Only a river separates these two teams!
In 2017, Manasquan and Point Boro met at Al Saner Field with a trip to the State Sectional Finals on the line. It was the most important meeting between the two schools in quite some time. In that game, Point Boro got out to a 27-0 lead and never looked back.
Point Boro has since gone through a few rebuilding seasons but the Panthers are indeed back and are ready for perhaps their biggest test of the season. The Warriors are on their way back to Point Boro on Friday Night!
In many ways, this game has a playoff feel to it. At 6-0, Point Boro is on the verge of clinching the #1 seed in their playoff bracket. A win this week could potentially earn Boro that top spot in what would be their biggest win to date. The last time Point Boro was a #1 seed was in 2017.
In the 2017 playoff game against Manasquan, the Panthers were the #1 seed and the Warriors were the #4 seed. While the two former Thanksgiving rivals are meeting earlier this year, the same question is proposed 4 years later. How good is Point Boro and can they continue this pace against perennial state sectional title contender Manasquan?
As mentioned earlier, Point Boro is undefeated for the first time since racking up 11 straight during the 2017 season.
While the Panthers are doing a lot of the same things they did four years ago, this year‘s team has put the icing on the cake for the past six games. Statistically speaking, the 2021 Panthers have put up some eye-popping numbers, especially with their Shore Conference numbers, leading 42.5 PPG. Their multi-faceted triple option offense requires opposing defenses to figure out who will be getting the ball. Charlie Vitale, Matt Oliphant, Jake Croce, and Connor Cilento have all been impressive so far this season.
While the PPG are certainly impressive, there’s an old saying, “defense wins championships,” and the Panthers have certainly proven themselves on the defensive end as well. During the past six games, Point Boro has given up just 10 PPG and 14 or less in five games this season.
The Shore Conference originally planned to place four teams in “pods” and have them compete for a pod championship. That idea was dropped and weeks eight and nine are now scheduled to pair opponents with similar strengths against each other. With the divisions having been re-aligned this season and Boro moving into the Patriot Division, the two teams were moved into separate divisions for 2021. Therefore, this is the only opportunity in which the two teams will meet. For sectional playoffs, Manasquan has moved up to group 3 while Boro has remained in group 2.
Much like Point Boro, the Warriors are also enjoying a nice season. At 4-2, Manasquan comes into this game with their only loses to Perennial Shore Conference powers Middletown South and RBC. Over the last two weeks, Manasquan defeated Toms River East 41-0 and Raritan 35-28.
The Warriors have a good running game but also pass the ball quite a bit. They have great playmaking abilities, especially when it comes to downfield passing. Point Boro at times has struggled against the pass, so limiting the time Manasquan has to throw will be imperative. So far this season, Point Boro has done a great job getting into their opponents backfield and pressuring the QB.
A big play on defense could be the difference in this game!
By Jim Rosa, sports reporter and photographer.