Scanning the Scene with Ed Sarluca: 27 to 6
27 Shore schools began their run to a championship just two weeks ago...we are now down to 6. The Wall Crimson Knights lead this group into this weekend's games. Wall (10-0) is currently ranked #1 in the Shore and in some publications #1 in the State. They are also the only team of the 6 remaining that must play a Thanksgiving Day game before a possible run to a South/Central championship game, that for them would be played on the weekend of December 6 &7. But before we think about those games, Wall must focus their full attention on their opponent, the Rumson Bulldogs (6-4) who are playing in their 7th consecutive final and looking for their 6th title in the last seven years. Perhaps looking ahead to that championship game, Lacey (7-4) came to play last Friday night and gave the Knights all they could handle and played tougher than most thought and have nothing to regret. Led by a valiant effort from Soph QB Noah Brunatti, the Lions hung around against the heavy favorite Knights. Brunatti has stamped himself as one to watch in 2020 as Lacey is in good shape for the future with a fairly young team. With Wall starting RB Casey Larkin nursing a first-half ankle injury which limited him to defense in the second half, RB Matt DeSarno ran for 99 yards and a TD to back QB Logan Peters 112 yards rushing and 3 TDs in a 35-18 victory. The championship game at Wall on Friday night is a rematch of a September 13th game at Wall which the Crimson Knights won 14-3. Neither team had much offense until the 4th quarter when Wall put together a couple of TDs to secure the victory and catapult them to what is so far an undefeated season. Rumson, however, also certainly has the experience of playing big games and last year beat Somerville HS 42-35 for their 6th State Sectional championship. It was not the way they usually win football games. The defense is the forte of the Bulldogs and they will need a big effort this week against Wall to win #7.
Jackson Memorial (8-2) has won 7 games in a row and is on a mission to win a 6th State Sectional Championship. They won an exciting football game against Toms River East 27-21 last Friday night despite trailing most of the evening. The Jaguars used a late TD and 2 point conversion to tie the score at 21 at the 5-minute mark and then took advantage of a fumbled punt by East and a Justin Hirsch recovery at the 42-second mark. The fumbled punt was on the 18-yard line and QB Lonnie Cubulski needed only one play to score the winning TD on a run around the left side. Cubulski had a huge game as he combined for 197 total yards of offense. Jackson must now must travel to Hammonton HS(9-2) on Friday night against a team that will also be looking for their 6th championship. Although they lost in the semi’s, TR East(9-2) had an outstanding year. QB Mike Goodall was great in the loss and great all year. He rushed for 178 yards and 2 TDs and had the Raiders on the verge of a championship game. Mike now turns his athletic ability to the hardwood, where he is one of the top guards in the Shore. Keep in mind that East had won only 7 times in the last 5 years before this 9 win season. Take nothing away from what HC Kyle Sandberg has done in his 4th year leading the Raiders. The program is back to being the power it once was.
Those are the 3 teams playing for championships this week. The other 3 all play in Non-Public Group 3 which is only in the semifinals this week. Mater Dei Prep (7-3) will play at RBC (5-3) in a rematch of last year's title game won by RBC 14-10 at MetLife Stadium. The winner of this one gets a return trip to MetLife. Mater Dei Prep has had a weird year, winning their first 4 games then losing 3 in a row before winning their last three. They destroyed Pope John 49-14 and were led by their outstanding RB Malik Ingram who ran for 313 yards and 4 TDs. The Seraphs ran for 456 yards on the afternoon and will find it a little tougher on the ground against RBC who will have not played a game in 21 days. They last played November 1st in a 42-7 victory over Freehold Twp. Don’t be fooled by the RBC record as they played in the American division, the toughest division in the Shore. They received a bye into the semi’s as the #2 seed and had to sit and wait for an opponent. Well, they got a good one in Mater Dei Prep. It should be another classic matchup for these two giants. Despite the long layoff, expect the Caseys to be ready to play on Friday.
Donovan Catholic (9-1) is the last of the Shore 6 to still be playing. They fought their way into a semifinal against top-seeded DePaul(5-4). The Griffins won 35-14 over St John Vianney on Friday night with QB Ryan Clark having his usual big night. Clark ran for 168 yards and 2 TDs and was backed up by RB Nasir Calhoun who also scored twice and ran for 75 yards as they won their first playoff game in 27 years. The Griff's are very much alive to get to the finals. In DePaul’s 4 losses the Spartans have given up 177 points. That’s 44 per game. Of course, they have played the best in New Jersey but they are still vulnerable on defense. The Griff’s will score and if they play defense, I think they beat DePaul.
Not all that played last weekend had good results. Perhaps the most disappointed team was TR North, after a 19-14 loss at the hands of Kingsway. A game where they fumbled 3 times including twice inside the 10-yard line. To say they gave it away in an understatement. It’s a shame for North’s season to end like that considering the top-seeded team was beaten by Cherokee, which meant a North win and they would have hosted the championship game this week. A bitter pill to swallow. QB Jake Kazanowsky was great in defeat throwing for 250 yards with 139 of them going to Junior Zach Goodale on 4 catches. A disappointing loss, but a great season by North which included an American Division championship. With Kazanowsky back expect the Mariners to be back in the hunt next year. Long Branch lost a hard-fought game to Ocean City 21-20. The Wave picked off 3 passes but a missed extra point led to a 1 point loss. The Wave was looking for their third championship in a row. Holmdel lost 42-0 to top-seeded Woodrow Wilson of Camden to finish a solid 6-4 season. Middletown South lost 32-29 to top-seeded Hammonton, who Jackson Memorial plays in finals.
Congratulations must be extended to the Monmouth University Hawks for winning the Big South Championship and receiving an automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs. The Hawks have won 7 in a row and we will feature HC Kevin Callahan and former shore high school standouts Tymere Berry (TR South) and Gene Scott (Wall) on the Asylum Sports Center Coaches Corner Wednesday night from the River Rock Restaurant and Bar in Brick which begins at 7 p.m. Also on the show will be current Wall players RB Casey Larkin and WR Mike Galos and you can listen live on 105.7FM The Hawk or watch the live stream on ShoreSportsNetwork.com. Plenty to discuss with Coach Callahan and Wall’s title run.
Our Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week will be Rumson at Wall for the Central Jersey Group 3 Championship. We will be live from Wall at 7 p.m. and streamed live on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.