Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, 10/29/13
A pair of top-three teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 re-affirmed their status this past week with quality victories, while the Class A South madness continued.
This week is the calm before the big finish at the state playoff cut-off next week, as the only match-up between Top 10 teams will come on Friday night when No. 1 Red Bank Catholic hosts No. 8 Middletown South.
Shore Sports Network Top 10
1. Red Bank Catholic (6-0). Last week: No. 1.
The Caseys are coming off their bye week and will host No. 8 Middletown South in a nondivisional game on Friday night as they look to make it 31 straight victories against Shore Conference competition. Their dominance has been total this season, as they have outscored their opponents 295-23. The rugged Non-Public Group III bracket looms as they look to make a run to their first state final since 1980.
2. Manalapan (6-0). Last week: No. 2.
The Braves made it 21 in a row against Shore Conference teams and 20 in a row in divisional play by sending a reminder that they own Class A North with a 48-18 win over last week’s No. 3 team, Colts Neck. Senior wideout Saeed Blacknall had three touchdown catches, senior tailback Tyler Leonetti had 162 yards rushing and a touchdown, and senior linebacker Chris Noesges led the defense with 14 tackles as the Braves rolled past a team that had given up seven points all season coming into the game. The Braves travel to winless Toms River North (0-6) on Friday night as they push for a top-two seed in Central Jersey Group V. They also are on pace for their fourth straight Class A North crown, which would make them the first team to win four straight since Middletown South won seven in a row from 1999-2005.
3. Ocean (6-0). Last week: No. 4.
The Spartans jump up a spot thanks to Colts Neck’s loss and their 21-6 victory over Long Branch in a pivotal Class B North game that gave them sole possession of first place in the division. They are on pace to win their first division crown since 2006, and they are 6-0 for the first time since 1993. Sophomore tailback Tyler Thompson ran for 155 yards and a touchdown, and senior Cole Mehr scored twice in the win, while senior linebacker Dan Loizos had 16 tackles to lead the defense. The Spartans host Wall (3-3) on Friday night and can clinch at least a tie for the division title with a win and would only need to be winless Freehold a week later to lock up the crown for themselves.
4. Rumson-Fair Haven (6-0). Last week: No. 5.
The Bulldogs cruised to a 42-7 nondivisional win over Monsignor Donovan as junior tailback Charlie Volker continued his breakout season with 244 yards rushing and four touchdowns to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Meanwhile, the defense has yet to allow more than one touchdown in any game this season. Rumson hosts Monmouth (2-4) in a Class A Central game on Friday night, and then comes the big one against No. 6 Manasquan a week later with huge implications for Rumson’s state playoff seeding. The Bulldogs also will be looking for payback after falling to the Warriors last year.
5. Barnegat (6-0). Last week: No. 6.
The Bengals rolled to a 40-0 victory over winless Point Boro to improve to 6-0 for the first time thanks to a three-touchdown game by junior Manny Bowen, who also was stellar on defense. The Bengals head to Lakewood on Saturday and look to take a crucial step toward locking down their second Class B South title in school history while continuing their quest for a top-two seed in South Jersey Group III.
6. Manasquan (6-1). Last week: No. 8
The Warriors took care of Holmdel, 37-0, as the defense posted its second shutout of the season, fullback Jack Bianco had three touchdowns, and junior James McAlary ran for a career-high 190 yards and a touchdown. They now have their bye and two weeks to prepare for a big showdown on the road against No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven that will most likely secure them the No. 1 seed in South Jersey Group III if they win it.
7. Colts Neck (5-1). Last week: No. 3.
The Cougars came up short in their first big test of the season, falling 48-18 to Manalapan to dash their hopes of a Class A North title. Senior tailback/defensive end Anthony Gargiulo had a great game in defeat, catching a touchdown pass, running for a touchdown, and returning an interception for a score for all of Colts Neck’s points. They head to Freehold Township (1-5) on Saturday to regroup before a big game against No. 8 Middletown South a week later.
8. Middletown South (4-2). Last week: No. 9.
The Eagles cruised to a 52-18 victory over winless Marlboro behind three touchdowns from running back Jeremy Concepcion and now face a defining stretch of their season. They travel to No. 1 Red Bank Catholic on Friday night and then follow that with a game against No. 7 Colts Neck a week later.
