Every week this season, Shore Conference football fans will have their chance to vote for the Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey/Shore Sports Network Football Player of the Week on our website.

The Week 1 Player of the Week is Toms River North senior kicker/linebacker Justin Burkert, who made big plays on special teams and defense to help the Mariners defeat Southern Regional, 17-12, and improve to 2-0.

In the second quarter, Burkert bombed a 41-yard field goal to extend Toms River North’s lead to 10-6. It was his second field goal of the season following a 35-yarder in a season-opening victory over Cherry Hill West.

With Toms River North’s offense stuck in neutral, it was up to the defense to close out the win over the Rams and they did so with some clutch plays in the fourth quarter. One of the biggest came from Burkert, who shot a gap at the snap and dropped Southern’s running back for a loss on a critical 4th-and-1 play. Burkert finished with a team-high four tackles for loss.

Burkert has been a welcome addition to the Mariners this season after transferring from Jackson Memorial where he was the Jaguars’ kicker. He has emerged as an important defensive player for Toms River North, as well, and a big part of why it remains unbeaten heading into its third game. The Mariners, who are ranked No. 7 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, will host No. 8 Manalapan on Friday night in a key American Division contest.

Burkert won the poll with 18.88 percent of the votes to edge out Freehold’s Tyler Ochojski.

 

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