The Jeep Store Football Top 10, 11/28/17
The final week of the high school football season is here.
Seven Shore Conference teams in six different brackets will play for NJSIAA state championships and all but one are ranked in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, presented by The Jeep Store.
The final rankings are basically set in terms of which 10 teams will be ranked, but where they will be ranked is still very much up in the air. Manalapan has a chance to wrap up a perfect season and go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the Shore with a win over South Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group V final.
If the Braves were to lose that would open up the door for St. John Vianney, which is 10-1 and suffered its only loss of the season to St. Joseph (Montvale) in the Non-Public Group III semifinals. The Lancers own three victories over teams currently ranked, including a 31-28 overtime win over No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven, and have won 38 straight games against Shore Conference teams.
Point Boro is the Shore Conference’s other undefeated team and will take on Hillside in the Central Jersey Group II championship. A win by the Panthers would at least put them in the discussion to finish the season at the top of the rankings.
Mater Dei Prep (8-1) would also be in the mix if the Seraphs can defeat unbeaten St. Joseph (Hammonton), the No. 11 team in New Jersey according to NJ.com, in the Non-Public Group II state championship. Mater Dei’s only loss is a 28-26 setback to Delbarton.
The rest of championship weekend includes an all-Shore Conference matchup in the Central Jersey Group IV final where No. 8 Freehold and No. 9 Long Branch will meet in a rematch of a Week 9 game won by Freehold, 27-20. Rumson will take on Somerville in the Central Jersey Group III championship and try to become just the second Shore Conference program to win five consecutive sectional titles. Point Beach has made a great run to the Central Jersey Group I final as the No. 7 seed and will try to finish it off against Middlesex in a rematch of a regular-season game won by Middlesex.
There is one change to the rankings this week as Middletown South replaces Manasquan at No. 10. Both teams won on Thanksgiving to complete their seasons, so it’s Middletown South’s head-to-head win over Manasquan that gives the Eagles the edge. Long Branch did lose to Red Bank, 21-20 in overtime, in a shocking result on Thanksgiving Eve, but the Green Wave have two wins over Middletown South and a win over Manasquan, and there are no teams outside the top 10 we can justify putting in over Long Branch.
The final top 10 will be released along with our 2017 All-Shore package.
Good luck to all the Shore teams competing this weekend. Bring it home.
1. Manalapan (11-0). Last week: No. 1
The Braves were idle during Thanksgiving week following a 63-22 win over Freehold Township in the Central Jersey Group V semifinals on Nov. 17. Manalapan will take on South Brunswick (10-1) for the Central Jersey Group V title with an eye on winning its second state title in program history and finishing 12-0 for the first time. Senior running back Naim Mayfield, who already owns the state single-season scoring record (276) and state single-season touchdown record (46), needs 44 yards to break the Shore Conference single-season rushing record of 2,589. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. vs. South Brunswick (10-1) in the Central Jersey Group V final at Rutgers University.
2. St. John Vianney (10-1). Last week: No. 2
The Lancers’ season came to an end on Nov. 18 via a 42-21 loss to St. Joseph (Montvale) in the Non-Public Group III semifinals. Next game: Season complete.
3. Rumson-Fair Haven (10-1). Last week: No. 3
Senior quarterback Dan Harby threw touchdown passes to Thomas Forlenza and John McHeffey and Peter Crowley ran for a touchdown as the Bulldogs defeated Shore, 24-6, to win the Devil-Dawg Bowl for the first time in the series’ four-year history. Linebacker Gordon Forsyth made a team-high 14 tackles and linebacker Keegan Woods had 10 tackles and an interception. Rumson rested several starters, including senior running back Peter Lucas (2,110 yards and 30 TDs) with a state championship game looming Saturday night. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. vs. Somerville (10-1) in the Central Jersey Group III final at Rutgers University.
4. Point Boro (11-0). Last week: No. 4
The Panthers were idle this past week after a 27-6 win over Manasquan on Nov. 17 in the Central Jersey Group II semifinals. Point Boro will play in its first state final since 2007 and is trying to win the program’s fourth championship overall and first since 2005 when the Panthers also went 12-0. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. vs. Hillside (8-3) in the Central Jersey Group II final at Rutgers University.
5. Mater Dei Prep (8-1). Last week: No. 5
The Seraphs did not play during Thanksgiving week and are coming off a thrilling 35-34 comeback victory over Holy Spirit in the Non-Public Group II semifinals on Nov. 17. The defending-champion Seraphs will try to win their second straight and second overall state title against New Jersey’s best small-school parochial program over the last 30 years. Next game: Sunday, Dec. 3 vs. St. Joseph (Hammonton) (11-0) in the Non-Public Group II final at Rowan University.
6. Red Bank Catholic (8-2). Last week: No. 6
The Caseys’ season came to an end on Nov. 11 with a 49-13 loss to St. Joseph (Montvale) in the Non-Public Group III quarterfinals. Next game: Season complete.
7. Howell (9-2). Last week: No. 7
Howell’s best season in nine years came to an end via a 63-28 loss to Lenape in the South Jersey Group V semifinals on Nov. 17. Next game: Season complete.
8. Freehold (8-3). Last week: No. 8
Freehold was idle during Thanksgiving as it prepares for the Central Jersey Group IV championship game. The Colonials defeated Brick, 35-28, in the semifinals on Nov. 17 and will enter the championship game on a seven-game winning streak after a 1-3 start. Senior quarterback Ashante Worthy has obliterated several records this season and will enter the championship game with 2,589 yards rushing, which is currently tied for the Shore Conference single-season record set by Long Branch’s Dahmiere Willis in 2014. Manalapan and running back Naim Mayfield, who is 44 yards away from setting the record, play in the game before Freehold, so the bar will likely be shifted for Worthy. He has a modern state single-season record 4,554 combined yards and a state record-tying 55 touchdowns this season, and is also 35 passing yards away from becoming the first player in state history to throw and run for 2,000 yards each in a single season. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. vs. Long Branch (8-3) in the Central Jersey Group IV final at Rutgers University.
9. Long Branch (8-3). Last week: No. 9
The Green Wave were stunned by Red Bank (2-8) on Thanksgiving Eve as the Bucs won 21-20 in overtime thanks to a blocked extra point. Senior quarterback Juwan Wilkins completed 24 of 31 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, senior wideout Pasa Fields had a Shore Conference single-season high 15 receptions for 125 yards and sophomore running back Jermaine Corbett ran for 125 yards and a touchdown. Normally the Green Wave would be out of the top 10 with a loss to a team that came in with only one win, but their resume makes it illogical to drop them even one spot. Long Branch can make the Thanksgiving loss to Red Bank a mere footnote if they come through with a win in the Central Jersey Group IV final. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. vs. Freehold (8-3) in the Central Jersey Group IV final at Rutgers University.
10. Middletown South (5-5). Last week: not ranked
Senior Jake Krellin had a career-high three touchdown runs and younger brother Matt Krellin had a career-high three interceptions as the Eagles got back to .500 with a 21-6 win over Middletown North on Thanksgiving. Middletown South jumps ahead of Manasquan because of a 10-7 head-to-head victory over the Warriors in Week 3. All of the Eagles’ losses have come to ranked teams (St. John Vianney, Rumson, Red Bank Catholic and twice to Long Branch) with a combined record of 36-7. Next game: Season complete.
Dropped out: Manasquan (No. 10 last week)
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.