Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, 11/21/18
Sectional championship weekend featured four Shore Conference teams in three separate games, and when the dust settled two squads emerged with championships.
Long Branch, ranked No. 3 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, defeated No. 5 Brick, 21-14, to win the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 title. A third-quarter surge enabled the Green Wave to capture back-to-back sectional titles for the first time in program history.
In the Central Jersey Group 3 final, No. 4 Rumson used an epic rushing performance by senior Alex Maldjian to take down previously-undefeated Somerville, 42-35, and claim their fifth title in the last six seasons. Maldjian carried the ball 49 times for 271 yards and four touchdowns behind an offensive line that dominated at the point of attack.
No. 7 Manasquan fell to undefeated Hillside, 36-10, in the Central Jersey Group 2 final. It was a 14-10 game in the fourth quarter before Hillside extended its lead with 10 minutes left and tacked on two additional scores in the final five minutes to balloon the final score and win its second straight title.
Long Branch and Rumson will now play in NJSIAA Bowl Games on Dec. 1 at MetLife Stadium against winners of the South Jersey brackets in their respective groups. Long Branch takes on Shawnee in Group 4 and Rumson squares off against Woodrow Wilson in Group 3.
The five Thanksgiving games take center stage during the week as Manasquan hosts Wall, Middletown North meets Middletown South, Long Branch hosts Red Bank, Asbury Park travels to Neptune and Toms River South welcomes Lakewood for the 99th turkey day meeting.
The big one comes on Saturday, however, as the top spot in the Shore will be decided when top-ranked Red Bank Catholic clashes with No. 2 Mater Dei at MetLife Stadium in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 3 state championship game.
1. Red Bank Catholic (9-0). Last week: No. 1
The Caseys were idle in Week 11 after a 27-0 win over Pope John on Nov. 10 in the Non-Public Group 3 semifinals. Next is one of the biggest games in program history when they face fellow Shore Conference power Mater Dei in the state championship game. Next game: Saturday, Nov. 24 at MetLife Stadium vs. Mater Dei Prep (10-1) in the Non-Public Group 3 final.
2. Mater Dei Prep (10-1). Last week: No. 2
The Seraphs were also idle in Week 11 following their epic 28-23 win over defending champion DePaul on Nov. 10 in the Non-Public Group 3 semifinals. Mater Dei is in a state final for the third straight season and will go for its second title when it takes on Red Bank Catholic. Next game: Saturday, Nov. 24 at MetLife Stadium vs. Red Bank Catholic (9-0) in the Non-Public Group 3 final.
3. Long Branch (10-1). Last week: No. 3
The Green Wave won back-to-back sectional titles for the first time in program history when they defeated Brick, 21-14, in the Central Jersey Group 4 championship game. Junior running back Jermaine Corbett had a 77-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game, senior defensive lineman Kevin Cerruti returned an interception for a touchdown and senior quarterback Marc Dennis ran for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Long Branch plays rival Red Bank on Thanksgiving and will conclude its season against Shawnee in an NJSIAA Group 4 Bowl Game on Saturday, Dec. 1 at MetLife Stadium. Next game: Thanksgiving vs. No. 6 Red Bank (7-2).
4. Rumson-Fair Haven (9-2). Last week: No. 4
The exceptional recent history of the Bulldogs’ football program added another epic chapter when they took down previously-undefeated Somerville, 42-35, to win the Central Jersey Group 3 championship. Senior running back Alex Maldjian had a game that will long be remembered in Rumson lore by carrying 49 times for 271 yards and four touchdowns behind an offensive line that overpowered Somerville. Senior tight end Ian O’Connor had a pair of touchdown catches, including a 71-yard score, as the Bulldogs won their fifth title in the last six season. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 1 at MetLife Stadium vs. Woodrow Wilson in a Group 3 Bowl Game.
5. Brick (8-3). Last week: No. 5
The Dragons fell just short in the Central Jersey Group 4 final as they were defeated by Long Branch, 21-14. Senior wideout Cole Groschel had a 24-yard touchdown catch and senior quarterback Jimmy Leblo had a 3-yard touchdown run. Next game: Season complete.
6. Red Bank (7-2). Last week: No. 6
The Bucs did not play in Week 11 after they were eliminated from the Central Jersey Group 3 playoffs in the semifinals by eventual champion Rumson, 14-9. Next game: Thanksgiving at No. 3 Long Branch (10-1).
7. Manasquan (8-2). Last week: No. 7
The Warriors were down just four points early in the fourth quarter to undefeated defending champion Hillside, but the Comets erupted for 22 points in the final 10 minutes to pull away for a 36-10 win in the Central Jersey Group 2 final. Senior James Pendergist kicked a 32-yard field goal, senior quarterback Ryan O’Leary threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to John Foreman and senior linebacker Jack Fabean had a fumble recovery and an interception. Next game: Thanksgiving vs. Wall (5-3).
8. Middletown South (7-3). Last week: No. 8
The Eagles did not play in Week 11 after being eliminated from the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs via a 42-14 loss to Brick in the semifinals on Nov. 9. Next game: Thanksgiving at Middletown North (2-8).
9. Holmdel (8-2). Last week: No. 9
The Hornets’ season came to an end on Nov. 10 when they fell to Somerville, 31-20, in the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals. Next game: Season complete.
10. Toms River North (6-3). Last week: No. 10
The Mariners’ final game was on Nov. 2 when they lost to Vineland, 33-0, in the South Jersey Group 5 quarterfinals. Next game: Season complete.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.