Every week this regular season, Shore Conference football fans will have their chance to vote for the Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey/Shore Sports Network Football Player of the Week on our website, with over 100,000 votes cast already this season.

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The Player of the Week winner for Week 9 is Manasquan sophomore running back Canyon Birch, who did more than simply fill in for injured starter Connor Morgan by rushing for 190 yards and 3 touchdowns on 33 carries in a 32-21 victory over Red Bank Catholic that secured a top-three seed for the Warriors in the Central Jersey Group II playoffs.

With both Morgan and starting quarterback Jerry Maher out with injuries, Manasquan needed someone to replace their production, especially that of Morgan, who has rushed for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven games. Birch was that player against the Caseys with a career high in yards, touchdowns and carries. He now has 438 yards rushing and four touchdowns on an average of 5.9 yards per carry this season. Birch is known more for his prowess as a star attackman on Manasquan's sectional championship-winning lacrosse program and is verbally committed to Army, but he proved his is a big part of Manasquan football's present and future in the backfield.

After two straight 3-7 seasons, Manasquan is back to its winning ways with a 7-1 record heading into the postseason. The Warriors are the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and begin their quest for a Shore Conference-record 12th sectional title when they host A.L. Johnson on Saturday.

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In one of the closer votes of the season, Birch edged Brick's Rashan McCall with 36.2 percent of the vote. McCall ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the Dragons' win over Toms River East. Middletown South linebacker Kevin Higgins was third and Howell quarterback Eddie Morales III was fourth.



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