Shore Conference Players Watch List
Pre-Season All-Shore Fantasy Team
August is the time of year where folks get together and run their annual fantasy football drafts. In the spirit of the pre-season, what if I told you...you get the chance to build a squad based on the 2017 talent pool in the Shore Conference, an open draft to select any players your heart desires to construct a roster? Who you got?
Tough decisions, right? The best teams have a bit of everything and we’re suiting up a good deal of players to comprise our cast.
When we have the ball, we're counting on skill guys who can make a play at a time when it’s most needed. And, big fellas on the line of scrimmage are a must. Holes have to be open and the pocket secured.
We seek big nasties on our defensive line, run stuffers but also wreakers of mayhem in the backfield. Guys who have smoke blowing out of their facemasks like exhausts from putting it in overdrive during those chilly playoff nights in Novemeber.
Want warriors at linebacker, dudes who thirst to tackle and send a message that the other team is in for a long night. Behind them, we're organizing a secondary that makes a quarterback just shutter at the idea of throwing into its teeth.
And, don’t forget special teams. Kickers who deliver in the clutch, punters who tip field position in our favor and gamebreakers in the return game.
Finally, got to have some depth. We’re going to be multiple on both sides, funky and versatile in our sets and entertaining. We'll choose to play fast, but not at the expense of constantly rotating moving parts. We’ll run some spread, some pro I, maybe even Wing T...heck, single wing and Buffalo wing, too. So, specialists in those fields will be in demand...and some hot sauce, please.
Not everybody can crack the roster, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more than qualified candidates. We have to leave some for other teams to draft, but, in the name of good sportsmanship, beyond our roster, we'll share the balance of our draft cheat sheets, revealing who we think are the multiple threats, players who's stock is soaring and might make us regret bypassing them, as well as guys who are on the verge of breakout performances. Make your way through this entire piece and you'll be a little more acquainted with 200 players going through the summer paces leading into Week Zero on Sept. 1. We wish them all well.
Get 20 people in a room and you'll get 20 different rosters. If you’re moved to draft one of your own, feel free to list it in the comments below. Would love to see others’ thoughts. We’re going outside of the box, probably carrying more guys than maybe you’d expect, but this is a fantasy draft, no restrictions. Go ahead, dream a little and have fun with it.
2017 Shore Conference Pre-Season Fantasy Team
Luke Corcione, Manalapan (Sr. QB 6-2, 190)
Corcione bloomed into the type of leader that the position demands. He completed 112 of 188 passes for 1,699 yards and 26 touchdowns against just three interceptions running the Braves' Pro I. His accuracy and effortless spreading of the wealth engineers a potent Brave’s offense. This is our pocket passer.
Eddie Morales, Howell (Sr. QB/DB 5-9, 160)
Freehold Twp. runs the Air Raid. We're instituting the Full Throttle and I'd like to introduce the guy whose foot will be pinned to the gas pedal. Morales (left, No. 3) authored one of the best breakout efforts of any player in the Shore last season. Perfect for the Rebels' wide-open spread, which is good enough for our plans. He took to the system instantly and with a level of sharpness. Morales hit on 167 of his 223 attempts, a blistering 74.8 completion percentage, and that accuracy yielded 2,259 yards and 27 TDs. He engineered an offense that averaged 32.9 points an outing and brings back seven starters, promoting a world of promise for '17. Beware of the Rebels.
George Pearson, Mater Dei (Sr. QB 6-1, 210)
The Central Michigan commit only gets better with age. Pearson completed 79 of 139 attempts for 1,426 yards, ran for 568 yards and accounted for 38 total touchdowns while guiding the Serpahs' on a 12-0 journey that culminated with the program's first Non-Public, Group 2 championship. Poised and aware in the pocket, he knows when he has time to survey the field and when to tuck and take off. And, it never hurts to have a guy unfamiliar with losing. That kind of stuff can be an infectious bonus.
Ashante Worthy, Freehold Boro (Sr. QB 5-10, 215)
Hard to find a more indispensable player. Worthy shifted from running back to quarterback in Week 4 of 2016 and simply shined as a dual threat in the spread for the Colonials. He erupted for 2,066 rushing yards, passed for 857 and finished with 41 touchdowns. And, who could forget his record-setting performance against Pennsauken where he carried 43 times for 465 yards and eight TDs and flipped a pair of scoring strikes in a wild 69-56 victory in the opening round of Central Jersey, Group 4. Love the air of mystery he brings at QB…is he gonna run, is he gonna thow? When we get exotic, this is our hybrid.
Naim Mayfield, Manalapan (Sr. RB 5-10, 185)
Given the chance to be the featured back, Mayfield did exactly what was expected of him...he ran with it. Electrifying, physical and elusive make for a pretty exciting package, one that yielded 1,785 yards rushing on 199 carries and 23 touchdowns as the Braves rolled to another A North title and the Central Jersey, Group 5 final in an 11-1 season. Dude is chiseled and will set the tone in the weight room as much as on field.
Connor Morgan, Manasquan (Sr. RB 5-10, 200)
No one will ever question Morgan's work rate. The guy has been a horse in terms of workload and hits like a sledgehammer when confronted by defenders. His physical style yielded 1,490 yards and 16 TDs during a 10-2 run that ended with a 42-6 triumph over Bernards in the Central Jersey, Group 2 championship, earning the Big Blue their 12th title. He carried 19 times for 128 yards and two TDs in the final and was responsible for 444 rushing yards and five touchdowns in three post-season wins. When we want to flex our muscle between the tackles, we’re calling 22’s number.
Chris Maksimik, Manalapan (Sr. FB 5-11, 240)
The consummate team player, Maksimik is a bruising lead blocker who repeatedly leads backfield partner Naim Mayfield through a hole. He makes the most of his carries and has developed a reputation as a short-yardage specialist, particularly around the goal line. In the past two years, he's carried 63 times for 265 and 14 touchdowns. In the power I set, Big Mak is our compass.
Tony Thorpe, Brick Memorial (Sr. RB/OLB 5-10, 205)
Thorpe is more than just a fixture in the Mustangs' backfield. For the past two years, he's haunted undersized or unsuspecting defenders with his powerful style. He finishes runs, banked nine touchdowns as a junior and revealed his work rate with 41 carries for a season-high 203 yards in a 47-35 loss to Central. We like him for the imposing aura he’ll cast steaming through a gap.
Zack Bair, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. RB/LB 5-10, 195)
Punishing between the tackles, Bair rumbled for 1,129 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior leaned upon to carry the ground game. Abides by a similar style on the defensive side, too, but a back who has no problem running between the tackles and kinda digs the contact that comes with the job….we’ll take that.
Devin Wollner, Keyport (Jr. RB 5-4, 165)
Don't let the size fool you. Wollner (right) is slick at hiding behind blocks and burst through holes, a combination that yielded a rousing varsity debut. He ran for 1,673 yards and nine touchdowns. His low center of gravity and lowered pads make him a tough target to tackle. Fun to watch and worth the price of admission. Make sure to check him out.
Tanner Gordon, Point Pleasant Boro (Sr. RB/OLB 6-0, 175)
The perfect complement to QB James Fara in the Panther's power option, Gordon eclipsed the 100-yard plateau four times, stamped by a season-high 164 on 17 carries in a 31-27 loss to Bernards in the opening round of the Central Jersey, Group 2 playoffs. He used 151 hauls to reap 944 yards and 11 TDs. Defensively, he piled up 35.5 tackles, three sacks and an interception. Plays with the passion and hustle we want to embody.
Evan Burton, Pinelands (Jr. RB/LB 5-9, 192)
One of the better-kept secrets in the Shore, we just the blew the lid off that. Burton is coming off a breakout sophomore year. He rushed for 1,362 yards and 12 TDs to balance his defensive hustle. Begs your attention.
Nasiem Brantley, Howell (Sr. WR/DB 6-3, 205)
Holding offers from Bryant, Navy, Monmouth and Bucknell, this guy's stock continues to soar in the same manner he elevates to pull down a pass. Arguably the top returning wide receiver in the Shore, Brantley hauled in 46 catches good for 773 yards and 11 TDs. Has all the tools you want on the perimeter: fleet, agile, crazy vertical and uncanny playmaking ability. Gonna work Naz a lot on the corner fade route.
