Scanning The High School Football Scene: Week 8
The second season begins this week with the first round of the State playoffs. 25 Shore area teams have qualified for a run at 23 State Championships to be given out over the weekend of Dec. 2-4.
Considering there are 43 schools that play football in the Shore, 58% have made the playoffs, including top ranked TR North(9-0) and Keansburg(2-7) on the other end of the spectrum. The "Burg" gets in in a weak CJ Group 1 group that also has 4 other B-Central teams in it. As a matter of fact, the entire B-Central made the playoffs, with Mater Dei Prep(9-0) leading the way.
Shore(5-3) is the #1 seed, even though #3 seed Keyport(7-1) has beaten Shore and Point Beach(5-4), the #2 seed). Only in New Jersey can that happen. What it means is Keyport only gets 1 home game(first round) and must travel in semi-final round 2, if seeds pan out.
All six 2015 champs are back to defend titles won last year. Again TR North leads this pack. Jackson(5-4), Raritan(5-3), Middletown South(6-2), Rumson(6-2), and Shore(5-3) all will defend their titles.
No predictions yet, I'll save that for next week, but with 23 games involving the 25 teams, we are sure to have multiple winners this week and then it gets serious. There are 2 all Shore matchups in week one: Brick/Neptune and Keansburg/Shore.
I'd like to mention the 3 top teams, in my opinion, who didn't make the playoffs: Central(7-2), Lacey(6-3) and Ocean(4-5). Central, of course, would have easily made the SJ Group 4 bracket if it wasn't for the 3 player ejections that occurred in week 2. Tough break for one of Ocean County's best teams. Lacey just missed out in SJ Group 3 finishing 9th, and Ocean playing in the killer B-North division also finished 9th in CJ Group 3 and failed to qualify. QB Kenny Pickett finishes his HS career at home this Thursday night vs. Robbinsville HS. Next year it's Pitt University for Kenny.
While running backs can both control the game and shorten the game, it's the QB that usually steals the headlines in the morning press. This year is no different. Everybody has heard of TRN's Mike Husni, Mid North's Donald Glenn, Free Twp Charles Sabbagh, Mid South's Aneesh Agrawal and Rumson's Mike O'Connor. They among others have led their teams to the playoffs.
But let's take a closer look at the outstanding crop of underclassmen at the Q B position. Junior George Pearson(Mater Dei Prep) leads an outstanding class of quarterbacks. He has played the position at 3 different schools in his 3 years and has already won a State Championship at Matawan in his freshman year. He will try and take Mater Dei Prep to the promised land. Junior James Fara(Point Boro) has become a star in his first full time year. Running the flexbone offense, he can run it and throw it with equal ability.
Junior Luke Corcione of Manalapan has a gunslingers attitude, but a running game to go with it. Focus your attention on Mayfield and Luke will hurt you. Wall's junior Eddie Scott has led the Knights to playoffs. Playing a handful of games his sophomore year has enabled him to take control of the offense this year. He's big and strong and he will only get better next year. Howell's junior Eddie Morales is another outstanding athlete who has taken his team to the playoffs. All Eddie did last weekend was go 28-30 for 303 yards and 6 TDs. Not a bad set of numbers.
Point Beach has junior Luke Frauenheim to make a run in CJ Group 1 and then lead them in 2017. Central's Soph QB Joe Fowler will make sure Central is not a flash 1 year team. Playing behind RB Mike Bickford this year, its Joe's team next year. Freehold's Ashante Worthy was moved to the QB position 1/2 way through season and has found a spot where he can excel. He has outstanding talent. I'm sure I left a few others out, but with these kids running their teams next year, the Shore certainly is in good shape.
Join us Thursday for The Coaches Corner at Bum Rogers in Seaside Park where we talk HS football. This week(7-8pm) we zero in on TR North and spend the entire hour with their head coach and multiple players from the #1 team, as they begin their run to repeat in SJ Group 5. We are on 105.7 The Hawk or streamed here on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.
Our game of the week will be Atlantic City at Toms River North in first round of SJ Group 5 playoffs. Friday night at 7 pm on WOBM AM 1160 and 1310 or streamed here at ShoreSportsNetwork.com.