Scanning the High School Football Scene: Week 4
While we are thankful that Hurricane Joaquin took an eastern turn sparing us a direct hit on our coast, we couldn't overcome the "other" storm that visited us on Thursday. Having lived at the Shore most of my life, I know nor'easter storms can sometimes be just as bad. That was certainly the case this weekend as heavy rain, severe winds, flooded roads, lost electricity, flooded homes, downed trees and overall miserable conditions created havoc with the high school football schedule. If your school field doesn't have synthetic turf, you were at a disadvantage this weekend. District athletic directors were scrambling all week to reschedule games and make it safe for players and fans. Those decisions are not always popular with all involved, but they must be made with safety being the bottom line. All games were eventually completed, being played from Thursday to Sunday. They say rain and wind is an equalizer in high school football and that was the case this weekend as several unbeaten teams were beaten. Jackson and Manalapan fell victim to good teams and to the elements.
Let's first look at our Game of the Week: the Brick/Jackson Memorial contest. I have been around Shore conference football as a coach and reporter for 48 years and I can honestly say these were the worst weather conditions I have ever seen a game played in. To make matters worse it was played on grass which became mud, had a driving rain and had 30 MPH winds which never let up. Reporting this game from the sidelines as I usually do, I witnessed first hand and up close the frustrations these players had to deal with. Brick (4-0) made a 1st quarter safety hold up and fought off the tremendous Jackson running game to prevail 2-0. With this victory, Brick takes over 1st place in the very tough A-South division. To say this was a battle of futility would be an understatement. Neither team could move the ball with any consistency as Brick managed 151 total yards while Jackson had just 67. In games like this, it's special teams and mistakes which dictate who wins and that's where the Dragons prevailed. Jackson had trouble all night snapping the ball, both on punts and from center. While punting from their own end zone midway through the first quarter, a bad snap sailed out of the end zone giving Brick the only points they would need. The Jags fumbled 8 different times and although they only lost 2 of them, many resulted in significant losses, putting them in constant long yardage situations which they could not overcome. Give much of the credit to the Brick defense, who continue to play great (6 points in 4 games). You know what they say: "defense wins championships". These 2 both play in Central Jersey Group 4. Can you say rematch!?
How about the fact that not one, but two 2-0 games were played this weekend in the Shore, as TR South beat Lacey on a safety to go to 3-1 on the season - nice start for the Indians. Meanwhile, Lacey is now 0-4. This one was decided on a great punt by RJ Laing which was downed at the Lacey 1 yard line. The Indians picked up the safety on 1st down as Jake Newton and Jake Lavedia tackled the ball carrier in the end zone with 5 minutes left. The Indians made the 2 points stand and the Indians had their 3rd win.
The other big game played Friday was Rumson at St. John Vianney in a battle of top 10 teams. SJV won this contest 13-6 on a 2 yard Calvin Beaty TD run in the 3rd period. The defense took care of the rest of the game, shutting down the Dogs. The Lancers (4-0) first TD came on an Anthony Brown 75 yard pass to 6'6" Marcque Ellington. Brown, playing with the wind at his back, saw 1 on 1 coverage and found Ellington on a post to tie the score at 6. A bad snap on the extra point created the tie. Rumson QB Mike O'Connor (101 yards) was tough in the loss and kept Rumson (2-1) close, but the Lancer 'D" prevailed. This win gives SJV a leg up in the A-Central division. Could the Lancers be on a collision course with RBC in the States? Both play in Non-Public Group 3 where Camden Catholic is also at 4-0, while perinial power Delbarton is 2-2.
Ocean (3-1), coming off a loss, played angry and roughed up Manasquan (2-2) 26-12 as RB Tyler Thompson ran for 229 yards and a TD on 29 carries. Next week, Ocean heads to Middletown North (3-1) in a big non-conference game.
