It seems like just the other day the high school football season was beginning and yet this is cutoff weekend for public schools when it comes to the NJSIAA Playoffs.  By Saturday night we will likely know what teams qualified and what the seeds and brackets look like for the 16 teams that have earned a chance to play in each section.

There is no bigger game in the Shore Conference than tonight’s meeting between Toms River North and Red Bank Catholic at the home of the Mariners.  Not only are they ranked 2nd and 3rd at the shore but RBC is third in the state and North is 7th.  Both have one loss but come into this game on winning streaks and most importantly it appears the Mariners Micah Ford will be a full go for this one.  He suffered a lower body injury late in the loss to Donovan Catholic on September 15 and after missing three games saw limited action last week in a blowout win over Toms River South.  The 2022 NJ Player-of-the-Year and Stanford commit could be the deciding factor if he is healthy as Ford is a tremendous talent in a game that features many marquee players.

Brick Memorial's Connor Dietz
Brick Memorial's Connor Dietz


Among other key games tonight that will factor into the playoffs are Brick at Brick Memorial.  The Mustangs are one of two undefeated teams at the shore but have lost 9 of their last 10 meetings with their crosstown rivals who need the win to keep their playoff hopes alive in South, Group 4. Point Boro is at Raritan and favored to complete an 8-1 regular season and earn the top seed in South, Group 2 and Donovan Catholic, the #1 team in the shore hosts Middletown South in an important American Division contest.  Should the Griffins and RBC both win tonight it sets up a winner-take-all meeting next week for the division championship.

It is clearly crunch time for many teams who have big aspirations.

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Gallery Credit: Mike Brant