Some of you might remember when the high school football season started around the third week of September and ended on Thanksgiving Day.  That of course went away a long time ago and this year a radical change has many teams done for the season and others that could play into the first weekend of December.  For the first time ever New Jersey will have overall champions in Groups 1-5 to go along with the norm of two Non-Public champions.  On the public side after two rounds of playoff games Toms River North, Middletown South, Rumson & Raritan are the only Shore Conference teams alive.  Donovan Catholic and Red Bank Catholic are still playing in the non-public brackets.

The North Mariners are the only unbeaten team left and to finish that way they would need to win three more games against very good opponents.  First up is Kingsway who they will host Friday in a rematch of last year’s South Jersey Group 5 final.  Should North avenge that loss then they would meet the Lenape/Edison winner in the Group 5 semifinals.  A victory there and it’s on to Rutgers University and a date with the North Jersey champs with Phillipsburg among the contenders.

For Mariners coach Dave Oizerowitz and his staff it has to be one game at a time but this season truly has the potential to be special and one for the history books in winning the first ever Group 5 title and finishing undefeated.  North is loaded and I’ve followed high school football for nearly 50 years and Micah Ford is making his way on my list of best players in shore history.  In Friday’s win over Marlboro the junior had a sequence in which he ran for an 85 yard touchdown, intercepted a pass and then threw a 29-year touchdown pass, all in just four plays.

Ford is not a one-man show as this North team is loaded with weapons including Jeremiah Pruitt, Tareq Council and Josh Moore who will hopefully return from an injury.  Add in a huge and athletic offensive line, anchored by senior Josh Kaye and a solid defense which includes Ty Kazanowsky and it all adds up to what may just be a team for the ages.

See Country Stars Who've Played Football

Darius Rucker played football when he was young. Kenny Chesney and Garth Brooks played in high school while Trace Adkins, Chase Rice and Lee Brice played college ball. See a short list of country singers in their football uniforms.

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