Toms River South and Marlboro have gone through some rough times when it comes to high school football success.  For South it’s been more of a somewhat recent drought while the Mustangs have not known any real success for as long as anyone can remember…anyone under the age of 30 or so.

To the surprise of many Marlboro is one of three undefeated teams at the shore after six weeks (Brick Memorial and Holmdel are the others) as this is a program that was much more likely to produce winless seasons then winning ones.  Jason Dagato took over as head coach in 2013 and finally posted a winning record in 2021 when the Mustangs went 7-3 and earned a rare playoff berth.  A 6-4 record last season meant a return to the playoffs and their first postseason win in 28 years. After beating Jackson Memorial on Saturday Marlboro clinched at least a share of the Freedom Division title and they can secure their first outright championship since 1994 with a win over Middletown North at home on October 21.

The Indians have had a lot more to celebrate than the Mustangs as for many years they were one of the Shore’s traditional powers.  South’s history under legendary coaches Ron Signorino Sr. and Chip LaBarca Sr. include multiple playoff appearances, 8 trips to the state sectional finals and 3 championships.  However with the exception of the pandemic-altered 2020 season the maroon and white did not post a winning record from 2014 until this year when a move to the Liberty Division gave them some schedule relief.  After getting blown out by Holmdel in their opener it looked like it might be another rough season for second year coach Matt Martin but five consecutive victories have the residents of the Wigwam ready to clinch their first outright divisional title since 2002.  TR South will be a decided underdog when they visit crosstown rival Toms River North in a non-conference game Friday but a win at home against Central on October 20th will likely set off a wild championship celebration.

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Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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