It’s crunch time in the Shore Conference and around the state with the NJSIAA playoffs underway. The Shore Conference had 24 teams qualify for the postseason and 12 remain after the first round. Two teams seeded in the top four lost, but those were No. 4 seeds (St. John Vianney and Freehold) so it’s hard to consider those losses as upsets.

The big winners were Asbury Park, Manalapan and Brick Memorial. The Blue Bishops went on the road and shut out Woodbury, 27-0, as the No. 6 seed in Central Jersey Group 1. Manalapan earned a gritty 14-7 road win over Hunterdon Central in Central Jersey Group 5 and Brick Memorial reversed a regular-season loss to Freehold with a 21-13 comeback victory in Central Jersey Group 4.

The only top-10 team to lose in the first round was Toms River North, which was blanked by Vineland, 33-0, in the South Jersey Group 5 quarterfinals. The Mariners remain in the rankings but are holding on by a thread. They have a win over Manalapan in Week 1 but the Braves can jump over them and into the rankings with a win this week.

There will be three sectional semifinal matchups between Shore Conference teams, highlighted by the final four of Long Branch vs. Brick Memorial and Brick vs. Middletown South in Central Jersey Group 4. Rumson will host Red Bank in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals. Five of those six teams are ranked, so there could be a major shakeup in the top 10 next week.

 

 

1. Red Bank Catholic (8-0). Last week: No. 1

The Caseys had a first-round bye in Non-Public Group 3 playoffs. They’ll host Pope John in the semifinals after the Lions defeated St. John Vianney, 33-12, in the first round. Standouts Kevin Bauman, Billy Guidetti and Sean Rossback missed RBC’s final regular season game with injuries but all are expected back as the Caseys look to make a championship run. This week: Friday vs. Pope John (2-8) in the Non-Public Group 3 semifinals.

  

2. Mater Dei Prep (9-1). Last week: No. 2

The Seraphs had to fight off a scrappy Donovan Catholic team to earn a 35-21 win in the first round of the Non-Public Group 3 playoffs. Donovan led 13-6 at halftime and 21-20 with just over four minutes left in the game before a touchdown run by Malik Ingram with 2:12 left gave Mater Dei the lead for good. The Seraphs will now turn their attention to a dangerous DePaul team led by Penn State recruit Taquan Roberson at quarterback. This week: Friday at DePaul (7-3) in the Non-Public Group 3 semifinals.

  

3. Long Branch (8-1). Last week: No. 3

The Green Wave opened their title defense with an emphatic 42-0 win over Middletown North in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs. Junior running back Jermaine Corbett ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass. Senior quarterback Marc Dennis also threw a touchdown pass to Niles Montgomery and Jah’Kwan Gordon returned an interception for a touchdown. Long Branch had four interceptions in total with Devyn Blount, Jarrell Sherin and Luke Arnold also snaring picks to lead the defense to its fifth shutout of the season. This week: Friday vs. Brick Memorial (4-5) in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals.

 

4. Rumson-Fair Haven (7-2). Last week: No. 4

The Bulldogs played without senior standout running back Alex Maldjian but didn’t miss a beat in a 28-7 win over Ocean in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 3 playoffs. Sophomore Johnny Volker filled the spot in the backfield with 118 yards rushing and three touchdowns and senior tight end Ian O’Connor added a 97-yard touchdown reception. Senior linebacker Keegan Woods led the defense with 19 tackles and senior linebacker Christian Lanzalotto had 14 tackles and a fumble recovery. This week: Friday vs. No. 5 Red Bank (7-1) in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals.

  

5. Red Bank (7-1). Last week: No. 5

Senior running back Makai Mickens ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns and senior Nigel Mitchell ran for 114 yards and also caught a touchdown pass to lead the Bucs to a 30-13 comeback win over Allentown in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 3 playoffs. Senior defensive back Robbie DeMarco had two interceptions while Mickens had one interception plus eight tackles. Sophomore linebacker Nick Ferrogine had a game-high 20 tackles (15 solo) and senior linebacker Colin Chatto had 13 tackles and two sacks. This week: Friday at No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven (7-2) in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals.

  

6. Middletown South (7-2). Last week: No. 6

Senior quarterback Trevor Brey ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 135 yards and a touchdown to lead the Eagles to a 35-14 win over Northern Burlington in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs. Connor Ard had a 33-yard touchdown catch, Jamie Petrillo had a 41-yard touchdown run and Vin Condito added a 2-yard touchdown run as the Eagles ran for 318 yards and rolled up 453 yards of offense. This week: Friday vs. No. 7 Brick (7-2) in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals.

 

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

Senior Joey Carchio had an incredible game with 16 tackles, 5.5 sacks and four tackles for loss on defense plus 48 yards rushing and two touchdowns and a 2-point conversion catch to lead the Dragons to a 17-3 win over Jackson Memorial in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs. Senior Jake Wynkoop added a 39-yard field goal while junior quarterback Anthony Prato ran for 85 yards and senior Jimmy Leblo ran for 62 yards. Leblo also had his conference-leading sixth interception of the season. This week: Friday at No. 6 Middletown South (7-2) in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals.

 

8. Manasquan (7-1). Last week: No. 8 

Senior running back Canyon Birch ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns and senior James Pendergist had a touchdown run and a touchdown catch to lead the Warriors to a 40-21 victory over Delaware Valley in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 2 playoffs. Pendergist had a 37-yard touchdown run and also caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ryan O'Leary. Riley Callahan also caught a touchdown pass from O'Leary and senior fullback Rashid Tuddles added a touchdown run. This week: Saturday vs. Cinnaminson (7-2) in the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals.

 

9. Holmdel (8-1). Last week: No. 10

Senior running back Dean Gallo ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns and senior quarterback Jeff DeCicco also ran for three touchdowns as the Hornets crushed Nottingham, 42-0, in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 3 playoffs for their first postseason win since 2007. Junior running back Cameron LaMountain also ran for over 100 yards as the Hornets’ offensive line dominated the Northstars to pave the way for almost 500 yards rushing. The shutout was Holmdel’s fifth of the season. This week: Friday vs. Somerville (10-0) in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals.

  

10. Toms River North (6-3). Last week: No. 9 

The Mariners' season came to an end via a 33-0 loss to Vineland in the South Jersey Group 5 quarterfinals. Toms River North holds a win over Manalapan, which keeps them in the rankings for now. This week: Season complete.

  

Dropped out: none

 

Team to watch:

Manalapan (6-3): A 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Dale Sieczkowski enabled the Braves to go on the road and take down Hunterdon Central, 14-7, in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 5 playoffs. Manalapan lost to Toms River North in Week 1, but a win over top-seeded Sayreville this week would elevate them back into the Top 10. This week: Friday vs. Sayreville (8-1) in the Central Jersey Group 5 semifinals.

 

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