While Red Bank Catholic solidified its top spot in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, there were some other shakeups, headlined by Lakewood’s upset of previously unbeaten Barnegat in Class B South.

Quenton Nelson and No. 1 Red Bank Catholic made it 31 in a row against Shore Conference competition with a 41-13 win over Middletown South last week in a match-up of top 10 teams. (Photo by Bill Normile)

Class A South now has three ranked teams, as surging Toms River South re-enters the Top 10 after a hiatus. Brick and Jackson Memorial will face off with the division championship on the line this week in an old-school match-up between Ocean County powers.

One of the most intriguing things to me is how these Class A South teams will fare in the playoffs. While A South is the Shore’s toughest division, it looks like an uphill battle for anyone to bring home a state title out of the group. Jackson Memorial is in a tough South Jersey Group V bracket that Southern is hoping to snag the final spot in, while Lacey and Toms River South are in the same South Jersey Group IV bracket as perennial power and defending champion Timber Creek. Brick, which will be the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group IV, looks potentially like the best hope as the Green Dragons seek their first state title since 1994.

There are also some devil's advocate arguments looming on the horizon. What if Manalapan goes 12-0 and wins Central Jersey Group V, and RBC finishes 10-1 with its only loss to the No. 1 team in the state, St. Joseph-Montvale? Who's No. 1?

Also, what if Ocean finishes 12-0 and either Rumson or Manasquan finishes 11-1 with its only loss to No. 1 RBC. Who is ranked higher? I'm sure neither team would really care in that scenario, given that it would be busy polishing its respective state championship trophy.

Shore Sports Network Top 10

1. Red Bank Catholic (7-0). Last week: No. 1.

In what was billed as their first real test of the season, the Caseys rumbled to a 41-13 win over No. 8 Middletown South in a nondivisional game for their 31st straight win against Shore Conference competition. Senior tailback Larry Redaelli continued his brilliant season with 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns to power the win. Junior Mike Cordova added a pair of interceptions on defense along with a touchdown run at tailback in the win. The bad news is that it looks like the Caseys will be on the same side of the bracket as the No. 1 team in the state, nationally-ranked St. Joseph-Montvale, in Non-Public Group III. They appear locked into a first-round home game against Immaculata and then will have to head to Montvale after losing 42-7 to the Green Knights in last year’s semifinals. This week, they host Monmouth (2-5) in a Class A Central game on Friday night.

 

2. Manalapan (7-0). Last week: No. 2.

The Braves cruised to a 42-7 nondivisional victory over winless Toms River North as senior wideout Saeed Blacknall had three touchdown catches from quarterback Dan Anerella for the second straight week and Dan Debner added a 50-yard punt return for his third special teams touchdown of the season. Manalapan, which has won 22 straight against Shore Conference competition, can clinch no worse than a tie for its fourth straight Class A North title this week with a win on Friday at Howell (3-4).

 

3. Ocean (7-0). Last week: No. 3.

The Spartans barely escaped a major upset, pulling out a 7-6 win over Wall that clinched no worse than a tie for the Class B North title. Considering Ocean has beaten Neptune, Matawan and Wall by a combined 12 points, you could argue that Rumson should jump them for this spot because the Bulldogs have been more dominant. If Rumson beats Manasquan, that certainly could happen, but wins are wins, and if Ocean keeps grinding them out on its way to the first 12-0 season in school history, margin of victory won’t seem like much of a big deal. Cole Mehr’s fourth-quarter touchdown run was the difference against Wall, and also ensured that Ocean will get two home playoff games in Central Jersey Group III as a top-two seed. The Spartans travel to Freehold (1-6) this week and can clinch the outright Class B North title with a win.

 

4. Rumson-FH (7-0). Last week: No. 4.

The Bulldogs cruised to a 42-6 win over Monmouth in Class A Central to set up its showdown with No. 5 Manasquan this week. Junior tailback Charlie Volker registered his third straight 200-yard game with a career-high 252 yards and three touchdowns to lead the way past the Falcons. Now comes a crucial divisional game at home on Friday night against Manasquan. If Rumson wins, it will most likely be the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group II. A loss could potentially mean dropping to the No. 4 seed and a possible semifinal match-up with Weequahic, who beat the Bulldogs in last year’s first round. Rumson also is looking for revenge after a 14-9 loss to the Warriors last year.

5. Manasquan (6-1). Last week: No. 6.

The Warriors move up a spot coming off their bye week thanks to the loss by Barnegat, and they are gearing up for a huge game at No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven on Friday. The Warriors look to already be the No. 1 seed in South Jersey Group III, but can make it official with a win over the Bulldogs.

