Jonathan Yardley, webmaster
It may be the third weekend of the season, but these rankings were ridiculously hard to make. The toughest choice was at the top, where I had to choose between long-time rivals Delbarton and Seton Hall Prep. A “pure results” approach to ranking would yield Delbarton, because its tie came against a stronger team and it beat CBA 4-0, as opposed to Seton Hall Prep’s 1-0. But having seen both teams and having some idea of their personnel, I’m going with Seton Hall Prep for the moment because they appear to be the more polished team right now. Delbarton might come back from Rhode Island with an impenetrable defensive unit, but as of this week, Seton Hall Prep has the edge. It was also tough to break up the Southern Red and Mennen Division teams and fill the last two spots.
The other big note in this week’s rankings is that 15 of the 20 teams are private schools; I haven’t looked but I’m guessing that’s the most I’ve ever picked in my top 20. Most observers acknowledge that the private/public gap is widening, and these rankings certainly reflect that. I will add another set of rankings around January 2, but I’m not quite ready to commit to a private/public or White/Blue format just yet.
Top 20 (records as available through 12/18/05)
1 — Seton Hall Prep (3-0-1, 2-0-1 Gordon)
This Week: 12/23 @ PJ
Pirates appear to be deeper than in recent years; only tie was without two best forwards.
2 — Delbarton (3-0-1, 3-0-1 Gordon)
This Week: 12/20 @ LaSalle (R.I.), 12/21 @ Bishop Hendricken (R.I.)
Green Wave’s tie is better than Seton Hall Prep’s, but the only experience is at forward.
3 — Pope John (3-1-1, 1-1-1 Gordon)
This Week: 12/21 @ Malvern Prep (Pa.), 12/23 vs. SHP
Lions appear to be among state’s elite this year, but they still have to prove it over the long haul.
4 — Don Bosco Prep (4-2, 3-2 Gordon)
This Week: 12/23 @ Ran
Ironmen disappointed in allowing six goals against Pope John but should be among the top four teams.
5 — Bergen Catholic (1-2-1, 1-2-1 Gordon)
This Week: 12/19 vs. MB, 12/21 vs. LaSalle (Pa.), 12/23 @ SPP
Dominated SJV, but BC has little else to hang its hat on — Monday and Friday ought to be telling.
6 — St. John Vianney (3-2, 1-2 Gordon)
This Week: 12/22 MidN; 12/23 CBA
It’s hard to tell much about the Lancers until they play one of the top four teams.
7 — CBA (1-3-1, 0-3-1 Gordon)
This Week: 12/21 vs. MD, 12/23 SJV
Struggling on offense, the defending state champs suddenly have a lot to prove Wednesday.
8 — St. Peter’s Prep (1-1-1, 0-1-1 Gordon)
This Week: 12/23 vs. BC
The Marauders tied a weakened SHP team in their most notable result so far.
9 — St. Augustine Prep (4-0, 4-0 Southern Red)
This Week: 12/21 vs. ND, 12/23 @ RBC
The Hermits have a history of disappointing, but it’s hard to argue with first place in the Southern Red.
10 — Toms River North (3-1, 2-1 Southern Red)
This Week: 12/20 vs. MidN, 12/23 @ Bri
Mariners turned heads with one-goal wins over Red Bank Catholic and Bishop Eustace.
11 — Randolph (2-1, 2-1 MCSSIHL Mennen)
This Week: 12/21 vs. IH, 12/23 vs. DBP, 12/26 MH
Boasting plenty of team speed, the Rams have a week of interesting and varied matchups ahead.
12 — Morris Knolls (4-1, 1-1 MCSSIHL Mennen)
This Week: 12/21 Jef
The importance of goalie Josh Ofner was underscored by Knolls’ 4-3 upset loss to Chatham Saturday.
13 — Bridgewater-Raritan (5-0, 3-0 Central Red)
This Week: 12/21 @ Mclr
The Panthers have not been as dominant as expected but should still be a major factor.
14 — Chatham (4-1, 3-1 MCSSIHL Mennen)
This Week: 12/21 MB
One has to be impressed with the Cougars’ resilience to beat Knolls after getting shut out by Randolph.
15 — Red Bank Catholic (4-2, 2-2 Southern Red)
This Week: 12/23 vs. SA
One-goal losses to TRN and MonDon, but a one-goal win over the three-time defending division champ.
16 — Bishop Eustace (2-2, 2-2 Southern Red)
This Week: 12/22 @ MidS, 12/23 vs. Rmsy
Speaking of which, the Crusaders have had some early trouble in a very competitive division.
17 — Monsignor Donovan (2-2, 2-2 Southern Red)
This Week: 12/21 @ CBA
It is impossible to separate this trio; each is 1-1 against the others; the Griffins are the most surprising.
18 — Morristown-Beard (3-1, 3-1 MCSSIHL Mennen)
This Week: 12/19 @ BC, 12/21 Cha
The Crimson do not have the talent of last year, but they stole a 3-2 win over Randolph.
19 — St. Joseph Montvale (2-2-2, 2-0 Northern Red)
This Week: 12/23 @ Ten
This was a tough one, but the Green Knights are 2-0 and benefit from their division rivals’ games.
20 — Paramus Catholic (3-1-2, 1-0-2 Northern Red)
This Week: idle
The Paladins have been inconsistent but showed great potential by beating Central Red contender St. Joseph Metuchen.
Best of the Rest (ranks 21-32, alphabetically)
St. Joseph Metuchen