Justin Marcus, Marlboro (Sr. WR/DB 6-5, 210)
Not sure how many folks are aware of just how good this guy is. Making the spectacular catch look routine became a weekend thing to do for Marcus, who a highlight reel that must be seen. He grabbed 52 passes for 726 yards and six TDs, balanced by his play in the secondary that resulted in 43 tackles and an interception. Practically anything thrown his way is moving the chains.
Scott Scherzer, Manalapan (Sr. WR 6-1, 185)
The Braves' leading receiver from a year ago, Scherzer relies on two things: his sure hands. He grabbed 40 passes and turned them into 690 yards and seven TDs. Another wide out thrown to with confidence. Recognizes our field position, knows where the first-down marker is. Cerebral and consistent.
TJ Fosque, Long Branch (Sr. WR/DB 6-4, 170)
Lean, agile and dependable, Fosque can go get a pass and usually adds favorable results. He can drive cornerbacks on their heels in route, make grabs in tight quarters and is not the guy any defensive coordinator wants to see sprinting free behind coverage. His acumen of the aerial game also plays well in his role as a lockdown corner. Long Branch is absolutely loaded at receiver and it could be the part of its game that defenses will struggle to contain.
Kaymar Mimes, Long Branch (Sr. TE/DE 6-5, 220)
Stock is only rising for Mimes. Offered by Rutgers, Temple, Old Dominion and Monmouth, Mimes has truly developed into a stud at two positions. His size plays favorably when the Green Wave goes to the air, which he confirmed with a strong summer showing on the 7-on-7 circuit, and he's already established himself as a play wrecker at defensive end. So, we’ll start him at tight end, but big fella, save some energy because we’re gonna rotate you in our defensive line mix, too.
Kevin Bauman, Red Bank Catholic (So. TE 6-4, 225)
Bauman (10 receptions for 196 yards, four TDs) can anticipate an expanded role this fall. Steadily stoking the interest of college recruiters. Look at that size...gotta take advantage of him underneath and see if we can find him in seams.
Chevesse Covin, Wall (Sr. WR 6-0, 165)
Game-breaking speed comes to fore whether the Crimson Knights spring Covin on the jet sweep or unleash him downfield. He rambled for 612 yards and four TDs on 71 carries and turned four receptions into 72 yards and a score. Graduation took a heavy toll on the skill positions at Wall, making Covin a veteran source who could see his workload magnified.
Sam East, St. John Vianney (Sr. WR/DB 6-1, 190)
A solid two-way contributor for the Lancers. East is an adhesive cover man who picked off two passes and defended eight more. He also happens to be a proven offensive commodity and asset to any in the passing game. We like his composure in routes and vision to find space. He caught 23 passes for 471 yards and four TDs last season.
Jaden Key, Red Bank Catholic (Jr. WR/DB 6-3, 190)
The Swiss army knife of the Caseys' offense. In his primary role, Key collected 14 receptions for 349 and four TDs. But, he is used creatively, dangerous in space on the jet sweep and, at the same time, unpredictable. He's shown his arm, pulling up to throw a number of completions last year, the most notable a 36-yard scoring strike against Wall. We love deception.
Joe Hurle, Jackson Memorial (Sr. OL 6-2, 275)
Hurle has an established resume as one of the top offensive linemen in the Shore. He merited First Team All-A South as a junior. The right tackle defuses the rush, plows obstacles to create running lanes and is capable of producing more pancakes than a diner. Constantly putting defensive linemen on their backs. Fear him.
Brandon Voss, Central (Sr. OL 6-2, 290)
Considering the prolific frame, it’s hard to imagine Voss can be overlooked. Yet, playing guard doesn’t lend itself to notoriety. Trust us, Voss is not the guy any defensive back wants to see pulling around the corner as a lead blocker. Beyond his ability to get downfield, Voss deftly establishes leverage at the point of contact to ignite relentless drive blocking.
Mike Griggs, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. OL 6-3, 275)
The center explodes off the snap and drive blocks to send linemen immediately backpedaling. Besides the bruising contact he inflicts inside the box, Griggs can ride a block with a combination of upper body strength and legs that churn like pistons.
Trevor Radosevich, Manalapan (Sr. OL 6-3, 270)
One of only two returning starters on the offensive line for the Braves, Radosevich will lead by example at tackle. Was a big part in Manalapan piling up nearly 4,000 yards of offense and averaging 36.1 points per game. Beyond what he does dominating at the line, Radosevich won't linger once the ball is past him. He gets downfield to eagerly pick off defenders in pursuit. Defensive backs, better have your head on a swivel. You’ve been warned.
Jean Paul Rodriguez, Lakewood (Sr. OL/DL 6-5, 275)
Had a breakout junior year that was so impressive, it landed Rodriguez on recruiters' radar. At times, he simply overpowers those lined across from him and navigates them where he will. His initial contact can rattle fillings and move mountains.
Chris Manginelli, Marlboro (Sr. OL/DL 6-5, 260)
A First-Team All-A North selection by the division coaches speaks to the respect Manginelli warrants. The left tackle is a ruthless run blocker who doesn't stop driving until the whistle blows and deserves a share of the credit for Marlboro's Cameron Caorsi and Jonny Helff combining for nearly 2,500 rushing yards last fall.
Jake Krellin, Middletown South (Sr. TE/DE 6-1, 215)
To say Krellin (left) had a monster junior year would be an understatement. This is the guy that keeps offensive coordinators up at night. Krellin amassed 109 tackles, including a jaw-dropping 45 for loss. He shared Shore Conference honors as the leader in sacks with 15 to go with 16 pressures and added an interception, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two defensive TDs. Oh, and did we mention he also plays tight end and is a beast covering on special teams?
Nick Densieski, St. John Vianney (Sr. DL 6-1, 205)
Quarterbacks need be wary of where Densieski is charging from. With a combination of technique and brute force, he compiled 15 sacks, tied with Middletown South's Jake Krellin for the most in the Shore Conference. But, he does way more than smother QBs. Densieski totaled 53 tackles (13 for loss), two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Josh Lezin, Lakewood (Sr. DL 6-1, 260)
Talk about a force up front. The B South Defensive Player of the Year in '16, Lezin is creating plenty of recruiting buzz and for all the right reasons. Not only does he stuff the run, Lezin powers into the backfield in all forms. He collected 82 tackles, marked by 31 behind the line of scrimage, 13 sacks, four forced fumbles and blocked two punts as well as a pair of field goals. Definition of a handful.
Austin Dewise, Middletown North (Sr. DE/TE 6-0, 240)
Man, are QBs going to be quaking in their cleats. Another hunter who can take up residency in an opposing backfield, Dewise (left) not only pocketed a dozen sacks but added 27 hurries to accompany his 59 tackles. A defensive beast, Dewise could be in the plans more prominently this fall at tight end for North as well. Plus,we have to have at least one card-carrying member of the Flo-Riders. Admire his game...and his mane.
Damian Rybaltowski, Freehold Twp. (Sr. FB/LB 6-1, 225)
Came into his own defensively as a junior. Rybaltowski recorded 60 tackles, including 14 for loss, and was routinely breathing down a quarterback's neck. He had four sacks and nine hurries.
Chase Pfrang, Rumson-Fair Haven (Sr. DL 6-4, 235)
The muscle up front for a stiff RFH defense, Pfrang routinely wins his battle in the trenches. He stalls the run (67 tackles) and powers through blocks, something that gave way to eight sacks.
Izaiah Henderson, Mater Dei (Jr. DL/LB/TE 6-3, 205)
Whether coming out of a three-point stance or playing upright, rest assured, Henderson is coming fast and furious off the edge. He had 59 tackles, two sacks and offered stout resistance along the line of scrimmage. May be a more prominent outlet at tight end this fall. Had two receptions, including a touchdown, in Seraphs' 26-20 win over Holy Spirit for program's first Non-Public, Group 2 title.