Speaking of Middletown North, they did something that no team has done in the last 33 A-North games - they beat Manalapan. The 18-8 victory at home was led by Sophomore RB Connor Welsh who rushed for 84 yards and 2TDs on the windy, rainy night. Welsh was playing for the injured Chad Freshnock who has been fighting injuries this year. The Lion's "D" was tough on the running game of Manalapan, holding them to 139 yards.
Red Bank Catholic (4-0) continues to roll as they beat Wall 20-0. It's not just Eddie Hahn for the Caseys as this week RB Dylan Murphy ran for 3 TDs. A game with unbeaten Red Bank (4-0) looms in 2 weeks, but RBC goes on the road to winless Colts Neck this week.
One of the nice surprise teams of the year is Raritan, who won their 3rd game in a row as they rocked Freehold 34-0. The leader of the Rockets is RB Derek Ernst, who ran for 198 yards and 3 TDs on what head coach Anthony Petruzzi called the worst conditions he had ever seen a game played in. This "W" sets up a battle of unbeaten teams this week, as Red Bank (4-0) visits the Rockets.
Brick Memorial (3-1) continues to move the ball up and down the field, scoring at a record pace. This week it was winless Toms River East who absorbed the 44-6 'Stang onslaught. They piled up 500 plus yards on a windy afternoon with heavy driving rain throughout on the turf field of East. The defense has also played well, holding East to just 73 yards - that's 144 points in 3 weeks or 48pts/game. They play a pretty good Old Bridge (3-1) team this Friday at home.
Toms River North (3-1) also has been turning on the offense of late. This week it was Marlboro who saw the Mariners run up and down the field to the tune of 42-0, in a game that saw the running clock in the second half. It'll be a tough one this week for North in our Game of the Week, as Jackson Memorial pays a visit coming off their first loss of the year against Brick. Tune in at 7PM this Friday on News Talk Radio WOBM-AM 1160 & 1310 and ShoreSportsNetwork.com.
Congratulations to Matawan (1-3) for picking up their first win of the year as they beat Monmouth 14-0. More congrats to head coach John Bird and his Keansburg team for their first win of year with Arkeyel Brown scoring twice and rushing for 155 yards. The Titans beat South River 18-13.
Asbury Park (3-1) continues to play well for 1st year head coach Tim Fosque. They beat previously unbeaten Middlesex 14-13 this week with some late heroic fireworks. Trailing late with 1:43 left in the game and facing a long 4th and 38, they hit a 80 yard TD pass from Davon Thompson to Jaedon Stephens for the 6 points followed by a 2 point conversion pass that gave them the win. They get the week off and come off the bye with Keyport (2-2).
Lakewood (4-0) beat Jackson Liberty (2-2) 20-3 to maintain the B-South lead. They hold a half game lead on Point Boro (4-0, but just 3-0 in conference). Boro beat Manchester 26-6 on Thursday night. These 2 don't play until November 7th, the last B-South game of year.
Shore (4-0) just keeps playing and winning. They just picked up the Shop Rite Cup for 2014 as the top athletic school in the State. Congratulations to all of the Devil teams, including the football team who won 44-8 over Dunellen this week.
Other top 10 teams winning this week were: Brick Memorial (44-6 over winless Toms River East) and Middletown South (42-0 over Freehold Township). These 2 teams will play each other later in season in a huge non-conference game with many power points on the line.
Let's look at conference leaders through week 3. All leaders are unbeaten in their divisions:
A-North - Middletown South
A-Central - St. John Vianney and Raritan
A-South - Brick
B-North - Red Bank and RBC
B-Central - Shore
B-South - Lakewood and Point Boro
Join us on Thursday night from the Water Street Bar & Grille in Toms River as we talk high school football at the Shore from 7PM-8:30PM on News Talk Radio WOBM-AM 1160 & 1310 and ShoreSportsNetwork.com. Joining us in house will be Lakewood's head coach L.J. Clark and one of the top athletes in the Shore, Amir Tyler. Also on the program will be head coach Anthony Petruzzi of Raritan.