A total of 24 Shore Conference teams qualified for the NJSIAA playoffs and 12 remained heading into last week’s public sectional/non-public group semifinals. That number has once again been cut in half heading into the final few weeks of the season as six area teams will play for state championships over the next two weeks.

The playoff semifinals featured three games between Shore teams, two of which were between teams ranked in the Shore Sports Network Top 10. No. 4 Rumson won The Battle of Ridge Road, 14-9, over No. 6 Red Bank in the CJ-3 semifinals while No. 5 Brick routed No. 8 Middletown South, 42-14, in the CJ-4 semifinals. No. 3 Long Branch blew out Brick Memorial for the second time in two weeks, this time by a 47-14 score, in the CJ-4 semifinals.

This week, Long Branch and Brick will play for the Central Jersey Group 4 championship on Friday, Rumson-Fair Haven will play Somerville in the Central Jersey Group 3 title game on Friday and Manasquan will take on Hillside in the Central Jersey Group 2 final on Saturday. The following weekend the top two teams in the Shore will square off in a highly-anticipated matchup when Red Bank Catholic and Mater Dei Prep meet for the Non-Public Group 3 title at MetLife Stadium.

There are no new entrants into the rankings this week but there is some shifting with Brick and Manasquan both moving up. The championships games will certainly play a major factor in determining the final rankings, as will the Thanksgiving games and possibly the bowl games. The No. 1 spot in the Shore will also come down to the wire when RBC and Mater Dei play in the first all-Shore Conference non-public state championship game since 1980.

 

1. Red Bank Catholic (9-0). Last week: No. 1 

Junior running back Billy Guidetti ran for 154 yards and a touchdown and senior quarterback Steve Lubischer threw a touchdown pass and ran for a touchdown to lead the Caseys to a 27-0 victory over Pope John in the Non-Public Group 3 semifinals. Guidetti had an 18-yard touchdown run while Lubischer ran for a 6-yard score and threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Kevin Bauman. Senior Steve Cmielewski added a 7-yard touchdown run and also led the defense to its second shutout of the season by making 14 tackles and recording two sacks. RBC is now in a state final for the first time since winning Non-Public Group 3 in 2014. Next game: Saturday, Nov. 24 vs. No. 2 Mater Dei (10-1) in the Non-Public Group 3 championship at MetLife Stadium.

 

2. Mater Dei (10-1). Last week: No. 2 

The Seraphs stunned DePaul, 28-23, in the Non-Public Group 3 semifinals thanks to a touchdown pass from Rob McCoy to Clarence Lewis with 41 seconds left and a pass breakup by Tahaj Parland on the final play of the game. McCoy had a huge game with two touchdown runs and touchdown passes to Lewis and Isaiah Alston as Mater Dei took down one of the North Jersey ‘super six’ non-public programs to reach its third straight state final. The Seraphs will try to win their second state title in three years when they take on Red Bank Catholic in the state championship game. Next game: Saturday, Nov. 24 vs. No. 1 Red Bank Catholic (9-0) in the Non-Public Group 3 championship at MetLife Stadium.

 

3. Long Branch (9-1). Last week: No. 3 

Junior running back Jermaine Corbett was unstoppable with 314 yards rushing and five total touchdowns to lead Long Branch to a 47-14 win over Brick Memorial in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals. Corbett had touchdown runs of 29, 58, 39 and 20 in the second half and also had an 18-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass. Senior quarterback Marc Dennis also threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Niles Montgomery and ran for an 8-yard touchdown. The defending-champion Green Wave will take on Brick in the sectional final and try to claim back-to-back titles for the first time in program history. Next game: Friday vs. No. 5 Brick (8-2) in the Central Jersey Group 4 championship game.

 

4. Rumson-Fair Haven (8-2). Last week: No. 4 

Junior quarterback Collin Coles threw touchdown passes to Peter Crowley and Jackson McCarthy and senior linebacker Keegan Woods led a superb defensive effort as the Bulldogs defeated Red Bank, 14-9, in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals. Woods made 20 tackles and had a game-clinching interception in the final minute to lead a Rumson defense that yielded just 99 yards of offense. Senior running back Alex Maldjian ran for 113 yards in 17 carries as Rumson advanced to its sixth straight sectional final. Next game: Friday at Somerville (11-0) in the Central Jersey Group 3 championship game.

 

5. Brick (8-2). Last week: No. 7

Senior Jimmy Leblo had a career game with five first-half touchdowns as the Dragons swarmed Middletown South early and often to record an emphatic 42-14 victory in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals. Leblo had touchdown runs of 1, 55, 14 and 16 yards and also caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Anthony Prato. Leblo also had a fumble recovery while senior defensive back Mike McGuigan intercepted two passes, including a 35-yard pick-six on his Shore-leading seventh INT of the season. Brick advanced to its second sectional final in three years and will try to dethrone Long Branch for its first sectional title since 2014. Next game: Friday at No. 3 Long Branch (9-1) in the Central Jersey Group 4 championship game.

 

6. Red Bank (7-2). Last week: No. 5

Makai Mickens had a touchdown run and Nick Ferrogine blocked a punt that resulted in a safety but the Bucs were otherwise held in check by Rumson in a 14-9 loss in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals. The Bucs will conclude their season on Thanksgiving against Long Branch. Next game: Thursday, Nov. 22 at Long Branch (9-1).

  

7. Manasquan (8-1). Last week: No. 8

Senior running back Canyon Birch ran for 152 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries, including a 3-yard score with 2:12 to play that gave the Warriors to a 14-7 win over Cinnaminson in the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals. Senior James Pendergist returned a punt 33 yards for a touchdown and also had an interception on defense, while senior defensive end Dylan D’Anton had five solo tackles and two tackles for loss. Manasquan held Cinnaminson 1,000-yard rusher Rashad Raymond to just 18 yards and forced 1,000-yard passer Shawn Ruffin to complete just five of 25 passes. The Warriors will play in their 19th sectional final and try to bring home the program’s 12th championship. Next game: Saturday at Hillside (10-0) in the Central Jersey Group 2 championship game.

  

8. Middletown South (7-3). Last week: No. 6 

The Eagles fell behind 35-0 in the first half and never recovered in falling to Brick, 42-14, in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals. Tyler Cuccia had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Chris Lotito scored on a 1-yard run on the final play of the game. The Eagles will conclude their season on Thanksgiving against rival Middletown North. Next game: Thursday, Nov. 22 at Middletown North (2-7).

  

9. Holmdel (8-2). Last week: No. 9 

Senior running back Dean Gallo ran for a pair of touchdown runs and senior quarterback Jeff DeCicco threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to John Tomasulo but the Hornets fell to the top-seeded and undefeated Somerville, 31-20, in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals to end their best season in a decade. Next game: Season complete.

  

10. Toms River North (6-3). Last week: No. 10 

The Mariners’ season came to an end in Week 9 via a 33-0 loss to Vineland in the South Jersey Group 5 quarterfinals. Next game: Season complete.

 

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