Area football teams gear up for state sectional playoffs


Shore Regional High School’s football team won its eighth straight game, outlasting a pesky Asbury Park High School team for a 20-7 victory Nov. 7 in West Long Branch.

The triumph gave coach Mark Costantino’s team the top spot in the race for the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I playoffs with 125 points to Asbury Park’s 107 points. In addition, the Blue Devils claimed the Shore Conference B North Division title for the third year in a row.

The vaunted Blue Devils defense was again up to the task, holding the visitors scoreless in the first half, while the Shore Regional’s offense put up 13 points. Jack Britton, who ran for 112 yards on the night, scored on a 6-yard run, and George Notte added field goals from 33 and 35 yards.

After the break, the Bishops managed to cut the lead to 13-7 early in the third quarter. Asbury Park got the ball back and once again moved into Shore Regional territory. The Blue Devils defense stiffened thanks to key stops by Jeremy Radaelli and Doug Goldsmith to halt the drive on downs.

Shore Regional then put some insurance points on the board when Britton scored on a 25-yard run with nine minutes remaining. Goldsmith’s 35-yard run played a key part in the drive, and he finished up with 133 yards on 24 attempts.

“Our defense came up big when we needed it,” said Costantino, whose team has allowed just 50 points this fall. “Jeremy has been huge for us all season. He’s so versatile. We’re able to move him around according to the situation.”

Shore Regional will be at home Nov. 13 when eighth-seeded Burlington City High School (3-5) comes to visit. Burlington City, also nicknamed the Blue Devils, earned a playoff spot with a 35-13 triumph over Maple Shade High School (3-6) Nov. 6.


Red Bank Catholic High School bounced back from a tough loss to Ocean Township High School with a hard-fought, 21-10 win against Jackson Memorial Memorial High School Nov. 6 at Count Basie Field.

Things were not looking bright early, as the visitors held the Caseys offense in check and went up 10-0 early in the third quarter.

Facing a second straight loss, RBC kept its poise and answered back with a crisp six-play drive covering 64 yards. Quarterback Eddie Hahn’s crucial third-down pass to Max Hazard kept the drive moving, and Hahn capped it off with a 37-yard scoring run to make it 10-7 at the end of three quarters.

The Caseys controlled the final quarter and with that the game. Hahn found Michael Balzofiore for a 15-yard touchdown pass to give his team the lead. RBC got the ball right back after a Jackson Memorial fumble, and Hahn’s 61-yard run put his team in position to score. Dylan Murphy’s short run then put the game away.

RBC (7-2) finished fifth in the Non-Public Group III standing and will visit fourth-place Pope John XXIII Regional High School (7-2). The Lions have won seven in a row after opening the campaign at 0-2.


Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, meanwhile, posted its seventh win of the season, downing Holmdel High School, 41-0, Nov. 6. The Bulldogs dominated from start to finish, as Matt Vecchiarelli led the way with 109 yards on 16 carries.

The junior running back scored on runs of 15 and 10 yards, as coach Bryan Batchler’s team jumped out to a 14- 0 first-quarter lead. Rumson-Fair Haven extended its lead to 21-0 in the second quarter thanks to a 27-yard scoring run by quarterback Michael O’Connor.

It began raining in the second half, but the Bulldogs continued to pull away as Jack Volker took over behind center. Volker and Bryan Hess both scored on short runs in the third quarter and Peter Lucas completed the scoring with a 23- yard run in the final 12 minutes.

With the win, Rumson-Fair Haven finished atop the standings in the race for the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III playoffs. Rumson-Fair Haven finished two points clear of Ocean Township. The Bulldogs’ lone loss this season came against St. John Vianney High School Oct. 6 in a 13-7 decision.

Batchler rested several players who were nursing nagging injuries to prepare for the playoffs. Then he made other substitutions as the game went on.

Batchler’s team won the Central Jersey Group II title a year ago, defeating Delaware Valley Regional High School, 21-0, in the championship game at Kean University last December.

The Bulldogs will open the Central Jersey Group III playoffs at home Nov. 13 against Rahway High School (3- 5). The Indians qualified Nov. 7 with a 21-20 win over Governor Livingston High School.


Ocean Township (7-1) hosts seventh-seeded Hamilton High School West (4-4) Nov. 13 in an opening-round game of Central Jersey Group III. The Hornets have rebounded from a 2-4 start to win their past two games over Hightstown High School, 20-6, Nov. 6 and Nottingham High School, 7-6, Oct. 31 to earn a playoff berth.

The Spartans did not miss a beat following the big Oct. 30 win over Red Bank Catholic, dispatching Colts Neck High School, 26-0, Nov. 7.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for two touchdowns in the second quarter, connecting with Greyson Stoothoff for 4 yards and Joel Aldarelli for 24 yards. As a result, Ocean Township went into the intermission with 13-0 lead.

Tyler Thompson’s 15-yard run and another hook up between Pickett and Aldarelli good for 4 yards rounded out the scoring as the Spartans padded their lead. Pickett ended the afternoon with 12 completions for more than 90 yards, while Thompson piled up 152 yards on 21 carries.

The Spartans sport a 7-1 record, with their only loss coming against undefeated Red Bank Regional High School, 16-6, Sept. 25.


Red Bank Regional, the Shore Conference B North Division champion, raised its record to 8-0 with a 31-14 victory at winless Manchester Township High School (0-8) Nov. 6.

Alim Godsey ran for a pair of touchdowns to lead the Buccaneers, while Sadiq Palmer returned a kickoff for a touchdown and also caught a 30-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jack Navitsky in the win. Buccaneers placekicker Jack O’Connor connected on a 25-yard field goal and converted four PATs.

Despite its undefeated record and division title, Red Bank Regional finished third in the Central Jersey Group III standing with 128 power points — four points behind second-place Ocean Township, whose only loss came against the Buccaneers.

As a result, coach Nick Giglio’s team will host sixth-seed South Plainfield High School (6-2) Nov. 13. The Tigers were riding a five-game win streak before falling to Colonia High School (7-2), 28-14, Nov. 6.

“We’re not worried about the standings and where we finished,” Giglio said. “Our guys are focused on South Plainfield. That’s been a key for us all year. We’ve had a couple of very big wins [against Red Bank Catholic and Ocean Township], but the players have kept everything in perspective. We’ve been working hard and we’ve continued to get better.”