Shore Sports Network Football Top 10 Rankings, 10/15/13
We had our first major shake-up in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 in Week Five as unranked Manasquan roared to a 38-0 win over last week’s No. 4 team, Middletown South, in a nondivisional game.
The win makes things very tricky because while Middletown South has lost two straight and has not looked like a Top 10 team the past few weeks, the Eagles still are the only team to beat Brick this season, and they did it by three touchdowns. While Middletown South had a brutal day in the loss to Manasquan, it’s hard to just discard the fact that it still has a win over a ranked team. If the Eagles go on to lose to Colts Neck and Red Bank Catholic, two formidable opponents who will be favored in both of those games, then you’re looking at a 4-4 team going into the playoff cutoff, so Middletown South has its work cut out to remain in the top 10. However, for now they stay in thanks to the win over Brick, considering their other loss is to No. 2 Manalapan in the closest game the Braves have played this year.
Another team I think is top 10-worthy is Long Branch, who I ranked in the preseason top 10 but dropped out after they lost the opener to Manasquan. It comes down to whether Long Branch or Middletown South should be ranked, essentially. Long Branch’s best win is over Wall (3-2), while the Eagles have the win over a ranked team in Brick. Long Branch’s argument is essentially that it only lost 13-3 to Manasquan instead of 38-0. I'm not the biggest fan of the "close loss" argument. By that rationale, St. John Vianney (1-3) should be ranked because its losses are to Rumson and RBC and it only lost 21-14 to Manasquan.
With a huge game looming on Oct. 25 against undefeated Ocean, Long Branch will have its chance to come flying back into the top 10 and make a statement.
Shore Sports Network Top 10
1. Red Bank Catholic (5-0). Last week: No. 1.
The Caseys made it 29 straight against Shore Conference competition with a 35-0 win over Freehold for their third shutout in five games. They have taken their dominance up a notch this season, outscoring their opponents by 220 points in five games. Senior tailback Larry Redaelli has scored at least two touchdowns in every game, and he added two more in the victory over Freehold. RBC will host Holmdel (1-4) on Friday.
2. Manalapan (4-0). Last week: No. 2.
The Braves made it 20 straight wins against Shore Conference competition with a 31-0 rout of last week’s No. 10 team, Jackson Memorial, in a nondivisional game. Senior noseguard R.J. Krause, junior defensive back Dan Debner and senior linebackers Chris Noesges and Matt McCann led a dominant defensive effort against the Jaguars, which included a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown by Debner. Senior wideout Saeed Blacknall also had a touchdown catch from junior Charles Lombana, a Jackson Memorial transfer. Next up is a game on the road at East Brunswick (1-3), with a huge Class A North game looming a week later at home against Colts Neck.
3. Lacey (5-0). Last week: No. 3.
The Lions have won 15 straight against Shore Conference teams, but they continue to play with fire as they went to the wire to pull out a 21-14 victory over winless Manchester thanks to a touchdown run by Chris Jensen with 23 seconds left in the game. Jensen had a pair of touchdowns in the win, but was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance after landing awkwardly on his neck. He was released from the hospital on Saturday. The Lions were down nine starters by the end of that game because of injuries and disciplinary issues.
One starter who is back is senior quarterback Tom Kelly, who sat out the Manchester game because of a concussion suffered a week earlier. He will be in the lineup when Lacey hosts Southern (2-2) in a big Class A South game on Saturday. Lacey head coach Lou Vircillo, the only coach in the history of the program, can add another impressive line to his resume with a victory. He is currently tied with the late Vic Kubu for second all-time in wins in the Shore Conference with 263, so a victory will put him in second place all by himself behind legendary Brick coach Warren Wolf, whose 364 career wins are second in New Jersey history. It’s a rare match-up of two Shore Conference coaches with more than 200 career victories, as Southern is led by fellow Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Famer Chuck Donohue Sr.
4. Colts Neck (4-0). Last week: No. 5.
Colts Neck is coming off its bye week and jumps up a spot thanks to the loss by Middletown South to Manasquan. The Cougars have outscored their opponents 174-0 so far this year, but the schedule ramps up in the coming weeks. This week they host St. John Vianney (1-3) in a nondivisional game on Saturday. A week later, they have a showdown at No. 2 Manalapan that should all but decide the Class A North title.
5. Ocean (5-0). Last week: No. 6.
The Spartans took care of winless Red Bank, 33-6, as sophomore tailback Tyler Thompson went over the 100-yard mark and found the end zone twice, and junior quarterback Royal Moore added a pair of scores. Since the season opener, the Spartans’ defense has not allowed more than one touchdown in any game. They are on their bye week and come back with a huge Class B North game at home against Long Branch on Oct. 25 that should go a long way toward deciding the division champion.
