Shore Sports Network Shore 16 Football Rankings for Oct. 10
There is always that one weekend per season where a team (or two, or three) hurls a giant wrench into the gears of the Shore Conference football rankings. Week 6 was that weekend.
There were plenty of notable results, but the seismic shift came courtesy of unranked Manalapan, which rose from the grave following three straight losses to shock previously unbeaten and fourth-ranked Point Boro, 24-23, in a game that was edge-of-your-seat intense in the fourth quarter. The Panthers were also coming off a huge win of their own the previous week after defeating Rumson-Fair Haven. Now, Manalapan is squarely back in the playoff picture while Point Boro has to regroup quickly to face a talented Matawan team that has caught fire after a rough start.
Elsewhere, there was another top-16 upset with St. John Vianney taking down No. 13 Shore Regional, plus Middletown North and Howell picking up victories that further complicated the head-to-head results between a plethora of teams including Manalapan, Raritan, Southern, Middletown North, Freehold Township, and others. I'm all ears if NASA has an algorithm to sort it out.
Week 6 was also a big week for clinching division titles, especially for programs that haven't raised a banner in quite some time. Outside of Manalapan's upset victory, Marlboro's 11-2 win over Jackson Memorial that clinched at least a share of the Freedom Division title was the headliner and a milestone moment for the program, giving the Mustangs just their second division crown and first since 1994. Toms River South clinched a share of the Liberty Division title, its first since 2002, by beating Pinelands, Holmdel secured its fourth straight shutout with a win over Ocean to lock up at least a piece of the Constitution Division title, and Brick Memorial won big over Freehold Boro to guarantee no worse than a tie atop the Independence Division.
Keyport can clinch at least a share of the Patriot Division title with a win over rival Keansburg this weekend. The American Division is still very much up for grabs with massive games between Red Bank Catholic and Toms River North and then Red Bank Catholic and Donovan Catholic coming up in Weeks 8 and 9. Mind you, none of these divisions have been clinched outright yet, so teams like Colts Neck in the Colonial Division, Manasquan in the Constitution, Jackson in the Freedom, Freehold Township in the Independence, Pinelands and Monmouth in the Liberty, and Manchester in the Patriot can still earn a piece of a title with some help. Colts Neck is the only one of those teams that controls its own destiny as the Cougars and Point Boro each have one division loss and would share the title if they both win their Week 8 games against Long Branch and Raritan, respectively.
The major effect on the rankings is the three remaining undefeated teams all moving up into the top six. Yes, the strength of schedule metric is not the same in each division, but Marlboro, Brick Memorial, and Holmdel have all played good enough schedules to earn a high ranking this week.
A quick note on a team who just missed the cut: Manalapan was obviously the toughest to leave out after its stunning upset over Point Boro, but losses to Raritan (2-4) and Howell (2-4) plus a 35-0 loss to Colts Neck still hold the Braves back from re-entering the rankings. They are on a bye this week before closing out their regular season vs. Red Bank. Manalapan is currently 15th in the South Group 4 United Power Rankings where the top 16 teams qualify for the state playoffs.
There are a few intriguing matchups, but with mostly nondivisional games Week 7 is the calm before the storm that will be Week 8 where six of the seven division titles will be clinched and playoff berths will be cemented.
Here is the latest Shore 16.
1. Donovan Catholic (5-1). Last week: No. 1
Sophomore running back Najee Calhoun ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns and junior wide receiver Michael Thomas III took two wildcat snaps for touchdowns to lead the Griffins to a 28-9 victory over Rumson-Fair Haven. Next game: Friday at Red Bank (1-4).
2. Red Bank Catholic (5-1). Last week: No. 2
Junior quarterback Frankie Williams threw for 157 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to senior tight end Luke Krzyzkowski, to help the Caseys hold off Middletown South for a 25-14 victory. Sophomore Daniel Zabora also had a touchdown catch and junior running back Matt Lonczak ran for 92 yards and a score. Defensive linemen Lorenzo Portella and Logan Graham helped RBC stymie a strong Middletown South rushing offense. Next game: Friday vs. Howell (2-4).
3. Toms River North (6-1). Last week: No. 3
Junior quarterback TJ Valerio had the best game of his young varsity career by throwing for 147 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 107 yards and a score in a 49-0 win over Wall. Junior running back Josh Moore ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns, senior Jeremiah Pruitt had a touchdown run and a touchdown catch, senior Tareq Council returned a punt for a touchdown, and junior wideout Mekai Morse scored his first varsity touchdown. Junior linebacker Blaise Boland had a team-high 11 tackles to lead the defense to a shutout. Next game: Friday vs. No. 12 Toms River South (5-1).
