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One of the main talking points throughout the offseason was that Toms River North's path to division and state championships would be much different than last season. After rolling through the Colonial Division in dominant fashion en route to a 14-0 season that culminated in the inaugural NJSIAA Group 5 state title, the Mariners were moved up to the American Division with the rest of the Shore Conference's heavyweights.

How would the Mariners fare with an unrelenting schedule? Three weeks in and we have a pretty good idea.

No. 1 Toms River North went into Borden Stadium in Week 2 and delivered a 42-21 win over No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven in a marquee American Division showdown, backing up a huge non-conference win over Group 4 champion Millville in Week 0 with a major Shore Conference divisional triumph. Senior quarterback Micah Ford was amazing with 396 yards of offense and six total touchdowns in a resilient victory over a tough Bulldogs team that continued to battle. What stood out most was the Mariners' bounce-back ability. Their response to adversity was strong and showcased what will make them so difficult to defeat this season. 

It doesn't get any easier from here for Toms River North, which will travel down the street to face No. 4 Donovan Catholic on Friday. Buckle up.

The rest of Week 2 featured some dramatic endings, statement victories, and huge statistical performances. We have two new teams in this week's Shore 16 plus plenty of movement from spots eight through 16.

Let's get to it.


Football Shore 16


1. Toms River North (3-0). Last week: No. 1

Senior quarterback Micah Ford ran for 237 yards and four touchdowns and threw for 159 yards and two touchdowns in the Mariners' 42-21 win over No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven. Ford had touchdown runs of 18, 81, 9, and 4 yards and threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Pruitt and a 54-yard touchdown pass to Camryn Thomas. The defense was strong against Rumson standout quarterback Owen O'Toole, especially in the second half after the Bulldogs pulled to within seven points early in the third quarter. Next game: Friday, Sept. 15 at No. 4 Donovan Catholic (2-0).


2. Red Bank Catholic (1-1). Last week: No. 2

The Caseys had a bye in Week 2. Their last game was a 34-7 win over No. 13 Colts Neck in Week 1 and they will return to action this week vs. Wall. Next game: Friday, Sept. 15 vs. No. 15 Wall (1-2).


3. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-1). Last week: No. 3

Junior quarterback Owen O'Toole threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns and sophomore running back Kellen Murray ran for a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 42-21 loss to No. 1 Toms River North. Rumson took a quick lead on a 92-yard touchdown reception by senior tight end Jackson Gallagher but Toms River North scored the next four touchdowns to storm ahead for good. Rumson was able to close the gap to seven points off a turnover early in the third quarter but the Mariners pulled away after that. Rumson has a bye in Week 3 and will have two weeks to prepare for a massive rivalry game. Next game: Friday, Sept. 22 vs. No. 2 Red Bank Catholic (2-0).


4. Donovan Catholic (2-0). Last week: No. 4

The Griffins had a bye in Week 2 after defeating Long Branch, 41-13, in Week 1. Donovan will host arguably the biggest home game in program history this Friday against its fiercest American Division rival. Next game: Friday, Sept. 15 vs. No. 1 Toms River North (3-0).


5. Middletown South (2-1). Last week: No. 5

A 43-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior defensive back Owen Richter with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter lifted the Eagles to a semi-miraculous 35-29 victory over No. 15 Wall. Down 29-21 with just over three minutes left in the game, Middletown South scored with 2:44 on the clock but could not convert the two-point conversion, leaving Wall ahead 29-27 before Richter's game-clinching defensive touchdown. Senior running back Colin Gallagher ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and had 12 tackles, one sack, and four tackles for loss on defense. Jesse Burbank and Brendan Sliva also had touchdown runs and senior quarterback Jake Czwakiel returned after missing most of the first two games with an injury. The Eagles get a much-needed bye in Week 3 before jumping back into the fire. Next game: Friday, Sept. 22 at No. 1 Toms River North (3-0).


6. Point Boro (2-0). Last week: No. 6

The Panthers had a bye in Week 2 after a 35-7 win over Manasquan in Week 1. They return to action this week and will look to keep pace in the Colonial Division. Next game: Thursday, Sept. 14 at Red Bank (0-2).


7. Jackson Memorial (2-0). Last week: No. 7

Sophomore running back Jonah Glenn rushed for a career-high 207 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and senior defensive end Shaun Hubbard had a sack and a tackle for loss during the Jaguars' 21-0 shutout victory over Lacey. Junior quarterback Dennis Caswell threw for 122 yards and ran for a 7-yard touchdown and senior wideout Albert D'Alessandro caught three passes for 77 yards and ran for a 1-yard touchdown. An important divisional matchup is on top for this week. Next game: Friday, Sept. 15 at No. 11 Middletown North (2-1).


8. Manalapan (2-1). Last week: No. 9

Junior quarterback Ryan Dougherty threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns and junior linebacker Anthony Hammel had two sacks and an interception to lead the Braves to an emphatic 33-6 victory over then-No. 8 Long Branch in a separation game in the Colonial Division. Senior wideout Anthony Macchio caught four passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns, junior receiver Jackson Pfister had a 52-yard touchdown catch, and running backs Jason Rodriguez and Ah'sere Woolfolk each had touchdown runs. Senior linebacker Aidan Wilmot was a standout on defense with nine tackles, one sack, and one interception. Next game: Thursday, Sept. 14 vs. No. 13 Colts Neck (0-2).


