Jersey Mike’s Football Team of the Week: Toms River East
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 5 is Toms River East, which continued its resurgent season with a 14-13 win over Neptune that clinched at least a share of the Shore Conference Freedom Division championship. Shore Sports Network was at practice Tuesday night to present the Raiders and head coach Kyle Sandberg with a special game ball and a $500 Jersey Mike’s gift card.
After a scoreless first half where both teams’ defenses were dominant, Toms River East stuck first when it recovered an onside kick to start the third quarter and found the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Mike Goodall. Neptune responded with a pair of touchdowns to take a 13-7 lead, but in failing to convert the extra point on the second touchdown, it left the door open for the Raiders to take the lead with the next score.
Toms River East did precisely that when Goodall scored on a 28-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and senior Daniel Nichols added the extra point to give the Raiders a 14-13 lead. The defense did the rest, highlighted by a touchdown-saving, open-field tackle by senior linebacker Frank Lord, to put the Raiders at 6-0 for the first time since 2009.
Senior Alex Smith had five tackles with one sack and one tackle for loss, junior linebacker Christian Peins recorded two tackles for loss, junior Yusuf Ahmed made six tackles with one tackle for loss, Lord made a team-high eight tackles and senior linebacker Frankie Giannetti had a hit for a loss.
The Raiders' offense did not attempt a pass and leaned entirely on their ground game to get the job done. Ahmed ran for 95 yards on 15 carries and Goodall ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
It's been a rough stretch for the boys of Raider Way dating back to that 2009 season when they went 10-1 and reached the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals. Heading into this season, Toms River East had won just seven games in five years. But under Sandberg, a former standout with the Raiders, the program has risen from the ashes of a winless season in 2016 to become a division champion that has yet to taste defeat halfway through the season. Toms River East won two games in 2017 and three games last year but has taken a huge step forward behind a senior class that entered high school the same year Sandberg was hired as head coach. Together, they’ve taken Toms River East from irrelevance to prominence.
Toms River East can clinch the outright Freedom Division championship and improve to 7-0 this Friday with a victory over winless Lakewood. After that, a tough two-game stretch to close the season looms, starting with a huge game versus rival Toms River North (5-1 and ranked No. 6 in the SSN Top 10 entering Week 6) on October 25. The Raiders then host Lacey (5-1 entering Week 6) on Nov. 1 before the postseason begins. Toms River East is currently sixth in United Power Ranking in South Jersey Group 4.