Marching bands, cheerleaders and spirit squads, mascots and oh yes 100 plus players in uniforms.

It’s week one of the high school football season with 22 games this weekend involving Shore Conference schools, several of which will answer many off-season questions like:

  1. How does Toms River North replace the likes of Husni, Carrington, Watts, Day and LaQuaglia? The answer is you don’t but there is plenty of returning and up-and-coming talent for the Mariners to be at least co-favorites in Class “A South”.  Daryn Blackwell, Mickey Maldonado, Bishop Curry and Andrew Daniluk are the veterans who will be counted on as North opens the season at Southern tonight, who dropped a heartbreaker to Central in one of three “Week 0” games last weekend.
  2. Will new Jackson Memorial head coach Vinnie Mistretta be able to maintain the Jaguars winning ways? The program has had only one losing season in their last 8 and Mistretta is a Jackson grad and former assistant coach who has been a part of several championships.  However they have to replace record-setting running back Mike Gawlik and it’s never easy to rebuild in Class “A South”.  The Jaguars host crosstown rival Jackson Liberty tonight.
  3. How long will it take Dan Curcione to make Donovan Catholic into a contender? Only eight months ago Curcione won a state sectional title at Wall and his new team was 0-10 last season so don’t expect a 360-degree turnaround in one season.  However the Griffins have some talent including sophomore quarterback Ryan Clark, a renewed spirit and play in what is usually a wide-open Class “B South” division.  They visit Barnegat tonight.
  4. Who are the best teams in Ocean County? Not sure of the order but the list includes Brick, Central, Toms River North and Point Borough.
  5. Who are the best players in Ocean County? Among the senior class how about Josh Lezin and Zyheir Jones (Lakewood), Tony Thorpe (Brick Memorial), Joe Hurle (Jackson), James Fara (Pt Boro), Jack Hadley (Donovan Catholic), Joe Miele (Southern) and Blackwell/Maldonado (TR North).

The Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week on the Shore Sports Network finds us at Wall tonight where the Crimson Knights host Ocean.  All the action can be heard on Beach Radio 1160/1310AM and through the Shore Sports Network free mobile app.