The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Football Top 10, 9/28/21
Upsets, thrillers, huge statistical performances, and some controversy mixed it. We had all of that and more during Week 4 of the Shore Conference football season.
On the field, Central Regional scored another impressive victory with a resounding win over Raritan to remain undefeated and jump into The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Top 10 for the first time this season
Rumson-Fair Haven, Red Bank Catholic, Southern and Long Branch all rolled to victories while Middletown South won a nailbiter to remain unbeaten and Wall returned from its bye week with a dominant performance to earn its first win of the year.
In a top-five matchup on Saturday, Donovan Catholic was excellent on both sides of the ball in a five-touchdown win over Colts Neck. The big news surrounding the Griffins came out two days later, however, when the NJSIAA ruled they must forfeit their three wins this season due to the use of an ineligible player. The impact on that ruling will be far-reaching, notably their standing in the state playoff picture. As far as their ranking within the Shore, you’ll see our opinion below.
With just a few weeks left in the regular season, there are some massive divisional games on tap that will go a long way towards deciding division champs.
1. Rumson-Fair Haven (3-0). Last week: No. 1
Senior running back Geoff Schroeder ran for a career-high 241 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries and senior quarterback Colin Kennedy tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Aidan Casuccio to lead the Bulldogs to a 28-6 win over Lacey. Rumson has outscored its opponents 77-6 this season. Next game: Friday vs. Toms River North (1-2).
2. Red Bank Catholic (4-0). Last week: No. 2
Senior quarterback Alex Brown completed 12 of 15 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown and ran for 52 yards and a touchdown as the Caseys continued their dominance with a 41-7 victory over No. 8 Manasquan. Junior running back Sabino Portella ran for 50 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, senior running back Rajahn Cooper ran for 49 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and Frank Fufaro added a late touchdown run. Senior tight end Alex Bauman caught four passes for 46 yards and a touchdown and junior wide receiver Najih Rahman caught four passes for 73 yards.
Sophomore linebacker Davin Brewton recorded a team-high nine tackles with one sack and one tackle for loss and junior cornerback Joe Diorio had two interceptions. Next game: Friday vs. Red Bank (2-2).
3. Donovan Catholic (*0-4, 3-1 on the field). Last week: No. 3
The Griffins rolled to a 35-0 win over then-No. 5 Colts Neck to move to 3-1 on the field. Senior running back Nunes Bukula IV ran for a career-high 230 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, senior quarterback Jalin Butler threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 82 yards and a touchdown, and senior wide receiver Kyree Drake had 114 scrimmage yards and three total touchdowns, including an 80-yard score on a screen pass.
The Griffins, however, now have an official record of 0-4 after the NJSIAA ruled they must forfeit their three wins because of the use of an ineligible player. Donovan Catholic's administration released a statement to SSN on Tuesday clearing up the circumstances surrounding its rules infraction. Given that information, Donovan is clearly still the No. 3 team in the Shore and will remain judged based on what happens on the field. Next game: Friday at St. Johnn Vianney (2-2).
4. Wall (1-2). Last week: No. 4
The Crimson Knights returned from their bye week and looked like the team everyone envisioned in the preseason. Senior running back Mat Dollive ran for 106 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries, senior Jake Davis ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries and the defense returned to form in a 36-0 shutout win over Toms River North. Senior linebacker Lou Pilla had an interception on defense. Next game: Friday vs. No. 7 Colts Neck (2-1).
5. Middletown South (4-0). Last week: No. 6
Senior quarterback Tom Schork threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Jack Latore in overtime to give the Eagles a dramatic 13-7 victory over Manalapan. Schork completed 13 of 20 passes for 140 yards. Senior running back Austin Ruziecki scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, as well. Sophomore linebacker Colin Gallagher had another huge game with 10 tackles, four sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss as the Eagles’ defensive continued its stingy ways. Middletown South has a bye next week and will have two weeks to prepare for another huge Colonial Division game. Next game: Saturday, Oct. 9 at No. 6 Southern.
6. Southern (3-0). Last week: No. 7
Senior running back Jaiden Brown ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries and senior quarterback Nolan Schubiger threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Jaden Anthony as the Rams returned from their bye week with a 28-7 victory over Holmdel. Senior defensive end Nate Committee had seven tackles and one sack, Kole Levy recorded a team-high eight tackles, and Sean Roland added seven tackles. Next game: Friday vs. Manalapan (2-1).
