Scanning the High School Football Scene With Ed Sarluca: Week 7
Congrats to Joe Martucci who won his 200th football game as St. John Vianney shut out Middletown South 9-0. The longtime Matawan head coach won 197 of those games with the Huskies before retiring a few years back to continue his career at Kean University. He came back to the high school scene this year to lead the Lancers after Derick Sininsky suddenly retired last year. Martucci joins a pretty elite list including Warren Wolf, Vic Kubu, Chuck Donohue Sr, John Amabile, Lou Vircillo and Mike Ciccotelli who have all won over 200. It hasn’t been an easy run for the Lancers in 2018 but Martucci seems to have straightened them out just in time to make a run in the Non-Public Group 3 playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs the Non-Public Group 3 section is the most interesting. RBC (7-0) has taken over the top spot with DePaul (6-2) dropping to #2. Mater Dei Prep is #3, St John Vianney (3-4) is #4, and Donovan Catholic (4-2) is #5. Pope John (0-8) and Pingry (3-4) fill out the 7 teams. Bishop Eustace and Camden Catholic have opted out of that group so there are only 7 schools that unlike Public groups will be seeded by a committee after this week's games. This should be an interesting meeting of the seeding committee. DePaul wants the top spot. Their losses are to St Joe’s Montvale and Don Bosco Prep a pair of North Jersey powers. The first two rounds will be played the same as all other groups but then they will be off the week of Public sectional finals (November 16/17) and some will play the following weekend(Thanksgiving weekend-Nov 23/24). Remember this is a new format and each week we'll begin to understand it a little better. All the games in the public school divisions will be played at the higher seeds through the sectional championship games on Nov 16/17, and those winners will then play in “Bowl games” on Nov 23/24 or Nov 30/Dec 1 at Met Life Stadium. That’s 13 games over 4 dates. Thanksgiving games come into play on when certain teams play so the final dates of both the Non-Public Finals and Public School "Bowl Games" will be determined later.
Tough break (literally) for Barnegat as they have lost their All-Shore TE Sean Morris (Holy Cross recruit) to a broken thumb and season-ending surgery. The injury occurred during the Mater Dei Prep loss 3 weeks ago. The Bengals (6-1) have won two games since and are in the middle of the pack in the South Group 2 playoff picture.
Congrats to Holmdel (6-1) who won the National Division outright with their 43-3 win over Point Beach. It's the first title since 2007 for the Hornets.
In a classic football game RBC(7-0) held off Rumson(6-1) and won 14-13. The Caseys jumped to a 14-0 lead and seemed to have the game in hand but in the last five minutes Rumson came alive with 2 TDs, but a missed extra point that would have tied the game was blocked. Rumson got the ball pack in the final moments but missed a 42-yard field goal on the last play that would have won it for the never say die Bulldogs. We’ll hear from both of these teams in the playoffs.
Brick (5-2) has retooled the offense and seems to have settled on Anthony Prato as the QB. Jimmy Leblo, the former starter has been moved around in the backfield and at wide receiver and the Dragons are rolling just in time to make a run in Group 4. All-Shore player Cole Groschel came back from an ankle injury but then re-injured the ankle and is listed as day to day. They need Groschel to make a run in the playoffs.
Soph sensation Jake Kazanowski of TR North(5-2) threw 5 TD passes to lead the Mariners over TR East(2-5) 48-7 and now has 17 TD passes on the year. With a bevy of quality wideouts, the Mariners are a big play team that can hurt you from anywhere on the field and will pose problems for their Group 5 opponents.
Red Bank(6-1), Raritan (5-2), Long Branch (6-1), Mater Dei Prep(7-0), Ocean (4-4), Freehold Boro (4-3) and Shore (5-2) all won and have legit playoff potential.
Another team that may come up a little short for the playoffs but has had a great year is Pinelands (3-4). They beat Colts Neck this past week and have a winnable game this week at home against Keansburg. With a win this week the Wildcats could sneak into Group 3 playoffs. Great job by HC Matt Fuller and the entire Pinelands program.
Our Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week takes us to the new turf at Donovan Catholic as they entertain the Panthers of Point Boro. It will be a battle of former Brick Memorial stars as HC Dan Curcione (Donovan) and HC Brian Staub (Pt Boro) matchup on the sidelines. It’s been a tough first year for Staub as the Panthers (2-5) last four losses have come by a total of 13 points. Curcione has led the Griffs back to prominence with a 4-2 record so far. Game time is 7 pm on 92.7 WOBM and streamed live at shoresportsnetwork.com.