The “Green Wave” rolled into Rutgers University on Saturday afternoon in their quest to win a championship. The game began at 4 p.m. and when they left three hours later they had enough memories to last a lifetime.

What happened will be long remembered as one of the great games in state playoff history. It had been 18 years since Long Branch last won a title, Head Coach Dan George was in his first year back then. Little did Dan know it would take a 43-42 win in overtime to get another championship. His gutsy call for a 2-point conversion when an extra point would have sent the two teams into another OT, was the kind of call that puts you in the record books.

The opposition was Freehold High School, and they played like champions also. They have nothing to be ashamed of as they played their hearts out, but came up just a little short. The Colonials were led by my 2017 MVP in the Shore, Mr. Ashante Worthy who was amazing in defeat. He scored 6 TDs and broke the state rushing record during the game with his 2,860 yards. He finishes the year with 4,966 total yards and 61 TD and also became the first ever to rush and throw for 2,000 yards in a season. But it wasn’t enough as Long Branch had their heroes also. Senior QB Juwan Wilkins, who threw for 260 yards and 3 TDs and scored one on the ground and sophomore RB Jermaine Corbett, who ran for 152 yards and 2 TDs. Corbett returns for 2 more years and will lead the Wave in 2018. Congratulations to two great teams who put on quite a show in front of the thousands at High Point Solutions Stadium. They sure got their money's worth.

Despite the Long Branch victory, it was a very long and disappointing weekend for the Shore as the other five teams playing all lost, including previously unbeaten Manalapan and Point Pleasant Boro. Both were heavily favored and both lost heart breaking games. Manalapan fell 18-14 to South Brunswick (11-1) and Boro lost 20-13 to Hillside. Both were champions of their respective divisions, but go home with very disappointing losses. Both coaches were very gracious in defeat during postgame interviews which is the sign of a classy program. Point Pleasant Beach (6-5) lost to Middlesex 33-21 at Kean University. Still a great achievement for the run they made to the title game by John Wagner and the Gulls.

Rumson, who was looking for five championships in a row went down in the last minute to Somerville 20-15. A 10-2 season completes another great year by one of the great programs in the Shore.

In a Sunday game at Rowan, Mater Dei Prep (8-2, B-Central Champs) were defeated by state power St. Joe Hamm (12-0) 30-14. It was St Joe’s 26th overall championship. Now that’s a program. The loss prevented QB George Pearson from winning his third championship, but he still had a terrific career.

That concludes the 2017 season. One team celebrates a little more than the rest, but many teams had great years and gave us many memories to look back on.

Be sure to listen to the Gateway Toyota Coaches Corner on December 13th (7p.m.) when we name our All-Shore teams, Players and Coach of the Year, present our final Top 10, and put a bow on the 2017 season. The show airs on 105.7 The Hawk and shoresportsnetwork.com.

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