Red Bank Catholic tops APP high school football preseason Top 10

Red Bank Catholic tops APP high school football preseason Top 10

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Red Bank Catholic tops APP high school football preseason Top 10

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Last year’s final record in parentheses

1. RED BANK CATHOLIC (10-1). Last year’s final ranking: No.1. The Caseys will be tough for any Shore Conference team on their schedule to deal with because of their size, led by Notre Dame-bound two-way lineman Quenton Nelson. They also return two excellent running backs in Larry Readell and Mike Cordova. First game: Tonight vs. Red Bank (4-6).

2. MANALAPAN (11-1): Last year’s final ranking No. 2. The Braves have one of the state’s top recruits in Rutgers-bound receiver Saeed Blacknall. He is capable of changing a game on both sides of the ball and in the return game. Manalapan also returns a 1,300-yard plus running Tyler Leonetti. The Braves also return 10 starters on defense. First game: Tonight vs. Jackson Memorial (3-7).

3. LACEY (10-1): Last year’s final ranking: No. 3. The Lions have perhaps the best quarterback tandem in the conference in senior Tom Kelly and junior Conor Davies. They also have a terrific all-around player in senior wide receiver/defensive back Christian Tutela. First game: Saturday vs. Pinelands (0-9).

4. MIDDLETOWN SOUTH (8-4): Last year’s final ranking: No. 6. Senior quarterback Kyle Brey showed in the Eagles’ run to the NJSIAA Central Group IV championship game last year he is a playmaker. Middletown South should also be better defensively because many players gained experience last year while starting as either sophomores or freshmen. First game: Sept. 20 vs. Brick (3-7).

5. NEPTUNE (9-3): Last year’s final ranking: No. 5. This is more a ranking out of respect for the talent level that is always at Neptune and for coach Mark Ciccotelli’s ability to mold his players on offense into a cohesive unit that is tough to defend. Senior Shakeem Richardson takes over as the quarterback. He has large shoes to fill, considering the last two Neptune quarterbacks have been the Asbury Park Press’ Offensive Player of the Year. First game: Tonight at Raritan (0-10).

6. BRICK MEMORIAL (5-5): Last year’s final ranking: Not ranked. The Mustangs, who lost their final five games last season after a 5-0 start that saw them rise to No. 2, have, arguably, the Shore’s best all-around player in senior slotback/safety Mike Basile. Senior Joe Hans has moved from wide receiver to quarterback and appears to have handled the switch without a hitch. First game: Saturday vs. Brick (3-7).

7. RUMSON-FAIR HAVEN (7-3): Last year’s final ranking: Not ranked. Bryan Batchler, an assistant coach at Rumson the last eight seasons, takes over for Shane Fallon, who resigned in January to pursue his masters degree. Rumson should have one of the best defenses in the Shore as nine starters return, although one of them, senior middle linebacker J.T. Jennings will be sidelined for at least the first three games with a broken foot. First game: Tonight at Shore (9-3).

8. SOUTHERN (9-3): Last year’s final ranking: No. 4. Southern now appears to be a program that reloads, rather than rebuilds. That theory will be put to the test this year as the Rams graduated their starting quarterback, running back and most of their offensive line. However, senior receiver Mike Gesicki, one of the state’s top recruits, creates matchup nightmares for any opponent. First game: Tonight vs. Freehold Township (4-6).

9. TOMS RIVER SOUTH (4-6): Last year’s final ranking: Not ranked. It has been 10 years since this program was ranked. It has also been that long since the Indians had a winning season. However, with junior quarterback Tymere Berry and senior running back Otis Kearney, Toms River South could have the Shore’s most potentially explosive backfield. First game: Friday at Central (3-6).

10. OCEAN (5-4-1): Last year’s final ranking: Not ranked. It has been four years since this program was ranked, but the Spartans, with talented sophomore tailback Tyler Thompson and junior Royal Moore, who seemingly has made a smooth transition from receiver to quarterback, have big-play ability. They also return seven starters on defense. First game: Tonight vs. Manchester (1-8).

Also under consideration were: Colts Neck, Long Branch, Brick, Manasquan, St. John Vianney, Barnegat, Monsignor Donovan.

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