We’re less than 36 hours away from Week 1 of the Shore Conference football season, which, save for the five teams that began in Week 0, is the kickoff for the 2017 season.

Week 0 saw some interesting results, starting with Central’s thrilling 24-23 overtime win over Southern where sophomore running back Kavon Chambers burst into the scene with 201 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Holmdel went up to David Brearley and pulled out a 17-12 win to start on the right foot on the heels of a 2-8 season, while Monmouth Regional started the Larry Nikola era with its first win over Ocean since 2006. Quarterback Ian Fitzgerald had 187 total yards and three touchdowns in the 28-17 victory.

There are some very good matchups this weekend, including a top-10 battle in Class B North on Friday night between No. 3 Red Bank Catholic and No. 10 Middletown South. If the SSN Top 10 extended to 15, the 11th team would certainly be Long Branch. The Green Wave can make some noise when they host No. 6 Manasquan on Friday night as the Warriors begin their Central Jersey Group II title defense. There are also a couple of important games in Class B Central as Shore hosts defending Central Jersey Group I champs Asbury Park on Friday, while Keyport hosts Point Beach on Saturday. Class A South has Toms River North opening its season down at Southern and Brick Memorial heading down the road to face Brick in their annual battle royal.

There are no changes to the rankings from the Preseason Top 10 as no ranked teams were in action. That all changes this weekend.

1. Manalapan (0-0). Last week: No. 1

The reigning Class A North champion Braves open their season at home against district rival Marlboro on Friday night.

 

2. St. John Vianney (0-0). Last week: No. 2

The Lancers have won 29 straight games against Shore Conference teams, and will look to make it 30 in a row when they head down the street to take on rival Matawan on Friday night.

 

3. Red Bank Catholic (0-0). Last week: No. 3

The Caseys have a ton of potential and enter 2017 with big expectations. We’ll find out how good they are right away when they travel to “The Swamp” to take on No. 10 Middletown South on its updated turf field on Friday night.

 

4. Mater Dei Prep (0-0). Last week: No. 4

Quarterback George Pearson and company open their Class B Central and Non-Public Group II title defenses on the road vs. Keansburg on Saturday afternoon.

 

5. Howell (0-0). Last week: No. 5

Eddie Morales III, Naseim Brantley and the rest of Rebels’ high-powered offense heads to Colts Neck on Saturday afternoon.

 

6. Manasquan (0-0). Last week: No. 6

Every week will be a challenge in Class B North, and for the defending Central Jersey Group II champion Warriors it’s a tough start on the road versus an up-and-coming Long Branch team.

 

7. Rumson-Fair Haven (0-0). Last week: No. 7

There are plenty of new faces in key places for the Bulldogs, who are seeking their fifth straight NJSIAA sectional title. Highly-recruited senior Elijah McAllister will suit up for the first time in two years when Rumson opens the season on the road at Raritan on Friday night.

 

8. Freehold (0-0). Last week: No. 8

The battle for “The Duke” goes down on Saturday afternoon when the Colonials welcome Freehold Township. Quarterback Ashante Worthy enters as an Offensive Player of the Year candidate after a monster junior season.

 

9. Toms River North (0-0). Last week: No. 9

Seniors Daryn Blackwell and Mickey Maldonado Jr. lead a Mariners squad that has many new starters, but also boasts plenty of talented underclassmen. North has a tough game out of the games on the road vs. a Southern team trying bounce back from a stinging defeat in Week 0.

 

10. Middletown South (0-0). Last week: No. 10

The Eagles have a lot to replace on offense, but return several defensive standouts led by senior Jake Krellin, a Defensive Player of the Year Candidate. Week 1 brings a stern test in the form of a Red Bank Catholic team that appears to be among the best in the Shore.

 

Teams to Watch

Central (1-0): Sophomore running back Kavon Chambers ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, including the game-tying touchdown in overtime, as the Golden Eagles outlasted Southern, 24-23 in overtime, to start their season with a thrilling victory. The Eagles travel to Toms River East on Friday night.

Long Branch (0-0): A high-octane offense that was on display during the offseason in 7-on-7 tournaments looks to power the Green Wave back to the playoffs. It all starts at home on Friday night vs. defending Central Jersey Group II champions Manasquan.

Point Boro (0-0): The Panthers have looked great in the preseason and will look to defending their Class B South title and make a run at a sectional title. Quarterback James Fara and fullback Tanner Gordon lead a triple-option offense that will be a bear to deal with. They take the long drive to Tuckerton to face Pinelands on Friday night.

Brick (0-0): The Dragons were a finalist in Central Jersey Group IV last season, and although they have several starters to replace, they figure to be back in contention behind a stellar junior class led by Jimmy Leblo and Cole Groschel. It all starts on Saturday against Brick Memorial in one of the Shore’s best rivalries.

Asbury Park (0-0): The defending Central Jersey Group I champions open their title defense on the road against a Shore Regional team they beat twice last season.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.

 

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