Levin Musawa, Barnegat (Sr. DE/RB 5-11, 192)
Hear a storm coming? No worries, that’s probably just Musawa bringing thunder off the corner. He made 64 tackles, including 21 behind the line, and backed 5.5 sacks with 13 hurries.
Johnny Buchanan, St. John Vianney (Sr. LB/RB 6-0, 225)
An impact player on both sides of the ball for the Lancers. He rang up a team-high 139 tackles, marked by four sacks and 10 stops for loss, and drops shrewdly into coverage, where he picked off a pair of passes. Strong and relentless, Buchanan rumbled for 443 yards and 11 TDs. But, an active tone setter on defense. If we visit an aquarium on an off-day field trip, guarantee even the sharks stop swimming.
Sal Tardogno, Manalapan (Sr. LB/RB 5-10, 215)
Every defense needs that glue guy, the bonding agent that organizes and keeps things together. Tardogno handles that for the Braves at middle linebacker by his exemplary play. He led Manalapan and, furthermore, was among the top five tacklers in the Shore Conference as a junior with 120, counting three sacks among them. He added an interception and two fumble recoveries. Love his blue-collar approach. See a lunch pail on our bench…bet it’s his.
Daryn Blackwell, Toms River North (Sr. RB/DB 6-1, 245)
Toms River North is listing him as a defensive back on its pre-season form and we completely respect that. So, for our purposes, we’ll meet Mariner coach Dave Oizerowitz in the middle and label Blackwell our rover. Rugged, powerful nature serves him extremely well on both sides of the ball. A candidate for more carries at running back, he is an established defensive presence who had 63 tackles, including 11 for loss, and five sacks. Regardless of where he lines up on D, you better find him.
Tommy Pearce, Manalapan (Jr. LB 6-0, 205)
Consider this: despite missing three games due to injury, Pearce still managed to amass 97 tackles, averaging out to 10.8 a contest. Plays aggressively and has been a staple in the linebacking corps for the Braves since he was a freshman. Fierce warrior with a zest for contact.
Joe Miele, Southern (Sr. LB/RB 5-10, 210)
A fixture at linebacker since his freshman year, Miele continues to be a leader on defense. But, his role has expanded over the years. While he made 56 tackles and recorded a sack last fall, he also ran for 351 yards and six TDs and caught six passes that accumulated 102 yards. We dig the idea he's versatile.
Russell Ferrisi, Mater Dei (Jr. LB/RB 6-1, 215)
Uses his size and strength ideally. Has speed in pursuit and hits like a freight train, with the lasting force that leaves his calling card. Makes plays and is unsung in the offense with good hands as a passing outlet and knack for finding space. Had the feeling he was underrated a year ago and probably has the itch to grab more people’s attention.
Mickey Maldonado, Toms River North (Sr. QB/DB 5-10, 190)
Want an idea of where the ball is? Keep your eyes on Maldonado. The safety has a scent for the pigskin and the numbers to back that claim. He made 101 tackles, including eight behind the line of scrimmage to hint at both his vision and instincts. What will be curious to monitor in the preseason is his development on offense. Maldonado is listed as a QB as well and appears to be a challenger to fill the position left by Mike Husni.
Matt Ansell, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. DB 6-2, 210)
Always around the ball, Ansell has no problem getting up field to support in run defense. The top returning tackler for the Caseys with 85, his tight coverage reaped three interceptions.
Jimmy Leblo, Brick (Jr. WR/DB 6-0, 175)
As a sophomore, Leblo made a lasting impression. He accounted for 94 tackles, grabbed four interceptions and was selected First Team All-A South by the coaches, becoming a driving force in the Green Dragons' run to the Central Jersey, Group 4 final. Had two picks in the post season and set the record straight that he's not someone you want to test too often.
Tommy Antonucci, Manasquan (Sr. QB/DB 5-9, 185)
Versatile and savvy are among the many attractive reasons Antonucci is entrusted to multi-task. Saw time at QB the past two years and could be the front runner to inherit the role full time. Hard-nosed cover guy on the corner with sharp reads and intellect for the game. Sound like a coach’s kid? He is. His dad is Middletown South head coach Steve Antonucci.
Eli Avivi, Manalapan (Sr. DB 5-11, 175)
A stable presence in the secondary, Avivi looks to build upon a junior year that yielded 84 tackles and three interceptions. Can play center field and break on the ball.
AJ Calabro, St. John Vianney (Sr. DB/WR 5-11, 190)
Always in positive motion, Calabro registered 47 tackles, returned one of his four interceptions for a score and worked his way into the Lancers’ deep receiving corps as well.
Zyaire Sterling, St. John Vianney (Sr. SB/DB 5-9, 150)
What makes Sterling so indispensable for the Lancers is his versatility. Besides catching 19 passes for 484 yards and five TDs, he was occasionally called on to run the jet sweep, yielding 59 yard more yards and another TD. And, he's a valued member of the secondary who made 36 tackles and defended six passes last season. But, when it comes to returns, Zyaire really is sterling! He brought a kickoff back 93 yards for a score, returned a punt 50 yards to the house and took off with another for 80 yards. He’s always a threat to provide a short field for the offense to work with and will have you on the edge of your seat.
Joey Cavanagh, Middletown North (Jr. K 5-8, 155)
Cavanaugh was 8 of 10 on field-goal attempts with a long of 35 and converted 37 of 42 extra points for the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 runner-up.
Will Forman, St. John Vianney (Sr. K/P 6-0, 200)
Handles all elements of the kicking game for the Lancers with aplomb afoot. Forman was responsible for 55 points in '16, nailing 40 of 43 PATs and five field goals, including a long of 33. He most certainly qualifies as a kicker but his punting is what we’ll count on to pin opponents to the shadow of their own end zone.
Jack Hadley, Donovan Catholic (Sr. C/LS 6-3, 280)
Regarded among the best in the nation at his craft, Hadley holds offers from Rutgers, Temple, West Virginia, Monmouth and James Madison. Beyond his primary responsibility, Hadley gets down field to offer coverage on punts.
TAXI SQUAD - Meet the guys hunting for the jobs of those listed above. They all can make a strong case based on track records.
Haaziq Daniels, St. John Vianney (Sr. QB 6-1, 195)
Posing a dual threat at QB for the Lancers, Daniels has a good feel for the system. He kept 58 times to reap 301 yards and three TDs and completed 54 of 103 attempts for 908 yards and eight scores.
James Fara, Point Pleasant Boro (Sr. QB/DB 6-0, 175)
His shrewd orchestration of the Panthers' triple option hinges on intellect and deception. Fara deftly kept 170 times en route to rushing for a team-high 1,293 yards and 19 touchdowns. Vastly underrated.
Zyhier Jones, Lakewood (Sr. QB/DB 6-2, 175)
Jones has continued to develop into a solid signal caller who can exploit a defense in various forms. He tossed 10 touchdown passes in the first six games as a junior, balanced by his feet, which produced 413 yards on the ground and six scores in that same stretch. Looks to be a weekly playmaker for the Piners.
Eddie Scott, Wall (Sr. QB 6-4, 201)
A presence in the pocket, Scott aims to build on a junior run that saw him go 62 of 128 through the air for 768 yards and seven TDs while guiding the Crimson Knights to the South Jersey, Group 3 title. While his arm commands respect, so too, do his feet. Scott kept 115 times for 417 yards and three touchdowns.
Matt Barnett, Southern (Sr. RB 5-6, 138)
Led the Rams as a junior, darting for 607 yards and eight TDs and appears to be one-third of a returning running rotation that will include John Dolphin and Joe Miele. Trio teamed to account for 1,560 yards and 17 TDs in '16.
Nick Chambers, Howell (Sr. RB/LB 5-8, 185)
Within an offense that favors putting the ball in air, Chambers offers balance. One of seven returning starters for a Rebels' team with lofty expectations, he rushed for eight touchdowns, eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times and showed reliable hands as an outlet in the passing game. Only got better as the season progressed.
Jason Giresi, Lacey (Sr. RB/OLB 5-11, 200)
Giresi seeks an encore to a productive junior showing that saw him carry the ball 242 times for 1,105 yards and 10 TDs. He averaged 110.5 yards per game via the ground but also caught eight passes good for 108 yards, including a score.
