The season is young, but already some teams that had high expectations are up against it.
Defending NJSIAA Central Group III champion Matawan Regional will play Friday night at last year’s Central Group II champion Rumson-Fair Haven needing to win to stay in the Shore Conference Class A Central race.
Central, which shared the Class B South championship last year with Barnegat, needs to win Friday night at home against Barnegat in the Asbury Park Press Red Zone Game of the Week to remain in the Class B South race.
Video highlights of that game will be available on app.com Saturday morning.
Brick Memorial finds itself in a must-win situation Friday night when it hosts a talented Toms River North team in a Shore Conference Class A South game.
The following are four things to look for in Week 2.
1. What is the status of quarterbacks Eddie Hahn of Red Bank Catholic, George Pearson of Matawan and Matt Cluley of Wall?
Hahn, who tore his meniscus on Aug. 18 in a scrimmage at Montclair and underwent surgery on Aug. 20, has practiced this week with a brace on, Red Bank Catholic coach Jim Portela said. His status for Friday night’s home game against St. Joseph (Metuchen) was to be determined Thursday, Portela said.
“He’s getting better every day,” Portela said.
Hahn did warm up before the Caseys’ 28-0 season-opening win at Long Branch, but did not play.
Pearson, who helped Matawan win the Central III championship last year after he became the starter in the third game of the season, is still sidelined indefinitely with a hip injury, Matawan coach John Kaye said.
Junior Jake Burlew will continue to take Pearson’s place, Kaye said.
Cluley is out indefinitely with a dislocated right elbow he sustained in the first quarter of the Crimson Knights’ 20-7 loss to Red Bank while doctors await the results of the MRI he underwent earlier this week, Wall coach Dan Curcione said.
Things do not get any easier for Wall. It plays at Ocean, ranked No. 8 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10 and come-from-behind 34-28 winner at Neptune last week, Friday night.
2. Is Matawan as short-handed as it was last week when it was without several key starters in its 30-21 loss to St. John Vianney?
Yes. Senior two-way lineman Dylan Massiah is out for the season with a torn ACL, Kaye said. Senior offensive lineman and junior linebacker/running back Derrick Wiley are still sidelined with knee injuries, Kaye said.
“We’ve gotten a couple of bad breaks, but our mantra is next man up,” Kaye said.
Matawan could be looking at being 0-2 for the second straight season. Last season, it was able to insert Pearson after losses to St. John Vianney and Rumson-Fair Haven by a combined 62-20. It then went 8-2 the rest of the way.
However, for Matawan to duplicate its late run of last season, it must get some of the walking wounded back, especially Pearson.
3. Can history repeat itself for both Central and Brick Memorial?
Both teams are in the same situation they were in last season.
Central (1-1, 0-1), which was defeated 40-34 by Lakewood last week, also lost to Lakewood last year before it played at Barnegat, then the solid favorite to win the Class B South championship.
The Golden Eagles, behind two fourth quarter touchdowns from tailback Mike Bickford, rallied to record a 21-15 win. They went 7-2 the rest of the way and did not lose a divisional game after that.
Brick Memorial, which was defeated, 36-6 at Brick last week, went to Toms River North last year after it was drilled 42-0 by Brick on opening day. It rallied to beat the Mariners, 16-14, on a 40-yard field goal by Matt Cuppari with 5.2 seconds left. That win set the Mustangs on their way to a NJSIAA South Group V playoff berth. It was also the coming out party for quarterback Tim Santiago, who had just become the Mustangs’ starting quarterback.
4. Who among Middletown South, Jackson Memorial, Red Bank Catholic, St. John Vianney and Manalapan — the top five teams in the Asbury Park Press Top 10 — will receive the stiffest test this week?
The Eagles, who scored the final 38 points to rally for a 41-21 win at talented South Brunswick last week, host Neptune. The Scarlet Fliers led Ocean 28-20 in the fourth quarter before Ocean’s talented senior tailback Tyler Thompson, in his first game since he recovered from a broken leg sustained last Oct. 31 against Red Bank Catholic, scored on runs of 70 and 14 yards to put his team ahead. Neptune was then on the 8-yard line in the final minute before a fumble on a sack denied it chance to win the game.
Jackson Memorial, a 41-0 winner over Jackson Liberty, Red Bank Catholic, St. John Vianney and Manalapan are all playing teams who lost last week and figure to struggle.
Week 2 Notes
- There are seven games this week where Shore Conference teams will play teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference.
- Five of those games involve teams from Class B Central.
- The Shore Conference went 2-0 against the GMC last week, with Middletown North’s win over Perth Amboy accounting for the other.
- The annual round-robin among the three Toms River Regional schools begins this week when Toms River South (1-0) plays at Toms River East (0-1). Toms River East leads the series, 20-15, but Toms River South has won the last three seasons by a combined 115-12.
- Toms River South plays at Toms River North next week in the 44th renewal of that great rivalry and Toms River East hosts Toms River North on Oct. 16.
- Lakewood will host Pinelands at 7 p.m. Saturday night in its first home night game in several seasons.
- There are four Class A South games, four Class B South games, three Class A North games, three Class A Central games and two Class B North games on this week’s schedule.
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; email@example.com
Don’t miss a thing
Download our apps and get alerts for local news, weather, traffic and more. Search “Asbury Park Press” in your app store or use these links from your device: iPhone app | Android app for phone and tablet | iPad app
Don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook!