Jersey Mike’s Football Team of the Week: Jackson Liberty
Every week this fall, Jersey Mike’s and Shore Sports Network will be selecting a Team of the Week based on its performance over the past weekend.
The Jersey Mike’s Team of the Week for Week 6 is Jackson Liberty, which shocked previously-undefeated Jackson Memorial, 14-0, for its first-ever win over its district rival. Shore Sports Network was at practice Tuesday to present the Lions and head coach Jim Sharples with a special game ball and a $500 Jersey Mike’s gift card.
The host Lions entered the game with only one win and as a heavy underdog to a Jaguars team that was undefeated and ranked No. 7 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10. Liberty turned the tables with a phenomenal defensive performance to record its second shutout of the season and pull off a historic win. Senior linebacker Shane Simonson led the way with 15 tackles and an interception, Joe DeVito had a 93-yard interception return for a touchdown and Yaron Moore helped the defensive line stifle Jackson Memorial's running game.
With Jackson Memorial driving inside Liberty territory in the first quarter, Simonson intercepted a pass at his own 23-yard line and returned it 50 yards into Jackson territory. The play set up Jake Bosco for a 7-yard touchdown run on a wide receiver reverse to stake the Lions to a 7-0 lead.
Liberty’s defense came through again in the second quarter when Memorial had moved inside the 10-yard line. DeVito stopped in front of a Jaguars receiver and picked off the pass at the 7-yard line, returning it 93 yards for a touchdown to put the Lions up 14-0. The defense continued to hold down the Jaguars in the second half to deliver the season’s top upset and author a moment the players will never forget.
"We played unbelievable defense; they have not scored an offensive touchdown versus us in two years," Sharples said. "(Defensive coordinator) Jeff Schmidt did an awesome job preparing the kids for what Memorial does. The kids were flying around and playing with emotion. It was really amazing. The student body rushed the field. It was just a great moment."
The Lions’ victory over the Jaguars gave them a chance to qualify for the NJSIAA playoffs. Liberty is currently in the 16th and final spot in South Group 3 according to the United Power Rankings. They face winless Toms River South this week and close the regular season against a Manchester team that is 1-4 heading into Week 7.