No radical shake-ups in the Top 10 as we enter the home stretch, with the state playoff brackets being finalized after this week’s action.

Every Top 10 team from last week won in Week Eight, so things are fairly status quo, although I did make one change in the top five. We will soon find out about undefeated teams like Wall and Manasquan that haven’t been seriously challenged by playoff-caliber teams for much of the season. There also are teams like Neptune and Middletown South surprisingly fighting just to get a spot in the postseason, so we’ll see how that turns out this week.

Obviously, as far as the top 10 is concerned, the big one this week is No. 3 Rumson at No. 9 Asbury Park in a match-up of undefeated teams. The winner most likely wraps up the top seed in their respective state bracket, and it could be a showdown of state champions, as both are the favorites going into the state playoffs.

  • 1

    Red Bank Catholic

    (7-0) – Last week: No. 1

    The Caseys sewed up their second straight Class B North title, first outright title since 2008 and fourth division title in five seasons with a 49-14 victory over Ocean. Senior tailback John DiStefano rushed for 185 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, and senior quarterback Ryan Spahr tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the win. Next up is a nondivisional game against Toms River East (1-6) at home on Friday night. Despite being undefeated, RBC looks like it may only snag the No. 5 seed in Non-Public Group III and will have to go on the road to face a tough Immaculata team in the first round.

    Cliff Lavelle, All Shore Media
  • 2


    (7-1) – Last week: No. 2

    The Rams locked down their first home state playoff game in program history thanks to a 28-0 nondivisional win over Freehold Township that featured a pair of touchdown passes from junior quarterback Dan Higgins to sophomore wideout Mike Gesicki. The Rams are in an interesting spot this week as they travel to Middletown North (4-3) for a nondivisional game on Friday night. It’s the Rams’ ninth game, so it does not count toward the power-point standings in South Jersey Group IV, but Middletown North has to win in order to have a shot at qualifying in Central Jersey Group IV. So the game means everything to the Lions, but other than for Top 10 purposes, not a whole lot for the Rams.

  • 3

    Rumson-Fair Haven

    (7-0) – Last week: No. 3

    The Bulldogs are coming off their bye week and now have a much-anticipated showdown with No. 9 Asbury Park in a nondivisional match-up of undefeated teams. A win most likely secures the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group II for the Bulldogs, who are the defending sectional champions.

  • 4


    (6-1) – Last week: No. 5

    I am making the move of jumping the Scarlet Fliers over undefeated Wall. Neptune beat Lacey 16-3 for its fifth straight win, as Myles Martin ran for a 1-yrad touchdown, linebacker David Gutzmore had an interception return for a touchdown, and the defense held the Lions to 148 total yards. Neptune has beaten two common opponents with No. 5 Wall, Ocean and Lacey, by at least two touchdowns, compared to seven-point victories by Wall in each of those games. Hopefully this will all get settled on the field in the Central Jersey Group III playoffs, provided Neptune takes care of business and wins a huge Class B North game against Colts Neck on the road on Saturday.

  • 5


    (7-0) – Last week: No. 4

    The Crimson Knights had some trouble dispatching of a one-win Toms River South team before eventually pulling away for a 54-35 nondivisional victory to remain unbeaten. Senior quarterback Steve Cluley ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in the victory. This week, Wall faces a solid Colonia (6-1) team on the road on Saturday in a nonconference game in a bid to secure a high seed in Central Jersey Group III. If Neptune and Middletown South both somehow don’t make the field in CJ III, Wall will be the prohibitive favorite to take home the crown. Still, I’m sure the fans, players, coaches and others would like to see Neptune, Wall and Middletown South settle it on the field in the postseason.

  • 6

    Jackson Memorial

    (6-1) – Last week: No. 6

    The Jaguars are coming off their bye week and face a one-win Freehold Township team in a nondivisional game on Friday night. Jackson currently sits in fourth place in power points in Central Jersey Group IV, so the hope is to at least secure a first-round home game with a win.

  • 7


    Last week: No. 7

    The Warriors rallied from a two-point halftime deficit to put away Holmdel, 33-14, in a nondivisional game. Sophomore running back Joe Murphy ran for a pair of scores and senior quarterback Tyler Saito threw two touchdown passes to keep Manasquan unbeaten. The Warriors face Lakewood (2-5) on the road on Saturday in a Class C Central game. They need to win that to keep themselves in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group II with defending champion Rumson-Fair Haven, which most likely will come down to residual points. Manasquan also needs to beat the Piners to set up a winner-take-all game with Wall on Thanksgiving for the Class C Central title. Manasquan is the defending division champion and beat the Crimson Knights on Turkey Day last year to win the crown.

  • 8


    (6-1) – Last week: No. 8

    The Braves won their sixth straight game by pulling out a 23-21 nondivisional thriller over Brick Memorial on a 37-yard field goal by freshman kicker Mike Caggiano with two seconds left in regulation. Junior quarterback Mike Isabella was 19-for-22 for 177 yards passing and a touchdown, and junior wideout Anthony Firkser had 12 catches for 124 yards. Senior tailback John Sieczkowski added 114 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Manalapan now can most likely secure the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey Group IV if it can beat a desperate Toms River North team fighting for its own playoff spot in a nondivisional game at home on Friday night.

  • 9

    Asbury Park

    (7-0) – Last week: No. 9

    The Blue Bishops routed South River, 44-0, in a nonconference game on Monday as the Conover twins, seniors Amir and Armond, combined for five touchdowns in the win. Now comes the game that Asbury Park fans have been buzzing about since the preseason, a nondivisional showdown at home against No. 3 Rumson in a matchup of unbeatens. The Blue Bishops can wrap up the top seed in Central Jersey Group I and also prove that their small-school program can compete with the Shore’s best when they face the defending Central Jersey Group II-champion Bulldogs.

  • 10

    Middletown South

    (5-2) – Last week: No. 10

    The Eagles kept their state playoff hopes alive with a 17-14 nondivisional win over Brick that eliminated the Green Dragons from postseason contention. Senior fullback Tim McArdle ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns and junior Connor Ryan booted a crucial field goal to power the win. Middletown South now has to beat Lacey in a nondivisional game on Friday night at “The Swamp’’ to have a shot at making the field in Central Jersey Group III. The Eagles are hoping to avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 1996 after having reached a sectional final in nine of the last 10 seasons.