On what is a solemn day to remember throughout America we also celebrate the first full weekend of high school football in New Jersey, a game that in the best of times can bring schools and even communities together.  Of course as evidenced by what happened last year in Sayreville it can also tear them apart.


Donovan Catholic head football coach Dan Duddy on the Thursday Night High School Football Show (Townsquare Media NJ)

42 of the 43 Shore Conference teams take the field in what is the first full weekend of the season.  Some have aspirations of championship seasons while others hope to earn respect along with a few W’s along the way. Jackson Memorial, Red Bank Catholic, Manalapan, Matawan, Rumson and Shore realized their ultimate dreams last December when they won state sectional titles. The majority of those six teams have realistic chances to do it again.

Middletown South, one of the state’s premier public school programs under the direction of Steve Antonucci begins the season as the consensus #1 team at the shore but will be challenged by the likes of RBC, Jackson Memorial, St. John Vianney and Toms River North among others.  The Jaguars finished atop the rankings last year after starting the season not even in the top ten so there’s always the possibility of Cinderella crashing the party.

There’s been a near 20% turnover in head coaches with the new crop including veterans like Cory Davies at Freehold Township, Derek Sininsky at St. John Vianney and Greg LaCava at Holmdel.  Former Toms River North standout and Super Bowl champion Darian Barnes takes over at Colts Neck and Len Zdanowicz returns to his alma mater. Brick Township, another Warren Wolf disciple given the task of guiding the Green and White.

The Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week  returns tonight on News Talk Radio WOBM  1160/1310AM and shoresportsnetwork.com as we’ll be at newly refurbished Detweiler Stadium where Toms River South plays host to Donovan Catholic.  In a reversal of last year it will be the Griffins, led by bagpipers, cheerleaders, students and of course players marching from their campus to South.  A great display of spirit and what high school football is all about.  Meanwhile in Manahawkin Southern will honor the anniversary of 9/11 by wearing stars and stripes as they host Toms River East.

The Shore Sports Network’s 92-page special High School Football Preview Issue is now out and available at all Jersey Mike’s Subs and Super Wawa locations in Ocean and Monmouth counties.  We’ll also have them at tonight’s South-Donovan Catholic game and other games throughout the opening weekend.