Scanning The Scene: The Sweet Sixteen
26 entered and 16 survived the first round. We now enter the semifinals of the State playoffs with shore area teams still alive for the big trophy. Led by three #1 seeds, (Manalapan (10-0), Point Pleasant Boro (10-0), and Rumson (8-1)) the Shore is still well represented in the playoffs. All three breezed to 1st round victories and now face a stiffer challenge in round two.
For me, the marquee game this weekend is an epic matchup in Central 2 as two physical teams in Manasquan (6-3) and unbeaten Point Boro meet with a trip to the finals on the line. Boro runs their explosive option attack, while Manasquan plays great defense as it's a classic confrontation of “O” vs “D”. Led by QB James Fara, Boro cruised to the B-South championship by 2 games. He has big play potential every snap, as he combines his reading skills on the corner with great breakaway speed. Fara is also surrounded by other skill players like Tanner Gordon and Brandon Cipriano who are also capable of taking it to the house on any touch. But it’s the “O” line that makes this team go and that’s where this game will be won or lost. Manasquan has thrown 4 shutouts at opponents and has given up only 21 points in their 6 wins. That’s pretty impressive. QB Tommy Antonucci runs their offense and also plays defense, while RB Connor Morgan is the workhorse in the backfield. Should be a great game involving two great programs. The Shore Sports Network will broadcast this one on Friday night at 7 p.m.
We are guaranteed at least one State champion as all four teams left in Central 4 are from the Shore. #8 seed Freehold (7-3) upset #1 seed Nottingham 51-34 as Ashante Worthy went off again, accounting for 606 yards of the 615 that Freehold’s offense rolled up. He is just an unbelievable player. #5 seed Brick (6-4) upset #4 and defending champ Allentown to get a matchup with Freehold this week at Brick. Cole Groschel is Mr. Versatility for the Dragons as he is all over the field. #2 seed Brick Memorial was beaten by upstart Jackson 22-14 in a rematch game from the week before, which Brick Memorial won. The Jaguars used a great game plan to control the ball on offense and did an outstanding job of shutting down the Mustangs behind a superb defensive effort. Credit to O Coordinator Keith Anderson for a great game plan. They now get #3 seed Long Branch, who beat Middletown South 20-0. The Wave are the highest seed (#3) still left in the bracket after shutting out the Eagles for the second time this year (21-0 on October 6). They're a solid team, but not unbeatable and I give the Jags a legit shot here. They certainly have the pedigree in this program to go all the way. Vinny Mistretta should get a few Coach of the Year votes in my book, especially if he gets the Jags to finals.
In South Jersey Group 3 #6 seed Lakewood (5-4) upset #3 seed Lacey 22-14. This win avenged an earlier season one point loss to the Lions. The Jones twins were a force determined to get the Piners the win. Lakewood, winners of four straight gets #2 seed Woodrow Wilson on the road. Timber Creek is the top seed and favorite in this group.
Rumson (8-1) continues on the road to five championships in a row. They took care of Lawrence 35-6 and get Wall (5-4) who was an upset winner over Steinert 49-41. In the Wall win, RB Brady McNally ran for 343 yards and 5 TDs. We are guaranteed to have one in the finals, after we get a winner in that game. It also sets up a great Thanksgiving Day game that we will broadcast when Manasquan travels to Wall on November 23rd. Both these team will play next weekend, so it will be a short work week for the two. Lakewood (TR South), Long Branch (Neptune) and Rumson (Shore Reg.) are also scheduled for Thanksgiving and playing this weekend.
Congrats to Point Beach HC John Wagner who picked up win #200 in Beach’s come from behind 22-14 win over #2 seed Manville in Central Group 1. Beach trailed 14-0 in the 1st half and rallied with 22 points in the second half to win it and get a matchup with #3 seed Bound Brook. Beach is the only team left in a bracket usually filled with Shore teams as Asbury Park and Shore both lost their first round games.
Nice win for HC Corey Davies and Freehold Township as they won their first playoff game ever with their 17-13 win over North Brunswick. They now get another shot at top seeded Manalapan, who beat the Patriots 48-7 two weeks ago. #2 seed South Brunswick continues to eyeball the Braves in the bracket.
Howell (9-1) won and now get top seeded Lenape (8-1) in a South 5 semifinal. Howell is a dangerous team with WR Naseim Brantley and QB Eddie Morales and look for some points in this one. I’m looking and thinking upset here. Go Rebels.
St John Vianney (10-0) (ranked #2 in the Shore behind Manalapan) was in a shootout in round one before outlasting Camden Catholic 45-40 to earn a date with top seeded DePaul, who is coming off a first round bye. After that, it’s the winner of Pope John and St. Joe Montvale in the finals, if they are to win it all. Not an easy road for the Lancers. Johnny Buchanan ran for 294 yards and a pair of TDs in the Camden Catholic win. He’s the player that makes the Lancers and must be at his best this week.
Mater Dei Prep (7-1) continues their turbulent year with a very nice 1st round win against Holy Cross 42-22. Next up is #2 seed Holy Spirit on the road. The Prep are the defending champs in Non-Public Group 2.
This week on the Gateway Toyota Coaches Corner we will be at Margaritas in Toms River as Lakewood Head Coach LJ Clark joins us with Zyheir and Jyheir Jones, the twin brothers who have played great in the Piners 4-game winning streak. Also on this week's show is Manasquan’s Head Coach Jay Price and his QB and leader Tommy Antonucci and defensive standout Evan Hills. Two playoff bound semi finalists who have big games this weekend. As always the show is broadcasting from 7-8 p.m. on 105.7 The Hawk and streamed at shoresportsnetwork.com.
More from Shore Sports Network: