Central Jersey Group I Championship Preview
CENTRAL JERSEY GROUP I CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday at 10 a.m. at Kean University
(3) South Hunterdon (9-2) vs. (1) Shore Regional (10-1)
Shore's best win: 13-0 over Central Jersey Group II finalist Rumson-FH.
South Hunterdon's best win: 28-14 in the semifinals over Palmyra (9-2).
Shore Regional keys to the game:
1. Win the field position battle.
When Shore can play to its defense and force the opponent to have to mount long drives to score, that's when the Blue Devils are at their best. With senior punter Jake Monteiro, they have a weapon to keep South Hunterdon pinned in its own end repeatedly.
2. Dominate up front.
The passing game is almost non-existent for Shore, so it all comes down to moving people up front in the Wing-T to make room for Doug Goldsmith, Mike Moore, Tyreek McCain and Co. out of the backfield. When the Blue Devils can consistently get a push to average four yards per rush or better, they are almost unbeatable as long as they take care of the ball and don't have any long drives fizzle out with turnovers.
3. Consistently bring pressure.
South Hunterdon runs a shotgun spread offense directed by senior quarterback Tyler Frazee, who has thrown for 1,440 yards and 15 touchdowns. Shore hasn't faced too many teams that air it out as regularly as South Hunterdon, which throws the ball about 15 times per game. It will be up to Dom Lina, Erik Graham, Steve Fiumefreddo and others up front to get collapse the pocket on Frazee to allow blitzers to come storming through and disrupt the Eagles' timing and create opportunities for Shore's standout secondary to make some plays on turnovers. However, they have to be disciplined enough to not get too far upfield to create running lanes for Frazee, a dual threat who has also run for a team-high 869 yards along with eight touchdowns.
4. Limit penalties by the offensive line.
Shore's offense is not built for third-and-long or immediate big-play strikes, although junior Tyreek McCain has breakaway running ability. Holding penalties, false starts - they can kill a Shore drive in one play. The Blue Devils need a clean game up front to be able to just keep attacking downhill and keep a high-octane South Hunterdon attack that averages 30 points per game off the field.
5. Finish the job.
Shore has been right in the game the last two years only to lose 12-7 to Point Beach last year and 23-17 in overtime to Florence a year earlier. They have to find a way to mount that clutch scoring drive late in the game to finish the job this time if South Hunterdon hangs right with them.
Have to stop: Brennan Carey, Sr., WR
Obviously the primary person that needs to be bottled up is the aforementioned Tyler Frazee at quarterback, but Carey is his main target with 28 catches for 535 yards and 7 touchdowns. What could clearly help is blustery, rainy weather, which could put South Hunterdon's passing game in a bind. Regardless, the Blue Devils need to limit any damage on downfield shots to Carey.
Underrated player: Mitch Candito, Sr., LB/DE
Candito is one of the best on the team on getting to the quarterback, so he could play a crucial role against a team that runs the shotgun spread.
X-factor: Tyreek McCain, Jr., RB
While junior fullback Doug Goldsmith is the primary weapon that Shore likes to pound teams with between the tackles, McCain is capable of breaking the game open with long touchdown runs. His emergence in the second half of the season has added more of a speed dimension to Shore's physical attack.
Notes: Shore is making its fourth final appearance in the last five years and trying to win its first title since 2010 and its sixth overall...South Hunterdon is in the finals for the first time since 1994 and won both of its state titles way back in the 1970s, with the most recent one coming in 1979...Shore has run for 2,600 yards as a team on an average of 6.3 yards per carry...The Blue Devils have allowed a Shore Conference-low 49 points (4.5 ppg) and have six shutouts this season.