9. Marlboro (2-0). Last week: No. 10

Junior quarterback Brayden Klein ran for 80 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and threw for 85 yards, and senior running back Matt Cassidy had a pair of touchdown runs in a 31-0 shutout of then-No. 14 Southern. Michael Consolazio broke free for a 95-yard touchdown run and senior Luke Rubin kicked a 27-yard field goal. Junior defensive backs Luke Houston and Brayden Bradley had interceptions on defense while senior defensive back Nick Scaff recorded a team-high nine tackles and broke up two passes. Next game: Thursday, Sept. 14 at Howell (0-2).


10. Brick Memorial (3-0). Last week: No. 11

Senior quarterback Connor Dietz completed 8 of 10 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries to lead the Mustangs to a 49-14 win over Barnegat. Junior running back Kevin Andrews ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns on six carries and caught a 17-yard touchdown pass. Senior Nicco Maribo caught two passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and senior wideout Jasaan Whittaker caught three passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Brick Memorial is 3-0 for the first time since 2012. Next game: Thursday, Sept. 14 at Matawan (0-3).


11. Middletown North (2-1). Last week: No. 12

Senior tight end Gavin Halloran and junior running back Shane Volante scored touchdowns and the Lions stopped a 2-point conversion attempt with 5:09 remaining for a 14-12 victory over then-No. 16 Howell. Senior quarterback Luke Sheehan threw for 179 yards and a touchdown and senior wideout Dylan Briggs caught six passes for 110 yards. Junior cornerback TJ Rey made nine tackles with one tackle for loss and two pass breakups and junior Michael Dwyer and sophomore Jack Viola recorded sacks. The Lions have a big opportunity in front of them this week. Next game: Friday, Sept. 15 vs. No. 7 Jackson Memorial (2-0).


12. Brick (3-0). Last week: not ranked

The Dragons enter the rankings coming off a 14-7 victory over Freehold that pushed their record to 3-0 for the first time since 2017. Senior quarterback Ryan Bontorno tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Jayden Johnson to tie the game in the first half, then connected with Johnson on the go-ahead 70-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Bontorno finished with a career-high 234 yards passing. Senior linebacker Jake Toye had 15 tackles, three tackles for loss, and a pass breakup to lead a Dragons' defense that has allowed just 14 points through three games. Next game: Friday, Sept. 15 at Barnegat (0-3).


13. Colts Neck (0-2). Last week: No. 13

The Cougars had a bye in Week 2. They remain ranked despite being winless since those losses came to No. 2 Red Bank Catholic and No. 6 Point Boro, but they'll likely need a win this week to remain in the Shore 16. They'll be on the road against yet another ranked team. Next game: Thursday, Sept. 14 at No. 8 Manalapan (2-1).


14. Long Branch (1-2). Last week: No. 8

The Green Wave drop six spots but remain in the rankings for now after their second straight loss, a 33-6 defeat at the hands of No. 8 Manalapan. Not having senior Earnest Reevey available at quarterback after he suffered a hand injury has clearly hurt this team over the past two weeks with losses to Donovan Catholic and Manalapan after a promising season-opening win over Piscataway. Next game: Friday, Sept. 15 vs. Raritan (1-1).


15. Wall (1-2). Last week: No. 15

The Crimson Knights suffered a gut-wrenching 35-29 defeat to No. 5 Middletown South when the Eagles scored twice in the final three minutes of the game, including a go-ahead defensive touchdown with 2:17 to play. Senior quarterback Andrew Olsen threw for 146 yards and three touchdowns, junior running back Mason Adam ran for 77 yards and a touchdown, senior wideout Nick Wonsala caught three passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns, and senior Shea Brennan caught four passes for 45 yards and a score. Wall has a losing record like the two teams ranked ahead of it but remains in the rankings because those losses came to Middletown South and No. 8 Manalapan. Strength of schedule matters with how the Shore's divisions are aligned, but the Knights are on a short leash with another difficult matchup this week. Next game: Friday, Sept. 15 at No. 2 Red Bank Catholic (1-1).


16. Freehold Township (2-1). Last week: not ranked

The Patriots pushed their way into the Shore 16 after a 20-18 victory over Matawan. Junior quarterback Nick Cardone threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns - all to senior GianPaul Cortes, who finished with three catches for 83 yards and three scores. Senior Nick Carnevale had an interception on defense and junior Jake Minniear recorded a team-high 10 tackles. A rivalry game awaits Freehold Township this week where it also has a chance to further establish itself as a title contender in the Independence Division. Next game: Thursday, Sept. 14 vs. Freehold Boro (1-1).



Dropped out: 

Southern (No. 14 last week, lost 31-0 to No. 9 Marlboro)

Howell (No. 16 last week, lost 14-12 to No. 11 Middletown North)


Keep an eye on:

Manchester (3-0)

Ocean (2-0)

Pinelands (2-0)

Holmdel (2-0)

Manasquan (1-1)



Sept. 6

Aug. 31




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