Championship Saturday turned out to be something very special to 3 Shore area football teams. Neptune, Asbury Park and Matawan came away with the trophy, as we saw some amazing and spectacular performances at both Rutgers and The College of New Jersey.

In my opinion the game of all games took place at Rutgers University, as Neptune used one of the more fantastic, gutsy performances by QB Jaheem Woods to come from behind and beat Steinert 47-28. There are not enough adjectives that can describe what Woods did on Sat. to lead his team to their 4th overall title, and first since 1998. Calling him a warrior, or a gladiator does not due justice to Woods spectacular effort. Rushing for 257 yards and 4 TDs and throwing for 164 yards and another score, Woods totaled 421 yards for the game, and he did all this with an injury that would have sidelined most high school athletes. Woods hurt his right shoulder on the 5th play of the game and spent the remaining 2 plus hours with his right arm hanging by his side after each whistle ending a play. Each time Woods came to the sidelines, doctors, athletic trainers and coaches would put him through a series of exercises to check the shoulder. Each time he withstood the pain and returned to lead his team, on both sides of the ball. We never really completely found out what the right shoulder injury was. Call it a slight dislocation or a bad bone bruise, the only thing that really matters, is that Woods never missed a play on offense. Neptune trailed 28-21 at the half against a strong armed QB dressed in green and white. Steinert QB Adam Reese completed 22 of 44 passes for 269 yards and 4 TDs. Throwing balls to a variety of great receivers, Reese put on a Tim Tebow show that left those in attendance in awe, as Steinert scored with no time on the first half clock, to go sprinting into the locker room with the 7 point lead. That's where the game changed. With the staff that Head Coach Mark Ciccotelli has put together, coaches like Dom LePore, Sal Spompanoto, Al Saner, Brian Duffy made the necessary adjustments and shut out the Spartans in the second half, while scoring 26 unanswered points. To win Championships, you must have a well rounded team of players that play together and can rise to the occasion. Ikie Calderone, David Gutzmore, Jazmar Clax, Myles Martin, Otis Lawrence, David Calderone are some of the supporting players around Woods. Each provided a moment of play, which combined with Woods Player of the Game effort, gave Mark Ciccotelli his 9th consecutive playoff win. As you can imagine, the town was in a very festive mood, after the game, as firetrucks, parents, police cars met the Fliers as they returned to Neptune, and the party began. Congratulations to the Flier program and everyone involved with with 2011 CJ-3 Championship.

Asbury Park, playing a 10am game at The College of New Jersey, the Bishops won their 4th State Title in the last 5 years. They beat a 10-2 Florence team that had playoff history on their side. The 42-18 final score, reaffirms the "dynasty" the Bishops have become. Coach Matt Ardizone won his first title as the head man of the Bishops, after being an assistant for the other 3, under Don Solfakanich, who left to go to Neptune for 1 year and then Bishop Ahr this year. Ardizone and the Bishops, played this contest, in the memory of John Key, who was an Asbury assistant coach who was killed in a parkway incident back in October. Key was trying to check on the occupants of another car involved in an accident, and was hit by a car and killed. Holding a framed picture of Key up in their championship picture after the game, was and will, be a memorable moment for all these players and coaches. The game itself had some different hero's then the usual Amir and Armond Conover. Cory Goodson, who was ineligible last year, led a Bishop defense that stopped the Flash 3 times in the redzone in the first half. this allowed the Bishops to lead it 14-0 at the half and they never looked back, outscoring the Flash 28-18 in the second half. Armond Conover and Islam Joshua each scored 2 TDs as Asbury Park amassed 338 yards offensively. Defensively, they intercepted senior QB D'Andre Davis twice, one resulting in a TD. Thomond Hammery got the party started with a 72 yard strike from Robert Barksdale on the games first play. Although Barksdale was picked off 3 times in the first half, that first TD gave Asbury some momentum, and their own defense held Florence in the Redzone 3 times to take the 14-0 lead into the locker room at the half. Solid effort for a team that only lost to Rumson and Neptune this year and walk away with their 6th overall Championship.

