Survive and Advance
Led by the top 3 teams in the Shore, eleven Shore teams have advanced to the semi final round of the State Championships. RBC, Manalapan and Lacey all advanced with big wins over the weekend and lead these 11 to possible State Titles. Neptune, Long Branch are still alive in CJ 3, while CJ 4 still has Middletown South and Colts Neck still playing. In SJ 5, Southern's upset of Wash.Twp. gets them to semi's.
In CJ 1 we still have Asbury Park, Shore, and Point Beach. Of these 11, four play head to head, so 2 will automatically get eliminated. That's at least 2 in finals. Can we have 9 in finals? Well that's going to take some doing, but that's why they play the game on the field. More predictions next week, as we take a week off from the playoffs, for the annual Thanksgiving weekend of games.
Of all the games played, the Lacey/TR South game was the most exciting. Lacey won 45-31, but the Indians, under the direction of Ron Signorino Jr, almost pulled off the major upset. The Indians tied the game at 31, with 5:06 left, and had the momentum to win. The Lions, playing with the poise of a team that has won 4 previous Championships, had a 3rd and 12 from its own 36 yard line with under 3 min. left in the contest.
Enter Junior QB Tom Kelly, who just 3 weeks ago had surgery on his broken left collarbone. Kelly had convinced offensive co-ordinator Cory Davies that the deep post would work and now was the time. Kelly calmly dropped back and hit Junior Rec. Christian Tutela, in stride, for a 50 yard gain to the Indian 14 yard line. RB Kyle Spatz took it in from there, with 2:20 left, and the Lions were on their way to the semi's. Lacey stands at 10-0 and now gets 2 weeks to prepare for Kingsway, as they do not have a Turkey Day game.
TR South gets a very good Lakewood team, at home, on Thanksgiving morning. Lakewood lost their playoff game to Neptune 14-7 on Saturday. The Indians are 4-5 and must win to finish above .500. This is a team that is young and talented and will be a major factor in 2013. A winning record will set them up for their run next year.
Point Beach(9-0) had not played for 3 weeks and because of hurricane Sandy, their town has been destroyed, especially at the beach. Players have been displaced from homes and the town resembled a disaster area. How would this team rally for a big football game? Well that question was answered early, as RB Kyle Samaritano, went 58 yards on the 2nd play from scrimmage and the Gulls were on their way to a 44-6 blowout victory over South River.
This Beach team can play and they will be tested in their next 2 games. First up is a Turkey Day match-up with co-leader Shore Reg. for the B-Central Title. After that the Gulls will host Florence in a semi-final contest. If they win that one, its a possible another game with Shore in the finals of CJ1.
Of course both Shore and Beach must take them one at a time, but a possible title game between the 2 looks likely. Beach comes at you with multiple RBs and a defense which can play. RBs Samaritano, Danny Tighe, and Andre Cochran each are capable of going the distance on any play and Soph QB Jake Fioretti manages the Gull offense very well. Up front is where the game goes to another level for the Gulls. Quinn Kusma, Lucas Jordy, Timmy Morris, Sean Struncius are just a few to mention up front. They make the offense move and they will be a tough out in the playoffs.
Can't say enough about HC John Wagner and the job he has done in his 2 years running the Gulls. Also give credit to his assistants Jeff Bower, Rich LaDuca, Bill Evans, Brendan Neary and Paul Struncius. Every staff needs to work together and from the looks I get on the sidelines, they certainly look like they do.
Teams that didn't fare too well in 1st round were Mater Dei, Mon Don, Jax Lib., TR North, Rumson, SJ Vianney, Manasquan, Brick Mem., Matawan, Ocean, Keyport, Keansburg, Lakewood, Barnegat and Point Boro.
In summary 11advance and 16 lose in 1st round. Not a great showing for the Shore, but from these 11 that move on, there are some Champions there. The next few weeks will be interesting for local fans.
1-RBC(9-0) Rumson up next for Casey's before a game against State power St. Joe Monvale in semi's.
2- Manalapan(9-0) Don't see this team letting anything stand in their way to their march to CJ 1 championship.
3-Lacey(10-0) The Lions must get their act together in the 1st half if they want another championship. They have struggled at times in 1st half of games.
4-Colts Neck(8-1) A legit team that as talent on both sides of ball. Freehold up next and then another game with Mid South in semi's. Only loss was to #2 Manalapan.
5-Point Beach(9-0) Gulls are flying high and fans are buying in. Huge game with Shore on Turkey Day for B-Central title.
6- Long Branch(8-1) The Green Wave got Dwight Clark back and that makes them tougher than ever. Only loss was to Neptune.
7-Shore(8-1) Opening day loss in OT to Rumson, only blemish on Blue Devils. Have chance to move up in rankings as they play Beach on Turkey Day.
8- Southern(7-2) Nice win on road vs, Wash. Twp. Play at Central this Thursday and then travel to Eastern for semi's.
9-Neptune(7-2) Fliers get Asbury Park in traditional Turkey Day game, then top seeded Allentown on the road in semi's.
10-Middletown South(6-3) The Eagles are playoff tested, having won 40 games with 9 Championships. Enough said. First up, traditional game with Middletown North.
Just outside looking in: Matawan(5-3), Asbury Park(7-2), Lakewood(6-3), Rumson(7-2)
Join us Wednesday night this week for our St Barnabas Health Football Show at Water St. Grill in Toms River at 7 pm. Can't make it, we are on 105.7 The Hawk or shoresportsnetwork.com.