Jonny Helff, Marlboro (Sr. RB/LB 5-10, 210)
One of two backs to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the Mustangs in '16, Helff will now be the feature back with the graduation of Cameron Caorsi. Built for the rugged load, Helff, who carried 167 times for 1,059 yards and 13 TDs, embraces contact, a trait that transcends to the defensive side where he made 23 tackles. Definition of hard nosed.
Kyle Devaney, Mater Dei (Sr. WR 5-8, 165)
A heady route runner underneath, Devaney was a dependable receiver and instrumental in arguably the play of the year in '16. He made the initial catch before pitching to Eddie Lewis on the hook-and-ladder play that earned the Seraphs a last-second 26-20 victory over Holy Spirit in the Non-Public, Group 2 championship.
Jyhier Jones, Lakewood (Sr. WR/DB 6-2, 175)
Should be the preferred option when Lakewood goes to the air and understandably so. Besides the Piners needing to replace the output of Adi Palmer and Honore Richardson, Jones has a special relationship with the QB- it’s his twin brother Zyhier.
Ryan Mazik, Howell (Sr. WR/DB 6-2, 185)
The Rebels' enteraining spread offense gives receivers ample opportunities to make plays and Mazik embraced that with 27 receptions for 437 yards and five TDs working opposite Naz Brantley. He is especially coordinated with QB Eddie Morales when the signal caller breaks the pocket, dragging routes to avail himself to a throw.
Pasa Fields, Long Branch (Sr. WR/DB 5-11, 165)
Long Branch got people's attention back in July when it stormed to the Shore Conference 7-on-7 crown. With 6-4 TJ Fosque and 6-5 Kaymar Rice working the periphery, Fields exploited the underbelly of a defense with interior routes. Just 2-8 last season, the Green Wave could be primed for a significant turnaround and Fields will undoubtedly play a part in it.
Elijah McAllister, Rumson-Fair Haven (Sr. TE/WR/DE 6-7, 231)
A welcomed addition for RFH after sitting out his entire junior year with a knee injury. Back in the fold, McAllister expects to resume his alluring presence in the passing game, a tall, agile frame that rise above defenders to make a play. Just how good is he? Despite missing all of '16, McAllister is still entertaining a wealth of interest from various FBS programs.
Dalton Burdge, Freehold Boro (Sr. OL 6-6, 330)
Teamed with juniors Alex Verardi (6-0, 245) amd Zach Wiles (6-3, 275), Burdge will be an integral part of an offensive line groomed to instill its athletic will and create seams for the electrifying Ashante Worthy.
Rich Christie, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. OL 6-3, 275)
The offensive line should be one of the strongest areas of the field for RBC with Christie a big part in the unit.
Bill Dowd, Toms River North (Sr. OL 6-4, 285)
One of two returners on the offensive line, Dowd can excavate holes and offer protection in the passing game.
Ryan Greaves, Raritan (Sr. OL/DL 6-2, 220)
Bookending his brother Sean at right tackle, Ryan can hold a block and drive his counterpart downfield. On defense, he's quick through a gap and decisive on a tackle.
Sean Greaves, Raritan (Sr. OL/DL 6-4, 270)
The Rockets will break in a new feature back and whoever assumes the role can have the comfort of running behind this road-grading left tackle. Besides opening holes, he engages and stands up pass rushers.
Jake Bancala, Middletown South (Sr. DL 5-9, 235)
Textbook leverage and immeasurable heart helped Bancala become a force as a run stopper on the nose. Finished with 24 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Nicko Cofone, Middletown North (Sr. OL/DL 5-9, 175)
One of the Lions' strengths a year ago on defense was never allowing an opposing quarterback to get comfortable in the pocket. Cofone played a hand in that pressure, wrapping up seven sacks to go with 49 tackles.
Qua’jon Everett, Freehold Boro (Sr. DE 6-2, 215)
A handful to contain. The pass-rushing specialist, who had nine sacks as a junior, can establish a sturdy edge in the Colonials' stack defense.
Emmett McNamara, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. DE/TE 6-6, 255)
A heat-seaking missile at defensive end, McNamara has committed to Virginia. He brings constant pressure into the backfield and shows discipline defending the run. Coming off a junior year that featured 40 tackles, 5.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Juan Axzavier-Abraham, Barnegat (Sr. LB/RB 6-0, 215)
Counted nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage among his 70 stops. Can bring unending pressure off the corner.
Braedon Baldwin, Howell (Sr. RB/LB 5-11, 195)
Active middle linebacker has the discipline to anchor in place and pop as well as an engine to shed blocks and drive his way into the backfield to make introductions with an opposing QB.
Ian Briggs, Toms River North (Sr. LB 5-10, 190)
Dependable asset in the second level of the defense, Briggs picked up 49 tackles and two sacks last season.
Brian Ewan, Barnegat (Jr. MLB/FB 6-0, 228)
The Bengals welcome back their leading tackler from a year ago. Ewan counted 49 solos among his 96 tackles, picked up a sack, forced two fumbles and recovered one.
Jay Hansen, Keyport (Sr. FB/LB 6-0, 230)
The glue of the Red Raiders' defense at middle linebacker. Always makes his presence felt, substantiated by his seven tackles and interception in a 14-7 victory over Asbury Park in Week 2. Was in on seven more stops in the rematch, a 26-17 loss to the Blue Bishops in the Central Jersey, Group 1 final. Finished with team-high 89 tackles.
Tim McKernan, Wall (Sr. LB 5-11, 194)
McKernan integrated into the defense as a junior and introduced himself to ball carriers by compiling 73 tackles and a sack. One of his signature showings came in a 27-21 victory over RBC in which he had 11 tackles. He added a dozen more on Thanksgiving when the Knights downed rival Manasquan, 21-3, and bloomed into an impact player during a 10-2 campaign that ended with the South Jersey, Group 3 title.
Matt Krauss, Freehold Boro (Jr. WR/S 6-3, 185)
Will be fun for the Colonial fans to watch what he has for an encore. As a sophomore, Krauss shined in the slot, turning 20 receptions into 356 yards and two TDs. The strong safety was the team's second-leading tackler with 94 and added two interceptions.
Pat Laricy, Freehold Twp. (Sr. WR/DB 5-10, 165)
An absolute ball hawk. Laricy was responsible for 39 tackles, three interceptions, five pass defenses and a forced fumble working the corner. He makes good reads in coverage, times his challenges and can go up to get it.
Trevor McNamara, Point Pleasant Boro (Sr. WR/DB 5-9, 170)
McNamara was an important piece to a defense that surrendered 16.7 points per game en route to undefeated march to the B South crown and an 8-2 record. He totaled 52 tackles from secondary, second most for the Panthers, to go with a team-high three interceptions.
Jonathan Gonzalez, Central (Sr. DB 5-8, 175)
The defensive secondary looks like one of the stronger areas of the field for the Golden Eagles and Gonzalez is one reason why. He's accountable in coverage at strong safety and showed a knack for being at the right place at the right time with a couple of interceptions. Gonzalez is also a special teamer of the highest quality, dangerous on returns and omnipresent covering on punts.
Joey Mauriello, Colts Neck (Sr. RB/DB 5-8, 142)
The Cougars need to replace the 1,060 yards gained by '17 graduate Carmen Catena and Mauriello will be amongst those competing for reps. One area where he's firmly established is in the return game; of his 448 all-purpose yards, 404 were claimed on special teams.
Jake Hurler, Freehold Boro (Jr. K 5-10, 160)
Hurler was 37 of 40 on extra points, 3 of 4 on field goals and totaled 46 points as a sophomore. Went 4 for 4 on PATs and connected on a 29-yard field goal (his season long) in a 31-10 triumph over Edison.
Sean Morris, Barnegat (Jr. TE/LS 6-4,225)
Morris clutched16 passed for 235 yards and two TDs by using his size to his advantage. But, don't overlook how important his role is on long snaps. His precision makes the punting and kicking game have one less thing to worry about.
THE DUAL THREATS – Guys that can make a difference on both sides all game long.
