Week Five Football Picks
It’s going to be a soggy Week Five, so we’ll see if the rain and field conditions have any type of significant effect on the outcomes, although the forecast for Saturday is much better now.
Twelve teams have byes this week, so it’s a fairly light schedule highlighted by No. 10 Jackson Memorial at No. 2 Manalapan in a game that was originally scheduled for the season opener but was postponed because of inclement weather.
Let’s get to the picks.
Last week: 19-3.
Pt. Beach (3-1, 1-0) at Asbury Park (2-1, 1-1), 6 p.m.
Why Point Beach will win: The Garnet Gulls will take the momentum in the running game from last week’s win over Mater Dei Prep and pound Asbury Park up front for another big night by fullback Joe Wegrzyniak. They will stuff the Blue Bishops’ run game, make them one-dimensional and then get after quarterback Robert Barksdale with the pass rush. Why Asbury Park will win: The Blue Bishops will finally get the offense fully in gear, score early with a big play in the passing game or special teams to take a lead, put Point Beach on its heels and get the Garnet Gulls out of their comfort zone by forcing them to throw the ball more than they want. The pick: Point Beach.
Toms River East (0-4) at Howell (2-1), 6:30 p.m.
Why Toms River East will win: The Raiders will pound Howell with Matt Gudzak and the running game on a sloppy field and take advantage of miscues in the Rebels’ passing game because of bad conditions. Why Howell will win: The Rebels run the ball effectively, stick to intermediate routes if it’s pouring out, and take care of the ball in the shotgun if it’s raining out or a messy field. Much of what Howell does is based on timing in the no-huddle spread, so some poor footing and a wet and muddy ball may throw a kink into that. The pick: Howell.
Freehold Twp. (1-2) at Sayreville (2-2), 7 p.m.
Why Freehold Township will win: The Patriots will take advantage of the rain to come up with some turnovers and short fields and cash them in while limiting Sayreville’s possessions to try and score an upset of the three-time defending sectional champions. Sayreville has a turf field, though, so there won’t be a muddy track to cause any miscues in that area. Why Sayreville will win: The Bombers will stifle a team that has scored a total of 18 points in three games, run the ball effectively, and avoid any costly turnovers inside their own red zone. The pick: Sayreville.
Old Bridge (3-1) at Middletown North (0-3), 7 p.m.
Why Old Bridge will win: The Knights will dominate up front, run the ball effectively, stuff Middletown North’s run game and then go after freshman quarterback Donald Glenn. Why Middletown North will win: The Lions will hopefully get a turnover or two deep in Old Bridge territory thanks to rainy conditions, Glenn will hit some passes early to put Old Bridge in a hole, and the Lions’ run game rises to the occasion to control the clock. The pick: Old Bridge.
No. 10 Jackson Mem. (3-0) at No. 2 Manalapan (3-0), 7 p.m.
Why Jackson Memorial will win: The Jaguars will stand up to Manalapan’s running game and force the Braves to have to throw more than they want on a rainy night. Khani Glover and Ken Bradley have big games on the ground and take care of the ball in the wet conditions to control the clock. The Jaguars’ defense comes up with some blindside hits on Manalapan’s two quarterbacks to cause turnovers on a night where holding on to the ball could be difficult. Why Manalapan will win: Their running game and offensive line continue to dominate, whether it’s Tyler Leonetti or Imamu Mayfield running it, they hit a big pass to Saeed Blacknall early for a score to put Jackson on its heels, and they avoid turnovers on what should be a sloppy, muddy field. The defensive front seven stuffs Glover and forces Joe Demaio to have to make throws into the rain with rushers in his face. The pick: Manalapan.
Holmdel (1-3) at Shore (3-1), 7 p.m.
Why Holmdel will win: The Hornets will run the ball effectively on Shore’s grass field, which could be a mess by halftime because of the weather, and the defense pounces on any turnovers on miscues at the mesh point with a wet ball in Shore’s Wing-T offense. Why Shore will win: The Blue Devils will keep it on the ground, pound away with their big line and the tandem of Brian Miller and Doug Goldsmith, and stop the run on defense against a Holmdel team that has struggled to do much through the air all season. The pick: Shore.
Monmouth (2-1, 1-0) at Raritan (0-4 ,0-2), 7 p.m.
Why Monmouth will win: The Falcons will run the ball effectively in the zone read with either Isaiah Searight or James Green, bottle up Raritan’s running game on defense, and avoid any turnovers deep in their own territory. The defense will be too fast for Raritan to really get anything going offensively. Why Raritan will win: The Rockets’ offense will play its best game of the season after some positive steps in a lop-sided loss to RBC last week, the defense will force Monmouth to throw the ball on a rainy night, and Raritan will keep it close into the fourth quarter before riding the adrenaline to end a 14-game losing streak. The pick: Monmouth.
No. 3 Lacey (4-0) at Manchester (0-4), 7 p.m.
Why Lacey will win: The Lions’ running backs, George Sayre and Chris Jensen, will do a good job on the ground in the rain, while quarterback Conor Davies hits short and intermediate throws and the Lions do a good job running after the catch. The defense creates turnovers with consistent pressure of Hawks’ quarterback Kashaun Barnes. Why Manchester will win: The defense comes up with multiple turnovers deep in Lacey territory to set up the offense, the rain causes problems with Lacey’s passing game, and Manchester gets an early lead to put the pressure on the visitors. The pick: Lacey.
Long Branch (3-1) at Pinelands (1-3), 7 p.m.
