The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, 9/14/21
After one week it was clear that Rumson-Fair Haven was going to be a serious contender to make a push all the way to the No. 1 ranking in the Shore Conference. After Week 2, there is simply no denying that the Bulldogs have already played their way to the top.
For the second straight week, there is a new No. 1 team in The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Football Top 10 thanks to another dominant performance by the guys in purple. By backing up their stunning Week 1 victory over Wall with another tremendous defensive performance in a shutout victory over then-No. 2 Donovan Catholic, the Bulldogs have started as fast as any team in New Jersey.
The team they jumped to get there is Red Bank Catholic, which didn’t do anything to lose the top spot, per se. This is more about what Rumson has done, and it has been extremely impressive.
The biggest remaining question is what to do with Wall, which is now 0-2 after having lost only once over the two previous seasons. After the blowout loss to Rumson in Week 1, the Crimson Knights responded with a gritty effort and nearly knocked off RBC. There were people telling me they shouldn’t even be in the Top 10 after Week 1 (!) and I get that they are winless, but anyone who thinks Wall isn’t one of the 10 best teams in the Shore regardless of its current record, well, then we just don’t see eye-to-eye.
Elsewhere, nine of the 10 teams ranked last week were in action in Week 2. There are 17 teams in total who are unbeaten through two weeks but there was also a bunch of squads with byes in Week 2. Just nine teams are 2-0 and five of those are already ranked. Those remaining undefeated squads will look to continue their fast starts this week and continue to make their cases for a spot in the rankings.
Three ranked teams have byes in Week 3 and there is only one matchup between top-10 teams, but there are several important divisional games on tap.
1. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-0). Last week: No. 3
Senior running back Dan Garvey and senior quarterback Colin Kennedy had touchdown runs, but the story once again was Rumson’s defense, which held Donovan Catholic to 125 yards of offense, eight first downs and zero points in an impressive 14-0 victory. Senior defensive end Aiden Moriarty recorded 10 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble and senior linebackers John Lista and Ryan McKay were flying around making plays all night. In two games against Wall and Donovan Catholic, RFH has allowed 162 yards of offense and nine first downs. Only one drive has advanced inside the Bulldogs’ 25-yard line. After two games in five days against two stout teams, Rumson gets a much-needed and deserved bye week. Next game: Friday, Sept. 24 vs. Lacey.
2. Red Bank Catholic (2-0). Last week: No. 1
As mentioned above, the Caseys fall one spot simply because Rumson went out and took the No. 1 ranking with another exceptional performance. RBC, meanwhile, had to rally for a 20-16 victory over Wall after trailing 16-7 entering the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Alex Brown rebounded from a shaky first half to toss touchdown passes to Emanuel Ross and Alex Bauman in the fourth quarter, the latter of which to the senior tight end put the Caseys in front with under two minutes to play. Brown also threw a touchdown pass to junior wideout Najih Rahman. Next game: Friday, Sept. 17 vs. No. 9 Raritan (1-0).
3. Donovan Catholic (1-1). Last week: No. 2
One week after dropping 54 points in a win over Archbishop Stepinac (NYC), the Griffins couldn’t crack Rumson’s defense in a 14-0 defeat on the road. While the offense did not find the end zone, the defense played well with senior linebacker Nat Ianello recording a whopping 22 tackles, senior linebacker Connor Farrell making 13 tackles and junior linebacker Dante Vernieri making 12 tackles. Donovan will look to rebound this week against a local rival. Next game: Friday, Sept. 17 vs. Toms River North (0-1).
4. Wall (0-2). Last week: No. 4
The Crimson Knights suffered a 20-16 loss to Red Bank Catholic to drop to 0-2. On the surface, it’s quite stunning to see the team that hadn’t lost to a Shore team since 2018 and finished No. 1 in the state last season without a win, but given the circumstances, Wall showed a lot of heart and grit against the Caseys. The Knights’ running game got going with senior quarterback Jake Davis rushing for 131 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and senior Matt Dollive rushing for 73 yards on 18 carries. The defense also played well against an explosive RBC offense despite being without senior linebackers Charlie Sasso, the reigning SSN and state Defensive Player of the Year, and senior first-team All-Shore linebacker Colin Riley. Wall’s losses are to the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Shore, so there’s a good chance every other team in the Shore would also be 0-2 after playing Rumson and RBC. There will be people who say Wall should not be No. 4 or even ranked at all. That time will come if it’s warranted. This group has earned the benefit of the doubt from me. A MUCH-needed bye comes this week as the Knights will look to get healthy and regroup in Week 4. Next game: Friday, Sept. 24 vs. Toms River North.
