We’re just two weeks away from crowning state champions and concluding the 2017 football season. Aside from the eight games on Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day, just seven teams remain in the NJSIAA playoffs. The results of the NJSIAA semifinals on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 have caused some major movement in the latest Shore Sports Network Top 10.

Point Boro remained undefeated with a resounding 27-6 win over Manasquan to move up a few spots from the No. 8 slot it has occupied for much of the season. Mater Dei Prep also earned an impressive 35-34 victory over Holy Spirit to climb back into the top five.

Three ranked teams play on during Thanksgiving Week so there is a chance those games have an impact on the rankings ahead of the state finals. Seven Shore Conference teams are present in six brackets, including Freehold vs. Long Branch in the Central Jersey Group IV final. The results of those games will go a long way to determining the final No. 1 ranking as well as the rest of The Jeep Store Top 10.

1. Manalapan (11-0). Last week: No. 1

Senior running back Naim Mayfield ran for 176 yards and five touchdowns on 13 carries to set the state record for points in a season with 276 as the Braves throttled Freehold Township, 63-22, in the Central Jersey Group V semifinals. Mayfield now has 2,546 yards rushing to leave him 44 yards shy of breaking the Shore Conference single-season rushing record of 2,589 yards set by Long Branch’s Dahmiere Willis in 2014. Senior fullback Chris Maksimik, senior right tackle Trevor Radosevich and junior quarterback Anthony Camarda each had rushing touchdowns while senior quarterback Luke Corcione threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Scott Scherzer. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. vs. South Brunswick (9-1) in the Central Jersey Group V final at Rutgers University.

 

2. St. John Vianney (10-1). Last week: No. 2

Johnny Buchanan and Zyaire Sterling ran for touchdowns and Haaziq Daniels threw a touchdown pass to Sam East, but the Lancers fell to DePaul, 42-21, in the semifinals of the Non-Public Group III playoffs. Senior A.J. Calabro made a triumphant return from a broken arm to make 15 tackles and force a fumble in his final high school game. Next game: Season complete.

 

3. Rumson-Fair Haven (9-1). Last week: No. 3

Senior running back Peter Lucas ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns to break Rumson’s single-season rushing yards and touchdowns record with 2,110 yards and 30 touchdowns as the Bulldogs beat Wall, 28-13, to advance to their fifth straight sectional final. Senior quarterback Dan Harby added a 37-yard touchdown pass to junior right end Ian O’Connor. The Bulldogs will play Somerville in the Central Jersey Group III championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Rutgers University’s High Point Solutions Stadium. The Bulldogs can become just the second Shore Conference program to win five straight state titles. Next game: Thanksgiving Day vs. Shore (4-5).

 

4. Point Boro (11-0). Last week: No. 8 

Senior running back Brandon Cipriano had two touchdown catches and two rushing touchdowns and the Panthers defense forced five turnovers in a 27-6 win over Manasquan to reach the Central Jersey Group II championship game. It is Point Boro’s first trip to a sectional final since 2007. Senior quarterback James Fara ran for 121 yards and threw for 102 yards and two scores. Junior defensive lineman Trent Livolsi made 14 tackles, senior linebacker Tyler Sanchez had nine tackles, a blocked extra point and a critical fumble recovery in the end zone that changed the complexion of the game. Defensive back John Callander had an interception and a fumble recovery. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. vs. Hillside (8-3) in the Central Jersey Group II final at Rutgers University.

 

5. Mater Dei Prep (8-1). Last week: No. 6

Senior quarterback George Pearson ran for three touchdowns and tossed a go-ahead 11-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Clarence Lewis with 56 seconds left in regulation as the Seraphs stunned Holy Spirit, 35-34, in the Non-Public Group II semifinals. Sophomore running back Malik Ingram also had a touchdown run. Next game: Sunday, Dec. 3 at 2:30 p.m. vs. St. Joseph-Hammonton (11-0) in the Non-Public Group II final at Rowan University.

