Four Shore Conference teams’ make up the Central Jersey Group IV bracket. How many times do you get to see the top 2 seeds within the same town? That’s right, Brick Memorial and Brick are seeded 1 and 2 respectively! Not just that, but we will also have a first round matchup between defending champion Jackson Memorial and Brick on Friday. How about that for excitement? This bracket will be one of the most highly watched. Will the playoffs end with Brick Bowl II? NJSR will take a look at how all the action will break down!
Brick – The first question I will get is, How can you list the No 2 seed as the favorite? Well, sometimes it just happens.. Brick Memorial is more than capable of being in this spot, but two important factors went into the decision. The Dragons only gave up a total of 53 points and pitched five shutouts. They also defeated Brick Memorial 36-6 during the regular season. I know it was only Week 1, but I still have to give credit where it is due!
The Dragons have one of the most punishing defensive lines in football. With defensive ends like Dan Finelli and Jordan Keefe, they can come off the edge on either side. Linebackers Cory Wilson and Dean Helstowski fly to the ball and make it very difficult for opponents. Matt Schleifer and John Prato lead a secondary that is intimidating for anyone to throw against. They have made plays all year long.
Can Brick keep the momentum going and walk away with their second sectional title in three years? With ball control and solid defense, they definitely have the edge going into the tournament.
Brick Memorial – The Brick Memorial Mustangs have been a force for the entire season. They really showed how to fight through adversity, coming back after losing the opener to Brick Twp 36-6. One of the highlights of Brick Memorial’s season was a 52-20 win over Toms River North. The Mustangs also played well in a 21-3 loss against No 1 in the Shore Middletown South. The score in that game certainly did not reflect what you saw on the field.
Quarterback Tim Santiago has been the main part of Brick Memorial’s triple option offense. Santiago rushed for 1,256 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Sophomore Fullback Tony Thorpe has also made his presence known throughout the season. Thorpe piled up 816 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively, the Mustangs are anchored by a very strong defensive line that is led by brothers’ Mike and Anthony Nobile. The Mustangs are in a great place to make a serious run for a championship.
Burlington Twp – Burlington Twp is the No 3 seed and will look to build on their sucessful season. While they come in with a 7-1 record, they don’t have a lot of experience against the teams in this bracket. If they get past the first round, they will face the winner of Brick/Jackson Memorial which will be unfamiliar territory for them.
Drew Price and Aquan Conway have combined for over 1,000 yards on the ground to pace a Burlington offense that is averaging 29 points per game. Quarterback Bryan Pettway has been productive during the season and can make plays when needed. It will be interesting to see how this offense will fair against the Shore Conference teams.
Jackson Memorial – This is a team that nodody wants to see!! The Jaguars may only have a 5-4 record, but still have plenty of the weapons that helped carry them to the sectional title last year. Three of the Jaguars losses came to Brick, Brick Memorial, and Toms River North who all tied for the Shore Conference Class A South Championship.
The Jaguars still have the threat of Mike Gawlik and Vinny Lee coming out of the backfield. Both players are a threat to score every time they touch the ball. Defensively, Adante Davis and Tyler Towns are players that are very instinctive and make plays. Kyle Johnson and Kyle Lona are both very dangerous in the secondary. Jackson Memorial will try to avenge a 2-0 loss to Brick which they suffered back on October 9th. This is a definitely a game that you cannot miss!
First Round Predictions
Brick Memorial 42, Jackson Liberty 6
Freehold Boro 35, Allentown 13
Burlington Twp 21, Steinert 20
Brick 20, Jackson Memorial 17
Brick Memorial 38, Freehold Boro 21
Brick 34, Burlington Twp 12
Brick 23, Brick Memorial 20