The Jeep Store Football Top 10, 10/3/17
The fourth full week of the Shore Conference football season saw the top eight teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 emerge victorious, one team break through with a giant road victory and four more teams crack the win column with their first victories of the season.
Included in those wins from the top eight teams were victories in top-10 matchups by St. John Vianney and Point Boro. The Lancers walloped last week’s No. 9 team, Brick, 42-0, to extend their Shore Conference winning streak to 33 games. Point Boro rallied past Monmouth Regional in the second half for a 13-3 victory in a battle of teams that each entered Week 4 undefeated.
The top eight spots obviously remain unchanged, so the challenge comes in how to rank the final two spots. Last week’s No. 9 and No. 10 teams, Brick and Monmouth, could conceivably remain in those positions since they lost to teams ranked higher than them. Brick, however, was shut out and beaten soundly by St. John Vianney, and also lost standout junior Jimmy Leblo for an indefinite period after he was injured during the game. Monmouth played tough against Point Boro, but at the end of the day just didn’t have enough offense to close out the win after leading at halftime.
If you assume both Brick and Monmouth drop out after losses, that leaves two spots for this week’s Top 10. So who deserves to make the jump? Finding one team is easy, and that’s Brick Memorial after the Mustangs pulled off a thrilling 22-21 double overtime victory over previously-undefeated and reigning North 2, Group IV sectional champion Sayreville.
Who else to rank, and how to rank Brick Memorial in relation to Brick presents the problem. The Dragons defeated the Mustangs, 27-7, in Week 1, so by that metric Brick has a right to be ranked ahead of its crosstown rival. Head-to-head wins are a major factor in our rankings, but they are not the be-all and end-all. A lot of it has to do with how a team is playing right now, and Brick Memorial has the edge based on Week 4’s results. And if Brick is without quarterback/defensive back Leblo, whom our own Matt Manley observed on the sideline with an air brace on his knee and using crutches, is out for extended period of time it deals a big blow to the Dragons.
Finding a second team to enter is very difficult because all the candidates are coming off losses or have losses to other teams in consideration. The intriguing team is Middletown North, which had a bye in Week 4 and is 1-2, but played well in losses to Red Bank Catholic and Howell, both of which are top-5 teams. Freehold Township is 4-0, but that’s only because a Week 1 46-20 loss to Freehold was reversed due to the Colonials using an ineligible player. Freehold, meanwhile, in a similar boat with Middletown North in that the Colonials’ only losses [on the field] are two No. 1 Manalapan and No. 5 Howell.
Eventually it will all be decided on the field, but for now we have a difficult choice to make. Such is the task of compiling the Shore Conference football rankings.
1. Manalapan (4-0). Last week: No. 1
The Braves pulled away from Freehold in the second half as senior running back Naim Mayfield had another huge game with 264 yards rushing and four touchdowns to pilot a 55-21 Class A North victory. Senior quarterback Luke Corcione threw for 206 yards and touchdowns to tight ends Dale Sieczkowski and Alex Claro on 8 of 13 passing, while fullback Chris Maksimik and running back Nico Santorelli added touchdown runs as the Braves’ offensive line paved the way for 427 yards rushing and 633 yards of total offense. Next game: Saturday at Colts Neck (0-4).
2. St. John Vianney (4-0). Last week: No. 2
Senior Josiah Walker ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries while fellow senior Johnny Buchanan had 97 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 10 carries as the Lancers shut out previous No. 9 Brick, 42-0, for their 33rd straight Shore Conference victory. Buchanan also made a team-high nine tackles with two sacks, while Walker had eight tackles with two coming for a loss. Senior quarterback Haaziq Daniels threw a touchdown pass to Sam East and senior Zyaire Sterling added a touchdown run. St. John Vianney’s defense allowed just 112 total yards, 79 of which came on one run late in the game. Next game: Friday vs. Holmdel (3-2).
3. Red Bank Catholic (4-0). Last week: No. 3
Senior running back Zack Bair had an incredible game with 246 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns on just five touches as the Caseys rocked Colonia, 49-12, with seven touchdowns in the first half. Bair ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns on three carries, caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Steve Lubischer and returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Lubischer also had touchdown passes to Jaden Key and Brandon Lombana, while Billy Guidetti added a 17-yard touchdown run. Red Bank Catholic’s offense is averaging 50.8 points per game. Next game: Friday vs. No. 10 Wall (3-1).
4. Mater Dei Prep (3-0). Last week: No. 4
The Seraphs held off Ontario’s Canada Prep, 14-13, for their 15th consecutive victory. Next game: Friday at Shore (3-1).
