Head coaches begin to divide their staff to scout out of area teams that they may face when the brackets become clearer.  The goal of every team is to make the playoffs and have a chance at a sectional championship. For some, it's a fairly common practice while for others it's a rare occurrence like Monmouth Regional. They have only been to the playoffs twice in their long history and never have they made it to the finals. Another school with playoffs possibilities is Manchester, who have only been to the playoffs twice in school history and lost both times in the first round. You counter those teams with the likes of Rumson, who are looking for their 5th championship in a row and playoff appearance 17 and Manasquan who will be looking for their 13th championship and their 34th appearance.  But before we get there, there are some huge games that must be played during the regular season.  Let's look at some of those:

This week #5 Howell (5-0) will travel to #1 Manalapan (5-0) with first place on the line in the A-North.  With 210 points scored in 5 games (42/game) and a defense that is fierce and tough, Manalapan can beat you on the ground with RB Naim Mayfield or in the air with QB Luke Corcione. They have had an easy time of it through 5 games, but will be tested by a talented offensive trio in RB Nick Chambers, QB Eddie Morales, and WR Naseim Brantley who have helped the Rebels score 189 points (38/game). Luckily, if you can't make it to Manalapan this Friday at 7 p.m. you can listen to a live broadcast on the Shore Sports Network's 1160/1310AM as this is the Jersey Mike's Game of the Week.

There is another unbeaten team in the A-North in Freehold Twp (5-0). The Patriots lost their first game to Freehold 46-20, but were awarded a forfeit victory when it was found that Freehold used an ineligible player.  Freehold Twp. still has Howell and Manalapan on their schedule, so they will control their own fate in A-North.  FT plays Jackson Liberty (1-4) this week at home.

On Saturday, there are two big games involving the Shore being played at Rutgers University. It's part of a tripleheader which begins with Elizabeth/Westfield at 1 p.m., then Rumson (4-0) plays St. John Vianney (5-0) at 4 p.m., and Long Branch (4-0) will take on Red Bank Catholic (5-0) at 7 p.m. That's 4 top 10 teams playing huge games with much on the line. The Rumson/SJV winner will have a leg up in the A-Central race where Monmouth (5-1) is also unbeaten in the division. Monmouth must still play both Rumson and SJV later in the season. The SJV offense will get a major test against a stingy defense in Rumson. They have given up just 37 points so far, while SJV has scored 235 points, which is 47 points/game.  It's a classic matchup of "O" vs "D". The Lancers are led by running back/linebacker Johnny Buchanan, a standout on both sides of the ball. Rumson's leader is RB Peter Lucas who rushed for 255 yards and 3 TDs in the 35-0 win over Matawan.  

The Long Branch/RBC winner will probably win the B-North division.  RBC leads the Shore in points scored with 248(50/game) and has RB Zack Bair playing at a very high level. He rushed for 232 yards and 3TDs in the Wall win last Friday.  RB Billy Guidetti provides balance and QB Steve Lubischer runs the offense well and the Casey's have multiple weapons at many positions.  Long Branch will counter with a very stingy defense which has given up just 11 points/game in their 4-0 start.  Last week that defense intercepted 4 passes against Middletown South in their 21-0  shutout victory.  On offense the Green Wave are led by multiple players as RB Jermain Corbett, WR T.J. Fosque and QB Juwan Wilkins have all produced for the Wave.  They have to be at their best to take down the Casey's.

Looking down the road there is a big non-conference matchup on October 20th when SJV meets RBC at Count Basie Field, the Casey's home field.  That one will provide lots of fireworks and there will be many power points on the line.

The A-South race is beginning to take shape. Brick is 4-0, while Brick Memorial and Central are 3-1 in the division. Brick has beaten Memorial, while Memorial has beaten Central. On Oct 27th (3 weeks) Central plays at Brick in a match-up that will likely decide the division race. TR East(2-3) took a hit last week as TR North (1-4) upset the Raiders 34-7. The Raiders played without RB Evan Otten (high ankle sprain) while North is getting better each week. Both East and North still have playoff hopes alive in South Jersey.

The B-South race will come down to a showdown between Barnegat (4-1) and Point Pleasant Boro (5-0) on Nov. 3rd in Point Pleasant. Both teams are also very alive in the playoff picture.

In the B-Central Mater Dei Prep (3-0) has had an interesting year to date. 2 weeks ago they played a game against a Canada Prep team (0-4) and won 14-13. A possible ineligible player was used by Mater Dei in that contest which they now claim was a scrimmage and not a scheduled game. They (MDP) will now get an appearance before the NJSIAA controversy committee on Oct 19 to state their case.  A big mess in the ever complicated transfer rules in the state. Watch this hearing closely as it will determine Mater Dei's playoff scenario.  

This week on Wednesday night the Gateway Toyota  Coaches Corner will be at the River Rock in Brick with Brick and Howell in the house. Howell's HC Luke Sinkhorn and players Ryan Malik and Scott Prendergast will join us at 7 p.m., while HC Lenny Zdanowicz of Brick will bring two of his players with him for the 7:30 slot. Join us live or listen on 105.7 The Hawk or shoresportsnetwork.com.

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