2023 Shore Sports Network Preseason All-Shore Football Team
Shore Sports Network is proud to present its seventh annual Shore Conference Preseason All-Shore Football team, featuring our compilation of the top returning players in the Shore Conference. The main criteria for the team is returning All-Shore and all-division status mixed with SSN staff selections.
SHORE SPORTS NETWORK 2023 PRESEASON ALL-SHORE TEAM
QB — Micah Ford, Sr., Toms River North
The reigning Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year and Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year, Ford authored one of the greatest seasons in Shore Conference history and led the Mariners to a 14-0 record, the inaugural Group 5 state championship, and the No. 1 ranking in the final SSN Top 10. He rushed for a conference-leading 2,360 yards and 33 touchdowns on an average of 10 yards per carry and threw for 1,203 yards and 17 touchdowns with just two interceptions while completing 64 percent of his passes, becoming the fourth player in NJ history to rush for over 2,000 yards and throw for over 1,000 yards in a season. Ford also accomplished this while playing in 37 out of a possible 56 quarters, exiting at halftime of some games and after just the first quarter in others. He was also a tremendous defensive player as a safety for the Shore's No. 1 scoring defense, recording 77 tackles, 4 interceptions, 9 tackles for loss, and one defensive touchdown. Ford is verbally committed to Stanford University.
RB — Jake Croce, Sr., Point Boro
Croce averaged nearly 10 yards per carry as the fullback in Point Boro's triple-option offense and cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season, rushing for 1,043 yards and 17 touchdowns on an average of 9.6 yards per attempt and adding one receiving touchdowns. He has received interest from FCS schools.
RB - Josh Moore, Sr., Toms River North
Moore rushed for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns on an average of 9.7 yards per carry as Toms River North had the No. 1 offense in the Shore averaging an astounding 47.1 points per game, set a state single-season record with 660 points, and won the Group 5 state title with a 14-0 record.
RB -- Chris Scully, Sr., Colts Neck
Scully was a Second Team All-Shore selection last season when he rushed for 1,313 yards and 15 touchdowns to finish fourth in the Shore Conference in rushing yards. He was the co-Offensive Player of the Year in the Constitution Division.
WR - Emanuel Ross, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
Ross, who is verbally committed to Stanford University, caught 29 passes for 615 yards and 10 touchdowns on an average of 21.2 yards per reception for an RBC team that went 10-2, won the American Division title, and reached the NJSIAA Non-Public B state final.
WR - Michael Thomas III, Jr., Donovan Catholic
Thomas turned in a great sophomore season with 43 receptions for 544 yards and 4 touchdowns to help the Griffins reach the Non-Public A quarterfinals and finish No. 4 in the SSN Top 10. He holds multiple FBS offers, including from Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Boston College, Maryland, and Rutgers.
WR — Nick Rigby, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven
Rigby was the Shore Conference's leader in both receptions and receiving yards by hauling in 61 catches for 789 yards and 7 touchdowns to help Rumson win its seventh sectional title and reach the NJSIAA Group 2 state championship game.
OL — Ja’elyne Matthews, Jr., Toms River North
The 6-foot-7, 295-pound Penn State commit had a dominant sophomore season on an overpowering Toms River North offensive line that helped produce 5,763 yards of offense, 81 touchdowns, and a state-record 660 pounds. The Mariners rushed for 4,353 yards and 62 touchdowns and passed for 1,410 yards and 19 touchdowns en route to going 14-0 and winning the Group 5 state title. Matthews also played along the defensive line and recorded 43 tackles, 2 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries, and one interception.
OL — Lorenzo Portella, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
Portella was the right guard and top lineman for an RBC offense that rushed for 2,215 yards and 29 touchdowns on an average of 6.2 yards per carry, passed for 1,634 yards and 20 touchdowns, and finished third in the Shore in scoring at 33.9 points per game. He was also a starting defensive lineman and recorded 42 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, and two blocked kicks. His play helped the Caseys go 10-2, win the American Division title, and reach the NJSIAA Non-Public B state final.
OL -- Tyler Burnham, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
An FBS recruit with offers from schools such as Pittsburg, Syracuse, West Virginia, Duke, Tulane, and Boston College, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle was a standout for an RBC offense that rushed for 2,215 yards and 29 touchdowns on an average of 6.2 yards per carry, passed for 1,634 yards and 20 touchdowns, and finished third in the Shore in scoring at 33.9 points per game. He was a Second Team All-Shore selection and helped the Caseys go 10-2, win the American Division title, and reach the NJSIAA Non-Public B state final.
OL -- Griffin Egan, Sr., Red Bank
A 6-foot-5, 255-pound tackle who is committed to the admissions process at Harvard University, Egan blossomed into one of the top linemen in the Shore last year to help Red Bank go 7-4 and finish second in the Freedom Division. He is a returning Second Team All-Shore selection.