Symir Blacknall, Manalapan (Sr. WR/CB 6-1, 185)
Anticipating big things from two-way contributor who backed 37 tackles and an interception with five receptions that totaled 77 yards, including a TD. Seems like the ideal complement to fellow wideout Scott Scherzer.
Luke Frauenheim, Point Pleasant Beach (Sr. QB/LB)
A jack of all trades for the Beach. Frauenheim passed for nearly 1,000 yards and 12 TDs, ran for 736 yards and an additional seven scores while operating the Delaware Wing-T. At linebacker, he posted 72 tackles and, overall, was instrumental in the Garnet Gulls going 6-5 and reaching the Central Jersey, Group 1 semifinals.
Jalen Glenn, Manchester (Sr. RB/DB 5-8, 165)
The Hawks return their leading offensive producer from '16 in Glenn. Not only did he run for 880 yards and 10 touchdowns, he also turned five receptions into 125 yards and a pair of TDs. He ended his junior year with 1,134 all-purpose yards, plus 55 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Jahvonte Hair, Freehold Boro (Sr. CB/WR 6-2, 155)
Part of a solid nucleus for the Colonials, Hair provides reason to respect the pass. He also draws that kind of honor on defense, where he had two interceptions.
Blake Horgan, Central (Sr. TE/OLB 6-2, 230)
At outside linebacker, Horgan figures to be another representation of the athleticism that will permeate the Golden Eagles' defense. Also, could be a target QB Joe Fowler seeks out more frequently this fall.
Brandon Lombana, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. WR/DB 5-8, 185)
Lombana pulled in 21 passed for 399 yards and four TDs last fall and was a heavy hitter in the secondary. Works offense and defense with the same level of passion.
Matt Mazauskas, Howell (Sr. OL/DL 6-1, 215)
Invaluable as a two-way guy on the line of scrimmage. On defense, he comes after the quarterback whether using a bull rush, dipping into a pool of technique or beating counterparts with speed. Not the guy you want bearing down from your blind side. Furthermore, his work at left tackle was pivotal in giving Howell QB Eddie Morales the time to throw for over 2,200 yards and 27 TDs.
Greg Robinson, Keyport (Jr. RB/LB 5-9, 205)
Robinson comes off an exceptional sophomore season that may have been somewhat underappreciated outside of Keyport. Not only was a he a powerful back to complement classmate Devin Wollner, Robinson was a impact player at linebacker. Ran for 408 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Chris Webber, Point Pleasant Beach (Sr. RB/LB 6-0, 200)
Webber relies on a full tank to be a force as a two-way contributor. The Beach doesn't hesitate to call is number in the Wing-T, proven by his 99 yards rushing and one TD on 10 carries in a season-ending loss to Keyport in the Central Jersey, Group 1 semis and he consistently sticks his nose in on tackles. Had eight tackles and two sacks in a Week 2 decision over Bishop Ahr.
TRIPLE THREATS – Players that define the term multi-taskers.
Nick Brusca, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. RB/QB/LB 5-9, 200)
Was invaluable for RBC a year ago, primarily lending depth to the ground game but also stepping under center when Caseys were decimated by injuries at QB. Epitome of a team player.
Sean Gould, Point Pleasant Beach (Sr. RB/CB/K 6-1, 190)
Gould was successful of 30 of 31 extra points and 4 of 5 field-goal attempts for the Beach in '16. He booted a season-long of 37, added 157 yards rushing and 44 stops at corner.
Patrick Handy, Howell (Sr. WR/DB/K 5-11, 195)
Could be a busy guy for the Rebels on multiple fronts. Handy has proven to be clutch in the kicking game, supplies depth in the receiving ranks and is part of a rotation in the defensive secondary.
RISING STOCKS – Players who’ve shown signs of promise ready to come fully to the surface.
Chaz Alessi, Middletown South (Sr. RB/OLB 5-10, 190)
Should see his action expand in a redesigned Eagles' backfield. Rushed 47 times for 247 yards and two TDs a year ago.
Jonathan Banks, Central (Sr. DB 6-1, 175)
Figures to be an imposing figure in the Golden Eagles' secondary and the embodiment of the athleticism within the defensive unit. Had two interceptions as a junior.
Chance Benjamin, Jackson Memorial (Jr. OLB/WR 6-1, 205)
Challenging the strength of the outside linebacker may not be a wise choice. Holds his ground on the edge and delivers with memorable impact. Comes off the edge with a head of steam and bad intentions.
Tahj Berardesco, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. DB 5-11, 175)
Another reason why RBC will be formidable in the secondary. Had 26 tackles, one pick and five pass defenses as a junior.
Shane Black, Central (Sr. K/P 5-10, 170)
Converted 24 of 28 extra points last year during 7-2 campaign.
PJ Buccine, Raritan (Jr. RB 5-9, 190)
Graduation of Vito Aleo opens a vacancy Buccine is primed to fill. He rushed for a TD in each of the last two games of the '16 campaign and poses concern as a receiving option out of the backfield.
Ryan Clark, Donovan Catholic (So. QB/FS 6-1, 210)
New coach Dan Curcione, who comes to the Griffins after steering Wall to the South Jersey, Group 3 crown, will get to work with an incumbent at quarterback. Showed intriguing potential as a freshman starter.
Jeremiah Clarke, Monmouth (Sr. RB/OLB 6-0, 185)
Collected 40 tackles by setting a hard edge and picked his spots to rush the quarterback, notching three sacks for his work.
Sam Conover, Toms River South (Jr. RB/QB/DB 5-10, 165)
Invaluable in terms of his variety of contributions, Conover can fulfill multiple needs. He had a nose for the end zone at running back, filled in at times at quarterback and lurks to make plays in the secondary.
Jeff DeCicco, Holmdel (Jr. QB/S 6-0, 190)
After a 0-5 start, the Hornets won two of their next three outings with their blossoming signal caller at the root. He broke loose for a 25-yard TD dash in a 19-15 win against Manchester and backed another rushing score with one through the skies when Holmdel topped Matawan, 27-7. He had four touchdowns via the ground over the final five games.
Kevin Doherty, Freehold Twp. (Sr. WR/DB 5-10, 165)
Doherty grew into his role in the secondary with four interceptions, including a pick six to testify to his development. Beyond jumping routes, he stepped in the path of the ball to record 31 tackles.
John Dolphin, Southern (Sr. RB/FS 5-8, 160)
The Rams can do damage on the ground through their depth with Dolphin a slippery back to catch. A year ago, he turned 83 carries into 602 yards and three TDs.
Chase Fairbanks, Neptune (Sr. QB 6-0, 190)
First-year coach Tarig Holman has an established signal caller to work with. Fairbanks completed 87 pass for 1,216 yards and 15 TDs in his first full season. A year wiser, his completion percentage could soar. He threw for 100 yards or more in six games, marked by a career-best 223 and three TDs in a 28-21 loss to Colts Neck.
Joe Fowler, Central (Jr. QB 6-1, 215)
Fowler impressed as a sophomore, piloting the Golden Eagles to a 7-2 mark. Along the way, he threw for 722 yards, seven TDs and completed 46 of 91 attempts. His value will only rise after guiding Central to the final of the Shore 7-on-7 final in July. Could be ready for a breakout season.
Dean Gallo, Holmdel (Jr. RB/CB 5-8, 160)
Gallo rumbled for 600 rushing yards, combining a fearlessness between the tackles and elusiveness charging around the corner. He won't hesitate to stick his nose in on a tackle at cornerback.
Cole Groschel, Brick (Jr. SB/CB 6-0, 175)
Groschel made a rapid progression as a sophomore, becoming a weekly contributor on both sides of the ball. He found the end zone on the run and by completing routes and denied the same luxuries while aggressively playing the corner. Solid in pass coverage and supporting the run.
Justin Hans, Brick Memorial (Sr. QB/MLB 5-11, 185)
A pre-season injury a year ago curtailed his availability, but Hans looks to regain the form he showed during a promising sophomore year when he made 53 tackles and added an interception and fumble recovery. Gets after it on defense. Shoots assertively on tackles and reads the passing game.
Justin Johnson, Rumson-Fair Haven (Sr. OL 6-3, 230)
Continuing the recent trend of high-profile linemen the Bulldogs groom, Johnson is a force up front and drawing plenty of college recruiting activity.
