LONG BRANCH – Junior All-Shore running back Jermaine Corbett has shifted his game into high gear the last two weeks just in time for the start of the state playoffs where Long Branch will be looking to defend its Central Jersey Group IV title.
“Jermaine’s doing a great job, he’s a two-way player for us,” said Long Branch head coach Danny George. “In all fairness to him, his work load is down a little bit because we’re throwing it a little more. So he’s not getting a tremendous amount of carries but the carries he’s getting he’s just really making good on.”
In the Green Wave’s 34-0 shutout of 10th-ranked Manalapan two weeks ago, Corbett, who packs an elite combination of raw power and blazing speed into his 5-foot-7, 170-pound frame, exploded for a career-best 321 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 29 carries for a 11.06 yards per rush average.
“We had some good matchups that we liked up front and the offensive line did a great job getting helmet on helmet,” George said. “Jermaine did what he does best; he picked his holes, accelerated through them then finished off his runs really well on the back end.”
His 321 yards represents a Shore Conference single-game high for rushing yardage this season.
Then, last week in No. 3 Long Branch’s 40-14 win over Brick Memorial, he recorded another career high, scoring five touchdowns including runs of 80, 30 and six and catching touchdowns passes of 11 and five from quarterback Marc Dennis.
Through eight games this season, Corbett has amassed 1,222 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on 132 attempts, averaging 9.26 yards per rush. He’s also grabbed 12 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns out of the backfield.
Corbett sat out the Green Wave’s Sept. 26 game versus Toms River South and was forced to leave the Red Bank Catholic game early in the third quarter with leg cramps and did not return, making his rushing yardage that much more impressive.
Last season Corbett burst onto the scene rushing for 1,438 yards – sixth in the Shore Conference – and 14 touchdowns along with six receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown while contributing on defense with an interception and three passes defensed.
“He came off a great freshman campaign and did a tremendous amount of work in the weight room in the offseason,” said George when asked if he knew just how good Corbett was entering his sophomore year. “He’s really a football-first kid and really loves it and everything is geared to being the best he can be. So he got much better between his freshman and sophomore seasons and then took another nice jump again between his sophomore and junior years with all his off-season workouts.”
His super sophomore season led to a second-team All-Shore selection as well as a unanimous first-team All-Division honor after he helped the Green Wave capture the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championship in an all-time classic. In that game, a 43-42 overtime win over Freehold, Corbett ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
“In order to beat good teams you got to have a dual threat,” George said. “You’ve got to be able to run the football and you’ve got to be able to throw it. Once you start having success running the ball it establishes your play-action game keeping teams off guard. So with Jermaine having success running the ball everything else opened up – that was huge for us.”
Corbett rushed for 100 yards in seven of Long Branch’s 12 wins a year ago including rushing for a then career-high 250 yards in their win over Colts Neck. So far this season, he’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark rushing in five of his seven games.
Corbett already has scholarship offers pouring in, including Rutgers and Monmouth University just to name a few.
Long Branch (7-1) and Corbett will commence their defense of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV title Friday night in Long Branch when the top-seeded Green Wave hosts eighth-seeded Middletown North (1-6) in a first-round matchup.
With 509-yards and seven touchdowns in his last two games, you can expect to see Long Branch get the ball into Corbett’s hands with increased frequency Friday night.
“I’m sure they’re (Middletown North) looking at our offense and they’re going to try and take him away from us,” said George. It’s the best 1-6 team I’ve ever seen probably in the history of New Jersey football. So we’ve got to make sure we’re on our A-game and we come out of the gates firing on all cylinders and Jermaine will be a huge part of what we do offensively.”
The Green Wave is currently ranked No. 3 in the Shore Conference in the latest top 10 polls and just on the fringes of being ranked in the state top 20.
UPDATE: Long Branch routed Middletown North, 42-0, as Corbett rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries along with two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown; all in the first half as the Green Wave built a 35-0 lead at intermission. Long Branch will now take on the winner of Saturday’s No. 5 Brick Memorial at No. 4 Freehold contest in the CJG IV semifinals.