5. Colts Neck (1-0). Last week: No. 5
The Cougars had a bye in Week 2 after a thrilling 28-21 victory over Toms River North to open the season. Next game: Saturday, Sept. 18 vs. Matawan (1-1).
6. Southern (2-0). Last week: No. 6
The Rams survived a trip to The Jungle, escaping with a 21-20 victory over old Class A South rival Jackson Memorial. Senior running back Jaiden Brown broke free for a 66-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and the extra point by Jaden Anthony stood up as the game-winning point after Jackson scored in the fourth quarter but could not convert on its kick. Brown finished with 139 yards and a score on 20 carries, senior fullback Nate Committee added a 30-yard touchdown run and a 10-yard touchdown reception and senior quarterback Nolan Schubiger completed 9 of 14 passes for 100 yards. Southern has now started 2-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2007-2008. Next game: Friday, Sept. 24 vs. Holmdel.
7. Middletown South (2-0). Last week: No. 7
The Eagles’ defense swallowed up Holmdel’s option offense in a 21-3 victory to improve to 2-0. Senior quarterback Tom Schork had a 1-yard touchdown run and a 16-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Jack Latore and senior Dan Primiano had an 8-yard touchdown run. Latore led the defense with nine tackles, including four tackles for loss. The Eagles have a home game this week against a division foe that is winless but has lost both games by one point and could easily be 2-0, as well. Next game: Friday, Sept. 17 vs. Jackson Memorial (0-2).
8. Freehold (2-0). Last week: No. 8
The Colonials rolled past rival Freehold Township to retain The Duke rivalry trophy. Senior Kamore Gill has taken the quarterback job and literally hit the ground running and led the way once again with 183 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 19 carries. He also completed 10 of 14 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. Senior Yah-Sin Calhoun ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, caught five passes for 48 yards and made eight tackles on defense. Matt Giuffrida added a touchdown catch and senior linebacker Tyler Ochojski had another big game with 11 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery. Freehold’s defense swarmed Freehold Township’s pass-heavy offense as Alex D’Antonio added 2.5 sacks, Matt Verardi had 1.5 sacks and Ian Staples had one sack. Next game: Saturday, Sept. 18 vs. Long Branch (1-0).
9. Raritan (1-0). Last week: No. 9
The Rockets pulled out a dramatic 24-20 victory over Ocean in their season-opener. A 5-yard touchdown run by junior running back Kieran Falzon capped a quick scoring drive with 1:02 left in the game after Ocean had taken a 20-17 lead with 3:05 left. Falzon ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, senior quarterback Ben Hutchins threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Joe Campanella, and Jeffrey Spengler kicked a 25-yard field goal. Raritan faces what will likely be its toughest test of the season this Friday night. Next game: Friday, Sept. 17 at No. 2 Red Bank Catholic (2-0).
10. Manasquan (1-1). Last week: No. 10
Junior quarterback Brett Patten completed 14 of 16 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 52 yards and a touchdown to lead the Warriors to a 45-13 win over Red Bank in their home opener. Junior running back Jhamier Howard ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries and also caught a touchdown pass. Senior wide receiver Cole Kozlowski caught seven passes for 72 yards and a touchdown and senior Dan Hyland caught his first career touchdown pass. The defense got into the act, as well, with senior defensive tackle JJ Cavanagh returning an interception for a touchdown. Jack Dettlinger added a field goal and went 6-for-6 on extra points. Next game: Friday, Sept. 17 at Ocean (0-2).
Dropped out: none
Keep an eye on:
Point Boro (2-0): The Panthers won 41-6 over Jackson Liberty to start 2-0 for the first time since 2017. Senior quarterback Charlie Vitale leads a balanced and high-scoring triple-option offense. Next game: Friday, Sept. 17 at Asbury Park (1-1).
Central (2-0): The Golden Eagles have yet to surrender a point this season after a 34-0 win over Neptune. They’ve outscored their opponents 69-0 through two games and have received two huge games from junior running back Chase Gumbrecht. Next game: Friday, Sept. 17 at Freehold Township (0-2).
Barnegat (2-0): A new-look Bengals offense has been punishing teams on the ground with junior running back JoJo Bivins and did it again in a 21-14 win over Manchester. Bivins has rushed for 440 yards and seven touchdowns on 69 carries in two games. Next game: Friday, Sept. 17 vs. Jackson Liberty (1-1).
Keyport (2-0): The Red Raiders are 2-0 for the first 2016 after retaining the Bayshore Bell with a 28-21 win over Keansburg. Senior wide receiver DJ Thomson has been electric with 296 receiving yards and four touchdowns on just six receptions, plus a punt return touchdown and an interception in two games. All five of his touchdowns have been 39 yards or longer. Next game: Saturday, Sept. 18 vs. Point Beach (1-1).