Mike Gesicki of Southern Regional is expected to be one of the top basketball players in the shore this winter and a week from today will open his season against Toms River East.   However you can bet that basketball is about the last thing on his mind even though the season opener is just 7 days away.  

Southern football coach Chuck Donohue Sr. and junior Mike Gesicki (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

Tonight the 6’6 junior will put on his #18 jersey and run onto the field at Rowan University with the rest of his football teammates in search of the school’s first state sectional championship.  Gesicki is one of the big reasons why Southern has reached a state final for the second time in five years and he’ll have to come up big tonight against an undefeated Williamstown team that is ranked 8th in New Jersey and has won its previous 11 games by an average of 25 points per outing.

The good news for Gesicki, who is also one of the top volleyball players in the state, is that he and the Rams are playing their best football of the season and pulled off dramatic road victories at Washington Township and Eastern Regional to reach Rowan.  In those two games running back Abe Gonzalez has rushed for 422 yards and scored 8 touchdowns while quarterback Dan Higgins has guided an offense that has hit its stride at the most important point of the season.

In 2008 Southern dropped a heartbreaker to Mainland in the sectional final and many of tonight’s seniors were at that game as 8th graders hoping that one day they would get a chance to bring a state championship to the school.  That day is here!

Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on 105.7The Hawk and via the web at shoresportsnetwork.com.

Southern is one of five teams from the shore involved in the 24 state sectional finals this weekend.  On Saturday Middletown South will face Sayreville and Manalapan meets South Brunswick at Rutgers while at The College of New Jersey, Shore goes up against Florence and Neptune plays Nottingham.

If they weren’t “first responders” then bus drivers from the Toms River Regional School District were at least “second responders” during Superstorm Sandy.  Many of them were providing valuable transportation assistance while their own homes were being damaged and destroyed.

Tomorrow a benefit will be held at The Villa (next to the Office Lounge) in Toms River from 5-9pm for the transportation employees who were displaced by the storm.  There is a $20 cover charge with live music and plenty of fun.