Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, 10/7/14
After a week with little movement in the Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, Week Four brought a pair of matchups between Top 10 teams that delivered drama on the field and may have decided those respective division titles.
Brick showcased its explosive offense and shutdown defense over the first few weeks, and in a thrilling 30-24 overtime victory over Jackson Memorial the Dragons showed they have the guts and poise to win a close game against a top opponent. Last season it was the Jaguars who won a late-season meeting at Brick’s Keller Memorial Field en route to the Class A South division title. The Dragons returned the favor with their victory on Saturday night at Munley Field, knocking off what looks to be the main obstacle toward their first division crown since 2008.
Meanwhile in Class A Central, St. John Vianney took a huge step toward its first division title since 1982 when it scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to upend division favorite and defending state champion Rumson-Fair Haven, 35-28. The Lancers continue to thrive under head coach Mark Ciccotelli, and could very well be undefeated heading into the playoffs.
Each of the remaining Top 10 teams that were in action during Week Four were victorious to at least hold their position among the Shore’s best. All of the Top 10 teams will be in action during Week Five, including a nondivisional tilt between Rumson and Long Branch, along with a pair of crucial divisional matchups between Point Boro and Central in B South and Toms River North and Jackson Memorial in A South that could shake things up even more come next week.
1. Red Bank Catholic (4-0). Last week: No. 1
The Caseys were idle last week after blanking Neptune, 37-0, in their last game on September 20, and have won 36 consecutive games against the Shore Conference. RBC has been expectedly dominant so far, outscoring their opponents 176-23 through their first four games, including a 42-7 victory over No. 8 Long Branch. Junior quarterback Eddie Hahn has added another dimension to the Caseys' offense in throwing for 422 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 64 percent of his passes, and is second on the team with 173 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Senior running back Tommy Spernal is averaging an absurd 11.2 yards per carry in rushing for 415 yards and five touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Trevor Cowley has emerged as Hahn’s favorite target with 216 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Miami-bound senior linebacker Jamie Gordinier is averaging nearly 12 tackles per game to lead a stout defensive unit. The Caseys return to action at 7 p.m. on Friday when they host Colts Neck (0-4) at Count Basie Field.
2. Brick Township (4-0). Last week: No. 2
In the marquee game of the week between two undefeated teams, Brick defeated No. 6 Jackson Memorial 30-24 in overtime in an instant classic at Jackson’s John J. Munley Field. Senior quarterback Carmen Sclafani continued his phenomenal season by rushing for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries and throwing for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He made arguably the most clutch play of the season when he threw a seven-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Ja’Quez Johnson on fourth-and-goal with 4:39 left in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 24, and later scored the eventual game-winning touchdown on a one-yard run in overtime. Brick still has tough A South games left against Toms River North and Toms River South, but its win over Jackson eliminated a major obstacle toward its first division title since 2008. The Dragons host Wall (0-4) in a nondivisional game at 7 p.m. on Friday.
3. Manalapan (4-0). Last week: No. 4
The Braves have done everything and more this season in getting off to a 4-0 start, but since none of the teams in front of them had lost prior to Week Four, they stayed ranked at No 4. Rumson’s loss to St. John Vianney allowed Manalapan to move into the top three, and the numbers the Braves have put up so far more than justify the jump. Manalapan is averaging a ridiculous 53 points per game after hanging eight touchdowns on Middletown North in a 56-34 win on Thursday. Senior tailback Imamu Mayfield had another big day behind the Braves’ powerful offensive line with 183 yards and 4 touchdowns on 22 carries. Senior quarterback Dan Anerella added 254 yards and one touchdown on 10-of-16 passing. Manalapan has a crucial stretch of games coming up with No. 5 Middletown South, No. 1 Red Bank Catholic and No. 9 Freehold lurking, but the Braves must first take care of business when they visit winless Lacey (0-4) on Saturday afternoon.
4. St. John Vianney (4-0). Last week: No. 5
A lot was learned about the Lancers after they knocked off Rumson-Fair Haven, 35-28 on Thursday night, in the program’s biggest game in over 20 years. Junior quarterback Anthony Brown ran for a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to spark a 21-point second-half surge that erased a 28-14 halftime deficit. Brown finished with 205 total yards and three touchdowns. Junior running back Khalil Haskins ran for a 47-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave the Lancers the lead and held up as the winning score. The Lancers next four opponents have a combined record of 3-12, so there’s a great possibility they will be 8-0 by the time November rolls around. St. John Vianney will look to continue its best start since 1998 when it hosts Monmouth Regional (1-3) at 7 p.m. on Friday.
