Scanning The High School Football Scene: The Magnificent 10
Seventeen entered and ten remain. The high school football season is winding down, as 2 weeks remain for a handful of teams who will play on Turkey Day, and then for 10 who will play for all of the trophies on December 3rd.
Of the 10, there are some some familiar names and programs on the list. Rumson (8-2) has won 3 titles in a row and 4 overall. Only Manasquan and Middletown South have ever won 4 titles in a row. They go for #4 against South Plainfield (8-2), after the Bulldogs beat unbeaten Somerville 21-13 in one of the major upsets of last week. Middletown North (8-2) will be looking for their 4th title after a shutout victory over Summit. The key part of this final, is the opponent. It will not be crosstown rival and #1 seed Middletown South, who was upset by Sayreville 42-28. The 2 will however play on Turkey Day with an outright B-North title on the line for South. A win by South and they are sole champs. A loss and a Manasquan win over Wall, and they will share the title. Most consider the B-North the best division in the Shore in 2016.
Speaking of Manasquan, they beat Roselle 31-27 to get to the final and look for their 12th championship. Meanwhile, Wall beat Hamilton West 49-21 and get to their 5th final and first since 2004. They last won in 2002, which was their 3rd title. That was under then coach Chris Barnes. Brick (8-3) has won 7 titles and gets a chance at #8 as they just got by upstart Freehold Boro (6-5) and their star Ashante Worthy. Brick plays solid defense and will need it again against 9-2 Allentown, who beat Jackson 41-15. Brick usually has the answers in the playoffs; it's their 12th title game, a great program, and they have won 23 State games.
Tom River North (11-0) and everybody's #1 team cruised past Howell 62-34. Again QB Mike Husni had an amazing night and continues to rewrite the record books. He leads a Mariner team that has won 6 titles in 6 chances. Bob Fiocco won the first, Bob Nanni won three, Chip LaBarca Jr won 1, and Dave Oizerowitz won last year, and is looking for 2 in a row. There are some great coaches on that list, 2 of which I had the pleasure of coaching with.
Manalapan (11-0) has already beaten their finals opponent Piscataway earlier in year as they look for title #2. The Braves will make their 6th finals appearance, so they are 1-5, but this is a team on a mission, with a great RB Naim Mayfield and a great QB in Luke Corcione. Both happen to be juniors, so that makes 2017 pretty interesting for the Braves.
In CJ Group 1, Keyport (10-1) will meet Asbury Park (7-3) in a rematch of a 14-7 Keyport victory in week 2. The matchup means at least 1 champ this year at the Shore, but I feel there will be more. The last team and maybe one of the best teams in the Shore is Mater Dei Prep (11-0). The Seraphs beat perineal state winner St. Joe Hammonton 26-0 on Saturday. The Prep story is an amazing one, as 2 years ago they were broke and on the edge of the cliff, ready to close their doors, until a million dollars was raised to keep the doors partly open. Well, the rest is history as those doors are wide open now. All they have done is win a Shore Conference Basketball title (last year) and are now on the verge of a football championship. Yes, a fascinating story is being written in Seraph land.
7 teams went down last weekend: Jackson, Point Beach, Freehold Boro, Howell and SJV have completed their seasons. Shore and Middletown South will play on Thanksgiving. Actually, Shore will play finalist Rumson on Wednesday night at Shore, while Middletown South will travel to Middletown North on Thursday.
The Gateway Toyota Coaches Corner will take a break this week as we will broadcast the Wall at Manasquan game at 11AM on Thanksgiving morning. Listen on News Talk Radio WOBM-AM 1160 & 1310 if you're home preparing for dinner and can't join the 6 or 7 thousand who will be at Manasquan. Our next show will be December 1st at the River Rock Restaurant & Marina Bar in Brick. We will also be broadcasting both of the South Jersey games involving Wall (11am) and Toms River North (6PM) at Rowan University on Saturday, December 3rd.