South Brunswick High School’s football team is busily preparing for its NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group V semifinals matchup with Manalapan High School at home Nov. 20 after a convincing, 46-7 victory over Hunterdon Central Regional High School Nov. 13.
The win is the eighth straight for coach Joe Goerge’s team, which has been perfect since falling in its season-opener to Middletown High School South. Except for a brief spell at the beginning of the contest, the top-seeded Vikings easily handled their eighth-seeded guests, limiting Hunterdon Central (3-7) to fewer than 100 yards in total offense.
Coming out of an off week, the Vikings found themselves on unfamiliar ground as the visiting Red Devils struck first, taking the opening kickoff and scoring six plays later on a short run for a 7-0 lead. It did not stay that way for long.
“Hunterdon Central is a good team, and they showed us right away what they were capable of doing,” Goerge said. “In a way, that helped get us going, too, because we didn’t want them to take the game away from us.”
South Brunswick dominated from that point on. Wendell Allen and Jaier Garrett scored on runs of 21 and 22 yards, respectively, and quarterback Josh Liao teamed up with Mo Jabbie for a 64-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The onslaught continued into the second quarter, as the Vikings were able to move the ball with regularity. Liao scored on a short quarterback sneak early in the quarter. The South Brunswick defense forced Hunterdon Central to turn the ball over and Jabbie hauled it in and dashed 74 yards for his second touchdown. Jabbie, who caught three passes for 95 yards, scored again on a 21- yard pass from Liao to make it 40-7 as the teams went to the locker room at halftime.
Jabbie ended the day venting with nearly 190 all-purpose yards. Liao went 8-for-9 for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Allen ran for 56 yards on seven carries and Garrett added 45 yards on five tries.
“We’ve had an off week before the playoffs for the past three years so our guys are used to it,” Goerge said. “It gave us an opportunity to really focus on the task at hand to allow for some little injuries to heal.”
Manalapan (6-4), the fifth seed, is coming off a 20-7 victory at fourth-seeded Trenton Central High School (5-5) Nov. 14. The Braves came out of the first half with a 3-0 lead and then took advantage of turnovers to extend it to 17-0 in the third quarter.
The Vikings will have to be wary of running back Marcus Salinas, who ran for 159 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in the Trenton game. Salinas has gained more than 1,000 yards this season. The Braves also feature a solid quarterback in Luke Corcione, who was 7-for-14 for 126 yards and one touchdown in the Braves’ win.
“Manalapan has some very good players and they’ve played a very tough schedule (Middletown South, Middletown North, Red Bank Catholic), so they know what big games are like,” Goerge said. “Besides, at this time of year, any team can beat any other team. We have to be at our best no matter what team we play.”
South Brunswick and Manalapan have a little bit of a history. Last year, the Vikings fell to Manalapan, 21-7, at High Point Solutions Stadium in the Central Jersey, Group V finals. In 2012, South Brunswick downed Manalapan, 33-22, to win the championship.
Game time is at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20.