7. Colts Neck (3-0). Last week: No. 5
The Cougars suffered a lopsided loss as they fell to Donovan Catholic 35-0, but they will get credit for the forfeit victory and officially move to 3-0. They face another stiff test this week on the road. Next game: Friday at No. 4 Wall (1-2).
8. Manasquan (2-2). Last week: No. 8
The Warriors were overpowered by No. 2 Red Bank Catholic in a 41-7 defeat. Junior quarterback Brett Patten threw a 24-yard pass to senior wide receiver Robert Pendergist to account for Manasquan’s only touchdown. Pendergist caught four passes for 71 yards. Manasquan's losses this season are to RBC and No. 5 Middletown South. Next game: Friday at Raritan (1-2).
9. Long Branch (3-0). Last week: No. 9
Senior quarterback Christian Rodriguez turned in the best performance of his career by completing 13 of 18 passes for 270 yards and five touchdowns and adding 31 yards rushing to lead the Green Wave to a 35-21 victory over Jackson Memorial. Jyshon Presley caught four passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, Jayden Farmer had two catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, Ka’Jion Thorne had four receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown, Michael Hall caught a 52-yard touchdown pass and Sekou Kamau hauled in a 17-yard touchdown reception. Next game: Saturday vs. Toms River East (1-3).
10. Central (4-0). Last week: not ranked
Junior running back Chase Gumbrecht ran for 288 yards and five touchdowns on 37 carries and Central’s defense held Raritan out of the end zone for the final three quarters in a statement-making 41-17 victory over the previously 10th-ranked Rockets. Junior quarterback Jahaziel Garcia added 73 yards rushing and a touchdown as the Eagles ran for 361 yards behind a road-grading offensive line. Senior free safety Dominick Fraulo had an interception that set up and a touchdown and senior defensive back Colin Steimle recovered a fumble inside the Central 15-yard line. Junior defensive end Logan Brennan recorded a team-high 14 tackles with two tackles for loss. The Golden Eagles have an opportunity to clinch at least a tie for the Liberty Division title this weekend. Next game: Friday vs. Marlboro (3-0).
DROPPED OUT: Raritan (No. 10 last week)
Keep an eye on:
Point Boro (4-0): The Panthers moved one step closer to the Patriot Division title with a 48-14 win over Manchester. Senior quarterback Charlie Vitale ran for 88 yards and a touchdown and threw two touchdown passes for junior wideout Brian Orio, sophomore running back Jake Croce rushed for 108 yards and two scores, sophomore Matt Oliphant returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the second week in a row and junior running back Connor Cilento added a touchdown run. Next game: Friday, Oct. 8 vs. Barnegat.
Keyport (4-0): The Red Raiders rallied for a 17-14 victory over Pinelands to continue their undefeated start to the season. Senior quarterback George Mitchell threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Zivon Crank early in the fourth quarter to complete a comeback from a 14-3 deficit. Mitchell also tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to senior DJ Thomson and kicked a 28-yard field goal. Next game: Saturday vs. Monmouth Regional (3-1).
Marlboro (3-0): The Mustangs came for a 20-16 victory over Freehold Township to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 1999. Senior Zach Mendes had another monstrous game with 22 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown, an interception return for a touchdown, 14 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble. Junior quarterback AJ Schwartz ran for 110 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Marlboro has a massive game on Friday night where they can clinch the Liberty Division title, which would be just the second in program history and first since 1994. Next game: Friday at No. 10 Central (4-0).
Shore (3-1): Senior Jamie Mazzacco had yet another huge game with 226 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 39 carries to power the Blue Devils to a big 14-7 win over Barnegat. He also kicked both extra points and made five tackles on defense. Senior linebacker Liam Rosa led the defense with seven tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss while senior cornerbacks Alex Kramer and Rylan Fegan each had interceptions. Shore’s only loss this season is to Point Boro. Next game: Friday, Oct. 8 at Jackson Liberty.
Manalapan (2-1): The Braves nearly took down No. 5 Middletown South but fell 13-7 in overtime. Senior quarterback Mike Heckel threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Michael Bimonte early in the third quarter that tied the game 7-7. Senior Mario Chierchia led the defense with a sack and two tackles for loss among his eight total tackles. Next game: Friday at No. 6 Southern (3-0).
Lacey (2-1): The Lions hung tough with No. 1 Rumson and trailed just 7-6 at halftime before the Bulldogs pulled away for a 28-6 victory. Noah Brunatti threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Michael Abode on a flea-flicker in the second quarter to account for Lacey’s touchdown. The Lions still lead the Independence Division and own a key victory over second-place Brick. Next game: Friday vs. Howell (0-3).