Photo by Paula Lopez/PAL Images

With 2 weeks remaining before the State playoffs begin there are still major questions to be answered. Let me give you the basic setup:

The State is divided into 13 sections.

         North 1, 2, 3, 4, 5—-30 schools each

         South 1, 2, 3, 4, 5—-30 schools each

         Non-Public 2,3,4—-13-10-11 schools each

Each of those sections will be broken into two brackets,  North 1 and North 2 (8 schools each bracket) and South and Central (8 schools each bracket). Non-Public (8 in each bracket).

Public Schools playoffs are for three weeks, Nov. 2/3, Nov 9/10 and Nov 16/17. That leaves us 20 sectional champions. (All games will be held at higher seed fields). Then those winners will play a “Bowl Game” on Nov.30 or Dec.1 at Met Life Stadium.  North vs. North and South vs. Central.

Non-Public sectional Finals will be Nov 23/24 and Nov 30/Dec 1.  Now that you have the format, let’s look at the Shore schools involved:

According to my calculations, there are still 35 schools alive.  The most interesting will be the South and Central divisions.  The 30 schools in each group will be broken into 2 sections(Central and South). That division will be done by Northing numbers and United Power Rank and that’s where it becomes kind of confusing.  Teams on the borderline can go South or Central.  The United Power Ranking is attained by a combination of Power Points and the Born Ranking to get a number like 3.2.  The lower the better for UPR.  Top 8 get in.  The Non-Public groups will be a seeding process to determine bracket.  

Hope you followed that summation of this year’s playoff system.  It’s drastically different and the powers that devised it say, after week 8, everything will become clearer.  We shall see.  

Around the Shore last week.

The stunner was at Jackson Liberty as the Lions beat crosstown rival Jackson 14-0 for their first victory over the Jaguars in 11-lifetime meetings.  Using two interceptions, one for a TD, the other to set up a short TD run allowed the Lions (2-4) to take a 14-0 halftime lead and they used a great defense the rest of the way and shutout the previously unbeaten Jags.  Jackson (5-1) played without starting QB John Ghigna and must shake it off quickly as they get Brick (4-2) this week at home.

Mater Dei Prep (7-0) looked very impressive in the 41-0 thrashing of previously unbeaten Manasquan (5-1). RB Malik Ingram (170 yds rushing and 3TDs) and QB  Robert McCoy are two of the Seraphs leaders and it's time to recognize them as an elite team. I think an RBC/ Mater Dei matchup in Non-Public Group 3 would be a classic.

Nice win for Freehold Twp(4-2) over crosstown rival Freehold (3-3).  It was 13-10 and it’s usually the Patriots offense that gets headlines but the defense controlled QB Matt Krauss and held the Colonials to one TD.  

Ocean (3-4) has quietly had a decent season with three wins so far.  They went into the Point Boro (2-4) game as underdogs and won it 27-21.  Nice job by players and Don Klein, Head Coach of the “Big Red”.

Holmdel (5-1) clinched at least a tie in National Division with an easy 38-0 win over Asbury Park (2-3).  A win over winless Point Beach this week gets them the title outright.  QB Jeff DeCicco is a good one, as is RB Dean Gallo, who ran for 180 yards against AP.  

Manalapan (4-2) and Brick Memorial (3-4) played a shootout in front of a capacity homecoming crowd at BM.  Final was 31-28 with backup RB Nick Santorelli, thrust into action when starter Dale Sieczkowski went down with an injury,  running for 199 yards to lead the Braves.  QB Tyler Sindel of BM ran for 140 yards and 2 TDs as the Mustangs ran for nearly 300 yards on the night but it wasn’t enough.  

Congrats to Central (1-6) and Middletown North (1-5) who won their 1st game last week.  Central beat Southern and Mid North beat Howell.  That leaves TR South, Lakewood(they play each other Turkey Day), Point Beach, and Matawan as the only winless teams still at the Shore. On the other side, the undefeated list lost Jackson and Manasquan.  That leaves Mater Dei Prep(7-0), RBC(6-0) and Rumson (6-0) as the lone unbeaten teams.  That number will be reduced this week as RBC and Rumson play each other Friday night. MDP will play Donovan Catholic(4-1) and then Cheshire Academy (3-2) in Connecticut to close the season and try to remain undefeated before playoffs.

Nice bounce back wins by Brick (4-2), Barnegat (5-1), Long Branch (5-1), Donovan Catholic (4-1) and TR North (4-2) after losing division championship games last week.  Brick played without all-around star Cole Groschel (ankle) in the Dragon 42-14 win over Lacey.  The offense was in full “go” mode with Jimmy Leblo, Jacob Wynkoop, Jimmy Williams and Anthony Prato leading the Dragons.  In Long Branch, RB Jermaine Corbett returned the opening KO 87 yards and never looked back in a 26-0 victory over Wall (4-2).  Barnegat’s Charlie Cotton became the schools all-time leader in rushing yards as the Bengals continued their outstanding season with a 28-7 win against Keyport.  Donovan Catholic easily handled Point Beach 55-0 to set up the big game against unbeaten Mater Dei Prep this week.  TR North mercy ruled TR South 42-0 in the Great American Rivalry game on Friday night as sophomore QB Jake Kazanowsky threw 3 TD passes to lead the Mariners.  North hits-the another side of TR as they travel to East Friday night and we’ll be there to cover it.  

Red Bank(5-1) has been one of the major surprises of the year.  They beat a good Raritan (4-2) team with a second-half blitz and three 4th quarter TDs. The Bucs offense is good and their defense in vastly underrated.  A 42-7 loss to RBC is the only blemish on Buc card.  

Wednesday Gateway Toyota Coaches Corner will be at the Office Lounge in Toms River from 7-8pm on the 105.7 The Hawk or streamed at shoresportsnetwork.com.  This week Jackson HC Vin Mistretta and seniors Leo Shimonivich and Hunter Rose will appear on the show to talk about a season in which they have clinched a division title and are looking to make a run in the playoffs.

Our Jersey Mike’s Friday night Game of the Week takes us to Toms River East as the Mariners of Toms River North invade Dvorack Field. Join us 7 p.m. on 92.7 WOBM or streamed live on the Shore Sports Network.