The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, 10/20/21
There’s a new No. 1 team in The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Top 10.
Last Friday night gave Shore Conference football fans something to really sink their teeth into when Red Bank Catholic and Rumson-Fair Haven clashed in a matchup of the top two teams in the conference, and in the end it was the visiting Caseys who came away with a 21-14 victory that has them ascending into the top spot.
There was another ranked matchup and that one took place in Ocean County where Southern Regional topped rival Central Regional to keep its grip on the Boyd-Emmert Trophy. It was a good bounce-back win for Southern after two straight losses to ranked opponents. Central has been a revelation this season but the Golden Eagles’ first setback of the season opens the door for one of the Shore’s four unbeaten teams to finally break into the Top 10.
This week brings us the first slate of Shore Conference postseason games, which were originally going to be a four-team pod format but were changed to be simply two quality games for each opponent. There are some great matchups coming our way that should definitely have a major impact on the Top 10 before the NJSIAA playoffs begin in early November.
1. Red Bank Catholic (7-0). Last week: No. 2
Junior running back Sabino Portella ran for 144 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries and the Caseys’ defense allowed just 147 yards of offense as RBC defeated rival Rumson-Fair Haven, 21-14, to unseat the Bulldogs and move up to take over the No. 1 spot in the SSN Top 10. Sophomore running back Torin Harmon had a 48-yard touchdown run and senior running back Rajahn Cooper caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Alex Brown. Senior tight end/defensive end Alex Bauman was a two-way force again with three catches for 30 yards plus a sack and two tackles for loss. Next game: Friday at No. 5 Manalapan (5-1).
2. Rumson-Fair Haven (5-1). Last week: No. 1
Senior quarterback Colin Kennedy ran for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass to senior tight end Aidan Casuccio but the Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season in a 21-14 setback to Red Bank Catholic in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup. Senior defensive Aiden Moriarty recorded two sacks and a forced fumble and senior linebacker John Lista had a sack and a forced fumble. The Bulldogs will try to rebound against another top-flight opponent this weekend. Next game: Friday vs. No. 4 Middletown South (5-1).
3. Donovan Catholic (*3-4, 6-1 on the field). Last week: No. 3
Senior quarterback Jalin Butler threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns and senior running back Nunes Bukula IV ran for 71 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries to lead the Griffins to a 42-0 win over Rahway. Freshman wide receiver Michael Thomas and sophomore running back Zaeir Day had touchdown catches and senior running back Gaige Rebmann added a touchdown run. Junior linebacker Dante Vernieri continued his amazing season by returning an interception 63 yards for a touchdown, giving him five interceptions and four pick-6s on the season. The Griffins open the postseason with a matchup against a ranked team. Next game: Friday vs. No. 8 Southern (4-2).
4. Middletown South (5-0). Last week: No. 4
The Eagles had a bye in Week 7 and return to action this week with a matchup versus a fellow top-five team. Middletown South is currently second in the North Group 4 United Power Rankings and a win this week could vault it into the top spot. Next game: Friday at No. 2 Rumson-Fair Haven (5-1).
5. Manalapan (5-1). Last week: No. 6
Senior quarterback Mike Heckel tossed three touchdown passes, senior running back Elijah Marquez ran for two touchdowns and senior Michael Bimonte returned a fumble for a touchdown as the Braves overpowered Freehold in a 39-7 victory. Bimonte also caught a touchdown pass and Tyler Walker had two touchdown receptions. The Braves have had a great season with their lone loss coming in overtime to No. 4 Middletown South. They get a crack at the new No. 1 team this week. Next game: Friday vs. No. 1 Red Bank Catholic (7-0).
6. Wall (3-3). Last week: No. 5
Senior running back Matt Dolive ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns, senior quarterback Jake Davis ran for a touchdown and senior Max Oakley kicked a field goal to lead Wall to a 31-17 victory over Lenape. Wall led 16-14 at halftime and through the third quarter until Dollive’s 4-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion put the Knights up by 10. Wall’s losses are to the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 teams in the Shore, so it’s hard to knock them too much for having a 3-3 record, but the Knights are going to need a signature win sooner than later. Those opportunities should present themselves in the coming weeks. Next game: Friday vs. Middletown North (5-1).