4. Marlboro (6-0). Last week: No. 8
The Mustangs enter the top five of the SSN rankings for the first time in program history after a defensive masterpiece that resulted in an 11-2 victory over Jackson Memorial. Senior linebacker Mike Consolazio had two sacks and four tackles for loss to lead a defense that allowed just 116 yards of offense and held Jackson standout sophomore running back Jonah Glenn to 44 yards. Senior running back Matt Cassidy ran for 80 yards and a touchdown, Brayden Klein tossed a 2-point conversion pass to Consolazio, and senior Luke Rubin connected on a 30-yard field goal. The victory clinched a share of the Freedom Division championship for Marlboro's first division title since 1994. It also vaulted Marlboro up to No. 3 in the South Group 5 United Power Rankings. Another big test awaits the Mustangs this week. Next game: Friday at No. 8 Rumson-Fair Haven (2-4).
5. Brick Memorial (7-0). Last week: No. 9
Standout senior quarterback Connor Dietz threw for 90 yards and a touchdown before giving way to sophomore Jason Lajara in the second quarter, and Lajara delivered a fantastic debut by completing 14 of 18 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 30 yards and a touchdown to lead the Mustangs to 48-14 win over Freehold. The victory clinched at least a share of the Independence Division title, Brick Memorial's first since a three-way tie for the Class A South throne in 2015. It was a statistical bonanza for the Mustangs in dropping 597 yards of offense on the Colonials with sophomore Ny'Zier Whittaker rushing for 101 yards and two touchdowns on five carries, senor wideout Johnny Poukish catching six passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns, senior receiver Jasaan Whittaker posting five receptions for 73 yards and a score, and junior running back Kevin Andrews totaling 151 yards from scrimmage. Next game: Friday at Lacey (2-5).
6. Holmdel (6-0). Last week: No. 10
Nick Bachman had six tackles, one sack, and recorded a safety to lead another balanced defensive effort and sophomore quarterback Jack Cannon accounted for three touchdowns when the Hornets recorded their fourth straight shutout and clinched a share of the Constitution Division title with a 30-0 win over Ocean. Cannon threw for 73 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 86 yards and a touchdown on six carries. Garry Collyer also ran for a touchdown and Andrew Piscataelli and Nick Gomez had touchdown catches. Holmdel has allowed just 20 points all season, the last of which was scored by St. John Vianney in Week 2. Next game: Friday at Raritan (2-4).
7. Point Boro (5-1). Last week: No. 4
Senior quarterback Matt Oliphant ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns and threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Jake Croce, and senior Brayden Fofar kicked a 31-yard field goal but the Panthers fell to Manalapan, 24-23, to end their 15-game winning streak vs. Shore Conference teams. The Panthers dropped four spots after the loss but still own multiple quality wins over Rumson-Fair Haven, Colts Neck, Long Branch, and Manasquan. There's no time to hang heads with a dangerous opponent coming to town this week. Next game: Friday vs. No. 16 Matawan (3-4).
8. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-4). Last week: No. 5
Junior quarterback Owen O'Toole ran for a touchdown and senior defensive lineman Gus McCarthy recorded a safety, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over multiple times and allowed over 200 yards rushing in a 28-9 loss to No. 1 Donovan Catholic. The Bulldogs are 2-4 but remain in the top 10 because their losses are to No. 1 Donovan Catholic, No. 2 Red Bank Catholic, No. 3 Toms River North, and No. 7 Point Boro and they have wins over No. 9 Middletown South and No. 16 Matawan. Rumson has a brutal schedule even outside the American Division gauntlet and one of those games is on tap for this weekend. Next game: Friday vs. No. 4 Marlboro (6-0).
9. Middletown South (3-3). Last week: No. 6
Senior running back Colin Gallagher ran for a touchdown and senior running back Donovan Summey threw a touchdown pass to senior wideout Owen Richter in the Eagles' 25-14 loss to No. 2 Red Bank Catholic. Richter and Liam Curley had sacks on defense and Jesse Burbank intercepted a pass. Middletown South's win over No. 11 Colts Neck along with competitive defeats against No. 1 RBC, No. 3 Toms River North (21-7), and No. 8 Rumson (24-6) keep the Eagles in the top 10 despite a 3-3 record. Middletown South has a bye this week and a date with No. 1 Donovan Catholic in Week 8, but currently sits comfortably in the No. 9 spot in the South Group 4 United Power Rankings. Next game: Friday, Oct. 20 vs. No. 1 Donovan Catholic (5-1).
