Shore Conference Football: Some season-ending awards

Shore Conference Football: Some season-ending awards

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Shore Conference Football: Some season-ending awards

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Red Bank Regional quarterback Jack Navitsky holds a flag as the National Anthem plays prior to game against Red Bank Catholic. Red Bank Catholic vs Red Bank Regional Football on October 16, 2015 in Red Bank.

Red Bank Regional quarterback Jack Navitsky holds a flag as the National Anthem plays prior to game against Red Bank Catholic. Red Bank Catholic vs Red Bank Regional Football on October 16, 2015 in Red Bank.

Thirty four of the Shore Conference’s 43 scholastic football teams have concluded their season.

We feel this is the time to hand out some season-ending awards. We will not pick the best team, the offensive, defensive players and coach of the year because those could still be determined by what happens Saturday when a record nine Shore Conference teams compete for NJSIAA sectional championships.

SURPRISE TEAM

Has to be Red Bank Regional.

The Bucs, who had not had a winning season since 2003, have had a magical season. They are 11-0 heading into the Central Group III championship game Saturday night at Rutgers University’s High Point Solutions Stadium against Rumson-Fair Haven.

Red Bank, with a senior dominated team – many of whom played two seasons ago when they were sophomores and persevered through a 1-9 season – have been efficient on offense and very good on defense and on special teams.

The Bucs are athletic and physical and have an outstanding team chemistry.

PROGRAM ON THE RISE

Freehold Township.

The Patriots concluded their first season under head coach Cory Davies – the former Howell High School head coach – by qualifying for the Central Group V playoffs. It was Freehold Township’s first playoff berth since 2001 and just the second in its history.

Freehold Township’s players appeared to grasp the spread Texas Tech-style offense that Davies had a lot of success with at Howell. That offense, when operating well, gives opposing defenses fits.

Ocean's Tyler Thompson (8) carries the ball against Red Bank earlier this season.

Ocean’s Tyler Thompson (8) carries the ball against Red Bank earlier this season.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Ocean senior running back Tyler Thompson had an outstanding all-around season after his junior season concluded with a broken leg sustained against Red Bank Catholic on Oct. 31, 2014.

Thompson ran for more than 1,500 yards and helped the Spartans go 9-2 and advance to the semifinals of the Central Group III playoffs, where they were defeated by Red Bank. Ocean’s only two losses were to Red Bank.

Thompson concluded his season by running for 195 yards and three touchdowns and scored another TD on a 63-yard pass from Kenny Pickett.

St. John Vianney's Calvin Beaty runs for yardage during a win over Red Bank Catholic.

St. John Vianney’s Calvin Beaty runs for yardage during a win over Red Bank Catholic.

MOST IMPRESSIVE GAME PERFORMANCE BY A TEAM

We will go with the last two games we have seen. St. John Vianney-Red Bank Catholic and Middletown South-Middletown North.

St. John Vianney, in its 49-6 win over Red Bank Catholic in a Non-Public Group III semifinal on Nov. 20, was breathtaking on both sides of the ball.
Against Red Bank Catholic, the Lancers showed off their versatility and tremendous talent and athletic ability on both sides of the ball. To quote my colleague Steve Edelson, it is hard to remember a team in the history of the Shore Conference that has had as many playmakers as St. John Vianney, and that goes for both sides of the ball because many of St. John Vianney’s players play on both sides of the ball.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, Middletown South put together about as good a first half as we have seen in our 29 years of covering Shore Conference football. The Eagles were suffocating on defense in building a 39-0 lead over Middletown North and opportunistic on defense.
Both St. John Vianney, against Red Bank Catholic, and Middletown South against Middletown North on Thanksgiving Day looked like teams on a mission.

Shore Regional's Doug Goldsmith had a huge game on Thanksgiving.

Shore Regional’s Doug Goldsmith had a huge game on Thanksgiving.

MOST IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE BY A PLAYER IN A GAME

How about the game Shore Regional senior linebacker/running back Doug Goldsmith had on Thanksgiving Day in the 11-0 Blue Devils’ 20-14 win over Rumson-Fair Haven.

Goldsmith was in on 24 tackles, forced and recovered a fumble on the same play, had 1 ½ sacks, recovered an onside kick and ran for 105 yards on 21 carries.

That is as good as an all-around game as a player can have.

Brick and Jackson Memorial played a 2-0 game in horrible conditions.

Brick and Jackson Memorial played a 2-0 game in horrible conditions.

MOST UNUSUAL GAMES

Brick 2, Jackson Memorial 0 on Oct. 2 and Toms River South 2, Lacey 0 on Oct. 3.

The Brick-Jackson Memorial game was played in horrendous conditions as a nor-easter turned Brick’s fabled Keller Memorial Field into a quagmire. The only points came when a punt snap sailed over the punter’s head and out of the end zone midway in the first quarter.

The Toms River South-Lacey game was played amidst a constant mist and driving rain. The only points came when a ball-carrier was tackled in the end zone midway in the fourth quarter.

We had never seen a 2-0 game before. We saw two in about 20 hours.

Red Bank's Jack Navitsky breaks away and scores the go-ahead touchdown against Red Bank Catholic earlier this season.

Red Bank’s Jack Navitsky breaks away and scores the go-ahead touchdown against Red Bank Catholic earlier this season.

BEST GAME

Red Bank’s 24-21 win over Red Bank Catholic on Oct. 16 was everything high school football is supposed to be about.

There was an overflowed crowd at Red Bank Regional that was lined 4 to 5 deep along the fences on both sides.

It was a passionate yet respectful rivalry and it was a very entertaining game that Red Bank pulled out on a 57-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Jack Navitsky on a first-and-27 play with 6:04 remaining.

The win showed that Red Bank, which was 5-0 entering the game, was for real and on course for a special season.

Manalapan’s 21-20 win over Freehold Township on Sept. 18 on a tipped 9-yard TD pass on a fourth-and-7 and ensuing extra point with six-tenths of a second remaining, Rumson-Fair Haven’s 21-20 win over Raritan on Oct. 30 when the Bulldogs stopped a late two-point conversion attempt and Ocean’s 42-35 win over Red Bank Catholic on Oct. 30 on a 1-yard TD run by junior quarterback Kenny Pickett with 25 seconds remaining are all a close second.

Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; sfalk@gannettnj.com

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