Monday Rewind: St. John Vianney, Mater Dei Clinch Titles, Pt. Boro Seizes First Place
A clear front-runner emerged this weekend in Class B South, while Mater Dei Prep and St. John Vianney became the first teams to already clinch at least a tie for a division crown with impressive wins.
The headliner was St. John Vianney, which made a statement in a clash of Top 10 teams with a 28-3 win over Rumson-Fair Haven to clinch at least a tie for the Class A Central crown for their third straight division title. St. John Vianney can officially wrap up the outright championship with a win over Monmouth on Nov. 4.
While much of the talk about who is No. 1 in the Shore centers around Middletown South and Toms River North, who square off this week, the Lancers are building a pretty solid case themselves. They have a nondivisional win over a Top 10 team in Brick and they just beat a Rumson team that lost by a point to Middletown South by 25 points. They also have now won 26 straight games against Shore Conference opponents.
St. John Vianney will also get its own crack at the Eagles on Oct. 28 after another tough game this week against Red Bank Catholic. If Middletown South beats Toms River North this week, that game with the Lancers would be for the No. 1 ranking in the Shore if they get by RBC.
The win over Rumson showed that St. John Vianney has a championship-level defense and an identity as a smashmouth running team on offense. Villanova-bound Chris Chukwuneke continues to impress, rolling up 134 yards and a touchdown on the ground against one of the Shore's stingiest defenses.
The Lancers don't quite have the array of offensive weapons of Toms River North (who does?), but they are not far off between Chukwuneke, Matt DeGennaro, Haaziq Daniels, Johnny Buchanan, Zyaire Sterling and Samuel East.
Seraphs Make History
Mater Dei Prep clinched at least a tie for its first division title in school history with a 42-6 win over Asbury Park in Class B Central as the Seraphs continue to dominate their schedule.
They have beaten every team they've faced by at least 22 points after taking care of the Blue Bishops thanks to 174 total yards and five touchdowns between passing and running by quarterback George Pearson. Wideout Kyle Devaney added a pair of touchdown catches.
Mater Dei Prep can win the outright division title by beating Point Beach on Nov. 4. No Class B Central team has scored more than 7 points in a game against the Seraphs, who are averaging 38.5 points per game against divisional opponents. With games against Holmdel (1-4) and South River (2-4) coming up, the Seraphs are a strong favorite to roll into the Non-Public Group II playoffs undefeated. They will take a run at traditional powers like St. Joseph's-Hammonton and Holy Spirit in search of their first state championship in school history.
Panthers Take Control
Point Boro emerged alone in first place in Class B South after its 26-16 win over Lakewood in a match-up of unbeatens coupled with Barnegat's loss to Lacey.
The Panthers continued to hold their edge against the Piners, whom they have now beaten four straight times, including three times on Point Boro's home field. An offensive line that paved the way for a combined 280 yards rushing by quarterback James Fara and running back Tanner Gordon and an opportunistic defense and special teams that came up with three turnovers was the story on Friday night.
One other takeaway from the game was the respect garnered by Lakewood junior defensive lineman Josh Lezin. The Panthers were specifically running away from his side in the second half, and their linemen noted that he was a particular focus coming into the game. Lezin doesn't have any offers yet but has been getting strong interest from Northwestern, according to Piners coach L.J. Clark.
After sharing the title last year with Lakewood, the Panthers can clinch at least a tie for this year's championship with a win over Jackson Liberty (0-6) this week and can win it outright by beating the Lions and then Barnegat on Nov. 4.
Emotional Weekend in the Bayshore
Keyport and Raritan turned in a pair of emotional victories while grieving a loss in their football families.
Keyport dedicated its 47-8 win over Dunellen on Senior Day to former Red Raiders' lineman Jordan Golaszewski, who died at 16 years old in a car accident in Florida in November 2015. He had moved to Florida but planned on transferring back to Keyport and being part of this current senior class before his tragic death. His No. 64 jersey was carried on to the field before the win over the Destroyers in which five different players found the end zone to improve the Red Raiders to 5-1 as they gear up for the playoffs.
There was also an emotional ceremony after Raritan's 35-14 win over Matawan that pushed the Rockets back to .500 after an 0-3 start. Head coach Anthony Petruzzi gave the game ball to assistant Nick Sparacello in memory of Sparacello's brother, James, who died at 29 years old on Oct. 8.
The Rockets did their best to honor James as senior running back Vito Aleo continued his strong production during Raritan's three-game winning streak with 175 yards rushing and another 75 receiving to help power the win. The defending Central Jersey Group II champions now have a crucial game against Spotswood for playoff position in two weeks after their bye this week.
Lions Roar Back in the B North Race
Middletown North picked up one of the biggest wins of the weekend when it knocked off previously unbeaten Wall, 21-20, to stay only a game behind Class B North leader Middletown South, its Thanksgiving rival.
Senior Donald Glenn threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns, while wideout Brendan Kube had five catches for 125 yards. A low and blocked extra point in the final 30 seconds was the difference, as the Lions picked up a big win for their playoff seeding and their chances of setting up a showdown with the Eagles on Thanksgiving for a division title. Although in B North nothing is guaranteed, as every week is a dogfight. The Lions now have to tangle with a tough Manasquan team this week.
While the loss was a tough enough for Wall, the Crimson Knights also lost star running back Sean Larkin to an injury during the game after he only had six carries, so that is a potential huge blow if he is out any length of time.
On the Board
Holmdel, Keansburg and Brick Memorial all picked up their first wins of the season over the weekend.
Holmdel opened some eyes by surprising a much-improved Manchester team that had only lost to undefeated Point Boro by a point a week earlier. The Hornets beat the Hawks 19-15 by rallying out of a nine-point hole in the final five minutes to give new head coach Jeff Rainess his first career win.
Dean Gallo ran for a pair of scores, including a 72-yard burst that cut the lead to two points, and quarterback Jeff DeCicco ran one in from 24 yards out in the final minutes for the win.
Keansburg also impressed by routing a four-win Sussex Tech team, 41-25, in a nonconference game. The Titans hadn't scored more than 20 points in a game this season before their offense came alive on Saturday for a big win.
The offensive line dominated to the tune of 332 yards rushing, led by 146 yards and a pair of scores by sophomore running back Liam Riecks and 113 yards and two touchdowns by quarterback Danny Vital.
Brick Memorial beat Toms River East 56-21 in a match-up of winless teams, exploding for their highest point total in more than a decade. Tony Thorpe, Blaine Netterman and Kishaun Carter each scored two touchdowns to lead the way.
---Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for Rumson-Fair Haven head coach Jerry Schulte, who missed the St. John Vianney game after having to undergo gall bladder surgery on Thursday morning.
---Class B Central, stand up. The Shore's small school division flexed its muscles this week. In addition to Keyport and Keansburg's lop-sided wins, Shore Regional rolled to a 28-point win over Middlesex and Point Beach turned in the most impressive win of them all by routing previously unbeaten Spotswood, 31-12, on Saturday. Quarterback Luke Frauenheim ran for 101 yards and a score and also threw a touchdown pass to Connor Kells to lead the way. The defense also shut down a Chargers' offense that had only been held under 27 points once all season. Also, because Spotswood is a Group II school, the win netted Point Beach a haul of power points, vaulting the Garnet Gulls to the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group I through this past week's action.
---Manalapan's offense continues to put up big numbers, and the Braves needed it this week as Howell gave them a run in a 41-34 win. Naim Mayfield's All-Shore-caliber season rolled on with 203 yards rushing and a pair of scores, and Luke Corcione's own stellar year added another chapter with 231 yards passing and three touchdowns. Howell quarterback Eddie Morales showed his potential as well with four touchdown passes in the loss against a team that hadn't allowed more than 12 points in any game this season.
---The Jackson Memorial record book continues to be Mike Gawlik's biography as the senior running back became the first player in school history to have three 1,000-yard rushing seasons when he crossed that threshold with 133 yards rushing and three total touchdowns in a 41-31 loss to unbeaten Toms River North.
---Speaking of making history, Toms River North senior quarterback Mike Husni is close to uncharted territory as he is 144 yards rushing away from being the first quarterback in Shore Conference history to record three straight seasons of at least 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing. He already has 1,012 through the air this year heading into this week's monster showdown against No. 1 Middletown South.
---Junior Nick Brusca, the all-around athlete who has been playing quarterback for RBC because of injuries to the starters, showed he can sling it with a career-high 206 yards passing and four touchdowns in a win over Long Branch.
---Freehold Township is 6-0 for the first time in history after a 35-7 win over Jackson Liberty. The Patriots now get a serious test with a Howell team that just pushed unbeaten Manalapan to the brink in a seven-point loss.
---Freehold Boro's Ashante Worthy now has accounted for 10 touchdowns in the last two games. He had seven between rushing and passing in a win over Monroe and then had a hand in all three in a 21-7 win over Colts Neck, with one rushing, one throwing and a pick six on defense.
---No one may have packed more action into one quarter this weekend than Neptune's Kahmar Rice. He returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, caught a 38-yard touchdown pass and then returned an interception 64 yards for a score, all in the fourth quarter of a 42-26 comeback win over Marlboro. He finished with four total touchdowns in the win.
---Manasquan surpassed its win total from last season by improving to 4-1 with a 28-14 comeback win over Ocean. Connor Morgan rolled up 183 yards on the ground, and senior defensive end Adam Schreck had himself a day with three sacks, three tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a pass deflection.