It appears now two teams have separated themselves from the rest of the Shore Conference after a revealing weekend of games.
Red Bank Catholic, cemented its status at the top of the Asbury Park Press Top 10 after an impressive 34-7 win over then-No. 4 Middletown South at “The Swamp” in Middletown.
The Caseys, who have won 21 straight over Shore Conference opposition, dating back to a 26-25 overtime loss at Freehold on Oct. 9, 2010, have now been ranked No. 1 for 23 straight Top 10s since the start of the 2011 season.
Manalapan also took a step toward separating itself from the rest of the pack with a resounding 42-7 win over a Toms River North team that was ranked No. 4 two weeks ago. The Braves needed to rally in the fourth quarter to defeat the Mariners each of the past two seasons.
It is going to be an interesting week for scholastic football teams. The cutoff for the NJSIAA playoffs is scheduled to be Saturday. However, with Hurricane Sandy battering the Northeast early this week, teams will likely not be able to practice a good part of the week.
There is a chance games scheduled for Friday and Saturday could be pushed back because of the fallout from the storm, like loss of power in certain areas.
NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko said Saturday night that discussions will take place early this week on whether the beginning of the playoffs will have to be pushed back, if the weather dictates that.
Teams qualify for the playoffs based on their results through eight games. Some teams have eight games. Others have played seven.
The top eight teams with .500 or better records in the power points in each section will qualify. If there are sections where there are not eight teams with .500 or better records, sub-.500 teams will be placed into the playoffs to make an eight-team bracket. Those sub-.500 teams will be placed in based on power points.
1. RED BANK CATHOLIC (7-0): Last week: No. 1. Larry Redaelli ran for 121 yards and two TDs, Chris Whitlock scored on a 47-yard reverse and Pat Toomey and Jesse Flaherty had TD runs as the Caseys rolled to a 34-7 win over Middletown South. Next game: Friday vs. Monmouth (1-6).
2. MANALAPAN (7-0): Last week: No. 2. Anthony Firkser had two 65 yard punt returns for TDs and also scored on a 52-yard pass from Mike Isabella and Tyler Leonetti ran for 129 yards and two TDs as the Braves rolled to a 42-7 win over Toms River North. Next game: Friday vs. Howell (0-7).
3. LACEY (8-0): Last week: No. 3. Call it “The Miracle at Keller Memorial Field.” The Lions pulled out a dramatic 6-3 win over Brick at Brick when Conor Davies connected with Bill Belford with a 58-yard TD pass on the final play of the game. The win enabled Lacey to clinch outright possession of the Class A South championship in its first season in the division. Lacey drove 86 yards in the final 30 seconds. It had gained possession when it stopped Brick after the Green Dragons had second-and-1. Next game: Friday at Brick Memorial (5-3).
4. LONG BRANCH (7-1): Last week: No. 5. Sophomore Vicente Mota booted a career-long 35-yard field goal with 4.9 seconds remaining to give the Green Wave a 24-21 win over Matawan. The win kept the Green Wave in line to earn at least a share of the Shore Conference B North championship with a win over Red Bank on Thanksgiving Day. Deon Williams had two TDs, one on an 82-yard pass play from quarterback Avry Griffin. Next game: NJSIAA playoffs.
5. RUMSON-FAIR HAVEN (7-0): Last week: No. 6. Senior quarterback Danny Roberto threw four TD passes, two to John Ryan, as the Bulldogs defeated Monmouth Regional 31-14. Roberto had just five completions in the game, but wound up with 177 yards passing. A game against a tradition-rich opponent who will need to win the game to qualify for the playoffs is up next. Next game: Saturday at Manasquan (3-4).
6. POINT BEACH (8-0): Last week: No. 7. The Garnet Gulls continued to impress with a resounding 42-14 win over Keyport. Point Beach throughly dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage. It rushed for 365 yards and sacked Keyport quarterback Alex Thomson five times. Danny Tighe ran for 179 yards and two TDs, including one on an 80 yard run. Andre Cochran for two TDs and Kyle Samaritano had a TD run. Next game: NJSIAA playoffs.
7. COLTS NECK (6-1): Last week: No. 8. Tim Vangelas ran for a TD and scored on a pass from quarterback Mike Campbell and Gio Zefferino had TD runs of 6 and 5 yards as the Cougars rebounded from their loss to Manalapan on Oct. 20 with a 34-0 win over Freehold Township. An intriguing game against an opponent licking its wounds is up next. Next
game: Saturday vs. No. 8 Middletown South (5-2).
8. MIDDLETOWN SOUTH (5-2): Last week: No. 4. Jake Ripnick’s 2-yard TD run in the first quarter gave the Eagles the lead, but No. 1 Red Bank Catholic scored the game’s final 34 points and recorded a 34-7 win. A tough game against an opponent who has impressed is up next. Next game: Saturday at No. 7 Colts Neck (6-1).
9. SOUTHERN (5-2): Last week: No. 9. Abe Gonzalez ran for 171 yards and two TDs and Grant Bissey also ran for a TD as the Rams defeated Jackson Memorial, 20-7, and improved their chances of earning a home game in the NJSIAA South Group V. Next game: Friday vs. Toms River East (1-6).
10. SHORE (6-1): Last week: No. 10. Mark Costantino’s 75-yard kickoff return for a TD late in the third quarter broke open a close game as the Blue Devils defeated Keansburg, 35-18, to take another step toward earning a home game in the first round of the Central Group I playoffs and setting up a showdown with Point Beach for the Class B Central championship. Kevin Mascia ran for two TDs and Jack Kelly ran for 108 yards and a TD. Next game: Saturday at Keyport (6-2).