5. Middletown South (3-1). Last week: No. 6
The Eagles took care of business with a 44-0 victory over Freehold Township in a Class A North game, and have now won by shutout in each of their three victories. Junior running back Cole Rogers rolled up 174 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns on 27 carries to lead the offense, and junior quarterback Matt Mosquera was an efficient 11-for-16 for 98 yards and a touchdown while also kicking a 28-yard field goal. The Eagles have a monster game with Manalapan looming on October 17, but need to stay the course against Howell (1-3) on Friday night to keep pace with the Braves.
6. Jackson Memorial (3-1). Last week: No. 7
The fact that Jackson moves up a spot after losing 30-24 to No. 2 Brick in overtime gives an idea as to how well it looked against one of the state’s top public schools and the No. 11 team in the state. The Jaguars pushed the Dragons to the limit before falling in overtime thanks to a punishing offensive line that paved the way for junior tailback Vinny Lee to run for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 carries. Junior wide receiver Kyle Johnson threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Aaron Curet, and junior Jared Calhoun kicked a 22-yard field goal as the Jags rolled up 337 yards of total offense. Jackson and Brick could meet again in the Central Jersey Group IV playoffs, and anyone in attendance Saturday night would certainly welcome round two. The Jaguars will try to get back on track when they host Toms River North (3-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday at “The Jungle."
7. Rumson-Fair Haven (3-1). Last week: No. 3
The Bulldogs drop four spots after falling to St. John Vianney, 35-28, in a game they played without injured senior tailback Charlie Volker, who is the reigning Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year after running for over 2,100 yards last season. The loss will more than likely deny Rumson the Class A Central division title, but the defending NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II champions were assured they have another weapon besides Volker that teams must account for. Sophomore quarterback Mike O’Connor exploded for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns on 28 carries as part of a 393-yard rushing effort, which also included a 130-yard game from sophomore Matt Vecchiarelli. The Bulldogs can get back into the win column in a big way on Friday night when they travel to No. 8 Long Branch (3-1) for a nondivisional game.
8. Long Branch (3-1). Last week: No. 8
The Green Wave shut out Colts Neck 35-0 behind another monster game from from senior tailback Dahmiere Willis, who ran for a career-high 307 yards and three touchdowns. Long Branch has won three straight since a season-opening 42-7 loss to No. 1 Red Bank Catholic, and Willis has gone over 200 yards rushing in each victory. Earl Mackason added a pair of rushing touchdowns and Jahmir Elliot-Hair intercepted two passes. The Green Wave can make a jump up the rankings on Friday when it hosts No. 7 Rumson-Fair Haven (3-1) in a key nondivisional game.
9. Freehold (4-0). Last week: No. 9
The Colonials doubled their win total from last season by holding off a scrappy Raritan team, 17-6, in a nondivisional game. Senior running back Josh Dixon ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, and junior quarterback Jake Curry ran for 75 yards and score. Junior kicker Matt Curcio connected on a 34-yard field goal while converting on both his extra point chances. Freehold is one of just five remaining undefeated teams in the Shore Conference, and with its next three opponents combining for an 0-12 record, the Colonials have a great chance to remain unbeaten through October before games against Manalapan and Middletown South. They will host Marlboro (0-4) in a Class A North game at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
10. Brick Memorial (3-1). Last week: No. 10
Senior fullback Connor Owen and junior quarterback Tim Santiago each ran for over 125 yards while junior defensive ends Chris Hayes and Mike Nobile led a shutdown effort in a 27-7 victory over Toms River East. Owen finished with 138 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries and Santiago had 123 yards and a pair of scores on 16 carries. The Mustangs have rattled off three straight wins since falling to No. 2 Brick, 42-0, in Week One. Three huge games await Brick Memorial before the end of the month with No. 6 Jackson Memorial, No. 5 Middletown South and Toms River South on the schedule. The Mustangs will step outside the conference first when they travel to face Old Bridge (3-1) in a nonconference game on Friday night.
Dropped out: none
Teams to Watch:
Toms River North (3-1): Sophomore quarterback Mike Husni had a humongous game in a 48-12 victory over Marlboro, throwing for 267 yards and a touchdown on 13-for-16 passing and running for 185 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Sophomore running back Parker Day added three rushing touchdowns and sophomore Bryce Watts had a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown. The Mariners can jump into the Top 10 with a cannonball-sized splash when they travel to No. 6 Jackson Memorial at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
Toms River South (3-1): The Indians rebounded from a loss to Toms River North with a 22-15 come-from-behind victory over Lacey. Senior quarterback Tymere Berry continued to supply highlights in rushing for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns on 15 carries. Berry ran for 194 of his yards in the second half to help Toms River South overcome a 9-0 third-quarter deficit. The Indians are idle this week and return to action on October 18 in a Class A South game hosting Southern (2-2).