 

6. Red Bank Catholic (8-2). Last week: No. 5

The Caseys' season came to an end in the Non-Public Group III quarterfinals with a 49-13 loss to St. Joseph (Montvale). Next game: Season complete.

 

7. Howell (9-2). Last week: No. 5

Senior quarterback Eddie Morales threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns on 29 of 35 passing and also ran for two touchdowns while senior wideout Naseim Brantley caught 10 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, but the Rebels could not overcome a six-touchdown performance from Lenape running back JoJo Kellum and fell to the top-seeded Indians, 63-28, in the South Jersey Group V semifinals. Next game: Season complete.

 

8. Freehold (8-3). Last week: No. 7

Senior quarterback Ashante Worthy ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns, threw for 117 yards and a touchdown and intercepted two passes on defense to lead the Colonials to a 35-28 victory over Brick in the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals. Junior wideout Quincy Davis had a 28-yard touchdown catch and freshman Ahmad Dixon returned the opening kickoff of the second half 79 yards for a touchdown to put Freehold into its first sectional final since 2010. Worthy now has 2,589 yards rushing and 35 touchdowns along with 1,965 yards passing with 20 touchdowns this season. His 55 combined touchdowns and 4,554 combined yards are both state records. He is now tied with Long Branch's Dahmiere Willis (2014) with a Shore Conference single-season record 2,589 yards rushing and is 227 yards shy of the modern state record of 2,815 set last season by Salem's Jonathan Taylor. Worthy also needs just 35 yards passing to become the first player in state history to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 2,000 yards in a single season. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. vs. Long Branch (8-2) in the Central Jersey Group IV final at Rutgers University.

 

9. Long Branch (8-2). Last week: No. 9

Jah'Kwan Gordon had two touchdown runs, Jermaine Corbett ran for a touchdown and Juwan Wilkins threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Fosque as the Green Wave (8-2) shut down the Jackson Memorial in the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals to reach their first sectional final since 2007. Senior defensive end Kaymar Mimes had 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks and linebacker Luke Arnold had nine tackles, a forced fumble and 1.5 sacks to lead a defense that has yielded just three points in two playoff games. Long Branch will play Freehold in the Central Jersey Group IV final on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Rutgers University. Next game: Thanksgiving Eve at Red Bank (1-8).

 

10. Manasquan (6-4). Last week: No. 10

Connor Morgan ran for 145 yards and Canyon Birch ran for 70 yards and a touchdown, but five turnovers doomed the Warriors in a 27-6 loss to Point Boro in the Central Jersey Group II semifinals to end their reign as defending champions. Next game: Thanksgiving Day at Wall (5-4).

 

Dropped out: none

 

Teams to watch:

Middletown North (6-4): The Lions have been idle since winning their regional crossover game, 27-20 over Hightstown on Nov. 10. All their losses have come against ranked teams and they can make a case for the final spot in the top 10 by beating Middletown South on Thanksgiving.

Middletown South (4-5): The Eagles have not played since a 20-0 loss to Long Branch in the Central Jersey Group IV quarterfinals. Considering all their losses have come to ranked teams, they have a win over Manasquan and they play Middletown North on Thanksgiving, an impressive performance by the Eagles would be a good argument for a spot in the final top 10.

Monmouth (7-4): Senior running back Ian Fitzgerald ran for 197 yards and two touchdowns, Ryan Convery threw a touchdown pass and Devon Johnson kicked a 27-yard field goal, but the Falcons could not hold a fourth-quarter lead and fell to high-scoring Somerville, 33-24, in the Central Jersey Group III semifinals. Monmouth’s season is complete, but their body of work in which their only losses have come to ranked teams could be enough for them to finish in the top 10.

Wall (5-5): Senior running back Brady McNally ran for two touchdowns and senior quarterback Eddie Scott accounted for 220 total yards in a 28-13 loss to Rumson in the Central Jersey Group III semifinals. The Crimson Knights host Manasquan on Thanksgiving and can make a case for a spot in the top 10 with a win.

 

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Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights. 

 

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