Showdowns in Class A South, Red Bank Upset Highlight Week Six
A pair of anticipated Class A South showdowns proved to be as advertised and a previously winless team picked up a stunning victory to highlight Week Six in Shore Conference football.
One week after Brick Memorial ended Neptune’s 14-game winning streak, the Mustangs were handed their first loss in a 30-25 victory by Toms River North in Class A South on Friday night. Sophomore quarterback Carmen Sclafani led the way with 140 yards rushing and three touchdowns, including a 68-yard touchdown run that pushed the lead to 30-18 in the fourth quarter.
A day later, Lacey improved to 6-0 and took sole possession of first place in Class A South with a hard-fought, 21-19 win over host Southern in a game the Rams led 12-0 early in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Tom Kelly was brilliant, going 22-for-28 for 241 yards and two touchdowns passing and also running for a 1-yard score. Senior Kyle Spatz caught a 13-yard touchdown pass on fourth down in which he juked a defender in the flat and sped for a score with 2:13 left in the game for a 21-12 lead. Spatz helped set up the winning scoring drive with an interception on a fourth-down pass by the Rams. Senior Abe Gonzalez had strong game in defeat for Southern with 115 total yards and two touchdowns.
The win helped Lacey take a big step toward its second division title in the past three seasons. The last major obstacle to the outright crown appears to be Brick Memorial on the road on Nov. 2.
While those two Class A South clashes earned plenty of attention, the win of the weekend belonged to Red Bank Regional. The previously winless Bucs stunned defending Central Jersey Group III champion Neptune, 21-19, in Class B North for their first victory. Red Bank forced five turnovers, including a fumble that senior Tahji Tomaino returned 30 yards for one of his two touchdowns in the win. A defense led by senior defensive linemen Isaac Coates and Garrett Sickels and senior linebacker Dillon Stambaugh limited the Scarlet Fliers’ potent offense and came up with timely plays like an interception by Sickels with four minutes left in the game deep in Red Bank territory with the Bucs clinging to a two-point lead.
It marked the second straight loss for Neptune after a 14-game winning streak, and it threw the Class B North race back open. Matawan and Long Branch are now tied for first place with Neptune in the loss column. Matawan and Long Branch both picked up victories in Week Six, as the Huskies topped Wall 21-7 thanks to a pair of touchdown passes and a touchdown run by junior quarterback Kashaun Barnes, and the Green Wave came back from an 11-point hole to beat Freehold 30-14 for their third straight win. Senior quarterback Avry Griffin threw for one score and ran for another in the victory.
Red Bank Catholic, Point Beach and Colts Neck each ran their Shore Conference-best winning streaks to seven games with lop-sided victories. RBC rolled to a 43-12 win over Holmdel for its 20th straight victory against Shore Conference competition, as senior Chris Whitlock had a 53-yard punt return for a touchdown, blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown, and also made a tackle for a safety in the win. The Caseys also welcomed back Rutgers-bound senior defensive tackle Josh Klecko from a knee injury, and he returned an interception for a touchdown.
Point Beach continues to dominate as it routed Keansburg 40-0 to improve to 6-0. Garnet Gulls’ senior Danny Tighe became the first Shore Conference running back to pass 1,000 yards this season when he ran for 160 yards and scored three touchdowns to continue Point Beach’s best start in 30 years. Also in Class B Central, Asbury Park bounced back from a loss to Point Beach with a 52-6 win over Mater Dei Prep, helped by a pair of touchdowns from junior Daquane Bland-Bennett. Keyport won its fifth straight game when it beat South River 42-28 in a nonconference game in which junior quarterback Alex Thomson ran for three touchdowns and senior running back Johnny Olsen added two.
Colts Neck is off to its best start ever after downing St. John Vianney 31-6 to improve to 5-0 and set up a huge showdown of unbeaten in Class A North on Saturday at home against Manalapan. Against the Lancers, Colts Neck junior running back Anthony Gargiulo had 167 yards rushing and two touchdowns and senior quarterback Michael Campbell threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Tim Vangelas and also ran for a 1-yard score. The defense bottled up the Shore Conference’s leading passer, St. John Vianney junior Billy DeMato, holding him to 137 yards on 15-for-35 passing and registering three interceptions while not allowing an offensive touchdown.
Another team off to its best start in more than a decade is Lakewood, which shut out Jackson Liberty 19-0 for its first shutout in six years to improve to 4-1. Senior quarterback Tyrice Beverette ran for one score and threw for another to help lead the way. The Piners are one game behind Monsignor Donovan in Class B South, as the Griffins cruised to a 42-0 win over Pinelands thanks to 130 yards and three touchdowns rushing by senior running back Grant Klimek and another 150 yards rushing and two scores by junior quarterback Vinny Grasso.
This week, Monsignor Donovan has a stern nondivisional test when it faces Rumson-Fair Haven, which beat Raritan 31-10 in Week Six to remain unbeaten. Senior Travis Clark ran for two touchdowns and caught another one in the victory.
As far as the other teams chasing Monsignor Donovan in Class B South, Barnegat stayed one game out of first place and made the debut of sophomore quarterback Cinjun Erskine a success with a 16-7 win over Central. Erskine, a Holy Spirit transfer who had sat out 30 days due to NJSIAA transfer rules, ran for a game-high 73 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Ed Santiago also had a 5-yard run and senior Pat Moran added a 31-yard field goal in the win. Finally, Point Boro ended a two-game skid with a 21-7 win over Manchester thanks to 191 yards rushing and a score by senior fullback Ryan Prout.
Two teams picked up their first wins of the season on Friday night when Middletown North beat Marlboro 27-13 in Class A North and Brick won a 28-27 thriller over Toms River East in Class A South. Senior quarterback Cody Thompson ran for one score and threw a touchdown pass to his younger brother, Troy, and junior tailback Jared Mosier also ran for a pair of scores in Middletown North’s victory. Senior Doug Cuccinello scored three touchdowns and John Fuino added another to help the Green Dragons break into the win column.
Also in Class A North, Middletown South rolled to a 41-12 win over Freehold Township thanks to an outstanding game by senior Eli Smith. He scored four touchdowns, running for three and hauling in a 27-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Kyle Brey. Two-time defending Class A North champion Manalapan also had some brilliant individual performances of its own in Week Six during a 55-12 nonconference rout of East Brunswick. Junior tailback Tyler Leonetti ran for a career-high 215 yards and three touchdowns and senior quarterback Mike Isabella was 9-for-12 for 178 yards and four touchdowns passing in the win. On Monday, Manalapan senior star wide receiver Anthony Firkser verbally committed to Harvard University, where he also will play basketball, according to Braves coach Ed Gurrieri.
An outstanding individual performance also highlighted Toms River South’s 12-7 win over Jackson Memorial, as junior running back Otis Kearney ran for 230 yards and both of the Indians’ touchdowns. Manasquan also did some damage on the ground in its 26-7 win over Monmouth Regional, as junior Joe Murphy ran for 160 yards and a touchdown and Mike Ariante added a pair of rushing touchdowns.