The Jeep Store/Shore Sports Network Football Top 10 for Nov. 23
There 2021 Shore Conference high school football season is down to six games remaining over the next two weeks as it continues to come down to the wire as far as which team will finish up as the No. 1 team in the Shore.
It was a tough Friday for the Shore during last week's NJSIAA sectional championship round (Week 12) as our teams went 1-4 in the sectional finals. Point Boro was the only team to emerge victorious as the Panthers hoisted the South Jersey Group 2 trophy with a resounding win over Willingboro. The other team to keep its playoff season alive was Red Bank Catholic, which advanced to the Non-Public B final with a 21-10 victory over St. Joseph Academy (Hammonton).
Barring any upsets on Thanksgiving (did I just jinx myself?) the Top 10 shouldn't undergo any wholesale changes the rest of the way, although turkey day upsets are as much a staple of the holiday as mashed potatoes and gravy. The battle for No. 1 is not over, however.
To recap, the top three teams in The Jeep Store Football Top 10 can each make a claim to be No. 1. Rumson-Fair Haven defeated Donovan Catholic, 14-0, in Week 2. Red Bank Catholic defeated Rumson-Fair Haven, 21-14, in Week 7. Donovan then beat RBC, 28-7, in Week 9. With there being a triangle between the three teams we went with the most recent result as a sort of tiebreaker and elevated Donovan to the No. 1 spot entering the playoffs. Of those three teams, RBC is the only one left standing. They're all in different brackets so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, but the Caseys can make a very compelling case for themselves by winning a state championship and beating a top-five team in the state.
There are five games this week with four on Thanksgiving and RBC playing on Friday. Point Boro gets two weeks to prepare for its regional championship game on Dec. 4 at Rutgers.
With that, let's get to the latest Shore Sports Network Football Top 10.
1. Donovan Catholic (6-4, 9-2 on the field). Last week: No. 1
Donovan's season ended during Week 11 via a 35-7 loss to state No. 1 Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public A quarterfinals. Donovan's resume includes wins over No. 5 Wall, South Jersey Group 5 finalist No. 5 Toms River North, and No. 2 Red Bank Catholic. Next game: Season complete.
2. Red Bank Catholic (10-1). Last week: No. 2
Senior quarterback Alex Brown ran for two touchdowns in the second half and senior running back Rajahn Cooper also ran for a touchdown as the Caseys defeated St. Joseph Academy, 21-10, in the Non-Public B semifinals. RBC's only hiccup on the season came at the hands of the team ranked ahead of them, Donovan Catholic, by a 28-7 score in Week 9. Even though the Griffins own a head-to-head win, RBC can state its case by winning the Non-Public B state title this Friday against state No. 4 DePaul. Next game: Friday vs. DePaul at MetLife Stadium in the Non-Public B state championship game.
3. Rumson-Fair Haven (9-2). Last week: No. 3
The Bulldogs' bid for a seventh sectional title was halted by Woodrow Wilson as the Tigers scored a 28-6 victory at RFH's Borden Stadium in the Central Jersey Group 3 championship game. It was a tight game most of the way until Wilson pulled away late in the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Colin Kennedy had a touchdown run while senior linebackers John Lista (20 tackles, 2 sacks) and Ryan McKay (18 tackles), and senior defensive end Aidan Moriarty (2 TFL, 1 sack) also had strong games. Rumson has an impressive resume that includes wins over No. 1 Donovan Catholic, No. 4 Middletown South, No. 5 Wall, No. 6 Toms River North, and No. 10 Manalapan but also a loss to No. 2 Red Bank Catholic. Next game: Season complete.
4. Middletown South (8-2). Last week: No. 4
Senior quarterback Tom Schork ran for 119 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and sophomore Jake Czwakiel kicked field goals of 22 and 23 yards but the Eagles were outscored 21-0 in the second half and fell to top-seeded Irvington, 28-13, in the North, Group 4 sectional final. Middletown South's resume includes wins over No. 7 Manasquan and No. 10 Manalapan. A standout senior class gets one more game on Thanksgiving. Next game: Thursday at Middletown North (5-5).
5. Wall (6-4). Last week: No. 5
The Crimson Knights had the remainder of their season canceled due to an ongoing investigation into hazing involving members of the football team. They were originally scheduled to play Delsea in the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals after a 42-7 win over Hopewell Valley in the quarterfinals. Their Thanksgiving Day game against Manasquan was also canceled. Wall's best win stands as a 36-0 victory over No. 6 Toms River North. Next game: Season complete.
6. Toms River North (7-4). Last week: No. 6
The Mariners lost a heartbreaker, 21-14 to Kingsway in the South Jersey Group 5 sectional final. Sophomore quarterback Micah Ford threw a touchdown pass to sophomore Jeremiah Pruitt with 57 seconds left in regulation and then ran for the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 14, but Kingsway drove for the winning touchdown to find the end zone with just seven seconds left. Ford also had a touchdown run in the first half. After a slow start, the Mariners surged in the second half of the season to finish in the middle of the rankings and will bring back most of their starting lineup next year. Next game: Season complete.
7. Manasquan (7-3). Last week: No. 7
Manasquan did not play in Week 12 after being eliminated from the Central Jersey Group 3 playoffs by eventual champion Woodrow Wilson in the semifinals. The Warriors' best wins are over Central Jersey Group 2 finalist Raritan and South Jersey Group 2 champion Point Boro. For the seniors, it's one final game at The Wigwam on Thanksgiving to close out their careers. Next game: Thursday vs. Shore (7-3).
8. Point Boro (10-1). Last week: No. 8
Three total touchdowns by junior Tyler Gordon and a magnificent defensive performance sent the Panthers to a 32-8 win over Willingboro that secured the South Jersey Group 2 sectional title, Point Boro's first since 2005. Gordon had two touchdown runs and a championship-clinching interception return for a touchdown, and senior quarterback Charlie Vitale threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to junior slotback Connor Cilento and also ran for a touchdown. It was a true 11-man effort on defense to limit Willingboro's powerful rushing attack, led by Gordon, junior linebackers Connor Reynolds, JJ Bennett, and Aidan Ward, and sophomore defensive tackle Charlie Davison. The Panthers will try to finish off their championship season by winning the regional championship game in two weeks. Next game: Saturday, Dec. 4 vs. Haddonfield at Rutgers University.
9. Long Branch (7-2). Last week: No. 9
The Green Wave were idle in Week 12 after losing to Ocean City in the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals. Thursday will mark the end of an era when longtime head coach Danny George takes the sidelines for the final time. Next game: Thursday vs. Red Bank (4-6).
10. Manalapan (6-3). Last week: No. 10
The Braves have been idle for the past two weeks after losing to Edison in the first round of the South Jersey Group 5 playoffs. Manalapan had five wins vs. playoff teams (St. John Vianney, Holmdel, Southern, Freehold, and Central) and losses to Middletown South, Red Bank Catholic, and Edison. Next game: Season complete.