T&T Coast Football Top 10, 9/27/16
The top five teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 remained undefeated following their respective Week 3 games, but even though it has been status quo so far, the debate over who deserves the top spot continues to pick up steam.
Top-ranked Middletown South ran its winning streak to 15 games, but it took a goal line stand in the final minute to escape Vic Kubu Warrior Field with a 21-14 win over a much-improved Manasquan team that gave the Eagles all they could handle.
Meanwhile, No. 2 Toms River North and its juggernaut offense found the end zone nine times and gained almost 500 yards in a 62-34 win over a Brick team that was ranked in the top five.
Even in the preseason, there were many coaches and media members who believed Toms River North was the best team in the Shore. Those rumbling are surely louder today, but now is not the time to make a change, especially since Middletown South and Toms River North will meet in Week 7. It wasn’t a pretty win for Middletown South this past weekend, but the Eagles found a way and still haven’t lost since 2014.
Also making its case for the top spot was No. 3 Manalapan, which went on the road and demolished state-ranked Old Bridge and FBS recruited quarterback Art Sitkowski, 41-0. Running back Naim Mayfield had another monster game and quarterback Luke Corcione continued his breakout season with a pair of touchdown passes. Old Bridge had defeated reigning Central Jersey Group V champion South Brunswick, 31-28, in the season-opener and stamped itself as a prime contender for the state title, but Manalapan made a huge statement with a dominating effort.
No. 4 St. John Vianney and No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven each cruised to shutout victories and remain on a collision course in Class A Central. Wall got a pair of special teams touchdowns from senior R.J. Janeczek to hold off Raritan, improve to 3-0 and move up one spot in the rankings. Red Bank Catholic lost its starting quarterback, but leaned on its running game to down Ocean and improve to 2-1. Freehold Township continues to put up points, but went down to the wire with Marlboro and standout running back Cameron Caorsi before holding on for a 42-36 win to improve to 3-0.
Central showed plenty of heart and determination in going into Jackson and edging the Jaguars, 14-13, one week after finding out they were disqualified from the NJSIAA playoffs and losing 41-6 to Wall. The Golden Eagles are undefeated in Class A South and on the brink of the top 10.
There are some huge nondivisional games that will certainly impact the rankings this week. One of the biggest games around the state is Rumson heading to “The Swamp” to meet Middletown South on Friday night. Also on Friday night, Brick looks to shake off its loss to Toms River North when it welcomes St. John Vianney to Keller Memorial Field.
Another interesting game is Freehold Township and Neptune in Class A North. The unbeaten Patriots haven’t started a season 4-0 since 1980, and after Neptune they have a pair of currently-winless opponents in Perth Amboy and Jackson Liberty. If Freehold Township can get past the Scarlet Fliers it sets them up for the biggest season in program history and nearly guarantees them a second straight playoff berth.
SHORE SPORTS NETWORK TOP 10
1. Middletown South (3-0). Last week: No. 1
The Eagles used a goal line stand in the final minute to hold off Manasquan, 21-14, and escape Vic Kubu Warrior Field with their 15th straight win. Sophomore running back Anthony Summey scored twice on the ground and produced his third straight 100-yard rushing effort, while senior quarterback Aneesh Agrawal also ran for a touchdown. Senior Will Gulick and junior Chris Patterson led the defensive effort, and also combined on the fourth-down stop at the 2-yard line that clinched the victory. Next game: The Eagles have a marquee nondivisional game against three-time defending state champion and fifth-ranked Rumson-Fair Haven (2-0) at home on Friday night.
2. Toms River North (3-0). Last week: No. 2
The Mariners’ offensive machine was on full display in a 62-34 Class A South victory over Brick. Senior quarterback Mike Husni ran for 204 yards and two two touchdowns and threw for 95 yards and a touchdown, and senior running back Parker Day ran for 142 yards and four touchdowns for a Toms River North team that put up 472 yards off offense and scored on nine of 11 possessions. Senior wide receiver Darrion Carrington caught a touchdown pass and returned a punt 65 yards for a score, and senior Bryce Watts had 85 yards from scrimmage. Next game: Toms River North travels to Howell (2-1) on Friday night in a nondivisional game where it will look to run its winning streak to 14 games.
3. Manalapan (3-0). Last week: No. 3
The Braves opened eyes around the state with a 41-0 thrashing of state-ranked Old Bridge in a battle of Central Jersey Group V state title favorites. Junior running back Naim Mayfield ran for 190 yards and three touchdowns and junior quarterback Luke Corcione threw for 207 yards and two scores. The Braves defense, led by sophomore linebacker Tommy Pearce and his 10 tackles, held Old Bridge quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who holds 15 FBS scholarship offers, to just 38 yards on 4-for-14 passing. Manalapan has outscored its opponents 131-12 over its first three games. Next game: The Braves travel to Freehold (0-3) on Saturday for a Class A North game.
4. St. John Vianney (3-0). Last week: No. 4
Quarterback Matt DeGennaro fired three touchdown passes, junior running back Johnny Buchanan had a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown and senior running back Chris Chukwuneke ran for over 100 yards for the third straight game in a 37-0 Class A Central victory over Red Bank. The Lancers earned their second shutout of the season and have outscored their opponents 109-14 while allowing just one offensive touchdown. Next game: St. John Vianney’s biggest test of the season comes on Friday night when it visits No. 8 Brick (2-1) in a nondivisional game.
5. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-0). Last week: No. 6
The Bulldogs returned from their bye week and picked up right where they left off with a 49-0 Class A Central victory over Holmdel. Senior quarterback Mike O’Connor threw two touchdown passes to senior Tyler Pierson and another to senior Trevor Caruso, and ran for another. Senior Matt Vecchiarelli, junior Peter Lucas and sophomore Alex Maldjian also ran for touchdowns and the defense recorded its second straight shutout. Rumson has outscored its opponents 90-0 in two games this season. Next game: Rumson takes aim at top-ranked Middletown South (3-0) in one of Week Four’s marquee games statewide, Friday night at “The Swamp”.
6. Wall (3-0). Last week: No. 7
Senior R.J. Janeczek spurred a comeback victory for the Crimson Knights over Raritan with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown. Junior quarterback Eddie Scott tossed a touchdown pass to senior Shane Larkin and junior running back Chevesee Covin added a 35-yard touchdown run. Wall is now 3-0 for the first time since 2013. Next game: The Crimson Knights resume their Class B North schedule on Friday night on the road at Long Branch where they will try for the program’s first 4-0 start since opening 7-0 in 2011.
7. Red Bank Catholic (2-1). Last week: No. 8
The Caseys regrouped after losing their starting quarterback to an injury and downed Ocean, 20-7, on the strength of a punishing running game. Junior quarterback Tom Lang went 9-for-12 for 128 yards and a touchdown and ran for another in the first half, but suffered a broken collarbone in the second quarter. Junior Nick Brusca, a converted running back, stepped in and the Caseys ran the ball at will over the final two quarters, with junior Zach Bair running for 175 yards and a touchdown to lead a 225-yard rushing effort. Next game: The Caseys host Colonia (1-2) in a nondivisional game on Friday night at Count Basie Park.
8. Brick (2-1). Last week: No. 5
The Dragons had no answer for Toms River North’s nuclear offense in a 62-34 Class A South loss to the No. 2 Mariners. The bright side for Brick was an offense that consistently moved the ball and found the end zone five times. Senior quarterback Anthony Costanza threw for 208 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a touchdown, senior John Prato caught six passes for 124 yards and a score, senior Ja’Sir Taylor ran for two touchdowns and sophomore Cole Groschel had over 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown run. Next game: Brick will look to bounce back, but will need to do so against a top-five opponent when No. 4 St. John Vianney (3-0) comes to Keller Memorial Field on Friday night.
9. Freehold Township (3-0). Last week: No. 10
The Patriots won a wild Class A North game against a vastly-improved Marlboro team, 42-36, thanks to three total touchdowns from senior quarterback Charles Sabbagh and a big game by senior Adrian Rybaltowski. Sabbagh, the Shore’s leading passer, completed 13 of 14 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for a score. Rybaltowski caught four passes for 98 yards and a touchdown and also returned a kickoff 67 yards for a touchdown. Senior running back Max Nowak scored twice on the ground. Next game: The Patriots haven’t started 4-0 since 1980, and will look to equal that mark in a Class A North game at Neptune (1-1) on Friday night.
10. Middletown North (2-1). Last week: not ranked
The Lions return to the top 10 after a 38-7 win over previously-undefeated Howell where senior Dwight Wilkerson had a career night with 280 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Wilkerson, who is usually a wide receiver but is filling in for injured starter Connor Welsh at running back, had a 93-yard touchdown run in first half. Senior quarterback Donald Glenn tossed a touchdown pass to senior Marc Cerbo and sophomore Connor Robbins also ran for a touchdown. Sophomore Joey Cavanagh connected on a 33-yard field goal. Senior linebacker Nick Kish had a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception as the Lions’ defense slowed down a Howell offense that entered averaging 38 points per game. Next game: The Lions have a bye in Week 4 and will return to action with a nonconference game on Oct. 7 at New Brunswick.
Dropped out: Jackson Memorial (1-2).
Teams to watch:
Mater Dei Prep (3-0): The Seraphs grabbed sole possession of first place in Class B Central with a 35-7 win over Keyport. Junior quarterback George Pearson had two touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns to lead the way. Next game: Mater Dei has a nonconference game at Highland Park (2-1) on Friday night.
Central (3-1): Senior running back Mike Bickford ran for 257 yards and two touchdowns as the Golden Eagles earned a crucial Class A South road victory, 14-13, over two-time defending Central Jersey Group IV champion Jackson Memorial. Next game: Central has a bye in Week 4 and will return to action on Oct. 7 in a Class A South game vs. Brick Memorial.
Manasquan (2-1): The Warriors went toe-to-toe with No. 1 Middletown South in a 21-14 loss, getting down to the 2-yard line with under a minute to play before ultimately being stopped on fourth down. Junior running back Connor Morgan ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Next game: Manasquan travels to Barnegat (2-1) on Friday night for a nondivisional game.
Lakewood (3-0): Junior quarterback Zyhier Jones threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for two touchdowns, while the Piners’ defense recorded its second shutout, in a 31-0 victory over Jackson Liberty. Next game: The Piners have a bye in Week 4 and will resume their season on Oct. 8 in a Class B South game at Lacey.
Point Boro (3-0): The Panthers remain perfect under first-year head coach Matt Cilento after a 34-14 win over Donovan Catholic. Junior fullback Tanner Gordon ran for 123 yard and two touchdowns and junior quarterback James Fara added 75 yards rushing and two scores. Next game: Point Boro travels to Monmouth Regional (2-2) for a nondivisional game on Saturday afternoon.
Football editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.