Well, the 2015 season has finally concluded. It was quite the ride, and we had a lot of changes from Week 1 until the present. The Shore Conference had an outstanding showing this past weekend walking away with 6 sectional titles. Middletown South, Toms River North, Jackson Memorial, Raritan, Shore, and Rumson Fair Haven all have the right to call themselves champions!
Middletown South turned in the perfect 12-0 season. Toms River North rolled through one of the hardest brackets in the state with victories over Kingsway, Lenape, and Williamstown to finish off a tremendous campaign. Jackson Memorial won 5 out of their final 6 games to repeat as Central Jersey Group IV champions. This was clearly one of the best jobs that Walt Krystopik has done with that program. Raritan pulled off what some would call the “upset of the century” with a 28-26 win over Lincoln to take Central Jersey Group II. It’s hard to believe the Rockets were 3-5 at one point in the season. They rallied to finish the season with four straight wins.
There were definitely some tough choices over the past two days, but the final Top 10 is here!
1 – MIDDLETOWN SOUTH 12-0 Last Week: No 1
This week was all about finishing the job for the Middletown South Eagles. For a program that had lost their last 5 times in the championship, this one was definitely very redemptive for Head Coach Steve Antonucci. The Eagles capped off the perfect season with a 35-7 victory over Phillipsburg to win North Jersey II Group IV. Midd South simply dominated in every single game this year.
Senior Running Back Cole Rogers went out in a big way, rushing for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns. You could not ask for a better performance under the lights at MetLife Stadium. Linebacker James McCarthy came up with a huge interception in the second quarter to really shift the momentum the Eagles way. The takeaway ended Phillipsburg’s best drive of the game. Matt Mosquera completed 12 of 19 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown pass to Jeremy Joyce. Middletown South has now won 10 sectional titles, and are second all time in the Shore only to Manasquan’s 11.
The Mariners finished the season with 10 straight wins to close out an 11-1 campaign capped off by a South Jersey Group V title. This was the sixth sectional title in history for the program. This was definitely one of the better runs as the Mariners were able to run the table through the West Jersey Football League with victories over Kingsway, Lenape, and Williamstown. South Jersey Group V has been dominated by the WJFL since 2012.
The Mariners rushed for over 200 yards against a very strong Williamstown defense. Toms River North put together a 17 play, 98 yard drive with their first possession of the game. Mike Husni ran for 105 yards and scored a 3 yard touchdown. Asante Moorer carried the ball 24 times for 115 yards and scored the final touchdown of the game in the second half. Defensively, The Braves had just six first downs and only one consistent drive at the beginning of the game.
3 – ST JOHN VIANNEY 11-1 Last Week: No 2
The Lancers finished the regular season 11-1 after falling to DePaul in the Non Public Group III Championship Game. However, the Lancers had one of the best stories of the 2015 season. SJV won a tough Class A Central division by outlasting Rumson Fair Haven 13-6 in a defensive battle. They also won a 30-21 shootout over Matawan. The Lancers reached the sectional final after beating RBC 49-6 in the semifinal.
Quarterback Anthony Brown turned in another fantastic season. Brown threw for 31 touchdown passes and went over the 2,000 yard mark for the second time in his high school career. Michael Stapert and Marcque Ellington both enjoyed great seasons on the outside. Defensively, Chris Chukwuneke was one of the best tacklers in the league. Chukwuneke finished with 12 tackles in the loss to DePaul.
The Blue Devils finished 2015 by completing an undefeated season. Shore routed Palmyra 56-28 to win the Central Jersey Group I title. On Saturday, Shore put on a rushing clinic, piling up more than 500 yards on the ground. Senior Running Back Doug Goldsmith exploded for 243 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jack Britton also went for 191 yards and a touchdown as Palmyra had no answer for the running game.
It was the 20th straight win for Shore going back to last year. This was the seventh sectional title in program history. The Blue Devils also had a very impressive win over Rumson Fair Haven on Thanksgiving. Shore went through Burlington City, Florence, and Palmyra to walk away with the hardware.
The Bulldogs walked away with their third straight sectional title by giving Red Bank Regional their first loss of the season by pitching a 21-0 shutout. Rumson Fair Haven faced a little adversity after a disappointing 20-13 loss to Shore Regional, but the Bulldogs always seem to be ready for war. This is a group of kids that have been battle tested over the past few years.