Matawan pulled off the biggest upset of our 3 winners. Playing with 4 defensive starters suspended for the game, the Huskies put forth a defensive effort, that very well may be the best Head Coach Joe Martucci, has ever seen them play. They shut out a very good Rumson team 3-0, to win their 6th overall Championship and second in the last 3 years, and 5th for Head Coach Joe Martucci. It was a stunning defensive effort by the Huskies, that saw Rumson limited to 80 yards rushing. SS Larry Alston was playing possessed on defense. It seemed like Alston knew where every play was going. Alston had hits on Rumson receivers you only see on Sunday in the NFL. Martucci compared Alston's play to one Jay Bellamy in the late 80's. Bellamy, just happens to be on Martucci's staff now and played a big part in Alston's play on Saturday. Also, lets give some credit to Sam Turner, who coordinates the Huskie "D". Super job, under extreme conditions. The game itself came down to one field goal kicked(Mike Creamer's 32 yarder in first quarter) and two that weren't kicked. Rumson found itself on the Matawan 17 with 37 seconds left in he contest. Placekicker Wil Volker came out for a 34 yard field goal attempt, only to see a fake ensue and Dan Roberto's pass attempt fall incomplete, and sent Matawan players and fans into hysteria. Rumson also elected to fake another field goal attempt with 5:25 left in first half, which would have been a 23 yarder by Volker. A fake, which at the time didn't seem like a big play, but turned out to be a game decider. Matawan's last 2 weeks were spent in turmoil and talk of Martucci possible retiring were heard up and down the Shore. Would this be Joe's last game, has this latest incident been too much for the 28 year Head Coach to overcome. Well Joe answered a lot of questions with a stunning victory on the big stage at Rutgers. His 197th win in a career that has seen 5 Championships and numerous division titles ended with him being carried off the field on his players shoulders. He will retire as Athletic Director and school employee at the end of the year, and if this was his last game on the gridiron, he will go with one more Championship in the trophy case. I am proud to have known Joe all these years and even prouder to call him a friend. Congratulations to him and his Huskie players, for giving us a thrill that will not be forgotten.

One team that didn't get it done on Saturday was the Braves of Manalapan HS. They were beaten by an excellent Sayreville team 23-11. RB Delon Stevenson, who is headed to Rutgers University next fall, was a man among boys in this contest. Stevenson ran for 173 yards on only 14 carries, caught 3 passes and had 10 tackles on defense, which included 2 interceptions. Manalapan's star RB John Sieczkowski was limited to 84 yards on 24 carries. His numbers were well under his numbers for the year, when he ran for 2189 yards. QB Mike Isabella, who was an intricate part of the Brave offense, had an off day, and that cost them dearly. Isabella was just 6 of 13 for 128 yards, he was picked off twice and sacked 5 times. Only a junior, Isabella will be back to lead the Braves in 2012, will only learn from this game. While it was a disappointing way to end the season, the Braves can look back at a A-North Division title and a school record 10 wins. Sayreville has gone 30-5 during Stevenson career and have won back to back CJ-4 Championships the last 2 years.

 

Final Top Ten:

1. RBC-(10-1) The Caseys defeated Rumson last week to claim the top spot. Week 2 victory, in 2 OT, over Neptune was Fliers only blemish.

2. Neptune-(11-1) The Fliers are CJ-3 Champions and that's the only thing that counts for them. Great year under first year head coach Mark Ciccotelli. Ciccotelli has now won 3 title in 4 years(2 at Freehold and 1 at Neptune).

3-Matawan-(9-3) Here's where the top ten gets a little crazy. You could easily put teams 3-5 in any order and get an argument. I chose to put Matawan #3 coming off their stunning 3-0 victory to avenge an early season loss to Rumson.

4. Rumson-(10-2) The Bulldogs were A-Central Champs and lost a close contest to Matawan in the finals of CJ-2.

5. Asbury Park-(10-2) The Bishops won their 4th title in the last 5 years on Sat. when they beat Florence 42-18. A"dynasty" has been built at Asbury Park.

6. Manalapan-(10-2)- Don't let a final loss take away from what was a tremendous season for the Braves. A-North Champs.

7. Southern-(8-2) A-South Champs beat Jackson early in year.

8. Jackson-(8-2) I know Jackson beat Manalapan in week 1 in last seconds of that contest, but I thought body of work by Braves was a little better than Jackson's.

9. Wall-(8-2) C-Central Champs beat rival Manasquan on Turkey Day.

10A. Barnegat-(7-4) B-South Champs. 3 of 4 losses were to top ten teams.

10B. Manasquan-(9-2) Had to find a spot for Warrior's in the top ten. Lost QB Tyler Saito in early 3rd quarter on Thanksgiving to knee injury, but overall a good year for first year Head Coach Jay Price.

 

Just outside looking into top ten:

Middletown South-(7-3) Mo Championships this year for Eagles. That's a rarity.

Point Beach-(8-3) Coach John Wagner has revitalized the Gulls. Made it to CJ-1 semi's.

 

One more Thursday show at Boston's this week for our "Fab 4o" players of year. Join us--7-9 pm.