Coleton Klaus, Lacey (Sr. QB/DB/P 5-11, 200)
Sharp and surveying in the pocket, Klaus accurately completed 63 percent of his throws (98 for 154) while passing for 1,256 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior. Has a good sense of when its time to take off and added eight TDs on the ground.
Christian Lanzalotto, Rumson-Fair Haven (Jr. OLB 6-3, 205)
One of six returning starts from one of the Shore's top defensive units, the outside linebacker grew into the position to become a stiff edge setter. He strings out the run and is decisive upon impact.
Steve Lubischer, Red Bank Catholic (Jr. QB)
Victimized by the freakish injury bug that plagued the quarterback position all season for the Caseys, Lubischer was still able to show a world of promise when healthy. After missing six weeks, he returned and started the final three contests and finished with 641 passing yards and six TDs to go with his two rushing scores.
Quran Malloy, Red Bank (Sr. DE 6-3, 215)
Malloy not only strikes an imposing shadow off the end, he fires with speed and purpose. His 0-to-60 burst on the snap instantly leaves an offensive tackle at his mercy coming in hot off the edge.
Adam Markmann, Middletown South (Sr. OL/DL 6-1, 250)
Thrives on both sides of scrimmage for the Eagles. At right guard, he gets under pads and turns linemen away from the ball while as a defensive tackle, his burst off the snap and push into the backfield causes instant mayhem.
Noah Mickens, Red Bank (Sr. RB/DB 6-1, 170)
The Bucs just missed qualifying for the post season and Mickens, who grabbed three interceptions last year, would like nothing more than to be a guiding light pointing them back to the playoffs. He’ll lead by example, both for his team and for his promising younger brother, sophomore RB Makai.
Kyle Moore, Marlboro (Sr. QB 6-1, 180)
While the Mustangs were certainly run-oriented in '16, their passing game benefitted from the ground attack. Moore shared time at QB but the job is his for the taking this fall. Within the platoon, Moore completed 39 of 62 throws for 527 yards and four TDs. He'll have one of the Shore's top wide outs to work with in Justin Marcus.
Ryan O’Hara, Red Bank Catholic (Jr. K/P 6-1, 205)
The kicking game is in capable feet for RBC. O'Hara nailed all but two of his 30 PATs and buried a game-winning field goal from 23 yards out to lift the Caseys over Middletown North, 30-27, in Week 2. Could be in for a busy season.
Tom Olausen, Mater Dei (Sr. OL 5-11, 210)
With the abundance of skill players and the fireworks they lit, it was easy to overlook those who offered protection on the throws and opened lanes to run through. Olausen qualifies in that category with his consistency disengaging defensive linemen.
Jaylen Paige, Asbury Park (Sr. OL/DL 6-3, 275)
The only underclassmen to earn All-B Central on the offensive line, Paige was essential to the Blue Bishops offense. It should come as no surprise how often ran behind its punishing left tackle who sealed blocks and carved paths.
Chris Patterson, Middletown South (Sr. LB/OL 5-10, 180)
Gritty enforcer at middle linebacker, Patterson was in on 58 tackles, recorded nine for loss and picked up two sacks. Stout against the run and a big-time support system holding things together in the box.
James Pendergist, Manasquan (Jr. WR/DB 6-0, 160)
Excellent in downfield coverage, Pendergist has no problems showing his athleticism. Can elevate to the ball, making him an inviting option at wide receiver and a corner to avoid testing with a jump ball.
Kevin Porch, Long Branch (Sr. WR/DB 6-2, 155)
As you scroll through the list, it's hard to miss the height the Green Wave will seek to make the most of from its group of receivers. With Kaymar Mimes, TJ Fosque and Pasa Fields out in patterns, Porch will be yet another option QB Juwan Wilkins can disperse the ball to with the utmost confidence.
Scott Prendergast, Howell (Sr. OL/DL 6-3, 255)
The right tackle uses his hands well, neutralizing counterparts with a sudden and explosive jolt. Slick at the kick block, Prendergast welcomes every chance to put someone in a different uniform on his seat.
John Prus, Colts Neck (Sr. FB/OLB 6-1, 215)
Prus quietly emerged on the outside where he made 52 tackles. He also became a timely pass rusher who had five sacks and nine hurries as a junior.
Eric Quartey, Freehold Twp. (Sr. TE/LB 6-0, 200)
Listed in the pre-season at linebacker means a change in position, but probably not disposition for Quartey. Working as a defensive tackle last year, he showed the ability to get off blocks to either deploy on the quarterback (three sacks, four hurries) or strafe down the line to get in on a tackle (57, five for loss).
Brennan Richardson, Pinelands (Sr. RB/CB 5-9, 175)
The Wildcats tend to pound the ground and Richardson can emphasize that element. Over the last two years, he rushed for 1,494 yards and 10 TDs. Teams with Evan Burton to push the running agenda for Pinelands.
Connor Robbins, Middletown North (Jr. RB/LB 5-10, 192)
The Lions are another team whose worries about integrating a new quarterback can be tempered by the idea of who will be offering run support. Robbins ran for 472 yards and eight TDs and, combined with running mate Connor Welsh, will make Middletown North once again formidable to contain when it takes to the ground.
Mike Rosati, Shore (Sr. DL 6-2, 200)
Gives the Blue Devils a veteran to emulate up front. Can shed a block to bear down on the quarterback and hold his ground to stop the run.
Sean Rossback, Red Bank Catholic (So. WR/DB 5-9, 175)
After making his mark as a freshman for Ocean, Rossback heads north as a transfer for the Caseys. Should find his niche in the slot and will added depth in the secondary as a defender on a mission to find and halt the football.
Leo Shimonovich, Jackson Memorial (Jr. RB/OLB 5-11, 175)
Perhaps the heir apparent to Mike Gawlik as the feature back. It's no secret replacing the program's all-time leading rusher is a priority. Shimonovich impressed when spelling Gawlik and has a world of potential.
Conor Smith, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. OL 6-5, 270)
One of the reasons why so many consider RBC the team to beat in B North this fall revolves around a massive and cohesive offensive line. Smith will team with Rich Christie, Mike Griggs and TE Kevin Bauman with the hopes of helping the Caseys to become a dominant force on the ground.
Devonte Spann, Matawan (Sr. RB/LB/DB 5-10, 155)
Expect Spann to have his number called more often out of the backfield. Inserted into the rotation mid-season, Spann gave a different look while working alongside Derek Wiley. With Wiley and his 925 rushing yards having graduated, Spann, who ran 36 times for 203 yards, has the look of a guy ready to see his workload increase.
Matt Tardy, Middletown South (Jr. DE/TE 6-2, 205)
Working opposite Jake Krellin, Tardy bloomed on defense for the Eagles. Taking a page from his high-profile teammate's book, Hardy lowered the boom in the backfield with 14 tackles for loss among his 36 stops, including seven sacks. Showed a ton of promise for a bright future.
Gino Tartamella, Red Bank Catholic (Jr. LB/TE 6-2, 215)
A strong linebacking unit includes Tartamella, a bruising hitter on the outside who compiled 57 tackles as a sophomore. While he plays physical, there is also finesse defending in his game when it comes to pass coverage.
Daniel Vital, Keansburg (Sr. QB/DB 6-1, 200)
Came into his own as a junior. Vital completed 46 of 100 passes for 680 yards and seven TDs and rushed for 447 yards and five scores on 101 carries. The key that will start the ignition on the Titans' offense.
Connor Welsh, Middletown North (Sr. RB/DB 5-8, 180)
The Lions struck offense balance on course to a 9-3 record and appearance in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 final. Welsh played a significant part in that, rumbling for 433 yards and accumulating five touchdowns despite missing five games mid-season due to injury. Has 1,209 career rushing yards and 19 total TDs.
Juwan Wilkins, Long Branch (Sr. QB 5-9, 145)
A busy and productive summer operating the offense in various 7-on-7 tournaments, including a championship showing in the Shore's annual event, got Wilkins synchronized with his talented array of receivers. He will deftly dispense to a group with all the potential to be among the best in the conference.
