The Jeep Store Shore Conference Football Top 10, 10/22/19
The number of changes the Shore Sports Network Football Top 10 has undergone this season is already at an unprecedented level, so, at this point, another wild week of ranked teams being taken down is just the baseline.
The free-for-all continued in Week 6 with two more ranked top-five teams falling as Middletown South surprised Rumson-Fair Haven and Manalapan beat Red Bank Catholic. Other than top-ranked Wall, the makeup of the first five is completely different this week.
Six of the seven division championships were officially clinched this past weekend, headlined by Toms River North winning the American Division title with a you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it 43-39 victory over Long Branch. Southern Regional completed an undefeated run to the Constitution Division title, as did Toms River East in the Freedom Division, Donovan Catholic in the Liberty Division and Ocean in the Patriot Division. Asbury Park also clinched the National Division championship with a win over Manchester, spoiling what would have been a quad-championship if the Hawks had won. The only division still undecided is the Colonial Division, but No. 1 Wall clinched at least a share of the crown with its win over St. John Vianney and can win it outright with a victory on Friday night.
Incredibly, there are just two weeks left in the regular season. The playoff push is certainly underway. There are 27 Shore Conference teams currently qualified for the playoffs and a handful more trying to get into the top 16. For those teams, these next two weeks are everything.
There is only one ranked matchup this week but it’s a big one as Donovan Catholic hosts Red Bank Catholic on Friday night. If you can’t make it to Toms River, Shore Sports Network will stream the game live on ShoreSportsNetwork.com and the SSN mobile app.
Figuring out where to put certain teams was quite challenging this week. Middletown South is without question the most polarizing team. The Eagles just beat last week’s No. 2 team but are still just 2-4 albeit playing in the American Division. A lopsided loss to St. John Vianney definitely hurts their case, as does a loss to a Long Branch, but they own wins over Rumson and Red Bank Catholic. Jumping Middletown South over either Ocean, Southern or Jackson Memorial wouldn’t be fair to those teams because they’ve done their part so far, but they do have a short leash.
A few games on this week’s schedule can help clear things up, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious this is going to come down to the final week more so than it usually does.
1. Wall (7-0). Last week: No. 1
Junior running back Casey Larkin ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns, junior quarterback Logan Peters ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns and senior running back Matt DeSarno ran for 49 yards and two touchdown on just five carries as the Crimson Knights bulldozed St. John Vianney, 41-14, to clinch at least a share of the Colonial Division title. Senior linebacker Will Terry had two sacks and Peters had an interception to lead another strong defensive effort. Wall can clinch the outright division title this weekend. Next game: Friday, Oct. 25 vs. Brick (3-3).
2. Donovan Catholic (7-0). Last week: No. 3
Senior quarterback Ryan Clark ran for 130 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and also threw a touchdown pass to Jahdir Loftland while the defense recorded its fifth shutout of the season in a 35-0 win over Lacey that clinched the Liberty Division title. Loftland also ran for 71 yards and a touchdown on five carries and senior Nasir Calhoun ran for 42 yards and two touchdowns. With the program’s third division title and first since 2012 locked up, the Griffins can now turn their attention to the biggest regular-season game in school history. Next game: Friday, Oct. 25 vs. No. 7 Red Bank Catholic (3-3).
3. Toms River North (6-1). Last week: No. 6
A 10-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jake Kazanowsky to senior wide receiver Dominick Jacob with 13 seconds left in regulation capped an epic fourth quarter as the Mariners outlasted Long Branch, 43-39, in an instant classic to clinch the American Division title. The teams combined for 28 points over the final 3:32 of the game. Toms River North drove for the winning score after Long Branch had taken the lead with one minute left. Kazanowsky threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns and Jacob caught six passes for 66 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Matt Spalletta had a huge all-around game with a 75-yard kickoff return touchdown, a touchdown run, an interception, a blocked extra point, two sacks and a key pass breakup in the end zone. Next game: Friday, Oct. 25 vs. Toms River East (7-0).
