The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, 9/21/21
This feels like a wild fact to type, but as we approach Week 4 of the Shore Conference football season we are officially halfway through the regular season.
That is a bit deceiving since the two Shore Conference pod games each team will be afforded come the third week of October aren’t officially considered conference playoff games. And a good number of teams have also played just two games, but division races are heating up and some critical games are on the horizon. This is when things really start getting fun. The landscape is beginning to take shape and matchups that may have looked benign in the preseason suddenly have a ton of juice to them.
This past week featured another milestone victory, a handful of thrillers, and a top-10 upset that has us welcoming a new team to The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Top 10 for the first time this season.
Week 4 has all 10 ranked teams in action, including two ranked matchups on Saturday, plus several important division clashes. With that, let’s get to this week’s SSN Top 10.
1. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-0). Last week: No. 1
The Bulldogs were idle in Week 3 after starting the season with wins over Wall (35-0) and Donovan Catholic (14-0) in a span of five days to open the season. A rested RFH squad and its imposing defense will return to action Friday night at Borden Stadium. Next game: Friday vs. Lacey (2-0).
2. Red Bank Catholic (3-0). Last week: No. 2
Junior running back Sabino Portella ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries as part of a 272-yard team effort on the ground as the Caseys rolled to a 49-7 win over Raritan in their division opener. Senior quarterback Alex Brown threw for 144 yards and touchdowns to Najih Rahman and Alex Bauman and also ran for a touchdown, while Rajahn Cooper and Ray Jackson also had touchdown runs. Ryan McPherson led the defensive effort with three tackles for loss among his seven total stops. Next game: Saturday at No. 8 Manasquan (2-1).
3. Donovan Catholic (2-1). Last week: No. 3
The Griffins rebounded from a shutout loss to Rumson by getting their offensive back on track in a 34-13 win over Toms River North. Senior wide receiver Kyree Drake had four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown and also ran a jet sweep 90 yards for a touchdown late in the first half. Senior running back Nunes Bukula IV ran for 127 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, freshman Michael Thomas had a 51-yard touchdown run and senior quarterback Jalin Butler ran for 85 yards and a touchdown. Junior linebacker Dante Vernieri returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown for his third pick-6 of the season. Another big American Division game awaits this weekend. Next game: Saturday at No. 5 Colts Neck (2-0).
4. Wall (0-2). Last week: No. 4
A banged-up Crimson Knights squad had a much-needed bye week in Week 3 and hopes to get back some of its injured players heading into a crucial stretch of the season. At 0-2, albeit with losses to the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, the time is now for Wall to regroup. Next game: Friday vs. Toms River North (0-2).
5. Colts Neck (2-0). Last week: No. 5
Senior quarterback Tommy Fallon rushed for a career-high 218 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries as the Cougars and their standout offensive line mauled Matawan, 33-0. Fallon had touchdown runs of 69, 66 and 70 yards and also threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver John Runfolo. Senior running back John Manos added a touchdown run. Colts Neck has a chance to make a major statement with a huge home game on Saturday. Next game: Saturday vs. No. 3 Donovan Catholic (2-1).
6. Middletown South (3-0). Last week: No. 7
The Swamp was rocking before, during, and after the Eagles’ dominant 27-0 victory over Jackson Memorial that delivered head coach Steve Antonucci his 200th career win. Senior running back Dan Primiano ran for a career-high 192 yards and two touchdowns, Anthony Brasco had a touchdown reception and Brandon Rahill returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown. Middletown South’s defense allowed just 85 yards of offense, intercepted four passes and delivered five sacks with senior Jack Latore and Jake Williamson recording two sacks each. The Eagles have looked great through three weeks, thus the move up one spot from last week. Next game: Friday at Manalapan (2-0).
7. Southern (2-0). Last week: No. 6
The Rams were idle in Week 3 and are coming off a nail-biting 21-20 win over Jackson Memorial in Week 2. The decision to move Middletown South ahead of Southern was based largely on their common opponent of Jackson. Next game: Friday vs. Holmdel (1-2).
