Eagles, Huskies vie for state football titles this weekend

first_imgMiddletown High School South did everything it could to not take its game at Middletown High School North lightly on Thanksgiving. After all, Middletown North was enjoying its most victories (six) since its last winning season, which was in 2000.But there is a state championship game on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at Rutgers University’s High Point Solutions Stadium against Jackson Memorial High School — the 12th championship trip in the last 16 years for the Eagles (9-2).Matawan Regional High School also plays for a state championship in NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III when it takes on Carteret High School at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Kean University. MIDDLETOWN SOUTH Middletown South needed a 10-point rally in the fourth quarter on Thanksgiving morning for a 20-13 victory over Middletown North. Matt Mosquera kicked a 36-yard field goal, and Cole Rogers scored his second touchdown of the game — a 56-yard run to give him 26 touchdowns on the season. His workhorse effort of 31 carries for 199 yards gives him 1,557 yards rushing for the season.Middletown North took a 13-10 lead after three quarters when sophomore quarterback Donald Glenn threw touchdown passes of 29 yards to Jordan Pitts in the second quarter and 24 yards to Josh Gomez in the third quarter. It was no surprise to Middletown South coach Steve Antonucci, who said before the game that Middletown North coach Steve Bush has changed the attitude around the school toward winning and contending for championships in his two years there.However, Middletown South, which has shut out six opponents and has a 323-94 scoring margin, held Chad Freshnock, who has had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, to 66 yards on 25 carries to score its 14th straight holiday victory over the Lions (6-4).Winning the game — its fifth straight — was important for Middletown South to gain momentum going into the Jackson Memorial game. Coming out of the game healthy was even more important, and both missions were accomplished.Antonucci compares Jackson Memorial to Manalapan High School with the commanding profile of its offensive and defensive lines, which have led to the Jaguars scoring more than 400 points and allowing 156 points in a 10-1 season. Mike Gawlik’s 20 touchdowns and Vincent Lee’s 15 lead the ground game, while Joe DeMaio brings two years of big-game experience at quarterback. Gawlik has averaged three touchdowns a game over the last five.While Middletown South comes off a 27-3 victory over Neptune High School in the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals and is seeking its first state title since beating Moorestown High School in 2006, Jackson Memorial is seeking its first state title since 2005 after routing Brick Township High School, 45-7, in the semifinals on Nov. 21. That win for the Jaguars avenged a 30-24 overtime loss to Brick Township that eventually decided the Shore Conference A South Division. Since then, Jackson Memorial has reeled off seven straight victories.“They have Manalapan’s physicality. Their offense is different, but their mindset is the same with the ability to throw the ball downfield and big kids clogging up the gaps,” Antonucci said.Jackson Memorial coach Walt Krystopik also praised Middletown South’s line play with size and strength that compares to Brick Memorial High School and Red Bank Catholic High School.Both teams also have effective kickers, with Middletown South quarterback Mosquera handling the kicking for his team and Jared Calhoun kicking for Jackson Memorial. MATAWAN Defense will be the key for a Matawan team (7-4) that has won four straight games and lived up to its billing as one of the sleeper teams in the state playoffs after opening its season with two lopsided, shutout losses. It comes off a 23-20 victory over Ocean Township High School and must now clamp down on Carteret’s Rakeem Bennett, who has rushed for 1,554 yards and scored 18 touchdowns, and quarterback Nelson Baez, who has thrown for 1,050 yards and seven touchdowns.Freshman quarterback George Pearson has come into his own for Matawan, completing 51.9 percent of his passes for 1,755 yards and 12 touchdowns. His favorite targets are Justin Ferrara, who has 37 receptions for 781 yards and five touchdowns, and DeJohn Rogers, who has 33 catches for 554 yards and five touchdowns.Freshman Devon Spann leads Matawan’s ground gainers with 138 carries for 799 yards and 10 touchdowns. By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent last_img

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