on this weekend’s games and our experts picks visit www.shoresportsnetwork.com