The Jeep Store Shore Conference Football Top 10, 10/29/19
Guess what? There are more significant changes to the Shore Sports Network Top 10 this week.
If it seems like you’ve been reading the same introduction to the top 10 every week, well, you have. There are only so many ways to write it: this is most chaotic Shore Conference football season in quite some time in terms of parity and ranked teams losing on a weekly basis.
The “upset” in Week 7 came via Red Bank Catholic, which took down then-No. 2 Donovan Catholic with an impressive performance to deal the Griffins their first defeat and rattle the rankings a bit more. There was also unranked St. John Vianney posting a shutout over then-No. 9 Southern, 21-0, in an intriguing nondivisional game. In both instances, the strength of the American and Colonial Divisions, respectively, were evident.
The one team that keeps humming along is top-ranked Wall, which rolled over Brick to secure the Colonial Division championship and improve to 8-0. The rest of the ranked teams from last week all emerged victorious, including Ocean, which blanked Manchester, 35-0, to join Wall as the Shore’s only undefeated teams.
It’s hard to believe we’re in the final week of the regular season, sans Thanksgiving, but here we are. Playoff spots and positioning are on the line so there’s plenty at stake up and down the Shore. There are just two games between ranked teams in Week 8, but they are both heavyweight clashes as Jackson Memorial hosts Rumson-Fair Haven on Friday night and Mater Dei Prep welcomes Manalapan on Saturday afternoon.
1. Wall (8-0). Last week: No. 1
Junior quarterback Logan Peters threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 71 yards and one touchdown as the Crimson Knights cruised to a 35-6 victory over Brick to clinch the Colonial Division championship. Junior running back Casey Larkin totaled 107 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns and senior wideout Eric Rodriguez caught a touchdown pass. The Crimson Knights have a bye this week and will next take the field in the first round of the state playoffs. Next game: Friday, Nov. 8 in Group 3 state playoffs vs TBD.
2. Toms River North (7-1). Last week: No. 3
Senior running back Jarrod Pruitt ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns and junior quarterback Jake Kazanowsky threw for 190 yards and a touchdown as the Mariners pulled away from district rival Toms River East for a 47-20 victory. Senior Matt Spalletta also had two touchdown runs, sophomore Jaiden Fraser recovered a loose ball on a kickoff for a touchdown and junior running back Jordan Grey ran for a touchdown. This week, the Mariners will try to close out the regular season with a victory against another district rival and remain in line for a No. 1 seed in the Group 5 playoffs. Next game: Friday, Nov. 1 vs. Toms River South (2-4)
3. Manalapan (5-2). Last week: No. 4
Senior quarterback Sean Kehley threw for 103 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another as the Braves defeated district rival Freehold Township, 31-10. Senior running back Andre Johnson ran for 73 yards and a touchdown, junior Anthony Matrone caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown, senior tight end Matt Benedetti caught a touchdown pass and junior Vin Rea kicked a 35-yard field goal. Matrone and junior linebacker Matt Sadler each had interceptions on defense. Manalapan has a huge game this weekend where it can lock up a first-round home game and maybe a No. 2 seed in a Group 5 playoff bracket. Next game: Saturday, Nov. 2 at No. 5 Mater Dei Prep (5-3).
4. Rumson-Fair Haven (4-3). Last week: No. 5
The Bulldogs had a bye last week and are coming off a 20-3 loss to Middletown South in Week 6 but move up one spot thanks to Red Bank Catholic’s win over Donovan Catholic. Rumson enters the week No. 3 in the South Group 3 standings and a win on Friday night could thrust the Bulldogs into a No. 1 seed in one of the brackets. Next game: Friday, Nov. 1 at No. 9 Jackson Memorial (5-2).
5. Mater Dei Prep (5-3). Last week: No. 6
The Seraphs snapped a three-game losing streak in resounding fashion by shutting out Middletown North, 37-0. Sophomore quarterback Alex Brown threw for 115 yards and two touchdowns and junior Naran Buntin totaled 104 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on just three touches. Senior Malik Ingram and Isaiah Noguera added touchdown runs and senior Clarence Lewis caught five passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Mater Dei will try to make its case for a top-two seed in the Non-Public 3 playoffs when it hosts another championship contender this weekend. Next game: Saturday, Nov. 2 vs. No. 3 Manalapan (5-2).
6. Red Bank Catholic (4-3). Last week: No. 7
The Caseys picked up a crucial win over previously-undefeated Donovan Catholic, 27-16, thanks to another strong defensive performance and an offense that had its best showing of the season. Junior quarterback Anthony Borriello threw for 101 yards and a 37-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Kevin Bauman and added 55 yards rushing and a touchdown. Senior running back Elijah Jules posted 71 yards rushing and two touchdowns and also had a 25-yard catch. Bauman, senior linebacker Charlie Gordinier, junior defensive tackle Jake Louro and junior cornerback Lenny Loria all had strong games on defense. The Caseys, who are the defending Non-Public 3 champions, will look to enter the postseason on a roll and make their case for a high seed. Next game: Friday, Nov. 1 vs. Freehold Township (2-5).
7. Donovan Catholic (7-1). Last week: No. 2
The Griffins were dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten in a 27-16 loss to Red Bank Catholic. Donovan held a 10-7 halftime lead, but Red Bank Catholic scored the next 20 points to win the game and send the Griffins tumbling five spots in the Top 10. Senior quarterback Ryan Clark threw for 100 yards and a touchdown and ran for 74 yards and a touchdown while senior Keaon Torres kicked a 42-yard field goal. Donovan will try to bounce back and enter the playoffs with a victory and also make its case for a high seed in Non-Public 3. Next game: Saturday, Nov. 2 at Lakewood (0-6).
8. Ocean (7-0). Last week: No. 8
Junior wide receiver Chris Carasia caught five passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns and senior running back Trebor Pena ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries as the Spartans blanked Manchester, 35-0, to remain undefeated. Senior quarterback Robbie Nungesser completed 11 of 17 passes for 186 yards and three scores. The Spartans are currently sixth in the South Group 3 playoff standings, which would make them a No. 3 seed in one of the sectional brackets. Next game: Friday, Nov. 1 vs. Marlboro (3-5).
9. Jackson Memorial (5-2). Last week: No. 10
The Jaguars were idle in Week 7 but move up one spot because of Southern’s loss to St. John Vianney. SJV enters the Top 10 and Jackson defeated them earlier this season. Jackson is currently fifth overall in the South Group 4 standings, which would mean a No. 3 seed in one of the sectional brackets. The Jags have the same UPR as undefeated Mainland but with a win on Friday night could garner enough points to jump ahead and earn a No. 2 seed. Next game: Friday, Nov. 1 vs. No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven (4-3).
10. St. John Vianney (4-3). Last week: not ranked
Senior linebacker Naron Alston recorded 11 tackles and one sack and returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown as the Lancers shut out Southern, 21-0, to jump back into the Top 10. Senior running back Kavon Chambers ran for 115 yards and a touchdown and senior quarterback CJ Duell threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to senior Zarrin Stephens. The Lancers enter Week 8 fifth in the Non-Public 3 UPR, but the bracket is seeded by a committee and not by points. They can bolster their chances with a win on Friday night. Next game: Friday, Nov. 1 at Long Branch (2-5).
Dropped out: Southern (No. 9 last week)
Keep an eye on:
Middletown South (2-4)
Toms River East (7-1)