OL -- Nick Caruso, Sr., Ocean
Caruso was a Second Team All-Shore selection last season when he helped the Spartans win the Freedom Division title and finish with an 8-1 record. The Spartans had the No. 4 scoring offense in the Shroe at 31.9 points per game. Caruso is verbally committed to Merrimack College.
OL -- Adam Yevchak, Sr., Donovan Catholic
Yevchak, who is verbally committed to Fordham University, was the top offensive lineman for a Donovan Catholic team that finished No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.
ATH — Connor Dietz, Sr., Brick Memorial
Dietz took his game to another level in 2022 by combining for 3,968 yards of offense and 36 touchdowns on an average of 9.7 yards per play. He was second in the Shore in both rushing and passing, throwing for 2,093 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushing for 1,875 yards and 23 touchdowns on an average of 9.5 yards per carry. He set multiple single-season records including points (164), rushing touchdowns, passing yards, rushing yards, passing completions and attempts, and career points scored (294). Dietz also played in the secondary on defense and recorded 71 tackles and three interceptions. He served as Brick Memorial's kicker, as well, kicking 22 extra points.
ATH -- Jeremiah Pruitt, Sr., Toms River North
Pruitt saw time at wide receiver, running back, wildcat quarterback, defensive back, and punt returner for the Mariners, totaling 654 yards and 10 touchdowns on offense and tying for second in the Shore with six interceptions as a cornerback. He ran for 362 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 14 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, he recorded 89 total tackles with 13.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 6 interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. His play helped the Mariners to a historic season in which they went 14-0, won the Colonial Division title, claimed the program's seventh sectional title, and won the inaugural Group 5 state championship.
ATH -- Matt Oliphant, Sr., Point Boro
After playing slot back as a sophomore, Oliphant took over as Point Boro's starting quarterback and rushed for 972 yards and 19 touchdowns on an average of 9.2 yards per carry to lead the Panthers' triple-option offense that finished No. 2 in the Shore averaging 42.1 points per game. He also threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns to help the Panthers go 9-1 and win the Independence Division title. He holds an offer from Navy and interest from several FBS and FCS schools.
DL -- Zaeir Day, Sr., Donovan Catholic
Day became a dominant defensive force in his second season to help lead a defense that was No. 8 in the Shore in scoring at 14.6 points per game. From his defensive end position, he recorded 101 total tackles with 3 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries in 10 games. His play helped the Griffins reach the Non-Public A quarterfinals and finish No. 4 in the SSN Top 10.
DL -- Cooper Bunnell, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven
Bunnell was a formidable presence along the defensive line and recorded 105 total tackles, a team-high 15 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles to help the Bulldogs reach their ninth straight sectional final and win the program's seventh sectional championship with a dramatic 34-27 double overtime win over Raritan. Bunnell's play helped Rumson reach the inaugural Group 2 state championship game and finish No. 5 in the SSN Top 10.
DL — Jackson Whitacre, Sr., Shore Regional
Whitacre committed to the University of Delaware over the summer after a junior season in which he recorded 46 tackles, 4 sacks, and 9 tackles for loss en route to earning Second Team All-Shore honors. He is also Shore's tight end and led the team with 277 yards and two touchdowns.
DL -- Logan Graham, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
Graham was a Third Team All-Shore selection last fall when he posted 55 tackles, 3 sacks, and 12 tackles for loss on an RBC defense that was No. 2 in the Shore allowing just 10.9 points per game. His play helped the Caseys go 10-2, win the American Division title, and reach the NJSIAA Non-Public B final.
DL -- Sam Rock III, Sr., Donovan Catholic
Rock made 69 tackles and recorded three sacks and five tackles for loss for a Donovan Catholic defense that was No. 8 in the Shore in scoring at 14.6 points per game. His play helped the Griffins reach the Non-Public A quarterfinals and finish No. 4 in the SSN Top 10.
LB — Davin Brewton, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
A sideline-to-sideline tackler who also made multiple stops in the backfield, Brewton led the RBC defense to the No. 2 ranking in the Shore at just 10.9 points per game. The standout junior recorded a total of 108 tackles, including 4 sacks and 15 tackles for loss, plus an interception, a fumble return touchdown, and a forced fumble. His play helped the Caseys go 10-2, win the American Division title, reach the Non-Public B state final, and finish No. 2 in the SSN Top 10. Brewton is verbally committed to the University of Pittsburgh.
LB — Colin Gallagher, Sr., Middletown South
The reigning Shore Sports Network Defensive Player of the Year, Gallagher built off an excellent sophomore season to become one of the best linebackers in all of New Jersey as a junior. Whether coming on a blitz or stopping the run, he excelled in any situation that Defensive Coordinator Marc Tomo put him in. He was second in the Shore with 149 tackles, including 27 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries for an Eagles defense that was seventh in the Shore allowing 14.5 points per game and recording one shutout. Gallagher also played running back and ran for 522 yards and 9 touchdowns on an average of 7.3 yards per carry. His play helped Middletown South go 9-2, reach the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional final, and finish No. 3 in the SSN Top 10.
