Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, 9/16/14
When I put together the Shore Sports Network preseason Top 10 for Shore Conference football, my feeling was that the top six or seven teams were solidly in there, but it was anyone’s guess after that for the last few spots.
It showed during Week One, as the teams ranked from 7 to 10 all lost, although two of the losses were to No. 1 Red Bank Catholic and a South Brunswick team ranked in the top 15 in the state. St. John Vianney showed right off the bat that it will be a contender for the Class A Central crown under new coach Mark Ciccotelli with a 31-10 win over previous No. 9 Matawan. Neptune showed it has the ability to be the top challenger to RBC in the Class B North race with a 30-27 win on the road over defending division champion Ocean, which was ranked No. 8 in the preseason.
The Class A Central race in particular looks like it could be a lot of fun, especially after seeing the wild Monmouth-Holmdel and Raritan-Manasquan games this past weekend. There is only one match-up between Top 10 teams this week, and that's a nondivisional clash between No. 7 Neptune and No. 9 Middletown South on Friday night.
Shore Sports Network Top 10
1. Red Bank Catholic (2-0). Last week: No. 1.
The Caseys were in a dogfight for a while at the beginning against No. 10 Long Branch, but then rattled off 35 unanswered points for a 42-7 win over the Green Wave in Class B North to make it 35 straight wins against Shore Conference competition. Senior running back Tommy Spernal had a career-high 111 yards rushing on just 11 carries and also had an 86-yard interception return for a touchdown on defense. Senior linebacker Jamie Gordinier led the defense with 15 tackles and a blocked punt that was recovered for a touchdown by teammate Doug Zockoll. RBC has outscored its first two opponents 97-13. Next up is a nonconference home game on Friday night at 7 against visiting St. Joseph’s-Metuchen (0-1) from Middlesex County, which lost 36-14 to South Plainfield in its opener.
2. Brick (1-0). Last week: No. 2.
The Green Dragons flexed their muscles in the season opener against rival Brick Memorial with a 42-0 rout in Class A South in which the offense and defense dominated. Senior quarterback Carmen Sclafani had 305 yards of total offense and a combined three touchdowns between rushing and passing, and senior Ray Fattaruso had a rushing touchdown and a 50-yard fumble return for a score on defense. The Green Dragons’ defense held the Mustangs to 92 total yards, including 50 on the ground, to post its first shutout since 2011. All in all, Brick was as advertised in Week One. This week brings another Class A South match-up, as the Green Dragons head to Southern (1-0) for a 7 p.m. game on Friday.
3. Rumson-Fair Haven (0-0). Last week: No. 3.
The only team in the Shore Conference that hasn’t strapped it up yet is the Bulldogs, who had a first-week bye and will open their season on the road on Friday night at 7 against a Matawan team coming off a 31-10 loss to St. John Vianney. Running back Charlie Volker and Co. will look to pick up an important Class A Central victory and start a march they hope culminates with a second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II title. They were able to scout their two Class A Central rivals in person last weekend, so they have had a chance to see Matawan up close as they prepare to face the Huskies.
4. Manalapan (1-0). Last week: No. 4.
The Braves made it 26 straight wins against Shore Conference competition with a 41-0 win over Marlboro in Class A North to start their season. Senior running back Imamu Mayfield had a 75-yard touchdown run, Anthony Bassani returned a punt for a touchdown and Simon Bublis had a pick-six as the Braves dominated in all facets. Manalapan will now travel to Freehold Township (1-1) in a Class A North game at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
5. Barnegat (1-0). Last week: No. 5.
The Bengals scuffled a little bit with Manchester, but snapped a 7-7 halftime tie with a strong second half on the way to a 26-7 victory in Class B South. Senior quarterback Cinjun Erskine ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 142 yards and a touchdown on 11-for-16 passing to lead the offense, and senior wide receiver/linebacker Manny Bowen had a 52-yard touchdown run and six catches for 99 yards while also making 5 tackles, 2 for a loss, and recovering a fumble on defense. Next up for the defending Class B South champions is another divisional game, as Central visits Barnegat on Friday night.
6. Toms River South (1-0). Last week: No. 6.
The Indians cruised to a 40-7 nondivisional win over Donovan Catholic in which they rolled up 415 yards on the ground, including 170 and three touchdowns by senior quarterback Tymere Berry. Senior running back Khaleel Greene added a pair of touchdown runs for the Indians, who walked to the game right down Hooper Avenue to nearby Donovan Catholic before taking care of business. Friday night will be their home opener at Detwiler Stadium when cross-town rival Toms River East (0-1) pays a visit for a Class A South showdown.
7. Neptune (1-0). Last week: Unranked.
The Scarlet Fliers enter the rankings after a thrilling 30-27 win on the road against defending Class B North champion Ocean to start their season. Senior tailback Jaree Parrish had 156 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and senior quarterback Ralph McLean ran for a 10-yard touchdown and also threw a 59-yard touchdown to Isaiah Calhoun. The defense came up with three big turnovers in the fourth quarter, a fumble recovery by Savior King, an interception by cornerback Zaire Alston, and a game-clinching interception by outside linebacker Diondre Dunn to make new head coach Rodney Taylor's first career win a memorable one. There’s no time to rest, as Neptune will welcome No. 9 Middletown South (1-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. for a big nondivisional showdown with playoff and power-point implications in addition to the rankings.
