This coming weekend we will wrap up the 2019 High School football season with two Regional Championship games which will both be held at Rutgers University. Mater Dei Prep will play DePaul for the Non Public Group 3 title on Saturday night at 7pm, while Wall will play Woodrow Wilson of Camden on Sunday at 10am for the South/Central Regional title. More about these games later in my blog.

Only 10 teams played in five traditional Thanksgiving Day games on Thursday. As we close this decade less and less teams are playing on Thanksgiving. Because of the scheduling of the new state playoff system teams that do not make the playoffs have anywhere from 2-4 weeks before they play on Turkey Day. That has caused teams to schedule other games on their own to finish out a 10 game season. Not a good situation. Thanksgiving is slowly fading out.

Toms River South(4-6) and Lakewood(2-8) played for the 100th time with South winning 34-0. This will be the last time for this great rivalry. On the sideline for TR South was Ron Signorino Sr, who was the head coach for 19 years of the 100. His son Ron Jr has been roaming the sidelines for 9 more years. So the Signorino clan has had a major impact on this great rivalry. They were, of course, sentimental as the Indians closed the series with the shutout. LJ Clark, who both played for the Piners and now is the head coach of Lakewood, also hates to see this game end. The two schools may still play but not on Thanksgiving.

Neptune beat Asbury Park 36-33 in a come from behind exciting game. Trailing 33-12 at halftime, the Fliers rallied and won it on a Nino Bua to Jalin Butler TD pass with 12 seconds left. Junior QB Bua will be one of the top QBs coming back next year, he had a big game throwing for 150 yards and 2 TDs and running for 50 more yards. Junior Haughton scored 3TDs while running for 109 yards. No talk of discontinuing this game as we speak. Let’s wait for the re-alignments to be announced.

The battle of Middletown was played for the 45th time with South winning 21-7 over North. Both Mid South(5-5) and Mid North(4-7) made the playoffs this year and there is no talk of stopping this rivalry.

Red Bank beat Long Branch 21-8 to close the season at 7-4 under 1st year HC David Schuman. Both of these teams also made the playoffs this year with Red Bank losing in the 1st round and LB losing in the semifinals. The Wave were looking for their 3rd championship in a row this year, but fell just short with their 21-20 loss to Ocean City in Semis.

The last of the Turkey Day games was Wall’s 14-6 victory over Manasquan (4-6). Wall(12-0) continues what could be a historic year as they will play Woodrow Wilson of Camden next Sunday in a South/Central Regional game. On a cold and windy morning, Wall ran the ball for 326 yards but had trouble putting it in the end zone. Casey Larkin had 167 of those yards but was hurt during the 2nd half and his status is uncertain for Sunday’s game. I can’t remember if anyone in the Shore has ever won 13 games in a season, but Wall has that chance this year. Manasquan gave it a good effort as QB Cam Trezza had a nice game running for 78 yards and throwing a 64 yard TD pass.

A quick look at the two Regional games sees both Shore teams going in as slight favorites. Wall will play a Wilson team that averages 44 points per game, having scored 508 points with their 9-2 record. Wall will certainly be tested defensively. Wall has a well-rounded team but if I had to pick one side of the ball, it would be the defense where I think this game will be won. They only give up 9 points a game, while scoring 28 a game. Sometimes a good offensive ground game helps the defensive side by keeping a powerful offense off the field. We will see, come 10am Sunday at Rutgers University.

Mater Dei Prep(8-3) will be looking for their second championship when they take on top-seeded DePaul(6-4). Don’t let the record fool you as DePaul has played a killer schedule. They average 34 points a game, but also give up 30 points a game on defense. This is where I give MDP the edge. They will score on DePaul, and their defense is better than DePaul’s as they only give up 10 points per game. RB Malik Ingram is on a tear right now and he has carried Mater Dei down the stretch. The Seraphs have won 5 in a row going into this Saturday’s clash. One thing to keep in mind is Mater Dei beat DePaul 24-23 last year in the semifinals, on their way to the finals against RBC which turned into in a classic game. RBC won it 14-10 to finish 10-0 and a State Championship to take home to Red Bank.

Our Asylum Sports Center Coaches Corner will be Wednesday at the Asylum Sports Center in Wall from 7-8pm. We will pass out the hardwood for Offensive and Defensive Players of Year, the Team of the Year, the Coach of the Year, and our MVP of the Year. All will be in attendance at Asylum. Tune in on 105.7 The Hawk or watch the live stream on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.

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