Why Long Branch will win: The Green Wave will take the momentum of last week’s offensive improvement and pound away with Deon Williams, Dahmiere Willis and T.J. Covin on the ground against a Wildcats’ defense that allowed a pair of 100-yard rushers last week. The defense will continue to dominate after only allowing one touchdown all season. Why Pinelands will win: The defense will come up with some fumbles on a wet, sloppy field and stand up to Long Branch’s run game, the offense will get some good field position to possibly set up multiple Jon Kubricki field goals for an early lead to sit on. The pick: Long Branch.
Brick Memorial (2-2) at Neptune (2-2), 7 p.m.
Why Brick Memorial will win: The Mustangs will get a boost from the return of standout tailback Mike Basile, the offensive line will carry over its great play from last week, and Neptune’s defense will struggle with playing assignment football against the option and allow a big game to quarterback Joe Hans just like it did to former quarterback Ryan Cieplenski last year. Why Neptune will win: Aaron Mora provides a great speed complement on the edge to the running of quarterback Shakeem Richardson and the offense starts to put it together after a slow start. The swarming defense executes its assignment against the option and forces the Mustangs to have to throw the ball on a rainy night. The pick: Neptune.
Red Bank (0-3, 0-1) at No. 6 Ocean (4-0, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Why Red Bank will win: The defense comes up with some turnovers to create short fields and the offense breaks a big run or two to get a lead that the Bucs are able to sit on for long stretches by controlling the clock. Why Ocean will win: Sophomore tailback Tyler Thompson has another big night, helped by playing on a turf field to counteract any rain effects, the Spartans avoid turnovers, and the defense continues to dominate, stifling a Bucs’ offense that has scored 13 total points in three games. The pick: Ocean.
Msgr. Donovan (1-2, 1-1) at Pt. Boro (0-4, 0-2), 7 p.m.
Why Msgr. Donovan will win: The Griffins will run the ball effectively in the option, hitting some big plays on the perimeter with Joey Fields and quarterback Vinny Grasso, and they take care of the ball. The defense gets good penetration into the backfield and causes turnovers against a Point Boro offense averaging 10 points per game. Why Point Boro will win: The Griffins have some miscues at the mesh point in their offense, put the ball on the ground and give the Panthers good field position that they cash in for points, and the offense controls the clock with the running game. The pick: Monsignor Donovan.
Mater Dei Prep (3-1, 1-1) at Keyport (3-1, 0-1), noon
Why Mater Dei Prep will win: The Seraphs’ interior run game has a strong afternoon with quarterback Christian Palmer and running backs Derek Lopez and Sam Miles in case the field is so muddy that getting to the outside for any big runs proves difficult. The defense stuffs Keyport’s running game then attacks quarterback Alex Thomson. Why Keyport will win: A sloppy field negates Mater Dei’s speed advantage, Ky’Sun Pryor and the line pound away in the running game, and Thomson hits a big throw or two to put Mater Dei into an early hole. The pick: Keyport.
No. 4 Middletown South (2-1) at Manasquan (3-1), 1 p.m.
Why Middletown South will win: The Eagles’ running game will get back into gear after a tough week against Manalapan, Kyle Brey hits short and intermediate routes to the Pereless brothers, Andrew Wisialko and Tayler Hendrickson, who do damage after the catch. Offensive coordinator Rich Read knows all about playing on a potentially sloppy field at Manasquan because he coached there for years on championship teams under Vic Kubu and Pete Cahill. The defense stifles Manasquan’s running game and gets after quarterback Tucker Caccavale. Matt Mosquera hits a field goal or two on bad field in what could be a low-scoring game. Why Manasquan will win: James McAlary is able to have a big game running the ball on the outside, Joe Murphy is able to go at tailback after being banged up last week, and the defense comes up with turnovers and stuffs Middletown South’s running game. The ball takes some funny bounces like always at Vic Kubu Warrior Field that benefit the home team. The pick: Middletown South.
Wall (3-1) at No. 9 Brick (3-1), 1 p.m. at Drum Point Complex, Brick
Why Wall will win: The Crimson Knights’ re-establish the running game with Pete Miceli after a tough week against Long Branch to control the clock and limit Brick’s possessions. The defensive front four limits Brick’s running game, particularly on first down, to put the Green Dragons in obvious passing downs. Why Brick will win: The tandem of quarterback Carmen Sclafani and running back Ray Fattaruso proves difficult to slow down on the turf at Drum Point, the Green Dragons take care of the ball and don’t give Wall any great field position, and the defense plays like it did last week in a 13-7 win over Southern. The pick: Brick.
No. 1 Red Bank Catholic (4-0) at Freehold (0-3), 1 p.m.
Why RBC will win: The Caseys will keep it simple: Smash Freehold up front to spring Larry Redaelli, Mike Cordova and Co. for big runs and play the same dominant defense it has all season long. Why Freehold will win: The line will have the game of its life, the defense will come up with five-plus turnovers, and the offense will hit some big plays and keep the game close into the fourth quarter. The pick: Red Bank Catholic.
Highland Park (0-4) at Keansburg (0-4), 1 p.m.
Why Highland Park will win: The Owls will run the ball effectively against a Titans defense that has struggled against the run and given up 46 points per game, while stopping Keansburg’s running attack. Why Keansburg will win: Kason Preston will make some big plays, the defense will come up with some fumbles deep in Highland Park territory to put the offense in a good spot, and the run game will play mistake-free to help new coach Chris Damian get his first win with the Titans. The pick: Keansburg.