It is only Week 2, but it may already be decision week in Shore Conference Class A Central.
“It’s a long season. I don’t think one week will make or break you,” said Rumson-Fair Haven coach Shane Fallon.
Rumson-Fair Haven, the defending divisional champion, will participate in one of the two monster games taking place in the division tonight when it plays at up-and-coming St. John Vianney.
Rumson-Fair Haven (1-0), is ranked No. 8 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10. St. John Vianney (1-0) could break into the poll for the first time in several seasons with a win.
“It’s a big game for our program. I’m not going to pretend it’s not,” said St. John Vianney coach Andy Carlstrom.
The other key game in the division will take place at Count Basie Field, Red Bank, when Red Bank Catholic will host Manasquan. Red Bank Catholic (1-0), ranked No. 1 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, is new to the division after winning at least a share of the Class B North championship the last two seasons. Unranked Manasquan (0-1) is new to the division after competing in the now defunct Class C Central the last two seasons.
“The easy answer is, yes (tonight is critical night in the division), but you play six divisional games and no games are going to be easy,” said Red Bank Catholic coach Jim Portela. “We’re excited and looking forward to the division schedule.”
The two Class A Central games are far from the only key games this weekend.
Asbury Park (1-0, 1-0) will play at Shore (0-1) tonight in a game that will have a major say in determining the course the Class B Central race will take. The winner of this game has won the divisional championship the last two seasons.
Lacey (1-0) will play its first game as a member of Class A South when it hosts No. 10 Toms River North (1-0) on Saturday. The winner will establish itself as one of the main contenders in a Class A South that appears to be extremely balanced.
Ocean is forfeiting its scheduled home game with Neptune because it has six confirmed cases of impetigo amongst the varsity and junior varsity programs, Ocean Superintendent of Schools John Lysko said on Thursday,
The Rumson-Fair Haven at St. John Vianney game is the Asbury Park Press Game of the Week with video highlights to be posted on APP.com late Friday night. The Toms River South at Southern Class A South game will be broadcast live on 105.7 FM tonight beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45.
St. John Vianney, which went 5-5 last season for its first non-losing season and has won five straight games dating back to last season, will be beginning a three-game stretch that will likely make or break its season. The Lancers are at Red Bank Catholic next week and host Manasquan the following week.
“We’ll know where we stand as a team by our bye week,” said Carlstrom, who is in his second season at St. John Vianney and coached at Holmdel from 2006-2008.
The Lancers are vastly-different club from the one the Bulldogs pounded 37-0 last season in Week 2. That game was St. John Vianney’s opener, and the Lancers were running the triple option out of the flexbone alignment. They are now running the spread and are primarily a throwing team first.
“Our game film from last year is basically useless,” Fallon said.
The Lancers pounded Monsignor Donovan, 40-0, in their opener. Junior quarterback Billy DeMato, a transfer from Bishop Ahr completed his first six passes for 168 yards and two TDs and wound up throwing for 238 yards. Junior receiver Steven Grosso had seven receptions for 130 yards and a TD and speedster and NCAA Division IA recruit Ishmael Hyman had three receptions for 107 yards and a TD.
“Let’s face it: When you have the best athlete on the field in Ishmael Hyman, you cause matchup problems,” Fallon said. “The quarterback is a kid with experience (DeMato started 16 games at Bishop Ahr) who is capable of tucking the ball and running with it, and they also cause size problems.”
Rumson-Fair Haven will be trying to take major strides as a team after it rallied from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Shore, 13-10, in overtime last week.
The Bulldogs’ offense will have to compensate for the loss of senior running back Conor Walsh, who suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament to his knee in the fourth quarter last week after he ran for 141 yards. Senior Travis Clark, one of the Shore’s best linebackers, will get the bulk of the carries in Walsh’s place.
Meanwhile, Red Bank Catholic, which trounced Red Bank, 47-0, in its opener, could be without junior running back Larry Redaeli, who sprained his ankle last week. Portela said Redaeli is day-to-day and that the injury is not major. Sophomore Mike Cordova and senior Jesse Flaherty are more than capable replacements. Those two combined for 168 yards and two TDs, both by Cordova last week.
Manasquan, which lost 18-13 to Long Branch last week, made major personnel changes for that game. The Warriors’ coaching staff moved senior wide receiver Connor Grogan, one of the Shore’s best receivers, to quarterback, moved junior Joe Fittin to tailback and junior Joe Murphy to fullback. The Warriors were able to move the ball effectively on the ground.
For scores tonight and Saturday, go to APP.com or call 1-800-822-9770 extension 4470 after 11 tonight and 6 p.m. Saturday.