Predictions: Groups 4 & 5

This is more or less the final four everyone expected, and the argument can be made that despite its designation as an eight-seed, the Green Knights are the favorites. Joe’s defeated Don Bosco Prep on opening day, and its only in-state loss was to Bergen Catholic in overtime. The Marauders have a fantastic quarterback in Johnathan Lewis and an array of skilled playmakers, but St. Joseph (Mont.) is far more battle-hardened than the HCIL powerhouse. Meanwhile, Bergen Catholic is hoping to get quarterback Jarrett Guarantano back for their rematch with rival Don Bosco Prep. If they do, the Crusaders’ stock would skyrocket, as they were a high-flying offense with him under center early this season.

Predictions: Groups 1, 2, 3

Both semifinal matchups are rematches from earlier in the year, though Matawan will look significantly different this time around. They lost to top-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven, 17-0, back in September, but that was without quarterback George Pearson in the lineup. The Huskies have now won seven straight games, and will look to continue their title defense against a Rumson group that has won two straight titles of its own (in Group 2). Red Bank beat Ocean Township on Sept. 25, and it marked the only time this year that the Spartans scored below 17 points. The win was the Bucs’ first over a high-caliber opponent, and springboarded the group to six more victories in its aftermath (including one over Shore parochial power Red Bank Catholic).

First Round Recap

Just when it looked as if Montclair Kimberley’s magical undefeated season was about to end, the Cougars dug deep and won on a miracle Hail Mary to beat Mater Dei Prep, 13-12. Mater Dei had led the game 12-0 in the first, but Cougars quarterback Erik Zeug hit wide receiver Max Hall for a 40-yard scoring strike earlier in the fourth. Zeug came up big again on the game-winning play, heaving a 38-yard prayer that tipped off the hands of several Seraph defenders before being hauled in by wide receiver/tight end Derek Kleinman.

First Round Predictions: Groups 4, 5

The Cherokee backfield of quarterback Evan Powell and running back Jon Lovett is one of the reasons the Chiefs believe they can win a third straight sectional championship. On the same side of the bracket, though, is a Williamstown team that is strong in the trenches. The Braves’ only loss of the year was a 20-0 to the Chiefs on Oct. 9.

First Round Predictions: Groups 1, 2, 3

Park Ridge finds itself in an interesting spot as this section gets underway. The Owls are 8-1 and have dominated everyone -- everyone except their first round opponent, Cresskill. The Cougars (6-3) held Park Ridge to a season-low in points when they handed it its only loss, 18-15, on Oct. 16.

Week 9 Preview & Predictions

Many teams have already wrapped up their pre-cutoff seasons, but there are still some playoff implications in Week 9. For some teams, this week provides a final test run before the postseason; others are still fighting to get in. And even for those with nothing at stake, the opportunity to play spoiler is still there. Let’s check out some picks.

Week 8 Recap

If you read the box score of St. Mary’s 62-20 victory over Emerson, you weren’t seeing a typo. Gaels running back Derius Stone went absolutely bananas against the Cavos, churning out 577 yards and an unbelievable seven touchdowns. Stone tallied 518 of those yards on his scoring runs alone, and helped push the Gaels to fifth place in the Non-Public, Group 2 standings.

Week 8 Preview & Predictions

If you needed any more proof that New Jersey high school football is flat out wild, keep in mind that Paramus Catholic -- the #4 team in the Vita Athletics-Gridiron New Jersey Top 20 -- can be eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. Even with a win, the Paladins could still lose out on a playoff spot to Notre Dame and Paul VI. Still, PC’s season has picked up as of late, and will try to beat a DePaul team that still may be the favorite in Non-Public, Group 3 -- even with just two wins to date.

Week 7 Recap

With its big win over St. Joseph (Mont.) Bergen Catholic may have ensured that the Green Knights will start their postseason journey on the road. Tied with St. Peter’s Prep with 101.0 power points, Joe’s has now played its first eight, while the Marauders finish out the pre-cutoff slate with North Bergen this week. Barring a colossal upset by the Bruins, Peter’s figures to snatch up at least the final home berth in the section, leaving the Green Knights to begin its title quest in either Jersey City, Richland, Ramsey or Oradell.

BC Tops St. Joe's in OT, Again

Bergen Catholic and St. Joseph (Mont.), Nos. 1 and 2 in the Vita Athletics-Gridiron New Jersey Top 20, have played some of the best teams from Florida, Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania this year. But at the end of the day, playing the best from their very own state (and county, and league) is what means the most. That was evident Saturday afternoon in Oradell, as the Crusaders and Green Knights bit and clawed in a hard-fought game won by Bergen, 16-13, in overtime.

Week 7 Preview & Predictions

The playoffs are fast-approaching, and teams are jockeying for position in their respective sections. Bergen Catholic and St. Joseph (Mont.), for example, are both safely playoff-bound, but the Big North United crown and the top spot in the Vita Athletics-Gridiron New Jersey Top 20 are still very much up for grabs. Similarly, Don Bosco Prep is out to show that despite two losses on its schedule, the Ironmen are still, well, the Ironmen. If they can upend the nation’s top team in Bishop Gorman (NV), they’ll certainly have a case for inclusion in the USA Today Super 25 again.

Week 6 Recap

Don’t look know, but Paramus Catholic’s season—thought to be dead by many—may just have a heartbeat. This weekend showed exactly that, as sophomore quarterback Allan Walters tossed three touchdowns in a 55-22 victory over Friendship Academy (DC). Two of those scores went to receiver Donald Stewart, the hero of last week’s victory over Don Bosco Prep. The win brings the Paladins back to .500, and right in the thick of the Non-Public, Group 4 and Big North United races.

Week 6 Previews & Predictions

It’s a big week for some highly successful teams looking to show that they are, in fact, for real. Lincoln, for example, has been dominating other teams, but hasn’t really been tested. That will all change with a Hoboken team that is a very formidable opponent.

BC Leads Our Week 5 Recap

Bergen Catholic got a big win over a Big North United Division rival Friday night, but it was anything but easy. Playing in their first game without injured Tennessee-bound quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, the Crusaders proved that they are more than capable of winning a low-scoring, scrappy affair. A failed two-point conversion ended up being the difference, as Bergen held off the Spartans’ attempt at a late game-winning drive to beat DePaul, 15-13.

Week 5 Preview & Predictions

If the only two games of the week were the two scheduled Big North United Division matchups, it would be a big week. But throw in a battle between long-time rivals Wayne Hills and Ramapo, a matchup of two South Jersey, Group 5 powers in Williamstown and Cherokee, and a colossal cross-county showdown between Camden and Camden Catholic, and you may have the best weekend of football we’ve seen in 2015.