In the New Jersey HS playoffs it’s all about surviving to the next game.  For 15 schools, the dream continues for another week, as they move to the semi-finals.  Let’s look at the survivors:

Barnegat tackles Sam Madden and Zach Andrews (Townsquare Media NJ)

Manalapan (9-0) had the toughest game of the weekend, as they had to comeback from a 13-0 deficit against a game Brick Memorial team.  The Mustangs led until the final play of the game, when some questionable clock stoppages gave the Braves some extra time and completed the comeback.

Now, I will state, that I was not at the game, but from reporters who covered the game, coaches at the game and other neutral fans in attendance, no one really knew what was happening in the final seconds of the game.

I am not taking anything away from a very good Brave team, but I hope they learned that in the playoffs, you can’t take anything for granted.  It’s all about surviving and the Braves did that. They now get Sayreville(7-2), a team which beat them in the 2011 State Finals. This is a loaded Group, and if the Braves win their first title in history, they will have earned it.

Brick (7-3) got their starting QB back(Carmen Sclafani) from a shoulder injury and rode 192 yards rushing from Ray Fattarusso to a first round win over 3-7 West Windsor North.  Brick’s defense must be on high alert this week as Burlington Twp. scored 52 points against Middletown South in their first round win.  They get them at home in semi’s.  Colts Neck (8-1) was also a winner in this Group and will play Nottingham HS (7-2) on the road. Nottingham won the State’s last year in this Group.

Can anyone stop Rumson’s RB Charlie Volker?  Not in their first 9 games, it hasn’t happened and if they can ride him to the finals, Rumson (9-0) will win another title.  Volker had 141 yards in the Bulldogs 41-9 win over Bordentown and continues to lead the Shore in rushing. Lakewood (6-3) is in the semi’s in the CJ Group 2 also and draws unbeaten Weequahic in bottom bracket. Rumson gets Rahway(7-2).

Barnegat (8-1) got 219 yards rushing from Junior Tyler McGinness who got behind the “monsters” up front and rode them to a first round 41-13 victory over Pemberton.  Those monsters are led by senior Zach Andrews and Junior Sam Madden.  Both 300+ pounds and the leaders of an offensive line that averages over 280 lbs. The Bengals move to the semi’s against Northern Burlington(7-2).

Manasquan senior running back Joe Murphy ran for 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 29-7 victory over Wall in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III playoffs. (Photo by Bill Normile).

Manasquan (7-2) was also a winner in this Group with a 29-7 win over Wall.  Joe Murphy, who has been nicked up this year, seems to be 100% as he ran for 223 yards and 3 TDs.  Squan is the top seed in this bracket, so they get another home game, as Delsea(8-2) come calling this week.

Red Bank Catholic (9-0) has been working since last Dec. 1st, when St. Joe Montvale beat them 42-7 in the 2012 semi-finals, for another shot at the Green Knights.  Well November 23rd they get their shot.  The Green Knights (8-0) have been #1 in the State all year and in some publications #1 in the US.  They average 42pts/game and have played a national schedule. They have 16 State Titles in the trophy case.  A tough task for the Casey’s, but RBC is our best at the Shore, and a good representative to play them.  Good luck to the Casey’s.

Other winners in the first round were Shore (8-1), Beach (8-1) and Asbury Park (7-2)—all in CJ Group 1.  Beach will play the lone non Shore team left in Burlington City.  Shore gets AP again- they beat them 10-0 back in week 2.

Also winning were Ocean (9-0), Jackson (7-2).  Ocean gets a very good Hopewell Valley(8-1), while Jackson, who is 1 of 3 Class A-South teams still left, gets tough Cherokee(8-1) in the bowl stadium in Medford.

How about this year’s surprise team-Mater Dei Prep (6-4).  They beat a pretty good Morristown Beard team 12-7 and advanced to the semi’s where they play St. Mary HS.  No matter what happens next week, the season has been a great one for the Seraphs.

Another A-South team winning Sat. was TR South (7-2).  The Indians rode 200+ yards from QB Tymere Berry and 100+ yards from RB Otis Kearney to victory. In attendance was the entire coaching staff of Shawnee HS (6-3), who will travel to South next Sat. afternoon.  I think the Indians get to the finals next week.  They are as good as anyone in this South Group 4 bracket.

Special congrats to TR North who won their consolation game and got their first win of the year.  This is a team to watch for the next few years as they played many underclassmen this year.  They conclude their season against 3-6 TR East on Turkey Day.

Looks like Lacey and HC Lou Vircillo will have to wait until next year to pass Vic Kabu for 2nd place on the all-time wins list. Warren Wolf leads all Shore coaches in wins, but Vircillo won his 263rd game way back on Oct. 11th against Manchester to tie Kabu for second on that distinguished list.  Lacey was 5-0 at that time, then went on to lose 5 straight games to finish 5-5 on the year.  The season is complete for the Lion’s and I have a feeling it will be a busy off-season for Lacey. The Lion defense gave up 309 points this year.

Top Ten:

1-Red Bank Catholic (9-0) The big one this week.  At St. Joe Montvale Sat. afternoon.

2-Manalapan (9-0) A big scare last week, but they advance to face Sayreville at home Friday night.

3-Rumson (9-0) Charlie Volker leads the Shore in rushing.

4-Ocean (9-0) The Big Red are focused on another State Title.

5-Colts Neck (8-1) The Courgars are led by my Player of the Year Anthony Gargiulo.

6-Jackson (7-2) A-South champs will be tested by a very good Cherokee team on the road.

7-Toms River South (7-2) Russell Messler, the inspirational leader of the Indians.

8-Manasquan (7-2) The Big Blue will ride a strong running game led by Joe Murphy.

9-Brick (7-3) The Dragons received an early Christmas present.  Carmen Sclafani returned last week.

10-Barnegat (8-1) Replace Shore in top ten with a more impressive “W” in first round.

Just outside looking in:

Shore (8-1):   Tough every year.  Chance to win their 6th title.

Brick Memorial (6-4):  Hard luck loser vs Manalapan. Finished season winning 5/7.

Point Beach (8-1):  Will the Gulls play Shore 2 weeks in a row.  I say yes-- Turkey Day and State Finals.

Join us Thursday for Investors Bank High School Football show at the Water Street Grill from 7-8:30pm.  Can’t make it down? Listen on 105.7 The Hawk or on computer or on your mobile device via the RadioPup app.

The Sonny's Recycling Game of the Week will take us to Brick for their semi-final against Burlington Twp. at 7pm Friday night.