A few quick basketball and football tidbits on a Thursday before the latest round of state playoff hoops action kicks off. If Freehold can get by an upset-minded Lakewood squad and Neptune can beat Lawrence at home, their Central Jersey Group III semifinal would be at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Freehold, not 11 a .m. as was tentatively thought earlier this week. Both teams have to take care of business first, and as Holmdel showed against Middletown South last night, there are no guarantees. Still, that potential Neptune-Freehold game is one to circle if you are going to go to a game on Saturday. The other semifinal in that bracket could be Point Boro vs. either Monmouth (the favorite) or Holmdel (the spoiler), so that’s two solid games on Saturday just in that bracket.
Also, while I had my All-Shore discussion in my last entry, two other players who should be mentioned are CBA junior point guard Roy Mabrey and Lacey senior point guard John Pierce. If CBA wins a tough Non-Public A bracket for the first time since 1995 and the rest of the Shore flames out in the state playoffs, the Colts may have a legitimate argument to have Mabrey, Pat Light and Brian Neller on first team, although three guys on first team is pretty rare. If it’s happened any time in the last 15-20 years, it probably was a CBA trio. As for Pierce, he is in with the Ibn Moye-Sean Grennan “on a good but not great team but has strong numbers.” I have seen Pierce, he is very solid and his numbers have picked up as the season has gone on. He is more of a darkhorse candidate but deserves some mention. Another darkhorse candidate is Asbury Park senior forward Lamar Young, who would have to have a huge state tournament to push for first team but has had a solid season.
On the football side of things, it appears that the recruiting is really starting to heat up for Raritan junior Bennett Jackson. The versatile wideout/defensive back/kick returner/kicker/occasional QB and RB/bus driver/concession stand salesman for the Rockets has drawn interest from Rutgers and reportedly has some major Big East and Big Ten schools interested. Anyone who has seen our highlights here on the site or seen him on film can see that he has game-changing speed and can play multiple positions, which is all the rage in college football these days. So that brings the group of rising seniors with serious Division I-A interest (that I know of, I may be missing some people) in the Shore to Jackson, Barnegat tight end/linebacker Jarrett Darmstatter, and Manchester defensive lineman Jimmy Lawson. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some schools come in on Manasquan junior lineman Rob Forst and junior safety Neal Sterling if they continue to progress. I’m also guessing Freehold Township has somebody because they seem to produce a Division I kid every year, and Long Branch and Matawan usually have a player or two who gets a look.
Rising Jackson Memorial sophomore lineman Dimitrius Smith, the younger brother of Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, is also another who may be in this group before long. Another tantalizing prospect if he continues to stick with football and improve could be Middletown North sophomore wideout/tight end Shilique Calhoun. Current sophomore running back/quarterback/defensive back Charles Davis is now back at Neptune after leaving St. John Vianney, so we’ll see if he can get things back on track to get some looks as well.
Finally, baseball practice officially starts tomorrow, and I know all of the coaches are just overjoyed about this recent snowstorm. As Freehold Township coach Frank Gualteri noted, “We don’t get a big snowstorm all winter and then we get dumped with a pile of it right when we’re ready to start. Wonderful.”