Barnabas Health Football Top 10, 11/3/15
With so much on the line in Week Eight, several Shore Conference teams came through with statement victories that has the Shore Sports Network Top 10 looking quite a bit different than it has over the past month.
Toms River North’s 26-14 takedown of previously-undefeated Brick not only created a three-way tie for first place in Class A South, it made for a headache in determining where to rank the Mariners, Dragons and Brick Memorial.
Toms River North has now won six games in a row, and gets the nod as the No. 4 team behind Middletown South, St. John Vianney and Red Bank, all of which are unbeaten. Brick edges Brick Memorial for fifth on the strength of its season-opening 36-6 win, while the Mustangs remain at No. 6. Brick Memorial does have an impossible-to-ignore 52-20 win over Toms River North in Week Two, but the Mustangs also have two losses, albeit one to top-ranked Middletown South.
Rumson drops two spots to seventh after surviving a scare from Raritan to win 21-20, while Ocean moves up one spot to No. 8 after rallying to defeat last week’s No. 8 team, Red Bank Catholic, 42-35. The Caseys drop to No. 10 while undefeated Shore moves up a spot to No. 9.
The triangle between Toms River North, Brick and Brick Memorial was certainly tough to sort through, but each team has a chance to move up since they are all state title contenders in their respective brackets.
Several teams are knocking at the door of the top 10, including a Freehold (6-2) team that has won four straight games, an Asbury Park squad that plays at No. 10 Shore this week and a red-hot Matawan unit that has won five in a row after an 0-3 start.
Week Nine is the final regular season week (aside from Thanksgiving week games) before the playoffs get going next Friday. Some teams have already played their eight games that count toward state playoff seeding, while others have one last chance to jockey for position or secure a berth altogether.
1. Middletown South (7-0). Last week: No. 1
The Eagles, who remain the No. 1 team in New Jersey as ranked by NJ.com, had a bye in Week Eight after defeating No. 6 Brick Memorial 21-3 in Week Seven. They return to action on Saturday afternoon against a Freehold (6-2) team that has won four straight games. The Eagles can lock up the No. 1 seed in North 2, Group IV with a victory.
2. St. John Vianney (8-0). Last week: No. 2
The Shore Conference’s highest-scoring offense lit up the scoreboard again in a 48-0 Class A Central win over Monmouth Regional. Senior quarterback Anthony Brown threw for 224 yards and four touchdowns - two to senior Mike Stapert - while running for another, and junior running back Chris Chukwuneke ran for 102 yards. The Lancers host Manasquan (3-4) on Friday night where a win can clinch the top seed in Non-Public Group III.
3. Red Bank (7-0). Last week: No. 4
The Bucs returned from their bye week with a 37-6 nondivisional victory over Holmdel to remain undefeated. Senior quarterback Jack Navitsky accounted for 193 total yards and three touchdowns and senior wide receiver Sadiq Palmer caught five passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, ran for a touchdown and had an interception on defense. Red Bank plays at winless Manchester on Friday night where it looks to remain undefeated and stay in line for a top-three playoff seed in Central Jersey Group III.
4. Toms River North (7-1). Last week: No. 7
The Mariners picked up a monumental victory in Week Eight by taking down previously-undefeated Brick, 26-14, to clinch a share of the Class A South division title. The Mariners’ offensive line was the story in clearing the way for 381 yards rushing and four touchdowns against a Brick defense that had recorded five shutouts and allowed just 20 points all season coming into the game. Senior running back Asante Moorer ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns and junior quarterback Mike Husni ran for 118 yards and a touchdown. Husni also intercepted a pass to clinch the victory. The win was the sixth straight for Toms River North, and vaulted the Mariners to the current No. 2 seed in South Jersey Group V. They travel to Neptune (2-5) on Friday for their ninth game of the season, which will not factor into its state playoff seeding.
5. Brick (7-1). Last week: No. 3
The Dragons tasted defeat for the first time this season in a 26-14 loss to Toms River North. Senior quarterback Tom Zbranak threw two touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Ja’Sir Taylor, and Taylor also ran for 50 yards. Brick will try to bounce back this week and secure a share of the division title when it heads to Toms River South (4-3) on Friday night. The Dragons also appear to be locked into the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey Group IV, which could also have them facing Jackson Memorial in the first round.
6. Brick Memorial (6-2). Last week: No. 6
Senior quarterback Tim Santiago ran for 182 yards and a touchdown while also throwing a touchdown pass to senior Matt Cuppari in a 31-7 victory over Toms River South. Cuppari also kicked a 37-yard field goal, while sophomore Tony Thorpe ran for over 100 yards with a touchdown and senior Elie Lavarin ran for a touchdown. Toms River North’s win over Brick gave the Mustangs a chance to claim a share of the Class A South division title. They can make it a potential three-way tie by defeating Southern (3-5) at home on Friday night. Despite having two losses, the Mustangs will likely be the top seed in Central Jersey Group IV.
