Long Branch wins Shore Conference 7-on-7 championship
WEST LONG BRANCH – Long Branch recently saw a large and impactful senior class leave the program through graduation after guiding it to its most successful season, but the early returns on the 2019 version of the Green Wave show a team that is ready to continue their championship run.
Rising senior Jermaine Corbett, the reigning Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year, starred on both sides of the ball and rising senior Nick Reilly tossed a pair of touchdown passes as Long Branch defeated St. John Vianney, 14-6, to win the Shore Conference 7-on-7 Tournament title on Monday night at Shore Regional High School.
Corbett had an interception (worth two points) to start the scoring and then hauled in a pair of touchdown passes from Reilly as the Green Wave knocked off the Lancers, who won last year’s 7-on-7 championship.
“This puts us in a great place,” Reilly said. “It sends a message that we lost some people but we’ll be back.”
As a junior, Corbett was the state rushing champion with 2,021 yards rushing on an average of 8.6 yards per carry with 26 rushing touchdowns. He added 236 receiving yards and four touchdowns, plus one kickoff return touchdown, and his 31 total touchdowns were tops in the Shore Conference. He was a situational defensive player in the secondary and made 22 tackles and one interception.
Long Branch enjoyed the winningest season in program history in 2018, winning a school-record 12 games, repeating as NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 sectional champions and winning the inaugural NJSIAA Central-South Group 4 Bowl Game.
While Corbett is a returning star, Reilly is looking to make an impact after waiting his turn in Long Branch’s quarterback room. As a sophomore, Reilly sat and watched Juwan Wilkins throw for 2,053 yards and 22 touchdowns and lead Long Branch to an epic 43-43 overtime win over Freehold in the Central Jersey Group 4 final. Last season, Reilly was the backup to Marc Dennis, a First Team All-Shore selection who threw for 1,476 yards and 21 touchdowns with just two interceptions and ran for 388 yards and three touchdowns to lead a potent Green Wave offense.
“I’m super excited,” Reilly said. “I’ve been working hard the last two years behind Marc and Juwan and they did their thing. I’m happy it’s my time. I learned a lot from them; the little things, how to act on and off the field. I’m looking forward to doing the same things they did and hopefully, that turns into being a three-time state champion.”
Having Corbett to hand off to and find out of the backfield will certainly help.
“Jermaine, he’s special,” Reilly said. “We have great chemistry on the field.”
Long Branch will be well-represented in Thursday’s All-Shore Gridiron Classic with Dennis, linebacker Luke Arnold, wide receiver Matt Clarke, defensive backs Latrell Bennett, Devyn Blount and Billy Levy and lineman Raul Rivera on the Monmouth County roster. Their presence shows the voids Long Branch will need to fill for the coming season, but Corbett, Reilly and the rest of the Green Wave are eager to show they’re up for the task.
Also returning for the upcoming season is standout center Tracey Taylor, defensive lineman Jayson Glasper and fierce linebacker Jah’Kwan Gordon.
Long Branch was a perfect 5-0 in the tournament, winning its group with victories over Neptune, Central and Marlboro to advance to the semifinals. The Green Wave then defeated Middletown North to reach the championship game.
St. John Vianney swept its group with wins over Keansburg, Monmouth Regional and Shore Regional before a semifinal victory over Jackson Memorial. Jackson defeated Lacey, Howell and Freehold in its group while Middletown North had wins over Freehold Township and Colts Neck to reach the semifinals.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.