Sectional Previews: Part 1
Jersey Semi-Final Preview Part 1 of 2
This is the first of two semi-final previews I will have on this weekend’s playoff semi-finals. Part 1 features the two north sections, plus the Catholics in the northern half. Part 2 will cover Central and South Jersey, plus the Catholics in the south and central part of the state.
Delbarton (3-7) at Bergen Catholic (8-2), Saturday afternoon. I don’t see this being a close game. I have respect for what Brian Bowers brings to Delbarton as a coach, but I do not see them having enough to stop the Crusaders. With Josh McKenzie expected back this week, the BC offense should be rolling, with QB Johnny Langan and WR Dylan Classi.
Paramus Catholic (5-5) at St. Peter’s Prep (8-2), Friday night. Prep will be heavily favored in this one and they have playmakers on both sides of the ball. Paramus Catholic has had a turbulent year, but they’re one game away from the state finals. The guy who can hurt Prep is TE/LB Henry Pearson, but he’s one guy and Prep has more playmakers.
St. John Vianney (10-0) at DePaul (7-3), Friday night. DePaul comes off a bye week and a heartbreaking loss to St. Joe’s (Montvale). DePaul is very good up front on both sides of the ball plus top linebacker Vinny DePalma and many offensive weapons. The best chance Vianney has is to stay in the game the whole way and possibly win it late.
St. Joe’s, Montvale (7-3) at Pope John (6-3), Saturday afternoon. Joe’s beat Pope John during the regular season, 20-14, and rematches can be tricky. Joe’s needs QB Nick Patti and TE Matt Alaimo, both Pitt commits, to get in rhythm. Pope John needs to play the way they did against BC, as opposed to their game against DePaul.
North 1 Group 1
Hasbrouck Heights (8-1) at New Milford (8-1), Friday night. This is a rematch of last year’s final and there are some hard feelings on New Milford’s part. New Milford is the top seed, a physical team that can control the clock with the running game. Hasbrouck Heights may have the top player on the field in RB/WR Jasiah Purdie, but LB Matt McElroy is a good one for New Milford.
Pompton Lakes (7-2) at Wallington (8-1), Friday night. Both teams have good ground games and feature a running back with over 1,000 yards rushing in Pompton’s Frank Negrini and Wallington’s Elijah Mitchell. The battle up front will decide this game and whoever can pass better.
North 1 Group 2
Newton (10-0) at Westwood (10-0), Friday night. Westwood wants to get back to the final they lost in last year. They have Joe Kramer making plays on both sides of the ball, while Newton has a good Wing-T attack featuring Chase Cramer and QB Luke Young can throw.
Manchester (6-3) at Lakeland (9-1), Friday night. Lakeland is a heavy favorite in this one. They had three players rush for 100 yards last week, most notably two-way star Kelvin Gonzalez. Manchester has had a good year, but they have their work cut out for them.
North 1 Group 3
Sparta (9-1) at Ramapo (8-2), Friday night. Ramapo has been well-balanced offensively behind QB AJ Wingfield. Sparta’s defense was outstanding in their first round game, but their offense made mistakes they will not be able to get away with against Ramapo.
Demarest (9-1) at River Dell (9-1), Friday night, 6:00. This game features two outstanding high school quarterbacks: River Dell’s David Estevez and Demarest’s Austin Albericci. Demarest is very talented and has come a long way from their 0-10 record in 2014.
North 1 Group 4
Wayne Hills (7-3) at Old Tappan (10-0), Friday night, 6:00. Old Tappan has been a well-oiled machine this year and QB Nick McNerney has made things happen. Old Tappan won the regular season encounter, 35-0, and Wayne Hills is a long-shot to win this game.
Mount Olive (9-1) at West Morris (7-3), Friday night. West Morris handed Mount Olive their only loss and it’s a game between two different offensive styles: Wet Morris’ Wing-T against Mount Olive’s spread. The key will be Mount Olive’s air game against West Morris’ secondary.
North 1 Group 5
Ridgewood (8-2) at Montclair (9-0), Saturday afternoon. Montclair has been clicking on all cylinders, offensively, scoring 442 points and featuring RB Daniel Webb, an Army commitment. Ridgewood needs to play the well-disciplined game they are known for to have any chance.
Bloomfield (6-3) at Union City (7-3), Friday night. Bloomfield surprised Passaic Tech last week and have won their last four. Union City as at their best when they get the running game going with Jean Alvarez gaining 700 yards after missing the first four games.
North 2 Group 1
Belvidere (7-3) at Weequahic (8-1), Friday night. Weequahic is the defending champ that hasn’t been challenged often this year. Weequahic is quick striking and Belvidere keeps things on the ground. Belvidere is another team that had three players gain 100 yards last week.
Roselle Park (6-3) at Shabazz (9-0), Friday night. Shabazz is undefeated, with a defense that has allowed only 57 points, led by safety David Orduson, while Michael Fields is a 1,000 yard rusher on offense. Roselle Park’s Dylan Camilo has rushed for nearly 1,400 yards.
North 2 Group 2
Lenape Valley (7-3) at Rutherford (9-0), Friday night. Rutherford is battle-tested in recent weeks, winning the NJIC championship. They have an athletic, physical squad and use a two-quarterback system that works with Kyle Russell and Rich Marques. Lenape Valley is led by long-time coach Don Smolyn and the running of Troy Dupont.
Hackettstown (7-3) at Caldwell (8-2), Friday night. Caldwell can hurt opponents with the passing of Brian Clarkin and the running of Anthony Costigan. Hackettstown can run the ball with the WIng-T, with five different players having 100-yard games this season.
North 2 Group 3
Rahway (6-3) at West Essex (9-1), Friday night. West Essex’s Wing-T generates yardage, with three RB’s who can hurt you: Anthony Sangillo, William Prepz, and Vincent Scaglia. Rahway QB Jakir Robinson has thrown 16 TD’s to 2 interceptions, while Dashon Moore and Zion Pendleton are good runners. Both teams can score; the difference is West Essex has a stingy defense, while Rahway has allowed 210.
Voorhees (8-2) at Parsippany Hills (9-1), Friday night. Parsippany Hills is led by senior QB Nick Verducci, a dual-threat who has almost 2,000 yards passing and over 1,000 rushing. Voorhees counters with QB George Eberle has 1,700 yards passing, while RB/LB Colin Tong is closing in on 100 tackles and has over 800 yards rushing.
North 2 Group 4
Irvington (8-2) at Phillipsburg (9-0), Friday night. This is a very good P-burg team and they have yet to allow more than 16 in one game. Known for their ground game, they also have a good air game with QB Jack Stagaard. Irvington is playing well of late and need a big play or two out of WR Josiah Provillon to win.
Sayreville (6-4) at North Hunterdon (9-1), Friday night. North Hunterdon has taken a big step forward this year, with QB Matt Busher passing for over 2,000 yards and rushing for 500. Sayreville could easily be 9-1, losing two in overtime by one point and another in the last 30 seconds. The Bombers are both fast and physical and I see this being a close game.
North 2 Group 5
Elizabeth (5-5) at Westfield (9-0), Saturday afternoon. Westfield faces a rematch with Elizabeth, winning the first game 13-6. The strength of Westfield is their linebacking corps and DE Jake Vall-Llobera. Elizabeth needs to stay in the game and make their move late.
Bridgewater-Raritan (8-2) at Piscataway (8-2), Saturday afternoon. This should be a close game with two very good defenses, including good linebackers. Piscataway won a title last year, while Bridgewater-Raritan has been in the finals the past two years.