4. Manalapan (4-2). Last week: No. 7
Senior running back Andre Johnson ran for 157 yards and a touchdown, a sprint of 70 yards in the third quarter that gave the Braves the lead, on their way to a 20-14 comeback victory over Red Bank Catholic. RBC led 14-0 in the first quarter before a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown by junior Ethan Rodriguez sparked the rally. Junior kicker Vin Rea added field goals of 18 and 22 yards. Hayden Hess had a fumble recovery that led to one of the field goals. Next game: Friday, Oct. 25 at Freehold Township (2-5).
5. Rumson-Fair Haven (4-3). Last week: No. 2
Normally losing to an unranked team would send a team tumbling more than three spots, but the Bulldogs’ body of work plus the fact no other team has a legitimate claim keeps them in the top-five for now. Rumson’s offense was shut down in a 20-3 loss to Middletown South, mustering just 168 yards and a 26-yard field goal by Michael Piperno. Three turnovers undid the Bulldogs, including a fumble just shy of the goal line that bounced through the end zone for a touchback. Prior to the defeat, Rumson’s losses were to No. 1 Wall and No. 3 Toms River North with wins over No. 7 Red Bank Catholic, No. 4 Manalapan, and No. 6 Mater Dei Prep. The Bulldogs have a bye in Week 7 and will try to regroup for their regular-season finale against yet another top-10 opponent. Next game: Friday, Nov. 1 at No. 10 Jackson Memorial (5-2).
6. Mater Dei Prep (4-3). Last week: No. 4
The Seraphs fall two spots after suffering a 37-14 nonconference loss to prep power St. Thomas More (CT). Sophomore quarterback Alex Brown threw a touchdown pass and also ran for a score, and senior running back Malik Ingram ran for 77 yards on 14 carries. Mater Dei has lost three straight games and will look to rebound with a road contest just down the street. Next game: Friday, Oct. 25 at Middletown North (4-3).
7. Red Bank Catholic (3-3). Last week: No. 5
The Caseys looked great after Elijah Jules had a 44-yard touchdown run and Billy Guidetti had an 85-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but the offense dried up after that during a 20-14 loss to Manalapan. The defense was sound again with standout games from senior defensive end Kevin Bauman, junior defensive tackle Jake Louro and senior linebacker Jack Zenkert leading the way. Sean Rossback and Anthony Borriello had interceptions, as well. Another important game looms this week as the establishment meets the upstart. Next game: Friday, Oct. 25 at No. 2 Donovan Catholic (7-0).
8. Ocean (6-0). Last week: No. 8
Senior running back Trebor Pena ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and senior quarterback Robbie Nungesser threw two touchdowns to lead the Spartans to a 28-14 win over Point Boro that clinched the Patriot Division championship. Pena had touchdown runs of 30 and 42 yards and Nungesser threw a 63-yard touchdown to Chris Carasia and a 9-yard touchdown to Mike Gavakis. Senior Nasir Thompson had nine tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss, freshman Tyler Douglas also recorded nine tackles and Pena made eight tackles to lead Ocean's defense. Next game: Friday, Oct. 25 at Manchester (2-5).
9. Southern (6-1). Last week: No. 9
Senior quarterback Cole Robinson threw a touchdown pass to sophomore running back Jaiden Brown and also ran for a touchdown as the Rams beat Freehold Township, 14-7, to wrap up the Constitution Division championship. Brown totaled 115 yards from scrimmage and also had a sack and two tackles for loss on defense. Southern’s defense totaled six sacks against Freehold Township’s Air Raid offense, led by two from senior defensive end JT Cornelius. Southern steps outside the division in Week 7 and will look to make a statement against a talented Colonial Division team. Next game: Friday, Oct. 25 at St. John Vianney (3-3).
10. Jackson Memorial (5-2). Last week: No. 10
Junior running back Will Towns ran for 232 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the season and lead the Jaguars to a 35-28 win over Freehold. Senior wideout Zack Novak added two catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. Junior linebacker Tyron Blackwell recorded two sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble to lead Jackson’s defense. The Jaguars have a bye in Week 7. Next game: Friday, Nov. 1 vs. No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven (4-3).
Dropped out: None
Keep an eye on:
Toms River East (7-0)
Middletown South (2-4)
Colts Neck (6-1)
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.