9. Jackson Memorial (4-2). Last week: Unranked.
The Jaguars jump back into the top 10 by virtue of a wild 62-44 win over last week’s No. 7 team, Lacey, to knock the Lions out of the Top 10. Senior tailback Khani Glover erupted for a career-high 303 yards and three touchdowns, and senior Ken Bradley also had a huge game with five touchdowns as the Jaguars set a school single-game record for points. They are tied with Brick for first place in Class A South, so you could go around and around in arguing which team should be ranked higher right now, but it will get settled on the field considering they play in two weeks in what is shaping up to be a game for the division title. Before Jackson can get to that, however, the Jaguars have another tough divisional game at Southern (3-3) on Friday against a team pushing hard for a state playoff spot.
10. Brick (4-2). Last week: Unranked.
The Green Dragons bounced back from a loss to Toms River East by beating winless Toms River North, 28-21. Junior quarterback Carmen Sclafani ran for 138 yards and a touchdown and also threw a touchdown pass before sustaining a shoulder injury. He suffered a bruised shoulder and mild sprain and should be back practicing by Thursday, according to Brick coach Rob Dahl. Now comes the biggest two-game stretch of the season, as the Green Dragons travel to Lacey (5-2) on Saturday for a tough Class A South game and then face Jackson Memorial in a game that will decide the division championship if both teams win this weekend.
Long Branch (5-2): The Green Wave came up short in a 21-6 loss to Ocean and most likely watched their division title hopes vanish in the process. However, they may get another shot at the Spartans because both of them are in Central Jersey Group III. They have another tough one on Friday on the road against old rival Matawan (4-2) in a game that has important playoff seeding implications for both teams.
Lacey (5-2): The Lions lost 62-44 to previously unranked Jackson Memorial, giving up the most points in a single game in school history along with 500 yards rushing. Senior wideout Christian Tutela had 7 catches for 177 yards and scored twice while also throwing a touchdown pass, and senior quarterback Tom Kelly threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns while also running for a score. They will have to get it together on defense quickly, as No. 10 Brick comes to town on Saturday with a potent rushing attack of its own.
Teams to watch:
Toms River South (4-2): The Indians are heating up at the right time, and the return of senior linebacker Russell Messler has helped bolster a defensive improvement. Toms River South beat rival Toms River East 35-0, cooling off a team that had scored more than 40 points in two straight games and posting its first shutout of the season. They have not allowed a point in their last six quarters after shutting out Jackson Memorial in the second half of a 33-14 win two weeks ago. Running back Khaleel Greene had 123 yards and two touchdowns, and junior quarterback Tymere Berry ran for one score and threw for another in the win over Toms River East. They now have a big divisional game against another team that is playing well, Brick Memorial (5-2), on the road on Friday night.
Brick Memorial (5-2): The Mustangs grinded out a 12-7 win over Southern as their defense continues its late-season improvement, led by senior safety Mike Basile and senior linebacker Jake Lombardo. Quarterback Rob Triano and Basile both went over 100 yards rushing in the win over Southern for Brick Memorial’s fourth straight victory. Now comes a big game as far as staying right in striking distance for the division title and securing a playoff spot in a loaded Central Jersey Group V bracket when they face Toms River South (4-2) at home on Friday.
Shore Regional (5-1): The Blue Devils have won five straight after a 38-12 win over Mater Dei Prep thanks to 153 yards and two touchdowns by halfback Brian Miller that were part of a 335-yard rushing attack in the win. Next on the list is a Class B Central game at Keansburg (1-6) as they look to handle their business and set up a Thanksgiving showdown for the division title with Point Beach.
Point Beach (6-1): The Garnet Gulls took care of winless Highland Park, 40-8, as senior defensive back Noah Yates registered his Shore Conference-leading seventh interception, returning it for a touchdown, and also had a 46-yard touchdown catch. Fullback Joe Wegrzyniak added 106 yards rushing and a touchdown in the win. They host Keyport (5-2) on Friday night in a crucial Class B Central game. This is Point Beach’s last chance to grab power points for a high seed in Central Jersey Group I before its bye week, and the Garnet Gulls also need the win to help set up a Thanksgiving showdown with Shore as they try to defend their division title.