Keegan Woods, Rumson-Fair Haven (Jr. LB 6-0, 215)
Only improved throughout his sophomore year, a trend Bulldogs hope translates into an endless ceiling of potential. Stout on the outside, Woods had 84 tackles and rose to the occasion in a post-season march to a fourth consecutive sectional championship.
THE SLEEPERS – You might not be familiar with them yet, but they’re on the verge of major notoriety
Canyon Birch, Manasquan (Jr. RB/LB 5-8, 175)
Proved his mettle in a 32-21 victory over Red Bank Catholic in which he carried 33 times for 197 yards and three TDs. Will combine with Connor Morgan for one of the Shore's more promising running combinations.
Alex Bryant, Donovan Catholic (Jr. RB/WR/DB 5-10, 155)
Displayed promise as a sophomore, particularly in pass coverage. A Spartan squad hit hard by graduation will be counting on his multi-tasking.
Mike Cenname, Freehold Twp. (Sr. RB/LB 5-7, 170)
The Patriots lost their top two rushers from a year ago to graduation, opening the door for Cenname to assume the good portion of the rushing load.
Greg Chadwick, Lacey (Jr. LB/FB 5-10, 200)
Chadwick led the Lions with 57 tackles as a sophomore. Fearless to the ball and definitive upon arrival.
Kavon Chambers, Central (So. RB 5-11, 185)
Chambers has the unenvious task of replacing the program's all-time leading rushing, Mike Bickford. Huge shoes to fill, but his steered him to 208 yardss and a TD on 34 carries.
Steven Cmieleski, Red Bank Catholic (Jr. LB/FB 5-11, 190)
Cmieleski saw limited action at running back, but made his mark on defense with 50 tackles and an interception.
Deshaun Conaway, Keansburg (Sr. LB 5-10, 170)
The Titans can count on Conaway to find the football and stop it. He'll be the top returning tackles (47) to set the tenor for the defense. He also forced a fumble.
Eric Cowan, Manchester (Jr. TE/OLB 6-3, 205)
Rang up 33 tackles as a sophomore and, based on his size, figures to be an enticing target for the Hawks in the passing game.
Bishop Curry, Toms River North (Sr. DB 5-9, 185)
With seven tackles in Week 1 and an interception in Week 2, Curry made it clear as a junior he was not to be taken lightly. Made an impact for the 11-1 Mariners.
Anthony Damato, Marlboro (Sr. OL/DL 5-10, 250)
The Mustangs featured a pair of 1,000-yard rushers last fall in Cameron Caorsi and Jonny Helff. Both had the advantage of popping through holes carved by Damato and his constituents up front.
Matt D’Amore, Jackson Memorial (Sr. WR/CB 5-9, 160)
D'Amore quietly emerged as a downfield threat in the latter stretch of the '16 season. He pulled in three catches for 104 yards, including a 58-yard TD, in a 39-16 win against Nottingham in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group 4 playoffs and pulled down a 15-yard scoring strike a week later in a 41-15 loss to Allentown. Had six receptions for 166 yards in those two outings.
Andrew Daniluk, Toms River North (Sr. WR/DB 6-1, 175)
Daniluk will be worth monitoring. The Mariners bid farewell to game breakers Darrion Carrington and Bryce Watts at graduation and now must groom new receivers to be viable in the power spread. With good size, Daniluk figures to be in the mix to challenge for time out wide.
Quincy Davis, Freehold Boro (Jr. WR 6-6, 200)
Just on size alone, Davis is a point of interest for the Colonials' offense. It's no secret the offense will revolve around the elusive running of Ashante Worthy. However, Boro still needs to deter opposing defenses from constantly stacking the box. What better way than to occasionally toss an alley-oop to a target that will routinely have an enticing size advantage?
Stavon Drew, Toms River North (Jr. OL 6-3, 270)
A newcomer to keep an eye on, Drew definitely has the size necessary to challenge for a place up front. He's already exhibited upper body strength, throwing the shot put during track season. This fall, he'll be asked to throw his muscle around moving defensive linemen out of the way.
Tommy Ferrante, Toms River East (Sr. RB/LB 6-0, 225)
The middle linebacker has exceptional vision and closes hard on the ball. When he shoots a gap and wraps...game over.
Gil Goldsmith, Shore (Jr. RB/DB 5-9, 165)
Goldsmith is the top returning ground gainer for the Blue Devils. As a sophomore, he gave Shore depth at running back, totaling 98 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries, numbers that should a dramatic increase this fall. He added six grabs that supplied 191 yards and two TDs, totaled 465 all-purpose yards, had two interceptions as well as a fumble recovery and accounted for 38 points in the kicking game.
Jaleel Gopaul, Matawan (Sr. RB/CB 5-6, 145)
The Huskies look to replace the output of Derek Wiley (925 rushing yards, 1,330 all-purpose yards) and Gopaul will be among those looking to fill the void. Like Wiley, he can carry the ball, catch it and return it on special teams.
Charlie Gordinier, Red Bank Catholic (So. TE/LB 6-5, 225)
A newcomer to the varsity, Gordinier is a promising athlete who could have an immediate impact. The younger brother of former Casey and current Miami Hurricane Jamie Gordinier, Charlie is cut from similiar cloth: strong, versatile with good size and extremely athletic.
Malik Ingram, Mater Dei (So. RB/LB 5-7, 190)
Ingram hinted at his potential in just his second varsity game, parlaying 21 carries into a season-best 107 yards in a 28-7 win against Freehold Boro. His quickness is an alluring feature the Scarlet Fliers look to activate in space, meaning be wary of him on the screen.
Jason Kauffman, Colts Neck (Sr. TE/OLB 6-2, 210)
Just based on size, Kauffman seems a likely target the Cougars will explore when they look downfield. He caught six passes for 78 yards within a scheme that favored the run.
Quint Kearns, Manchester (Jr. RB/LB 5-11, 175)
A straight-ahead, physical run between the tackles and a threat to be fed when Hawks go heavy in the backfield. He plowed his way to 263 yards and three TDs as a sophomore.
Quadir Lawson, Asbury Park (Jr. RB/LB 5-7, 185)
The transfer from Shore arrives at a time when the Blue Bishops look to restock a backfield key to their march to the Central Jersey, Group 1 title. He parlayed 47 carries into 320 yards, averaging 6.8 per touch, and scored a pair of TDs.
Billy Levy, Long Branch (Jr. RB/OLB 6-0, 175)
Levy,a transfer from Ocean, introduced himself in Week Zero by supplying 10 tackles, a sack and a forced fum in a 42-7 triumph against Monmouth. Plays with exemplary energy and tenacity and was among a group of underclassmen that showed loads of potential.
Anthony Lombardo, Colts Neck (Sr. WR/CB 5-7, 155)
The slot receiver has no issues going over the middle to make the tough catch and, even when not the primary option, draws any additional defenders off the intended target. He caught eight passes for 72 yards and could see those numbers increase.
Joey Lombardo, Colts Neck (Sr. QB/RB 5-8, 150)
Lombardo logged some substantial time at QB last fall, combining for 190 passing yards in late-season victories over Monroe and Neptune as the Cougars (4-6) ended '16 on a three-game winning streak. More of a complementary back to Carmen Catena as a junior, he knows how to run with the ball (19 carries for 94 yards).
Peter Lucas, Rumson-Fair Haven (Sr. RB/SB 5-11, 185)
The Bulldogs cultivate depth in the backfield and Lucas was among a stable of backs who produced on a weekly basis. Light on his feet and can cut on a dime.
Alex Maldjian, Rumson-Fair Haven (Jr. RB 5-8, 205)
Not the back you want to see lowering his pads. Maldjian is a battering ram with ball with his finger pinned to the truck stick. He's measured waiting for a crease, explosive through it and a challenge to bring down, adding another dimension to the Bulldogs' diverse ground game.
Jack McCrae, Shore (Jr. RB/OLB 5-9, 150)
One of the signatures to the Blue Devils' Wing-T annually hinges on the stable of backs coach Mark Costantino grooms. McCrae is among that group. He ran for 43 yards on just 13 touches as a developing sophomore, a workload that could see a substantial increase.
