The Jeep Store Shore Sports Network Football Top 10 for Nov. 16
It's Nov. 16, there are just three Shore Conference teams remaining in the state playoffs, and most of the Jeep Store Top 10 is set. But the most important position is going to come down to the wire.
Red Bank Catholic has been the No. 1 team in the Shore Conference since the preseason and the Caseys will stay in that spot this week after a 62-7 bombardment of Gloucester Catholic in the Non-Public B quarterfinals, but the gap between them and No. 2 Toms River North is razor thin.
It is not because of anything the Caseys haven't done, it's more about how dominant Toms River North continues to be. RBC has one loss on the season, 17-0 to Seton Hall Prep in Week 5. It was a loss that didn't look great after Seton Hall lost its next four games to stumble into the playoffs, but the Pirates rebounded with a win over Pope John in the first round of the playoffs and last week upset St. Joseph (Montvale) to advance to the Non-Public A semifinals.
Toms River North, meanwhile, delivered an emphatic 48-14 victory over Kingsway to win the South Jersey Group 5 sectional title. The Mariners are now 12-0 and their 590 points scored are the most in a single season in Shore Conference history. They are averaging just under 50 points a game and allowing 7.8 points per game.
What separates RBC is its strength of schedule, which includes American Division rivals Middletown South, Donovan Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven, Manalapan, and Wall. Every team but Wall made the playoffs, and the Knights even had enough power points to qualify but were not eligible due to having only one win at the cutoff. Rumson won a sectional title, Middletown South reached a sectional final, Donovan won a Non-Public A playoff game before running into Bergen Catholic, and Manalapan is probably the best 3-7 team in New Jersey.
Toms River North can only play who is on its schedule, but the Colonial Division was clearly not as strong, although it did feature five playoff teams. Toms River North's best wins are its victories over Kingsway and over Rumson in Week 1 (40-27).
Red Bank Catholic and Toms River North are both great teams that could be holding state championship trophies in the near future, so if both win out, those of us who put together the various team rankings around the Shore will have a huge decision to make in the coming weeks.
Here is the Jeep Store Top 10 heading into the state semifinals.
1. Red Bank Catholic (9-1). Last week: No. 1
Senior running back Sabino Portella ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries and sophomore quarterback Frankie Williams completed 8 of 9 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown as the Caseys rolled to a 62-7 win over Gloucester Catholic in the Non-Public B quarterfinals. Junior wideout Emanuel Ross caught a 13-yard touchdown pass and Torin Harmon, Jamie Gutridge, and Devin Mancuso also ran for touchdowns. Senior linebacker Michael Palmieri returned a fumble for a touchdown, and Collin Earnest and Stephen Myers each had interceptions. Next game: Friday vs. Holy Spirit (8-1, No. 13 in NJ) in the Non-Public B semifinals.
2. Toms River North (12-0). Last week: No. 2
Junior quarterback Micah Ford ran for 264 yards and three touchdowns and junior running back Josh Moore ran for 226 yards and two touchdowns as the Mariners overpowered Kingsway and earned payback with a 48-14 victory in the South Jersey Group 5 title game. Toms River North's offensive line bulldozed Kingsway's defense all night, paving the way for the Mariners to rush for an astounding 511 yards and five touchdowns on an average of 10.4 yards per carry. Ford also returned an interception for a touchdown and junior defensive back Tareq Council made the play of the game with a 90-yard pick-6 late in the first half. The Mariners have a chance to make history this weekend as the first Shore Conference team to win more than 12 games in a season. Next game: Saturday vs. Edison (9-3) at Cherokee HS in the Group 5 semifinals.
3. Middletown South (8-2). Last week: No. 3
The Eagles were defeated in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional final by Mainland, 34-24, to halt their quest for the program's 11th sectional championship. Junior Colin Gallagher ran for 117 yards and a touchdown and made 11 tackles and junior quarterback Jake Czwakiel ran for 142 yards and a touchdown, completed 12 of 26 passes for 143 yards, and kicked a 20-yard field goal. The Eagles have this week off before closing out their season with their annual Thanksgiving game vs. Middletown North. Next Game: Thanksgiving vs. Middletown North (3-5).
4. Donovan Catholic (6-4). Last week: No. 4
Freshman running back Najee Calhoun ran for 189 yards on 18 carries and scored an 83-yard touchdown run but the Griffins were defeated by Bergen Catholic, 41-7, in the Non-Public A quarterfinals. Next game: Season complete.
5. Point Boro (9-1). Last week: No. 5
The Panthers won the Independence Division title and averaged 42.1 points per game before falling to Willingboro in the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals on Nov. 4. The Panthers rushed for 3,041 yards and 60 touchdowns on an average of 9.3 yards per carry. Junior running back Jake Croce ran for 1,042 yards and 17 touchdowns, junior quarterback Matt Oliphant ran for 970 yards and 19 touchdowns, and senior running back Connor Cilento ran for 644 yards and nine touchdowns to lead the way. Next game: Season complete.
6. Ocean (8-1). Last week: No. 6
The Spartans were undefeated during the regular season but were eliminated in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 3 playoffs. Senior quarterback Tyler Douglas, who is verbally committed to Temple University, did not play in the playoff game due to an injury. Douglas finished a phenomenal senior season with 1,257 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and one interception and 1,031 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on an average of 10.3 yards per carry. Senior CJ Flannigan totaled eight touchdowns and senior wide receiver Mateo Andrews caught 20 passes for 572 yards and seven touchdowns. Next game: Season complete.
7. Rumson-Fair Haven (6-4). Last week: No. 8
The Bulldogs rallied from a 17-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to stun Raritan, 34-27 in double overtime, and win the South Jersey Group 2 sectional title. Sophomore quarterback Owen O'Toole completed 22 of 39 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead 19-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Scott Venancio in double overtime. He also tossed a 4-yard scoring pass to Venancio to start the fourth quarter and connected with senior Cole Cashion on a 60-yard touchdown pass, also in the fourth quarter. Alastair Orr ran for 91 yards and a touchdown and Oliver Lorraine kicked two field goals, including a 26-yard field goal late in regulation that tied the game at 27 and forced overtime. The sectional title is Rumson's seventh and first since 2018. Next game: Sunday vs. Willingboro (6-5) at Cherokee HS in the Group 2 semifinals.
8. Raritan (8-3). Last week: No. 7
Senior running back Kieran Falzon ran for a career-high 325 yards and three touchdowns but Rumson-Fair Haven rallied from a three-score deficit to stun the Rockets, 34-27 in double overtime, in the South Jersey Group 2 sectional final. Falzon had touchdown runs of 68, 2, and 70 yards and Logan Goldsberry threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Matt Agar. Next game: Season complete
9. Jackson Memorial (7-3). Last week: No. 9
The Jaguars were eliminated from the playoffs via a 34-16 loss to Millville in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals. The Jaguars shared the Constitution Division championship with Colts Neck and own a ranked win over No. 10 Marlboro along with victories over playoff teams Freehold Township and Manalapan. Next game: Season complete.
10. Marlboro (6-4). Last week: No. 10
The Mustangs had their best season in over two decades by qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and winning their first playoff gams since 1994. They also showed tremendous resiliency after senior quarterback AJ Schwartz was injured for the season in Week 4 and standout junior running back Matt Cassidy was injured in the first round of the playoffs (a game Marlboro rallied to win, 21-17 over Washington Township). Marlboro was third in the Constitution Division behind Colts Neck and Jackson but beat Colts Neck late in the season after beating Manalapan for the first time in 28 years the week prior. Next game: Season complete