The drive from Toms River High School North to Donovan Catholic is just over two miles so you would think the two schools would have a longstanding football rivalry but nothing could be further from the truth.  The teams are usually in different divisions because of school size and while the Mariners have often been among the shore’s best the Griffins until recently were mainly mediocre…that was before Dan Curcione arrived on Hooper Avenue for the 2017 season,    Meanwhile Dave Oizerowitz was piling up championships across town and that culminated last season when North went 14-0, won the first-ever overall Group 5 championship and finished as the #1 public school in the state.

A check of the records shows these teams have only played twice in the last 40 years prior to tonight’s highly-anticipated clash and on the field Donovan won both but with an asterisk.  In the pandemic-shortened season of 2020 the Griffins rolled to a 35-0 win on their way to a 7-1 season while North limped to a 3-4 record. Then in 2021 Donovan had to forfeit three wins in their first four games for using a player ruled ineligible.  Included was a 34-13 win over the Mariners which turned into a loss.

That’s part of the back story between these teams with many players knowing one another going back to youth football days.  No doubt there is more on the line tonight then in any of their previous meetings.  North is 3-0, ranked #1 at the shore and #4 in the state,  Donovan comes in 2-0, 4th among shore teams and ranked 17th in the state.  Throw in they are both in the American Division and you have a lot at stake.

via Facebook
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By the way if you recognize the voice handling the PA announcing tonight that’s because it will be me and I am really looking forward to this one.  Kickoff is at 6:30pm.

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