7. Long Branch (6-0). Last week: No. 7
Junior running back Sekou Kamau had 106 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns plus an interception on defense to lead the way as the Green Wave defeated Ocean, 23-6, to remain undefeated. Kamau had a 5-yard touchdown run and a 39-yard touchdown catch. Senior quarterback Christian Rodriguez also threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Michael Hall and finished with 220 yards through the air. The Green Wave are idle in Week 8 before their biggest test of the season in Week 9. Next game: Friday, Oct. 29 vs. No. 2 Rumson-Fair Haven.
8. Southern (4-2). Last week: No. 9
Senior running back Jaiden Brown ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns and senior Jaden Anthony kicked a 22-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter as the Rams topped Central, 17-14, to claim the Boyd-Emmert Trophy for the third straight season. Brown’s 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave Southern a 14-7 halftime lead and Anthony's field goal put the Rams up 17-7 and allowed them to absorb a late touchdown by Central. Next game: Friday at No. 3 Donovan Catholic (*3-4, 6-1 on the field).
9. Point Boro (6-0). Last week: not ranked
After weeks of banging on the door, the Panthers are finally into the Top 10 this week. Junior slotback Connor Cilento ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns on just five carries, sophomore running back Matt Oliphant had two touchdown runs and senior quarterback Charlie Vitale had a touchdown run, two interceptions, and a defensive score to lead Point Boro to a 49-6 victory over Monmouth Regional. The Panthers are one of four undefeated teams in the Shore. A huge rivalry game is on tap for Friday night at Al Saner Field. Next game: Friday vs. No. 10 Manasquan (4-2).
10. Manasquan (4-2). Last week: No 10
Junior quarterback Brett Patten completed 9 of 13 passes for 153 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 43 yards and a touchdown to lead the Warriors to a 41-0 victory over Toms River East. Senior running back Patrick Woodford ran for 89 yards and a touchdown, including a 72-yard touchdown run, and also had a touchdown catch while junior running back Jhamier Howard had a pair of touchdown catches and senior wide receiver Robert Pendergist caught a touchdown pass. The Warriors will head a few miles south this weekend for a rivalry matchup that will have a major impact on the Top 10. Next game: Friday at No.9 Point Boro (6-0).
Dropped out: Central Regional (No. 8 last week)
Keep an eye on:
Central (6-1): The Golden Eagles fell to Southern Regional, 17-14, to drop out of the rankings. If the Top 10 was a Top 11, Central would still be ranked, but their fall was more about undefeated Point Boro deserving to move up, and someone had to be moved out. Central was without starting quarterback Jahaziel Garcia in the loss to Southern but freshman Deven Sisler was able to step in and throw for 201 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Chase Gumbrecht continued his amazing season with 121 yards rushing and a touchdown and senior tight end Michael Rapolla caught three passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Over the next two weeks, Central will have opportunities to make their case to move back up. Next game: Friday at Lacey (4-2).
Middletown North (5-1): Senior quarterback Tommy Giannone threw for a career-high 364 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown strike to senior tight end Zac Searight with under a minute left in the fourth quarter, to lead the Lions to a thrilling 24-21 victory over St. John Vianney. Searight also had a 44-yard touchdown catch and Levi Wilson had a 26-yard touchdown catch. Ian Poole-Morgan kicked a 29-yard field goal. Next game: Friday vs. No. 6 Wall (3-3).
Shore (5-1): Senior Jamie Mazzacco had another huge game with 143 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including an 86-yard touchdown run, to lead the Blue Devils to a 42-0 win over Pinelands. Andrew Decker added 71 yards rushing and two touchdowns and Patrick Kelly and Liam Rosa also ran for touchdowns as Shore rolled up 338 yards on the ground. The Blue Devils have won five games in a row since a season-opening loss to No. 9 Point Boro. Next game: Friday vs. Red Bank (3-4).
Lacey (4-2): Senior quarterback Noah Brunatti tossed the go-ahead touchdown pass to senior wideout Matt McClung with under a minute to play to give the Lions a dramatic 27-21 victory over Colts Neck. Brunatti threw for 129 yards and two touchdowns and senior fullback Scott Stevens had a pair of touchdown runs. Next game: Friday vs. Central (6-1).
Holmdel (3-3): Senior running back Jaden Gallo ran for 199 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries to lead the Hornets to a 30-24 win over Raritan for their fifth straight victory in the Battle of the Border rivalry. Senior running back Luke Dupont also ran for a touchdown and Connor Mendini kicked a 29-yard field goal. Next game: Friday vs. Freehold (3-4).
Asbury Park (4-2): The Blue Bishops had a bye in Week 7 and will return for the Shore Conference postseason with a game against Raritan. Next game: Friday vs. Raritan (2-4).