Four Shore Conference teams will be a part of the Central Jersey Group III bracket. Last years’ Group II winner Rumson Fair Haven has moved up into this section. They will be looking for their third sectional title in a row. Ocean Twp will be the No 2 seed and will bring their high powered offense into battle. Red Bank Regional will be the No 3 seed after a very impressive 8-0 season. The Bucs won their first Shore Conference Class B North Championship since 1977. We will look at how the competition will break down!
Rumson Fair Haven – While the Bulldogs are brand new to this section, they bring a lot of championship level experience. Under the leadership of Head Coach Bryan Batchler, the team has won two consecutive Group II titles. It is a shutdown style of defense that has always led Rumson in big games. This year has been no different with Mike Ruane and Mike Pfrang piling up the tackles. Lachlan Hull and Mike Caruso help make up a secondary that nobody wants to take a shot at.
However, do not sleep on the Rumson offense. They may not throw all the time, but stack the box and Michael O’Connor will sling it. The Quarterback has good vision and plenty of targets on the outside. Sophomore Elijah McCallister is 6’5″ and a matchup nightmare in the red zone. The running combination of Matt Vecchiarelli and Bryan Hess allow the Bulldogs to control the clock. Can Rumson win their third consecutive sectional title? It will be tough for anyone in this bracket to bring them down.
Red Bank Regional – After finishing a spectacular 8-0 season, Bucs fans are on their feet for what should be a fantastic playoff run. With offensive weapons like Jack Navitsky, Alim Godsey, and Sadiq Palmer, fans should expect a deep run, but you must also give credit to the RBR defense. Chris Outterbridge has been lights out at the linebacker position. Sean Naiman has also been a solid tackler for the team.
The Bucs will be challenged by a South Plainfield team that loves to run the football. With that in mind, RBR should be able to load the box and shut down the opposition. This will give the RBR offense plenty of opportunities to get on the field. The Bucs will need Alim Godsey and Sadiq Palmer to make a few big plays leading to points.
Ocean Twp – The Ocean Twp Spartans will head into the postseason as the No 2 seed. Even though RBR defeated the Spartans 16-6, powerpoints propelled Ocean to the higher seed because of a more difficult schedule. You know Ocean is itching to make a deep postseason run, especially with three other Shore Conference teams in the mix.
Dual-threat Quarterback Kenny Pickett is coming off another monster year for the Spartans. Pickett took matters into his own hands on the final drive of a 42-35 win over RBC. Pickett has passed for 961 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior Running Back Tyler Thompson is everything you want and more in a ball carrier. He can be a battering ram through the middle, and hit the open field on the outside. Thompson is a Comeback Player of the Year candidate after rushing for 1161 yards and 13 touchdowns. Can Pickett and Thompson lead this Ocean team to a sectional championship? This is definitely a group to keep your eyes on!
Matawan – I know.. How are the defending sectional champions an underdog? This just speaks to the talent level within the bracket! Let me tell you this, no one wants to play Matawan, not one team!! After starting the season 0-3, the Huskies have ripped off six straight wins to close the season. The team is completely healthy and clicking on all cylinders.
This is a different team with Quarterback George Pearson and Running Back Makiya Caesar. Pearson is one of the best up and coming passers in the state of New Jersey, passing for 1013 yards and 8 touchdowns in just six games. Caesar is also poised to hit 1,000 yards. He has 945 and 11 touchdowns in only seven games of action. Pearson and Caesar are a lethal combination who are both once again looking for rings. Matawan would love nothing more than to get another shot at RFH in the second round. Matawan lost the first meeting, but played without both Pearson and Caesar.
First Round Predictions
Rumson Fair Haven 27, Rahway 7
Matawan 31, Hopewell Valley 14
Red Bank Regional 24, South Plainfield 12
Ocean Twp 35, Hamilton West 14
Rumson Fair Haven 24, Matawan 21
Ocean Twp 21, Red Bank Regional 17
Rumson Fair Haven 21, Ocean Twp 14