Shore Conference Football Top 10 Rankings
The All Shore Media preseason Top 10 made it through the first week with only one casualty, and the teams at the top looked particularly impressive.
The top five teams, Red Bank Catholic, Neptune, Manalapan, Southern and Lacey, won by a combined score of 204-27, but the road is only going to get harder from here. No. 7 Rumson made it out of Week One by the skin of its teeth with a 13-10 overtime victory against un-ranked Shore, while No. 10 Barnegat lost 21-0 to Holmdel to fall out of this week’s rankings.
Toms River North makes its top 10 debut after a 35-7 win over Howell on Sunday and can make a power move this weekend when it travels to No. 5 Lacey for a big Class A South showdown on Saturday afternoon. Another game to keep an eye on this week is Asbury Park at Shore Regional on Friday night. The winner of this game is an immediate front-runner for the Class B Central title, with Point Beach still lurking out there as another formidable contender.
All Shore Media Top 10
1. Red Bank Catholic (1-0) – Last week: No. 1.
The Caseys dismantled Red Bank, 47-0, in a non-divisional game to win their 15th straight game against Shore Conference competition. They dominated on both sides of the ball, rolling up 280 yards rushing, including a career-high 103 yards and two touchdowns by sophomore Mike Cordova, and the starting defense held Red Bank to minus-14 yards before being removed at the end of the third quarter. Junior quarterback Pat Toomey threw a pair of touchdown passes in his first varsity start and also booted a field goal and five extra points. Next up is a home game Friday night against Manasquan (0-1) as RBC kicks off its Class A Central schedule and looks to begin its march to its fifth division title in the last six seasons.
2. Neptune (1-0) – Last week: No. 2.
The Scarlet Fliers roared out of the game with a 41-13 non-divisional win over Raritan as new quarterback Ajee Patterson had Neptune fans out of their seats repeatedly. He ran for three touchdowns and threw another in his first varsity start, and senior running back Myles Martin had a pair of touchdown runs of 40-plus yards as well. Junior defensive back Shakeem Richardson had a pair of interceptions to lead the defense. Neptune has the Shore Conference’s longest current winning streak at 11 games, and it will travel to upstart Ocean (1-0) to face a team with some dynamic young skill players in its Class B North opener on Saturday.
3. Manalapan (1-0) – Last week: No. 3.
The Braves finally got the monkey off their back in the season opener by ending a three-game losing streak to Jackson Memorial and winning their first game of the season in a decade with a 30-12 non-divisional win. Senior wideout Anthony Firkser had five catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns and junior wideout Saeed Blacknall added a 19-yard touchdown run and a 68-yard punt return in the win. The Braves now host Freehold Township (0-1) on Friday night as they begin what they hope is a run to their third straight Class A North title.
4. Southern (1-0) – Last week: No. 4.
The Rams took care of Freehold Township, 28-0, in a game that was called in the third quarter due to lightning. Senior quarterback Dan Higgins, recovering from a separated shoulder from the preseason, threw two touchdown passes, one to Mike Gesicki and one to Abe Gonzalez, and Gesicki also had a fumble return for a touchdown on defense. The Rams have their home opener on Friday night against Toms River South (0-1) in a Class A South game as they look to begin defense of their division title.
5. Lacey (1-0) – Last week: No. 5.
The Lions rolled to a 58-8 non-divisional win over Pinelands to start the season strong as junior quarterback Tom Kelly threw a career-high four touchdown passes, two to senior Bill Belford. Senior running back Kyle Spatz added two touchdown runs and a touchdown catch in the win. The competition ratchets up dramatically this week when the Lions host No. 10 Toms River North (1-0) in an important Class A South showdown on Saturday.
6. Brick Memorial (1-0) – Last week: No. 6.
The Mustangs roared back from an early 13-0 hole to post a 35-13 win over rival Brick in a Class A South game as senior quarterback Ryan Cieplinski ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw another to Joe Hans. Junior Mike Basile also had an interception return for a touchdown in the victory to give the Mustangs an early leg up in the division race. Brick Memorial heads to Middletown North for a non-divisional game on Friday night in the season opener for the Lions, who had a first-week bye.
7. Rumson-Fair Haven (1-0) – Last week: No. 7.
The Bulldogs escaped the season opener with a dramatic 13-10 win over Shore Regional thanks to a pair of clutch field goals by junior kicker Jake D’Amelio. He booted a 29-yarder as time expired to send the game into overtime and then hit a career-long 36-yard field goal to bring home the win. Junior wideout Melquan Reevey also had a touchdown catch to help Rumson come back from a 10-0 deficit entering the fourth quarter. The victory gave head coach Shane Fallon his 100th career win, which also allowed him to pass former longtime coach Joe Rosati (99 wins) as Rumson’s all-time wins leader. The bad news is that starting senior tailback Conor Walsh suffered a left knee injury in the fourth quarter that could put him out for extended time and possibly the rest of the season. Rumson travels to St. John Vianney (1-0) on Friday, and the Lancers are riding high after a 40-0 win over Monsignor Donovan. This is a key early game in the race in Class A Central, where Rumson is the defending champion.
8. Matawan (1-0) – Last week: No. 8.
Seniors Glenn Cross, John Alston and Dan Incle each ran for touchdowns and junior Mike Creamer added a field goal as the Huskies made new head coach John Kaye a winner in his debut with a 24-6 non-conference victory over Bishop Ahr. Next up is Matawan’s home opener, a Class B North match-up against Freehold (0-1).
9. Middletown South (0-0) – Last week: No. 9.
The Eagles had a first-week bye and will travel to Brick on Saturday night for a non-divisional game to kick off their season.
10. Toms River North (1-0) – Last week: Unranked.
The Mariners enter the top 10 after a 35-7 non-divisional win over Howell on Sunday, as sophomore quarterback Carmen Sclafani threw a pair of touchdown passes to junior Kyle Carrington and junior tailback Trevon Bass added two touchdown runs. Senior defensive tackle Garrett Kroeger also had a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown in the win. Now they can make a surge up the rankings when they head to No. 5 Lacey in a big Class A South game on Saturday.
Teams to watch:
Long Branch (1-0): The Green Wave won a hard-fought, 18-13 game on the road against Manasquan. Long Branch picked up the win thanks to a brilliant all-around performance by senior fullback/linebacker Joscil Jackson, who ran for 170 yards and a touchdown to help compensate for the absence of injured tailback Dwight Clark. Long Branch will host Monmouth (0-1) on Saturday in a non-divisional game as it looks to win its seventh straight game dating back to last year.
St. John Vianney (1-0): The Lancers routed Monsignor Donovan, 40-0, in a non-divisional game as quarterback Billy DeMato threw a pair of touchdown passes, but can really make a statement this week when they host No. 7 Rumson-Fair Haven in a Class A Central game. The Bulldogs beat them 37-0 last year, so they will be eager to show how things have changed.
Holmdel (1-0): The Hornets knocked off last week’s No. 10 team, Barnegat, in convincing fashion with a 21-0 non-divisional win in the opener. Senior quarterback Robbie Cantelli ran for one score and threw for another to help lead the way and the defense registered a shutout in the season opener for the second straight season. The Hornets travel to Middlesex on Friday night for a non-conference game.
Asbury Park (1-0): The defending Class B Central champs were impressive in the opener, rolling past Keyport 36-7 thanks to three touchdowns by junior Daquane Bland-Bennett. Now comes a huge divisional game when they travel to Shore Regional (0-1) on Friday night for a game that will go a long way toward deciding the title.
Shore Regional (0-1): The Blue Devils may have lost their opener, but they gave Rumson all it could handle in a 13-10 overtime setback. They can start to build a top 10 case this week when they host Asbury Park in a pivotal Class B Central game between old rivals.
Point Beach (1-0): The Garnet Gulls cruised to a 48-8 win over Cardinal McCarrick in the opener and look to be a factor in the Class B Central race. They will travel to Dunellen for a non-conference game on Friday night.