8. St. John Vianney (1-0). Last week: Unranked.
The Lancers announced their arrival under new head coach Mark Ciccotelli with a 31-10 rout of previously-ranked Matawan in a Class A Central game in their season opener. Junior quarterback Anthony Brown looked great in his debut as the starter with 194 yards passing and two touchdowns, and his main target was senior wideout P.J. Braccia, who had six catches for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown in the win. Senior running back Aaron Mora added a pair of touchdown runs, and the Lancers’ defense dominated. They did not allow an offensive touchdown and held Matawan to 96 total yards, including minus-6 yards rushing. This week they will travel right down the road to Holmdel (0-1) for a 7 p.m. match-up on Friday in Class A Central in search of their first 2-0 start in more than a decade.
9. Middletown South (1-1). Last week: No. 7.
The Eagles drop a few notches after a 36-24 loss to Greater Middlesex Conference power South Brunswick, but considering the caliber of their opponent, it doesn’t merit them being unranked because the Vikings are a legitimate state title contender. Junior Cole Rogers had a pair of touchdown runs and junior quarterback Matt Mosquera had a touchdown pass and a 28-yard field goal, but Syracuse recruit Dontae Strickland and the Vikings were too much to overcome in putting up 405 yards of total offense, including 292 on the ground. The Eagles have a chance to bounce right back and start bolstering an argument to move higher in the rankings with a big nondivisional game on the road on Friday night at No. 7 Neptune.
10. Long Branch (0-1). Last week: No. 10.
It’s tough to penalize the Green Wave for losing to the No. 1 team, which hasn’t lost to a Shore team since 2010. Red Bank Catholic handed Long Branch a 42-7 loss in its season opener, with one bright spot being Jordan Rodriguez’s touchdown pass to wide receiver David Colbert. They will try to avoid an 0-2 start in their home opener and a drop out of the rankings on Saturday when they welcome Carteret (1-0), which beat them in the first round of the Central Jersey Group III playoffs last season, for a 1 p.m. nonconference game.
Matawan (0-1): The Huskies suffered a 31-10 loss to St. John Vianney in Class A Central, and it doesn’t get any easier this week as they welcome No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven for another big divisional game.
Ocean (0-1): The Spartans nearly rallied to beat Neptune after being down by 17 points, but mistakes resulted in a 30-27 win after they had three fourth-quarter turnovers that killed the comeback. They will look to clean things up and get back on track when they travel to Wall (0-2) for another Class B North game at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Teams to watch:
Jackson Memorial (1-0): The Jaguars rolled past rival Jackson Liberty, 50-16, in a nondivisional game, setting a school record with 50 points in the first half. Sophomore running back Mike Gawlik scored three touchdowns in his first significant action in the backfield to help power the offense. Jackson Memorial will head to Lacey (0-1) in a Class A South game at 1 p.m. on Saturday as it begins its defense of the division title.
Point Beach (1-0): The Garnet Gulls grinded out a 15-12 win over Asbury Park in their opener thanks to a defense that registered eight sacks and a game-winning touchdown run by senior quarterback Jake Fioretti in the fourth quarter. Next up is a nonconference game on the road at Middlesex (1-0) at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Shore (1-0): The Blue Devils, playing without injured junior standout Doug Goldsmith at running back and linebacker, picked up a 21-6 win over Keyport in the season opener thanks to a defense led by linebacker James Bedell and a pair of rushing touchdowns by junior Devin McLaughlin. Friday night will be their home opener in a nonconference game against Spotswood, whose head coach, Andy Cammarano, used to be on the Shore Regional staff under Mark Costantino.
Lakewood (1-0): Down by a point at halftime, the Piners came back to pick up a 22-7 win over Central in Class B South, as wideout Naquese Joshua had a pair of touchdown catches, and junior Amir Tyler ran for a touchdown and a two-point conversion and also threw a touchdown pass to Joshua on a halfback option play. The Piners head to Pinelands (0-2) for a 7 p.m. game on Friday in Class B South.
Freehold Boro (2-0): The Colonials are off to their best start in six years thanks to a 29-7 win over rival Freehold Township in Class A North. Senior tailback Josh Dixon continued his hot start with a pair of touchdown runs to give him six in two games. They now have their home opener on Saturday at 1 p.m. in another Class A North game against Howell (1-1) as they try to position themselves as a top challenger to the hierarchy of Manalapan and Middletown South at the top of the division.
Raritan (1-0): The Rockets won a wild 41-34 game over Manasquan in Class A Central in which they blew a 27-0 lead and then recovered to close out the victory on a touchdown run by senior quarterback Riley Sullivan. Senior running back Richie Salerno was having a huge game with 193 yards rushing and two touchdowns before he left with a knee injury in the third quarter and did not return. Derek Ernst added a pair of touchdowns on a 4-yard run and a fumble recovery, and Sullivan also had a touchdown pass to senior Colby Jones as the Rockets hit the 40-point mark for the first time since 2011. They now have a bye week and return with a home game against Matawan (0-1) in Class A Central on Sept. 26.
Toms River North (1-0): The Mariners tied their win total from all of last season with a 30-14 victory in Class A South over Lacey behind a prolific rushing attack. Sophomore quarterback Mike Husni ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass to Jordan Craig, and junior tailback Asante Moorer added a touchdown run as the offense rolled up more than 300 yards on the ground. The Mariners welcome Brick Memorial (0-1) for a Class A South game on Saturday at 1 p.m. as they look to continue a resilient season.