6. Rumson-Fair Haven (4-0). Last week: No. 7.
The Bulldogs are coming off their bye week and take on a Raritan (1-4) team coming off its first win since 2011. Rumson’s defense has not allowed more than one touchdown in a game all season and has been a backbone of the team along with junior tailback Charlie Volker.
7. Barnegat (4-0). Last week: No. 8.
The Bengals also had their bye week and now return with a crucial Class B South game at home on Friday against Central (3-1) for sole possession of first place in the division. They are emerging as a prime contender in the South Jersey Group III bracket, so they need to keep the wins coming to try to secure some home games. They also are pushing for the second division title in program history.
8. Manasquan (4-1). Last week: Unranked.
The Warriors make their top 10 debut this season after a 38-0 wipeout of last week’s No. 4 team, Middletown South. Senior quarterback Tucker Caccavale threw for a school-record 350 yards and tied the school record with four touchdown passes. Senior tailback Joe Murphy had a pair of touchdowns over 70 yards, and the defense registered its first shutout since 2009 while becoming the first team to shut out Middletown South since 2002. The victory stamped them as a team to watch in South Jersey Group III as well, and their only loss this season is to No. 1 Red Bank Catholic. They also have a win over Class B North front-runner Long Branch, so you could argue they could be ranked in the top five over several unbeaten teams. Time will tell, and they still get a shot at No. 6 Rumson before the playoffs, so they can pad the resume and move up if they keep winning. This week, they head to Monmouth Regional (2-2) on Saturday for a Class A Central game.
9. Middletown South (2-2). Last week: No. 4.
The Eagles take a tumble after a 38-0 loss to Manasquan and are searching for answers on both sides of the ball. They still do boast a 28-7 win over a ranked team in Brick, which keeps them here for now. They look to regroup against Freehold Township (1-3) on Friday night in a Class A North game. Their main hope of staying/moving back up in the rankings looks to be a game at The Swamp on Nov. 8 against No. 4 Colts Neck. They do have a game against No. 1 RBC on Nov. 1, but given that they lost by 38 points to a Manasquan team that RBC beat 41-0, that’s a pretty tall order.
10. Brick (4-1). Last week: No. 9.
Unfortunately, Brick has to pay for Middletown South’s sins by dropping a spot because the Green Dragons did lose to the Eagles. They are coming off a 25-6 win over Wall thanks to a standout defensive effort, and one touchdown passing and one rushing by junior quarterback Carmen Sclafani. They travel to face a Toms River East (1-4) team coming off its first victory that has scored more than 40 points twice this season. Brick’s primary opportunity to climb in the rankings looks to be a showdown at No. 3 Lacey on Nov. 2.
Jackson Memorial (3-1): This almost seems unfair for dropping the Jaguars for losing 31-0 to No. 2 Manalapan because rankings-wise, Manalapan was supposed to win. However, Manasquan’s big win over Middletown South can’t be ignored. The Jaguars were without starting quarterback Joe Demaio because of a concussion, so they hope to have him back when they travel to Toms River South (2-2) for a key Class A South game on Saturday night. The Jaguars still play Lacey and Brick, so the opportunity is there for them to bust back into the top 10.
Teams to watch:
Long Branch (4-1): The Green Wave defense continues to dominate as they rolled to a 35-0 nondivisional win over Pinelands, and senior tailback Deon Williams added three touchdowns in the win. Long Branch has only allowed one offensive touchdown all season, and their only loss was a 13-3 setback to Manasquan in the opener. They take on Freehold (0-4) on Saturday, and then have a big showdown with old rival Ocean on Oct. 25 that is their chance to get back into the top 10 after being ranked in the preseason.
Shore (4-1): The Blue Devils are rounding into form as the season heats up, as they took care of Holmdel 35-0 and have posted two straight shutouts. Senior halfback Brian Miller racked up a career-high 179 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the win, and the defense now has eight interceptions in five games. Their only loss is to No. 6 Rumson in the opener, and they are looking to make a push for the top seed in Central Jersey Group I. They are now on their bye week and then return with a Class B Central game at Mater Dei Prep (3-2) on Oct. 26.
Point Beach (4-1): The defending Class B Central champs grinded out a 10-7 win on the road over Asbury Park thanks to a game-winning 22-yard field goal by Zach McCartney with under two minutes left in the game. This team has been built on a stout defense and a clock-grinding running game, and the Garnet Gulls look to be right in the hunt to win back-to-back division titles for the first time ever. Their Thanksgiving game against Shore once again looks to be huge. They are at Keansburg (1-4), which is coming off its first win, on Saturday for a divisional game.