Scanning The High School Football Scene: Week 9
The first round of the State tournament is complete and 17 of the 25 teams that began are still alive. It was an excellent showing for the Shore as they are still alive in 10 sections of the State's 23 total.
8 teams tasted defeat, including defending champs Raritan, in CJ Group 2. The other 5 defending State Champs are still alive. We are guaranteed to have at least 1 champ as CJ Group 1 has 4 Shore teams left. Shore (6-3), Keypor t(9-1), Asbury Park (6-3) and Point Beach (6-4) are the 4 teams vying for the title. Keyport has beaten the other 3 teams and must be labeled the favorite in a very competitive division. They get Point Beach this week as they look for their 7th State title, but you can't count out any of these teams left.
First up, let's look at the teams who didn't make it to the semis, but did get the experience of a State game, which should help in the future of their programs. RBC (5-5), Southern (5-5), Freehold Twp. (7-3), Point Boro (7-3) and Keansburg (2-8) all completed their seasons with a defeat in the State tournament. Raritan (5-4), Lakewood (6-3), and Neptune (2-7) all have Turkey Day games to complete their seasons.
One major question of this season is how good is Mater Dei Prep (10-0)? Well, we will find out this week, as they entertain perineal champ St. Joe Hammonton (7-3), with 25 State Championships under their belt. Most believe the winner of this one goes on to win it all. Holy Spirit (7-2) may dispute that prediction, but the game winner will certainly provide the winner with a good feeling going into the final.
John Vianney (10-0) beat previously unbeaten Camden Catholic rather convincingly, 33-13 on the road on Saturday Night. The Lancers' reward is another road game against State power St Joe Montvale (7-2) who have won 17 titles. The Green Knights' losses have been to Don Bosco and St John's from Maryland, and they have beaten Paramus Catholic, Bergen Catholic, Delbarton and DePaul this year. Tough one for Lancers.
TR North (10-0) had a real test against a speedy Atlantic City team, but they did prevail 27-20. All championship teams usually have that 1 game where they are taken to the limit of despair. I think North had that test last Friday night and they survived. Next up is upset-minded Howell (6-4), who used a late 18 yard field goal by Patrick Handy to beat Vineland 29-27, on the road. North has already beaten Howell in week 4 by a 58-33 score. Howell has proven they can score against North, but better sharpen up the defense if they want the finals.
Manalapan (10-0) continues to roll this season with an easy 48-0 win against New Brunswick. That's 5 shutouts for Manalapan this year. Next up is defending champ South Brunswick (7-2), who beat the Braves in last year's semi-finals on their way to the championship. Look for the Braves to avenge that loss this year. RB Naim Mayfield and QB Luke Corcione lead the Braves on offense.
Mid North (7-2) and Mid South (7-2) look like they are on a collision course to meet on Turkey Day (that's definite) and in State finals of North 2 Group 4. Both had convincing wins last week and are favorites to advance this week. They are the 1 and 2 seeds. Sayreville gets Mid South and Summit gets Mid North.
Rumson (7-2), Brick (7-3), Manasquan (8-1), Jackson (6-4), Wall (7-2) and Freehold (6-4) all won and advance to semis. Of all the teams that continue to play, I must mention Freehold Boro and what Ashante Worthy has done. All Worthy did on Saturday was account for 10 TDs (8 rushing and 2 passing) in a 69-56 win over Pennsauken. Since being moved from RB to QB, Worthy has been a TD machine and has led them to 6 wins in a row and a berth in the semifinals of the State finals. Worthy has accounted for 38 TDs on the year: 28 rushing, 8 passing, 1 KO return, and a pick 6. The combined 125 points is the most in the 43-season history of the NJSIAA playoffs. Worthy has Freehold on a 6 game winning streak, since starting season with 4 losses. Brick is the next opponent and the defense better be ready for Mr. Worthy.
Join us at Lefty's Bar and Restaurant in Barnegat on the Gateway Toyota Coaches Corner from 7-8PM on Thursday night. We will talk SJV football with players and coaches from the unbeaten Lancers. Also joining us will be Lou Vircillo and the Lions of Lacey. Can't be there? We are on 105.7 The Hawk and streaming live on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.
Our Game of the Week takes us to Toms River North for a rematch as the Rebels of Howell get another crack at North in a State Group 5 South Jersey semifinal. Tune in at 7PM this Friday night on 105.7 The Hawk.