10. Jackson Memorial (5-1). Last week: No. 7
A safety that occurred when a Marlboro punt went out of the end zone was all Jackson could muster against a tough Marlboro defense in an 11-2 loss that knocked the Jaguars from the ranks of the unbeaten. Sophomore running back Jonah Glenn was held to 44 yards rushing after entering the game with 998 yards on an average of over nine yards per carry. The Jags still have division title hopes if Middletown North can beat Marlboro in two weeks, but for now they will turn their attention to their crosstown rival. Next game: Friday vs. Jackson Liberty (2-4).
11. Colts Neck (3-3). Last week: No. 11
Senior running back Chris Scully ran for 253 yards and four touchdowns on an average of 13.3 yards per carry to lead the Cougars to a 40-13 victory over Raritan. It was the second-highest total of Scully's career after the 254 yards he gained vs. Freehold Township last season and the four touchdowns was a single-game career high. Senior quarterback Dom Beninato ran for 77 yards and a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass to Ethan Sloane. Senior defensive end Eric Loureiro led the charge on defense with 11 tackles and four tackles for loss. With Point Boro's loss to Manalapan, Colts Neck is now tied with the Panthers atop the Colonial Division standings and can guarantee itself at least a share of the division title with a win over Long Branch in two weeks. Next game: Friday at St. John Vianney (2-5)
12. Toms River South (5-1). Last week: No. 14
Senior quarterback Jimmy Alexander ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns, threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to junior wideout Danny Pierson, and ran for a 2-point conversion as the Indians scored a 31-17 win over Pinelands to clinch at least a share of the Liberty Division championship. It is South's first division title since 2002. Junior running back Damir Nelson added 72 yards and a touchdown and junior running back Jake Henehan ran for 79 yards and a 2-point conversion. Senior Cooper Greitz had an interception on defense. Next game: Friday at No. 3 Toms River North (6-1).
13. Long Branch (3-3). Last week: No. 12
The Green Wave had a bye in Week 6 and will return to action with a potentially dangerous non-division game against an opponent that has surprised them in recent seasons. Next game: Friday vs. Southern (3-3).
14. Middletown North (3-3). Last week: not ranked
The Lions returned from their bye with a vengeance as senior quarterback Luke Sheehan threw for 156 yards and three touchdowns and senior running back Neno Morgan-Acker ran for 104 yards and a touchdown in a 38-6 win over Lacey. Junior running back Shane Volante ran for 98 yards and a touchdown and Morgan-Acker also caught a touchdown pass. Senior wideout Brian Dunleavy caught three passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns in his season debut after a preseason injury, senior Dylan Briggs had a team-high 83 receiving yards, and senior Ian Poole-Morgan kicked a 39-yard field goal. TJ Rey had an interception on defense and Frank Zaino recovered a fumble on a kickoff, both of which led to touchdowns. The Lions are back in the rankings and at No. 14 thanks to its win over Freehold Township back in Week 0. Next game: Friday vs. Brick (4-3).
15. Freehold Township (4-3). Last week: No. 15
Junior quarterback Nick Cardone threw a go-ahead 23-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver GianPaul Cortes with under a minute to play to send the Patriots to a dramatic 27-26 victory over Brick. A 43-yard hook-and-lateral play from Cardone to Jaylen Gill-Anderson to Bobby Loff set up the game-winning score. Cardone also had a touchdown pass to Cortes in the third quarter and ran for a touchdown. Senior linebacker Sebastian Andujar returned a fumble 41 yards for a touchdown and totaled eight tackles and three tackles for loss. The victory kept the Patriots within striking distance in the Independence Division if Brick Memorial were to slip up in two weeks. Next game: Friday vs. Ocean (3-3).
16. Matawan (3-4). Last week: No. 16
Junior quarterback Am'ir Martinez threw for 163 yards and a career-high four touchdowns and ran for 81 yards as the Huskies overpowered Barnegat for a 33-6 victory, their third straight after an 0-4 start to the season. Martinez threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior Kyeshaun Sylvester, a 45-yard touchdown pass to senior Cameron Cooper, a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Colin Palumbo, and a 9-yard touchdown pass to senior Aidan Anthony. Junior Jaylen Williams ran for 90 yards and a touchdown on just five carries while Cooper caught three passes for 102 yards and Palumbo ran for 100 yards on 13 carries as the Huskies rolled up 461 yards of offense. A massive opportunity awaits Matawan this weekend. Next game: Friday at No. 7 Point Boro (5-1).
Shore (4-2, No. 13 last week; lost 21-6 to St. John Vianney)
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