Scanning The High School Football Scene: Week 5
Going into week 6 we have 9 unbeaten teams left in the Shore. Let's take a closer look at each to see who has the best chance to stay that way before the week 9 cutoff date (Nov. 4-5) for the State playoffs:Middletown South (5-0): By far the toughest and most challenging schedule of all 9 teams. After a bye week this week, they have games with Toms River North (5-0), St. John Vianney (5-0), and Wall (5-0). A combined 15-0 record will test the Eagles big time. As the #1 team, they will certainly earn the ranking if they can run the table. Chance - very tough.Toms River North (5-0): The best offense in the State will be tested by an up and down Jackson team (2-3) which features RB Mike Gawlik, who can beat you on any given night. Middletown South (5-0) in 2 weeks looks like the game of the year and will be a big time test. After Middletown South, North must face cross town rival Toms River South (2-3) which will be difficult following the big game. Chance - good.Saint John Vianney (5-0): The Lancers have had some close games this year and remain unbeaten, but that may change. Rumson (3-1) is up next and they are stingy on defense. Points will be tough to get. Red Bank Catholic (3-2) is always tough and these 2 play in the same State group, so the game will have big time playoff implications. Then the Lancers get Middletown South (5-0). Tough schedule for sure. Chance - not good.
Manalapan (5-0): The Braves should get to 7-0 with games against Howell (3-2) and Neptune (1-3), but then face very tough Piscataway (4-0), who should be unbeaten when they face the Braves. They just knocked off a very good Sayreville team which had been unbeaten. Piscataway also is in the same State group (Central 5) as Manalapan, so the game could be for the top seed in the bracket. Chance - fair.
Wall (5-0): The Knights have been one of the nice surprise teams of the year. They have fought back in several games to remain unbeaten, but it's a tough schedule for them ahead. Middletown North (3-1) is up first, Matawan (1-4) is up second and is the easiest of the 3 games, and finally it's Middletown South (5-0) before cut off weekend. The Middletown South game could be for the B-North championship. Wall's RB Sean Larkin has been a beast on both sides of the ball. Chance - very tough.
Freehold Township (5-0): Without a doubt the biggest surprise of the year and the team with probably the best chance to be 8-0 at the cutoff. Jackson Liberty (0-5), Howell (3-2), and East Brunswick (1-3) are all game the Patriots will be favored to win. Upsets can occur, but I expect them to run the table. The State group (Central 5) will be a different story as Manalapan and Piscataway are in the group also. Freehold Township and Manalapan play on Nov. 4th, but it's the 9th game for both and won't count toward playoffs, however will be for A-North championship. Chance - excellent.
Point Boro (5-0): Another surprise team of 2016, the Panthers, under first year head coach Matt Cilento, have a tough matchup with unbeaten Lakewood (4-0) coming up this week. 3 teams remain without a loss in B-South: these 2 and Barnegat, so the winner Friday night will take over the favorite role for that championship. After Lakewood, the Panthers have winless Jackson Liberty (0-5) and then a tough non-conference matchup with Ocean (2-3) and QB Kenny Pickett. Panther QB James Fara has had a great year running the flexbone offense of Point Boro, so the Ocean game will be a matchup of the great thrower vs. the great runner. Chance - very tough.
Mater Dei Prep (5-0): The Seraphs have been untested so far and should be able to run the table here and get to 8-0. Asbury Park (3-1) is up next and will be the toughest of the 3 games. After Asbury Park, it's winless Holmdel (0-4) and South River (2-3) before the cutoff and both should be wins. QB George Pearson has been the man at Mater Dei Prep and he has a real playmaker in Eddie Lewis to get the ball to. Pearson, a junior, has already led a team to a State championship in 2014, when he led Matawan over Carteret to Central group 3 crown as a freshman. Pearson was great on a dreary, heavy rainy night at Kean University, with the final score of 27-7. With Holy Spirit (5-0) and St. Joe Hammonton (5-1) in their State bracket this year, the Seraphs will have to be at their best to win a title. Chance - excellent.
Lakewood (4-0): The only 4-0 team gets a chance at another unbeaten this week at Point Boro (5-0). It'll be a tough road for the Piners after Boro. They move up in class with a non conference matchup with Brick (3-2) which will be a big power point game for them. Then, they play a good Barnegat (3-2) team and finish with Pinelands (2-3) who have now won 2 in a row, and may be looking for a playoff berth in week 8. QB Zyheir Jones has led the Piners, but they will be tested. Chance - very tough.
There you have our unbeaten teams after week 5. It's a talented bunch with great players up and down their lineups. Once again the Shore proves it is one of the top conferences in the State of New Jersey.
The Gateway Toyota Coaches Corner football show this week takes us to Bum Rogers in South Seaside Park as we talk Central Regional football. Join us this Thursday from 7-8PM on site or listen on 105.7 The Hawk, or at ShoreSportsNetwork.com
Our Game of the Week takes us to Jackson, where the co-leaders of A-South, Toms River North come to town. Listen this Friday at 7PM on News Talk Radio WOBM-AM 1160 & 1310.