LB -- Matt Cassidy, Sr., Marlboro
Marlboro had a memorable season and Cassidy was a huge reason why. He shifted to linebacker after playing safety last season and, despite missing parts of two games with injuries, recorded 81 tackles, 3 sacks, and 11 tackles for loss. He was also the team's starting running back and rushed for 850 yards and 11 touchdowns. He scored the game's first touchdown before an injury knocked him out for the season in the first round of the South Jersey Group 5 playoffs vs. Washington Township. His teammates rallied around him and pulled off a dramatic 21-17 win for the program's first playoff victory since 1994. Marlboro went 6-4 for the program's first winning season since 1999 and finished ranked No. 10 in the SSN Top 10.
LB -- Jake Toye, Sr., Brick
Toye recorded 51 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 7 tackles for loss en route to earning a Second Team All-Shore selection and returns to lead a Brick defense that hopes to lead the Dragons into contention for the Independence Division title.
DB — Jake Czwakiel, Sr., Middletown South
Czwakiel fits the cliché of being a Swiss Army Knife perfectly as he affected the game on offense, defense, and special teams on a weekly basis. As a defensive back, he was tied for fourth in the Shore with four interceptions and recorded 36 tackles. As Middletown South's quarterback, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 935 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 633 yards and 9 touchdowns. Additionally, he remained one of the best kickers in the Shore by converting 32 of 34 extra points and kicking five field goals with a long of 37 yards. His play helped Middletown South go 9-2, reach the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional final, and finish No. 3 in the SSN Top 10.
DB -- Tareq Council, Sr., Toms River North
Council provided elite coverage skills at cornerback for Toms River North's top-ranked defense (8.2 ppg), intercepting three passes -- one of which he returned for a touchdown in the South Jersey Group 5 sectional final -- and recording 29 total tackles. He was also one of the Shore Conference's best wide receivers with 24 receptions for 516 yards and 9 touchdowns on an average of 21.5 yards per catch. His play helped the Mariners to a historic season in which they went 14-0, won the Colonial Division title, claimed the program's seventh sectional title, and won the inaugural Group 5 state championship.
DB - Albert D'Alessandro, Sr., Jackson Memorial
A Second Team All-Shore selection as a junior, D'Alessandro was fourth in the Shore with five interceptions and had the most tackles of any defensive back in the Shore with 92. He also caught 31 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns to help the Jaguars go 7-3, tie for the Constitution Division title, reach the Group 4 sectional semifinals, and finish No. 9 in the SSN Top 10.
Owen O'Toole, Jr., QB, Rumson-Fair Haven
Frankie Williams, Jr., QB, Red Bank Catholic
Earnest Reevey, Sr., QB, Long Branch
Luke Sheehan, Sr., QB, Middletown North
Donovan Summey, Sr., RB, Middletown South
Colin Palumbo, Jr., RB, Matawan
Nazir Treadwell, Sr., RB, Keyport
Najee Calhoun, So., RB, Donovan Catholic
Kevin Andrews, Jr., RB, Brick Memorial
Zaheem Brown, Sr., RB, Long Branch
Davon Craft, Sr., RB, Long Branch
Jah'cire Jones, Sr., RB, Red Bank
Jamin Parkinson, Jr., RB, Pinelands
Kevin Maloney, Sr., WR, Howell
Mike Frawley, Sr., WR, Pinelands
Welman Crooms, So., Matawan
Ralee Stephens, Sr., WR, Asbury Park
Royalty Riley, Jr., WR, Central
Charles Davison, Sr., OL/DL, Point Boro
Justin Kaye, Sr., OL, Toms River North
Charlie Whelan, Sr., OL, Colts Neck
Evan Radosevich, Sr., OL, Manalapan
Jayden Elijah, Jr., OL, Matawan
Jayden Hadzovic, Jr., OL, Pinelands
JJ Cifelli, Sr., OL, Colts Neck
Myles Byrd-Rice, Sr., OL/DL, St. John Vianney
Armando Sanchez, Sr., DL, Southern
Scott Nico, Sr., DL, Central
Eric Loureiro, Sr., DL, Colts Neck
Hunter Johnson, Sr., LB, Donovan Catholic
Brandon Bigelow, Sr., LB, Jackson Memorial
Reed Elsas, Sr., LB, Rumson-Fair Haven
Luke Wassef, Sr., LB, Red Bank Catholic
Anthony Rodriguez, Sr., LB, Toms River North
Trey Tallmadge, So., LB, Brick Memorial
Ray DeFrancesco, Sr., LB, Howell
Will Burns, Sr., LB, Manasquan
Liam Villinger, Sr., LB/DB, Pinelands
Mike Ford, Sr., DB, Keyport
Jaiden Hernandez, Sr., DB, Jackson Memorial
Mason Adam, Jr., RB/DB, Wall
Nick Carnevale, Sr., WR/DB, Freehold Township