7. Rumson-Fair Haven (6-1). Last week: No. 5
Junior quarterback Mike O’Connor ran for 147 yards and a touchdown and also threw a touchdown pass, and junior Mike Murdock stopped a two-point conversion attempt late in the game as the Bulldogs held on for a 21-20 Class A Central win over Raritan. Junior running back Bryan Hess added 135 yards rushing and a touchdown, while Murdock finished with a team-high 12 tackles. Rumson will look to seal the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group III when they travel to Holmdel (1-6) on Friday night. The Bulldogs have won the Central Jersey Group II title in consecutive seasons.
8. Ocean (6-1). Last week: No. 9
Junior quarterback Kenny Pickett scored on a keeper to cap a game-winning drive in the Spartans’ 42-35 victory over Red Bank Catholic that moved Ocean into the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey Group III. Pickett also tossed three touchdown passes, and senior running back Tyler Thompson ran for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Ocean can cement home-field advantage through sectional semifinals by defeating Colts Neck (1-7) on Saturday afternoon.
9. Shore (7-0). Last week: No. 10
Senior Doug Goldsmith ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and senior Alex Johnson scored twice on the ground as the Blue Devils defeated Point Beach 42-7 for their 15th straight victory. Junior quarterback Matt Pennel threw and ran for touchdowns, and senior Jack Britton also had a rushing touchdown. Shore hosts Asbury Park (6-1) on Friday night in a massive game that has both Class B Central and Central Jersey Group I implications. A win gives Shore its third straight outright division championship, and would also give the defending-champion Blue Devils the top seed in the state playoffs.
10. Red Bank Catholic (6-2). Last week: No. 8
Senior quarterback Eddie Hahn had a monster game in a 42-35 loss to Ocean, throwing for a career-high 380 yards and four touchdowns and also running for a touchdown. Mike Balzofiore caught nine passes for 192 yards and three scores. The Caseys host Jackson Memorial (5-3) on Friday night in a matchup of playoff teams. The Caseys, the defending Non-Public Group III champions, are currently the No. 5 seed and look to be locked into that spot since Friday’s game with the Jaguars is the ninth game for both teams.
Dropped out: none
Teams to watch:
Freehold (6-2): The Colonials won their fourth straight game with a 28-13 victory over Manalapan. Senior quarterback Jake Curry threw for 124 yards and two scores, ran for 64 yards and had 14 tackles and a sack on defense. Sophomore running back Ashante Worthy ran for 172 yards, caught three passes for 78 yards and a touchdown and made 10 tackles and had one interception on defense. Freehold, which will be ether the fourth or fifth seed in Central Jersey Group IV, hosts No. 1 Middletown South (7-0) on Saturday afternoon.
Asbury Park (6-1): The Blue Bishops shut out Keansburg 40-0 for their first shutout since 2012. Quarterback Davon Thompson tossed three touchdown passes, two to Trevor Saunders, and also ran for a 33-yard score. Asbury Park travels to No. 10 Shore for a huge Class B Central matchup on Friday night. A win would give the Bishops a share of the division title and the top seed in the Central Jersey Group I playoffs.
Lakewood (6-1): The Piners defeated Barnegat 52-14 behind 125 yards rushing and five touchdowns from senior Amir Tyler. Lakewood hosts Point Boro (7-1) on Saturday afternoon where a win would give the Piners the outright Class B South division title, their first division crown since 2000. A win would also give Lakewood a top two seed in the South Jersey Group III playoffs.
Matawan (5-3): Adam Elliot kicked a 25-yard field goal with four seconds left to lift the Huskies to a 30-27 win over Manasquan. Sophomore quarterback George Pearson threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns and senior running back Makiya Ceasar rumbled for 182 yards. Since starting 0-3, Matawan has gotten healthy and reeled off five straight wins as it looks to defend its Central Jersey Group III title. The Huskies travel to Barnegat (1-6) for a nondivisional game on Friday night.
Jackson Memorial (5-3): The Jaguars blanked Toms River East 30-0 for their second straight win after dropping three straight. Junior running back Mike Gawlik ran for 149 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars, who are the defending Central Jersey Group IV champions, travel to Count Basie Field to take on No. 10 Red Bank Catholic (6-2) on Friday night. Jackson is currently sixth in Central Jersey Group IV, but will drop to seventh if Steinert (5-2) beats winless West Windsor-Plainsboro South. That would set up a first-round game between the Jaguars and No. 3 Brick.
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