One thing has become abundantly clear after the first three weeks of the season: Shore Conference Class A South is going to produce a revolving door when it comes to which of its teams is going to be ranked in the Asbury Park Press Top 10 on a weekly basis.
Toms River North is the perfect example of the Class A South revolving door. Two weeks ago, the Mariners moved into the rankings at No. 10 after an impressive season-opening 35-7 win over Howell.
Last week, Toms River North dropped out of the poll after a 37-20 loss at Lacey in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
This week, Toms River North moves back into the rankings at No. 10 after a hard-fought and dramatic 17-14 win at last week’s No. 7 team, Southern.
Southern, which had been the preseason favorite to win the division and is the defending divisional champion, drops out of the rankings this week, but the Rams will have their chances to move back into the rankings as the Class A South door revolves.
Other Class A South teams in the poll this week are Brick Memorial at No. 8 and Lacey at No. 9.
Southern’s loss enabled Rumson-Fair Haven, Brick Memorial and Lacey to all move up a spot this week. Middletown South and Long Branch switched places after Long Branch was defeated by No. 2 Neptune on Saturday.
There is an excellent chance for movement in the upper part of the poll this week as No.2-5 ranked teams will play each other. Second-ranked Neptune is at No. 4 Matawan and No. 3 Manalapan is at No. 5 Middletown South.
1. Red Bank Catholic (3-0) Last week: No. 1. James Taylor returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, Chris Whitlock returned an interception 84 yards for a score and Pat Toomey kicked a field goal and threw for a TD as the Caseys defeated St. John Vianney, 45-14, to make it 17 straight wins against Shore Conference teams. Next game: Friday at Raritan (0-3).
2. Neptune (3-0)
Last week: No. 2. Kyle Lewis and Myles Martin returned interceptions 37 and 58 yards for TDs and Keyshawn Rice set up the game’s first TD with an 87-yard kickoff return of the opening kickoff and scored on a 9-yard run as the Scarlet Fliers defeated last week’s No. 5 team Long Branch, 27-14. Another game against a team with outstanding skill-position talent is next. Next game: Friday vs. No. 4 Matawan (3-0).
3. Manalapan (3-0)
Last week: No. 3. Junior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall had three receiving TDs in the first half and then returned the second half kickoff 99 yards for a TD as the Braves defeated Middletown North, 35-6. The game that will go a long way toward deciding the Class A North championship is next. Next game: Friday at No. 5. Middletown South (2-0).
4. Matawan (3-0)
Last week: No.4. John Alston scored on a 30-yard run and caught a 14-yard TD pass from Kashaun Barnes. Barnes scored on a 9-yard run and Mike Creamer booted field goals of 32 and 38 yards as the Huskies scored the final 27 points of the game in a 27-13 win over Ocean. Matawan faces a tough task this week against a team loaded with skill-position talent. Next game: Friday vs. No. 2 Neptune (3-0).
5. Middletown South (2-0)
Last week: No. 6. Senior running back Jake Ripnick ran for 157 yards and two TDs, and Eli Smith returned an interception 55 yards for a TD and scored on a 2-yard run as the Eagles defeated Howell, 35-7. Next is a game with an opponent it has lost to the last two seasons. Next game: Friday vs. No. 3 Manalapan (3-0).
6. Long Branch (2-1) Last week: No. 5. A poor start doomed the Green Wave in a 27-14 loss at No. 2 Neptune. The Scarlet Fliers scored two TDs 18 seconds apart in the first 1:13 and three TDs in the first 6:30. Deon Williams scored on a 8-yard run and Joscil Jackson had a 63-yard TD run for Long Branch. Next game: Friday at Wall (1-2).
7. Rumson-Fair Haven (3-0)
Last week: No. 8. Danny Roberto threw for 177 yards with two TD passes to John Ryan and another to Henry Rosenberg and Charlie Volker scored on an 8-yard run as the Bulldogs scored the final 27 points and defeated previously unscored-upon Holmdel, 27-6. The Battle of Ridge Road is next. Next game: Friday vs. Red Bank (0-2) at Count Basie Field, Red Bank.
8. Brick Memorial (3-0)
Last week: No. 9. It was the Mike Basile show for the second week as the Mustangs defeated Jackson Memorial, 34-7. Basile had four TDs — three on passes of 13, 28 and 77 yards from quarterback Ryan Cieplinski — He also scored on a 13-yard run and had three sacks. He has nine TDs in the last two games and 10 on the season. Next game: Friday vs. Toms River East (0-3).
9. Lacey (3-0)
Last week: No. 10. Tom Kelly’s 2-yard TD run in the third quarter put the Lions ahead for good and senior running back Kyle Spatz ran for 204 yards and three TDs as Lacey defeated Toms River East 42-14. The Lions scored the game’s final 28 points. Next game: Saturday vs. Toms River South (1-2).
10. Toms River North (2-1)
Last week: Not ranked. Chris Gulla’s 45-yard field goal with 2:35 remaining put the Mariners right back in the Shore Conference Class A South race as they defeated last week’s No. 7 team, Southern, 17-14. Special teams were a big part of the story for Toms River North. Gulla set up Joey Field’s 37-yard punt return for a TD with a 41-yard punt to the Southern 1. Next game: Friday vs. Jackson Memorial (1-2).