The three Freehold Regional High School District football teams that were in action during week five of the 2011 campaign went winless.
Colts Neck, Howell and Freehold all lost on the road on Oct. 6. Manalapan, Freehold Township and Marlboro were off last week.
Colts Neck (3-2), which has been one of the surprise teams in the Shore Conference this season, lost at Toms River North, 35- 28. The Mariners scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to defeat the Cougars.
Colts Neck rallied from a 28-14 deficit in the third quarter to tie the Mariners (4-1). In the fourth quarter, Toms River North pushed across the only touchdown to win the battle.
One thing that separates this year’s team from last year’s 2-8 squad, according to coach Greg Lacava, is the ability to make big plays. The Cougars used big plays against Toms River North.
Vic Scalici scored on runs of 68 and 25 yards (141 yards rushing for the game), and quarterback Dylan Cottrell connected with receiver Tim Vangelas on a 59-yard strike. Cottrell also scored on a two-yard keeper and was 14-21 for 185 yards passing.
As the passing game becomes more of a factor in the Cougars’ offense, the offense is becoming more difficult for opponents to defend.
The loss to the Mariners did not hurt the Cougars in the Shore Conference B North Division race. Colts Neck remains tied for first place in B North with Red Bank Catholic, with both teams at 3-0.
That tie for first place will be broken on Oct. 14 when the Cougars travel to Count Basie Field in Red Bank to take on the Caseys (5-0) at 7 p.m.
Red Bank Catholic, which is considered to be the best team in the Shore Conference this fall, defeated Freehold, 45-0, on Oct. 6 in Red Bank.
Freehold (2-3) will host Long Branch (0- 5) at 2 p.m. Oct. 15 in Freehold Borough. Howell (2-3) lost at Middletown North, 21-13, on Oct. 6 and the Rebels will need some help to reach the state playoffs. Howell quarterback Ryan Davies was 31-55 for 286 yards passing and two touchdowns. Howell will host East Brunswick (0-4) on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.
Manalapan coach Ed Gurrieri said he through the timing was perfect for his team to have a week off.
“It gives them (players) a break,” he said. “We gave them a few days off to clear their heads, get refreshed and heal their bruises. We installed some new things that we want to do on offense and defense. You really get back to the basics working on blocking and tackling.”
The Braves (3-1) lead the A North race at 3-0.
“We are right where we want to be,” Gurrieri said.
The offense is punishing teams on the ground with John Sieczkowski (478 yards) on pace to rush for 1,000 yards.
However, this year the Braves are more balanced in their running attack with Tyler Leonetti proving to be a strong backup to Sieczkowski.
Manalapan is averaging more than 200 yards a game rushing behind an offensive line led by three-year starter James Danella.
Just as Manalapan found a complement to Sieczkowski in Leonetti, the Braves have developed a second wide receiving threat, Saeed Blacknall, to pair up with Anthony Firkser.
Quarterback Mike Isabella continues to improve with each game and has been the leader the offense needs.
Defensively, the Braves have been stingy when it comes to surrendering points. They have only allowed 41 points (10.25 ppg.) in four games.
Manalapan will travel to Old Bridge on Oct. 14 for a non-conference game against the Old Bridge Knights (2-2).
Freehold Township (0-4) will travel to play Marlboro (0-4) on Oct. 15.