6. Colts Neck (6-1). Last week: No. 7.

The Cougars bounced back from their first loss with a 35-7 win over Freehold Township, thanks to 135 yards and a touchdown by tailback Anthony Gargiulo, who went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season. This team has buried the opponents it has been favored against, and lost by 30 as an underdog to No. 2 Manalapan. This week the Cougars get a chance to solidify their Top 10 status when they play No. 8 Middletown South on the road Friday night. A win gives Colts Neck a good shot to have two home games as the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey Group IV.

7. Jackson Memorial (5-2). Last week: No. 9.

The Jaguars set up a showdown with No. 9 Brick for the Class A South title on Friday night with a 28-6 win over Southern thanks to a pair of touchdown runs by Khani Glover. This team is peaking at the right time, playing some of its best football over the past two weeks. They will go on the road and try to bring home their first division title since it went undefeated in 2005.

8. Middletown South (4-3). Last week: No. 8.

The Eagles fell 41-13 to No. 1 Red Bank Catholic in a nondivisional game, with Jeremy Concepcion running for 137 yards and a touchdown in the loss. A win over Brick, which is competing for the Class A South title, has kept them in this spot, as their three losses are all to teams ranked ahead of them. Their chance to stick in the rankings comes on Friday night at The Swamp against No. 6 Colts Neck as Middletown South makes a push for the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey Group IV.

9. Brick (6-2). Last week: No. 10.

The Green Dragons pulled out a win in one of the most exciting games of the season when they knocked off Lacey, 25-24, on a two-point conversion run by junior running back Ray Fattaruso with 29 seconds left in the game after quarterback Joe Phillips threw a touchdown pass to freshman Jazir Taylor to bring them within a point. The victory means that Friday night’s home game against No. 7 Jackson Memorial will decide the outright Class A South championship.  Brick’s last division title was a tri-championship in the Constitution Division in 2008, and its last outright division title was a Constitution Division title in 2003.

10. Toms River South (5-2). Last week: Unranked.

The Indians have rattled off three straight wins after cooling off a Brick Memorial team that had won four straight by beating the Mustangs 29-14 in a Class A South game. The defense gets stronger by the week, while quarterback Tymere Berry continues to play at a high level, throwing for one score and running for another in the win. The Indians look to secure a first-round home game as a top-three seed in South Jersey Group IV with a victory over winless Toms River North (0-7) this weekend.

Dropped out:

Barnegat (6-1): The Bengals suffered their first loss, 21-14, at the hands of Lakewood (5-2), to halt the best start in program history. Barnegat’s best win at this point looks to be Central (5-2), but the Bengals have a chance to regroup and still get at least a tie for the Class B South title if they beat Pinelands in their Thanksgiving game. If Central falls to Manchester this week, Barnegat can win Class B South outright by beating Pinelands. This week, the Bengals take on Red Bank (1-6) and look to secure at least the No. 3 seed in South Jersey Group III and possibly No. 2.

Teams to watch:

Long Branch (6-2): The Green Wave gutted out a 17-13 win over Matawan thanks to another great game by junior Dahmiere Willis to put them in line for the No. 4 seed in Central Jersey Group III and a first-round home game. Their hope is to get another crack at Ocean, this time with either a berth in the state final or a state championship on the line.

Central (5-2):  The Golden Eagles’ overtime victory over Lakewood from two weeks ago looked even better when the Piners went out and stunned previously unbeaten Barnegat. Central took care of its own business with a 41-26 win over Monsignor Donovan thanks to a monster game by senior tailback Javon Hardy, who ran for a career-high 277 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries and also had an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown. Central guaranteed itself a state playoff berth for the second time in three seasons, and could possibly secure the program’s first home playoff game by beating Manchester (2-5) this week. That game is also huge because the Golden Eagles can clinch no worse than a tie for the Class B South title, which would be their first division title since 1994.

Shore Regional (6-1):  The Blue Devils continued their march toward the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group I with a 59-6 rout of Keansburg in Class B Central. They can lock down the top seed with a win at home against Keyport (5-3) on Friday night. Shore also needs the victory to set up a Thanksgiving showdown with Point Beach for the Class B Central title.

Point Beach (7-1): The Garnet Gulls took care of Keyport, 34-6, to hold up their end of the Thanksgiving battle for the Class B Central crown against Shore Regional. Junior fullback Joe Wegrzyniak continued a huge season with a career-high 279 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the win. The Garnet Gulls, who are on their bye this week, are most likely looking at the No. 3 seed in Central Jersey Group I.