Running Back Bryan Hess scored two touchdowns, including a 40 yard run to get the Rumson offense going. Michael O’Connor went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season with an 87 yard performance. O’Connor also hit the end zone for the Bulldogs. Mike Ruane led the defense with 9 tackles. Overall, Rumson sacked RBR QB Jack Navitsky three times, and forced three fumbles.
The dream season finally came to an end for the Bucs in a 21-0 loss to Rumson Fair Haven in the Central Jersey Group III title game. However, it was certainly a magical ride and one that Bucs fans will remember for a lifetime. RBR put together 11 straight victories, including two wins over Ocean Twp and one against RBC. This gave Red Bank Regional their first division title since 1975.
Senior Quarterback Jack Navitsky really emerged as a big time leader for the team this season. Navitsky passed for 1200 yards and 11 touchdowns. It was Navitsky who ripped off a 57 yard run to help clinch the win against RBC this season. Defensively, Chris Outterbridge and Sadiq Palmer used their athleticism to pace one of the best units in the league. One thing is for sure, Nick Giglio has the Bucs on the map. This is now a program that has to be respected!
7 – JACKSON MEMORIAL 8-4 Last Week: No 10
This was clearly one of the best jobs that Head Coach Walt Krystopik has ever done during his tenure. Standing at 3-3 and coming off losses to Brick Twp, Toms River North, and Brick Memorial, the Jaguars had fallen out of the Class A South race. They were basically left for dead and were given no chance of possibly repeating as champions. With some big time decisions to make, Krystopik inserted Kyle Johnson at the QB position, and redesigned the offense around the zone read attack to create defensive confusion. What was the end result? The Jaguars ripped off wins in 5 out of their last 6 games and won a second straight Central Jersey Group IV title.
Running Back Mike Gawlik was once again the hero for a second straight year. Gawlik has a habit of coming up big in the playoffs. The Junior carried the ball 32 times for 208 yards and three touchdowns. He also tossed a 49 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Johnson on a halfback option play. Johnson also added touchdown runs of 20, and 49 yards. Defensively, he finished with six tackles and a forced fumble.
The Mustangs fell to Jackson Memorial in the Central Jersey Group IV title game. After clinching the No 1 seed in the bracket, Brick Memorial went through Jackson Liberty and Allentown to reach the final. While it’s always tough to lose this way, this team still has a lot to be proud of. They were able to win a share of the Class A South championship which is no easy task. Brick Memorial was also the only team to win against Toms River North this season.
Quarterback Tim Santiago had another phenomenal season, rushing for over 1500 yards and 17 touchdowns. Sophomore Fullback Tony Thorpe showed a lot of promise while going over the 1,000 yard mark. In the Mustangs losses to Middletown South and Jackson Memorial, it was turnovers that really set them back. As a team, they were able to compete with anyone in the Shore. This was an outstanding group of seniors that were still able to walk away with 9 wins in 2015.
The Spartans are still able to hang in the Top 10 even after losing to RBR in the semifinals. Ocean Twp were an impressive team throughout the year. Their performance was highlighted by a 42-35 shootout win on the road against Red Bank Catholic. However, the Spartans had their problems against Red Bank Regional, falling during the regular season and the playoffs.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett and Running Back Tyler Thompson were the big playmakers in this offense. Thompson had an outstanding year after coming off a broken leg. It really takes a lot to push through that adversity and still run for 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns!
10 – RARITAN – 7-5 Last Week: Unranked
How crazy was Raritan’s run at the end of the season? It is not very often that a 7-5 team can make their way into the top 10, but the Rockets were simply not going to be ignored. Sitting at 3-5, no one gave this team a chance to make any kind of noise in the postseason. They were going into hostile territory as a 6th seed to face a Pt Pleasant Boro team that had already beaten them during the regular season.
The Rockets not only showed up, but proved that the old “Any Given Night” statement is still true to this day! Raritan got redemption against Pt Boro with a 17-7 victory, and then went on the road to beat No 2 seed Delaware Valley. To cap it all off, they earned a 28-26 victory over a very athletic Lincoln team with several D1 recruits. It was the first sectional title for Raritan since 2004. This was a remarkable run that everyone on the team should be proud of. What a great way to end the season!
You can take a look back through the football archives to see the best stories of the 2015 football season. Congratulations to all 23 state sectional champions!