8. Manasquan (2-1). Last week: No. 10
Junior quarterback Brett Patten completed 12 of 16 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown to lead the Warriors to a 38-7 win over Ocean. Junior running back Jhamier Howard ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, senior wide receiver Robert Pendergist caught four passes for 84 yards and a touchdown and senior Daniel Hyland had a 36-yard touchdown reception. Senior Jack Burns had two sacks, senior JJ Cavanagh had one sack and junior Jack Dettlinger had an interception to go along with a 20-yard field goal. Next game: Saturday vs. No. 2 Red Bank Catholic (3-0).
9. Long Branch (2-0). Last week: not ranked
The Green Wave roll into the Top 10 after a 29-14 victory over Freehold. Senior quarterback Christian Rodriguez completed 13 of 17 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 86 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Jayden Farmer and Ka’Jion Thorne had touchdown catches while Jyshon Presley and Antonio Castanon had sacks to help lead the way on defense. Next game: Friday vs. Jackson Memorial (0-2).
10. Raritan (1-1). Last week: No. 9
The Rockets fall one spot after a blowout loss to No. 2 Red Bank Catholic. Ben Hutchins connected with Joe Campanella for a 74-yard touchdown pass to account for their only touchdown. With the RBC game now out of the way, Raritan will return to The Launch Pad on Friday night for another important game against a Central team that has outscored its opponents 104-0. Next game: Friday vs. Central (3-0).
DROPPED OUT: Freehold (No. 8 last week)
Keep an eye on:
Point Boro (3-0): The Panthers cruised to an impressive 42-14 win over Asbury Park. Sophomore Matt Oliphant totaled three touchdowns, including a 91-yard kickoff return touchdown, and junior Connor Cilento had a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions on defense. Next game: Friday vs. Manchester (1-2).
Central (3-0): Three games, three blowout wins. Junior running back Chase Gumbrecht erupted for 304 yards rushing and four touchdowns plus a touchdown reception in a 35-0 wipeout of Freehold Township. The Golden Eagles have posted three straight shutouts to start the season, outscoring their opponents 104-0. The difficulty increases this week, as does the opportunity. Next game: Friday at No. 10 Raritan (1-1).
Barnegat (3-0): The Bengals blanked Jackson Liberty, 26-0, with junior running back JoJo Bivins rushing for 103 yards and two touchdowns, Kurt Bonin throwing a touchdown pass to Justin Bye, and Shikeith Gordon returning an interception for a touchdown. Barnegat will try to keep pace atop the Patriot Division with a big road game this weekend. Next game: Friday at Shore (2-1).
Keyport (3-0): The high-flying Red Raiders were at it again in a 45-26 victory over Point Beach to start 3-0 for the first time since 2009. Senior DJ Thomson continued to put together an All-Shore caliber season with a 32-yard touchdown catch, a 59-yard punt return touchdown, an 85-yard kickoff return touchdown and an interception on defense. Sophomore running back Nazir Treadwell ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries and senior cornerback Zivon Crank returned a fumble 60 yards for a score. Senior George Mitchell added a 34-yard field goal in addition to his TD pass to Thomson. Next game: Friday at Pinelands (1-1).
Manalapan (2-0): Senior quarterback Mike Heckel tossed three touchdown passes, including a screen pass that senior running back Elijah Marquez turned into a 77-yard touchdown reception, as the Braves surged past Holmdel, 31-20. After Holmdel took the lead in the fourth quarter, Alex Dille returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to give Manalapan the lead for good. Mike Bimonte and Tyler Walker also had touchdown catches and Michael Calton kicked a 33-yard field goal. Next game: Friday vs. No. 6 Middletown South (3-0).
Marlboro (2-0): Senior running back/linebacker Zach Mendes ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, caught two passes for 10 yards, and recorded a team-high nine tackles with one tackle for loss to lead the Mustangs to a 32-13 win over Neptune. Marlboro is now 2-0 for the first time since 1999. Next game: Saturday vs. Freehold Township (0-3).
Lacey (2-0): The Lions rallied for a 29-26 win over Middletown North to take the early lead atop the Independence Division.