Grant McKelvey, Brick Memorial (Sr. QB/OLB 6-1, 185)
McKelvey gives the Mustangs something greatly needed in the rough-and-tumble A South - experience at quarterback. In the first three games of '16, he threw for 393 yards.
Brady McNally, Wall (Sr. RB/LB 5-11, 195)
First-year coach Tony Grandinetti has the arduous task of auditioning replacements for 1,500-yard rusher Sean Larkin and McNally seems a likely candidate. As an understudy, he turned 52 carries into 353 yards, averaging 6.8 a haul, and scored five TDs.
Tanner Miick, Lacey (Jr. WR/FS 6-2, 180)
Comes off a quality sophomore campaign in which he caught 15 passes for 191 yards and four TDs. Gives QB Coleton Klaus a proven set of hands to work with.
Darius Moore, Keansburg (Sr. WR/DB 5-10, 170)
Moore has developed a connection with QB Daniel Vital and the duo could fuel an ascent from the Titans. He caught a dozen passes for 271 yards and accounted for five of the seven TD throws Vital unleashed.
Ryan Moran, Ocean (Jr. WR/LB/DB 5-10, 175)
Another of the underclassmen who substantiated their value with strong sophomore showings. A tireless work on both sides, he'll break in a new quarterback as an inviting option while maintaining his defensive worth and versatility.
Stephen Navitsky, Red Bank (Sr. QB 5-8, 160)
Another reason why the Buccaneers could reverse their 4-6 showing in '16. Navitsky took the majority of snaps over the final six games and faced some stiff competition against Rumson-Fair Haven, Red Bank Catholic and Raritan over that closing stretch. So, he's been tested and primed to perhaps pay out some dividends as a senior.
Blaine Netterman, Brick Memorial (Sr. FS/SB 6-1, 195)
Netterman found an effective role operating in the slot for the Mustangs and could see more frequent action come his way. Also, will be a big part of the defensive plan in the secondary.
Johnny O’Beirne, Holmdel (Sr. RB/LB 5-9, 180)
Last fall's leading tackler for the Hornets with 56 is among seven returning starters on the defensive side. He gets upfield enough to make plays behind the line and has a tendency to be in the right place at an opportune time, pouncing on a pair of fumbles.
Evan Otten, Toms River East (Sr. RB/DB 5-8, 185)
His play at safety earned Otten some love from the A South coaches who elected him First Team All-A South. Respect him on the blitz and what he can cause on contact. Out of the backfield, Otten is shifty in search of running room and a concern as an outlet in the passing game.
Thomas Pellone, Jackson Memorial (Sr. FB/MLB 5-6, 185)
Old-school fullback. No bells or whistles. Just powers forward and keeps his legs firing to fall forward. Has no problem leading the way for his tailback. Team player who favors success over individual glory.
Jasher Pena, Ocean (Sr. RB 5-9, 170)
Pena made strides while getting acclimated to the system and showed flashes that could materialize more often this fall. His speed turning the corner to outrun pursuit was evident when he took a screen pass and raced 60 yards for a score in a 41-7 decision over Point Boro.
Dayshawn Porter, Monmouth (Jr. RB 6-0, 155)
While the Falcons break in a new quarterback, Porter and Jeremiah Clarke can be of assistance by establishing the run. Has the capability to erupt, evidence by his 86 yards rushing and touchdown garnered on a mere four carries in a win over Holmdel.
Liam Riecks, Keansburg (Jr. RB/OLB 5-10, 200)
The point man for the Titans' running game, Riecks handled the burden quite nicely as a sophomore. He turned 155 carries into 846 yards and five TDs. But, beware. He can flash out of the backfield and pose an outlet, proven by his 78 yards receiving, including a score.
Eli Rife, Monmouth (Jr. WR 5-8, 135)
Seeks to build on a solid sophomore run. Caught 18 passes for 221 yards and is the lone returning starter at receiver with extensive experience for the Falcons and new coach Larry Nikola. Has to be prepared for added attention.
Sincere Saunders, Mater Dei (Jr. RB 5-8, 165)
Despite missing the first four games, Saunders became an important component of the offense. His smooth running style was at the root of 374 yards rushing and five TDs on 55 carries. Broke loose for a season-high 127 yards and two scores in a 51-8 win over St. Anthony in the opening round of the Non-Public, Group 2 playoffs.
Bryan Schlesinger, Toms River North (Sr. OL 5-11, 265)
Rotated into the offensive line mix as a junior gave Schlesinger valuable experience in preparation for a larger role. With classmate Bill Dowd the only returning starter up front, Schlesinger will be counted on to fill one of the vacancies.
TJ Scuderi, Toms River South (Sr. QB 6-0, 170)
A baseball commit to Monmouth, Scuderi will count on the same arm that fashioned a 6-2 record on the mound to create some magic on the gridiron. He was the Indians' starter under center as a sophomore and returns to the role for his final year.
Shawn Scully, Colts Neck (Sr. SB/CB 5-8, 165)
When the Cougars look to strike through the skies, Scully may lend an important hand. He caught seven passes for 64 yards while being groomed for his senior year.
Jaquel Spears, Jackson Liberty (Sr. RB/DB)
The Lions plan to make a substantial improvement on a 1-9 showing in '16 and Spears could be more than useful in doing so. As a junior, he logged substantial time working out of the backfield and might be the lynchpin the offense is designed around.
Shykim Treadwell, Keyport (Jr. RB/DB 6-2, 195)
What made the Red Raiders so effective running the football last fall was the depth and ever-changing looks of those who carried it. Treadwell is one-third of a stable that includes Devin Wollner and Greg Robinson. While Wollner is a scatback and Robinson a power back, Treadwell is more a combination of the two, elusive through a hole with acceleration in the open field. Turned 62 hauls into 262 yards and four TDs last fall.
Dan Vanmeerbeke, Raritan (Sr. QB 5-5, 160)
Don't waste your time measuring Vanmeerbeke. Instead, take note of his heart and grit. He did whatever was asked of him last year, throwing for 200 yards and two TDs against Wall, turning two carries into 57 yards in a win over Matawan and pulling in two receptions that resulted in 72 yards and a pair of TDs when the Rockets topped Red Bank, 41-13. Looks to be Raritan's early favorite to be the QB in '17.
Derek Victor, Colts Neck (Sr. OLB 6-0, 195)
Just how active Victor was can be traced through the numbers. As a junior, he made 87 tackles, six for loss, had a sack, forced two fumbles and recovered a pair.
Ricky Voss, Monmouth (Sr. TE/DE 5-10, 195)
Voss will likely work both sides of the ball, but really made an impact last season off the edge. He made 35 tackles, forced a fumble and got deep into the backfield to get a pair of sacks.
Scott Wetzel, Colts Neck (Sr. DT/C 6-0, 240)
Will be a key figure in Colts Neck's pursuit of establishing control along the line of scrimmage. What made him invaluable as a junior was his seamless transition from positions along the offensive front and how well sought and stopped the football at defensive tackle. His quick reactions and alertness were captured on an interception in the season finale, a 28-7 victory against Hightstown.
Logan Whelan, Red Bank Catholic (Sr. WR/QB/DB 5-8, 175)
Whelan can address a variety of needs, but his primary role lies in providing depth at running back. He rushed for 318 yards and two TDs in '16.
Jake White, Freehold Twp. (Sr. OL 6-0, 280)
Anchoring the offensive line at center, White will not only get the offense in motion off the snap, he must keep a rebuilt front organized and defenders a new quarterback, potentially junior Nick Reardon. In order for the Patriots' Air Raid offense to succeed, time in the pocket is essential, something White aims to provide.
Devin Williams, Matawan (Jr. RB/MLB 5-10, 185)
Williams was in on 37 tackles last year and closed the season with 55 yards rushing on six carries during a 32-3 victory over Middlesex that snapped a six-game losing skid.
Jalen Willis, Red Bank (Sr. SB/FS 5-11, 175)
Willis could be a back the Bucs look to depend on while building a ground game. He may unite with sophomore Makai Mickens in the backfield to share some of the running load or establish in the slot, serving as a option in seams or a candidate to run the jet sweep.