The Jeep Store Shore Sports Network Football Top 10 for Oct. 18
It seems like the postseason sneaks up on us every year, and here we are again. The playoffs are on the horizon and Week 8 is the final weekend for public schools to earn power points and qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament. There are plenty of big games on the schedule this week that will decide playoff positioning, playoff berths, and division titles.
There was only one top-10 matchup last week and that saw No. 4 Donovan Catholic shut out then-No. 8 Jackson Memorial. The Jaguars fall from the rankings and are replaced by Rumson-Fair Haven, which returns to the Top 10 after a win over Freehold Boro.
Two of last week's ranked teams had byes and the rest won in fairly convincing fashion other than No. 6 Ocean, which won a thriller over Middletown North to remain undefeated.
Here's the latest Jeep Store Top 10 heading into a week where many teams will be playing for their postseason lives.
1. Red Bank Catholic (6-1). Last week: No. 1
The Caseys had a bye in Week 7 and are coming off a 23-0 win over Manalapan the prior week. The reigning Non-Public B state champions return to action this week with a huge rivalry game that will decide the American Division title. Next game: Friday vs. No. 8 Rumson-Fair Haven (4-3).
2. Toms River North (8-0). Last week: No. 2
The Mariners scored five non-offensive touchdowns and received the usual output from their star players to surge to a 70-6 victory over Toms River East. Ty Boland returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, Nasir Jackson and Mordecai Ford had kickoff return touchdowns, and Jeremiah Pruitt had a pick-6, a fumble return touchdown, and a touchdown reception. Junior quarterback Micah Ford accounted for 175 yards and three touchdowns playing only the first half, while Josh Moore and TJ Valerio added touchdown runs. Toms River North can lock up the Colonial Division title this weekend and bolster its playoff positioning in the South Group 5 section. Next game: Friday at Middletown North (3-3).
3. Point Boro (7-0). Last week: No. 3
The Panthers took care of business with a 35-0 victory over Barnegat. Senior running back Connor Cilento ran for 199 yards and a touchdown on two carries, junior running back Jake Croce had a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown, and junior quarterback Matt Oliphant threw a touchdown to Croce and ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Slade Samaritano, Connor Reynolds, Tyler Gordon, and JJ Bennett led the defense to its fourth shutout of the season. Point Boro is currently No. 1 in the South Group 2 United Power Rankings and can lock up a top seed in the sectional tournament plus a division title with a win this weekend. Next game: Friday at No. 10 St. John Vianney (5-2).
4. Donovan Catholic (5-2). Last week: No. 4
Junior defensive end Zaire Day had nine tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a safety as the Griffins shut down then-No. 8 Jackson Memorial in a 23-0 shutout victory. Junior quarterback Todd Lam]bertson threw a touchdown pass to sophomore wideout Michael Thomas III, Roman Moyers ran for a 56-yard touchdown, and freshman running back Najee Calhoun ran for 80 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. The cutoff for the non-public playoffs is next week, but Donovan's last regular-season game is this week and it presents a great opportunity to bolster their postseason resume. Next game: Friday vs. No. 5 Middletown South (5-1).
5. Middletown South (5-1). Last week: No. 5
Five different players scored rushing touchdowns as the Eagles ran for over 250 yards and delivered a 41-10 victory over a Matawan team that entered on a five-game winning streak. Junior quarterback Jake Czwakiel ran for 82 yards and a touchdown, threw for 70 yards and a touchdown, and intercepted a pass, and junior linebacker/running back Colin Gallagher recorded 18 total tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks and ran for 51 yards and a touchdown. Donovan Summey, Liam Curley, and Brendan Sliva also had rushing touchdowns. Middletown South has a huge opportunity this weekend against another top-5 team where it can clinch a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Next game: Friday at No. 4 Donovan Catholic (5-2).
6. Ocean (7-0). Last week: No. 6
A 6-yard touchdown run by senior wide receiver CJ Flannigan delivered the Spartans a thrilling 34-28 overtime victory over Middletown North to remain undefeated. Ocean tied the score at 28 on a touchdown run by Caleb Thompson and held Middletown North to an unsuccessful field goal attempt in the final seconds of regulation. Thompson ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns, senior wide receiver Mateo Andrews had an 86-yard touchdown catch, junior running back Nick Iacouzzi had a touchdown run, and senior quarterback Tyler Douglas totaled 207 yards of offense and a touchdown. Senior defensive lineman Shane Garrett had a clutch interception on Middletown North's overtime possession to set up the winning drive. Ocean can clinch the outright Freedom Division title this weekend and bolster its chances for a top-two seed in the Group 3 sectional tournament. Next game: Friday vs. Red Bank (4-2).
7. Colts Neck (6-1). Last week: No. 7
Sal Marinello caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Dom Beninato, Chris Scully ran for a touchdown, and Aidan Manasso kicked a 20-yard field goal to propel the Cougars to a 17-0 win over Wall for their sixth straight victory. Junior defensive end Eric Loueiro recorded eight tackles, three tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, and two pass deflections and senior linebacker Will Surdez had nine tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss to lead the way on defense. Colts Neck can clinch the Constitution Division title this weekend but has a resilient district rival standing in its way. Next game: Saturday vs. Marlboro (4-3).
8. Rumson-Fair Haven (4-3). Last week: not ranked
The Bulldogs return to the Top 10 and are back over .500 after a 42-6 victory over Freehold Boro. Sophomore quarterback Owen O'Toole tossed three touchdowns - two to senior Scott Venancio and another to junior Nick Rigby - and junior running back Alaistair Orr had a pair of touchdown runs. Senior Jack Thomas added a 3-yard touchdown run and Cooper Bunnel led the defense with three tackles for loss among his 11 total tackles. It's been an up-and-down season for an inexperienced group, but the Bulldogs are right in the thick of the postseason race. A massive opportunity to shake up the rankings and move up the playoff board awaits this weekend. Next game: Friday at No. 1 Red Bank Catholic (6-1).
9. Raritan (5-2). Last week: No. 9
The Rockets rolled to a 47-6 victory over Toms River South to move up to No. 2 in the South Group 2 United Power Rankings. Senior running back Kieran Falzon ran for 136 yards and three touchdowns and senior Dan Calicari had a rushing touchdown and returned an interception for a touchdown. Sophomore Matthew Jones and junior Jayden Craft also had touchdown runs. Raritan will try to handle business this weekend against a winless rival and firm up its postseason spot. Next game: Friday at Holmdel (0-7).
10. St. John Vianney (5-2). Last week: No. 10
The Lancers had a bye in Week 7 and are coming off a 36-33 loss to Raritan in Week 6. Next up is a massive game in which the winner will take home the outright Independence Division championship. Next game: Friday vs. No. 3 Point Boro (7-0).
Jackson Memorial (5-2, No. 8 last week; lost to No. 4 Donovan Catholic, 23-0)
Keep an eye on:
Matawan (5-2) - lost 41-10 to No. 5 Middletown South
Manasquan (3-3) - won 34-13 over Shore Regional
Marlboro (4-3) - won 17-14 over Manalapan