While we watch and pray for the people in harms way down in Florida and in the Caribbean,  the weather in New Jersey was perfect for the main start to the 2017 high school football season. A handful of teams had already opened up their season in week zero.  The preparation, for what may be a 12 game season for some, comes to fruition the first week of September.  The summer practice season of weight training, 7/7 tournaments and scrimmages culminates with game #1.  Coaches, players, and fans always look forward to seeing what their favorite team has assembled.  We in the media also anticipate what the season will bring.  Let's take a look at what we learned during week 1.

Manalapan(1-0) certainly looked like the #1 team in the Shore with an easy 44-0 win over Marlboro (0-1).  RB Naim Mayfield(260 yds n 5 TDs) is on a mission this year.  QB Luke Corcione directs the offense, while the defense looks like it did when they won it all in 2014.

Long Branch(1-0) looks to have the talent to make a big run this year.  LB won the 7/7 tournament before the All-Shore football game this past summer.  They opened 2017 by beating defending State Champ Manasquan(0-1) 28-19 with WR TJ Fosque having a big day catching the football.  Fosque caught 6 for 178 yds n 3 TDs from QB Juwan Wilkins.  Fosque is the son of Asbury Park head coach Tim Fosque who luckily does not have to defense TJ this year.  For their effort this week, Long Branch is our "team of the week".  In a losing effort QB Tommy Antonucci of Squan ran for 134 yds including TD runs of 83 and 51 yds.  Of course, he is the son of head coach Steve Antonucci of Mid South.

Freehold's QB Ashante Worthy is the real deal.  After putting up "fantasy" numbers last year once he took over the QB spot,  Worthy picked up right where he left off.  He accounted for 404 yds. on 202 passing(3 TDs) and 202 rushing(1 TD) in Freehold's 46-20 victory over Free Twp(0-1).

Central(2-0) who opened up last week with an OT 24-23 thriller over Southern, won another OT thriller over TR East(0-1) as Central RB Kavon Chambers ran for 200 yds. and 3 TDs including the OT game winner.  TR East was looking for win #1 for head coach Kyle Sandberg.  The Raiders were 0-9 last year.  They are better this year and wins are on the way.  Central paid the ultimate price last year, due to ejections in week 2, which caused them to miss the playoffs.  Perhaps "karma" is on their side this year.  That and a good staff and team can get them there this year.

Who's the best team in Middletown?  Well, it's been the South side for quite awhile, but that could change this year.  Mid North(1-0) beat Neptune(0-1) 42-6 with RB Connor Welsh running for 3 TDs.  Meanwhile, Mid South was getting pounded by resurgent RBC(1-0) to the tune of 47-10.  Games like that will not sit well with Steve Antonucci and his staff.  Wouldn't want to be Ocean(0-2) this week.  Meanwhile Coach Steve Bush and the Lions know its only 1 game.  Their reward gets them a trip to RBC this week.  Huge game for both teams.

SJV(1-0), a 69-7 winner over Matawan and RBCs(1-0) convincing 47-10 look like they are on a collision course with one another on Oct 20th.  Of course, there's a long way to go before that game, but it is something to look forward to.  SHV QB Haaziq Daniels leads the attack on offense, but my guy is 2-way star Johnny Buchanan who scored twice.  By the way, Devonte Spann of Matawan ran a KO back 98 yds for their only TD of the game.

How about Monmouth Reg.  First-year coach Larry Nikola has the Falcons off to a 2-0 start with wins over Ocean and Holmdel.  That gets him on our radio show this Wednesday night at the River Rock. He'll be on at 7:05 pm on the Hawk(105.7fm). This week they face an 0-1 team in Metuchen who was beaten 42-7 by Middlesex HS, so 3-0 is a very distinct possibility.  The Falcons have not had a winning season since 2006.  Nikola has assistant experience at Colts Neck and Marlboro and head coaching experience at the now closed Cardinal McCarrick HS, so he's been around the block. Nikola took over for Rich Mosca this year.  By the way, Mosca was in a very bad home accident and we send him our best in recovery.

Shore(1-0) and Asbury Park(0-1) have built up quite a rivalry over the last few years.  Well, 2017 is no different, as Shore came from behind and beat AP 12-6 in OT. These 2 teams may meet again in the playoffs, as they did last year.  RB Gil Goldsmith had the 6yd TD in OT to win it.

Rumson(1-0) could be on their way to their 5th State Championship in a row.  That's an amazing number, but this program, right now, is as good as any in the Shore, and the possibility is very realistic.  They seem to reload each year with new players stepping up to lead the Bulldogs.  This year it's RB Peter Lucas, WR Elijah McAllister, but it's the defense that makes this program and that begins with head coach Jerry Schulte, who in my opinion, is one of the top defensive coaches in the Shore, if not the State.  

Point Boro(1-0) will get some ink from this reporter this week.  The Panthers are good!  How good remains to be seen, but with players like QB James Fara and RB Tanner Gordon, they must be watched.  Fara runs the flexbone attack very well.  Assistant coach Brian Staub is the offensive coordinator and he knows the flexbone very well.  He ran it at Brick Memorial(State Championship) and he ran it in college.  He's got former QB Tom Orrok to help him, and head coach Matt Cilento allows them to coach.  That's always a tough decision for head coaches to make because you get the phone calls at night, not the assistants.  A big one for Panthers as they face Lacey(1-0) on the road this week. This one will go a long way in determining the B-South winner.

Howell(1-0) won easily over Colts Neck by a final of 34-6.  It will be the Morales to Brantley show for the Rebels and that combo could be the best around.  

Other winners in week 1 were Barnegat, Brick, Southern, Manchester, Jackson, Wall,  Point Beach, Lacey, and Mater Dei.  In the Wall win head coach Tony Grandinetti picked up his first win of his career in his first try.

Those are the early season stories after week 1.  Our game of the week takes us to TR South with the annual clash with TR East.  Both 0-1 after week 1, but this one is always entertaining. The game is Friday on WOBM, 1160 or 1310 and also streamed on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.

Wednesday night we will be at the River Rock in Brick.  In house will be head coach Matt Cilento of Point Boro with a couple of his players.  Also joining us will be head coach Larry Nikola from Monmouth Reg.  7-8 pm on the Hawk 105.7 or streamed on the Shore sports network.  

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