5. Howell (4-0). Last week: No. 5
Senior running back Nick Chambers ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and senior wide receiver Naseim Brantley caught four passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns as the Rebels defeated Toms River North, 30-7. Senior Pat Handy made seven tackles, recorded a sack and kicked a 30-yard field goal. Next game: Friday at Neptune (0-3).
6. Rumson-Fair Haven (3-0). Last week: No. 6
The Bulldogs were dominant in shutting out Middletown South, 35-0, for an impressive nondivisional victory. Senior running back Peter Lucas ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and junior fullback Alex Maldjian took a screen pass 87 yards for a touchdown. Senior quarterback Dan Harby threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Ian O’Connor and linebacker Mike Lizotte returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown. Defensive lineman Henry Sullivan had 10 tackles and a sack, junior linebacker Christian Lanzalotto also had 10 tackles and senior defensive end Elijah McAllister had three tackles for loss for a Bulldogs’ defense that yielded just 77 yards of offense. Next game: Friday vs. Matawan (1-3).
7. Long Branch (3-0). Last week: No. 7
Sophomore running back Jermaine Corbett ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, and also had a clutch interception late in the fourth quarter as the Green Wave (3-0) held off Wall for a 21-14 Class B North win. Senior Marc Dennis got the start at quarterback and ran for 130 yards on 15 carries while also throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Kaymar Mimes. Next game: Friday vs. Middletown South (2-2).
8. Point Boro (4-0). Last week: No. 8
A third-quarter touchdown run by senior quarterback James Fara got the Panthers on the board and provided the winning points in a 13-3 victory over last week’s No. 10 team, Monmouth Regional, in a battle of unbeaten teams at Al Saner Field. Senior running back Brandon Cipriano added a touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Point Boro’s defense buckled down in the second half to allow just 30 yards and two first downs. Next game: Friday vs. Manchester (2-2).
9. Brick Memorial (3-1). Last week: not ranked
The Mustangs enter the Top 10 after rallying from a 14-0 deficit to stun defending NJSIAA North 2, Group IV state champion Sayreville, 22-21 in double overtime. Senior running back Tony Thorpe ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries, including the 1-yard touchdown in double-overtime that set up senior Blaine Netterman to score the game-winning two-point conversion. Netterman and Thorpe had touchdowns in regulation, as well, to steer the Mustangs to their third straight win. Next game: Friday vs. Central (3-1).
10. Wall (3-1). Last week: not ranked
The Crimson Knights were our choice for the final spot in the rankings this week after a hard-fought 21-14 loss to No. 7 Long Branch. Senior running back Chevesse Covin ran for a 66-yard touchdown and senior quarterback Eddie Scott caught a 19-yard touchdown pass form wide receiver Dylan Richey. Wall gets the nod because they have the best win of the group, a 21-10 victory over a 3-1 Central team in Week 2.
Dropped out: Brick (3-1, last week: No. 9), Monmouth (4-1, last week: No. 10)
Teams to watch:
Middletown North (1-2): The Lions had a bye in Week 4 and return to action this week at home vs. New Brunswick (1-3) on Friday night.
Central (3-1): The Golden Eagles had a bye in Week 4 and return to action with a critical Class A South game at No. 9 Brick Memorial (3-1) on Friday night.
Freehold (1-3): Ashante Worthy had another big game with 361 combined yards and three touchdowns to continue his incredible season, but the Colonials had no answer for Manalapan’s dynamic offense in a 55-21 loss. They’ll look to bounce back on Saturday afternoon vs. Monroe (1-3).
Freehold Township (4-0): Junior quarterback Nick Reardon tossed three touchdown passes as the Patriots beat Neptune, 35-9, to remain undefeated. Freehold Township will try for its second straight 5-0 start when it travels to Perth Amboy (1-2) on Friday night.
Middletown South (2-2): The Eagles fell 35-0 to Rumson-Fair Haven to fall to 2-2, but with a challenging schedule they will have several opportunities to move into the rankings. Their two losses are to No. 3 Red Bank Catholic and No. 6 Rumson. One of those chances comes this Friday at No. 7 Long Branch.
Manasquan (2-2): The Warriors blanked Barnegat, 27-0, as senior running back Connor Morgan ran for two touchdowns, senior quarterback Tommy Antonucci threw a touchdown pass to junior James Pendergist and junior Canyon Birch also ran for a touchdown. Manasquan’s losses are to No. 7 Long Branch and Middletown South. The Warriors have a bye in Week 5 and will be back on the field Friday, Oct. 13 at Ocean.
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.