Finals Recap: Part 1 of 2

Madison and its terrific running back corps kicked off finals weekend with a bang, as, behind P.J. Mulcahy’s 87 yards and two touchdowns, it rumbled to a 27-6 victory over Rutherford in the North 2, Group 2 championship game.

Finals Previews: Groups 4 & 5

Toms River North’s defense has played well as of late, but will need to turn it up a notch to handle the Braves’ stacked backfield. Williamstown’s trio of quarterback Rich Stanzione and running backs Tyrick Glenn and Joe Early has led the Braves to 9 victories, including playoff wins over Washington Township and Cherokee. Much of Williamstown’s success has come due to its dominant front five, as well, led by the Chamberlain brothers, Nick and Jake.

Finals Previews: Groups 1, 2, 3

The top-seeded Panthers, despite all their success, haven’t won a sectional title since 2002, and come out of the NJIC looking to upend a Mahwah team that has been harboring championship aspirations all year. To do so, they’ll need quarterback Matt Schlett to have a performance that matches the one he produced in last round’s victory over Hawthorne.

Please Join Us in Supporting Layups 4 Life

Dan Exter -- a then 27-year-old digital producer in the sports media industry, covering high school sports throughout New Jersey -- was fit. He was athletic. He was active. Yet, back in early 2013, for a reason he could not at the time identify, he was constantly out of breath.

Thanksgiving Preview & Predictions

The Thunderbolts continue to inch closer to evening the series record in the state’s oldest rivalry, and have now won six straight meetings. Vineland has lost six of its last seven games, and will have a tough time trying to stop Millville quarterback Will Polhamus, who has passed for 1,167 yards and eight eight touchdowns.

Semifinals Recap

A rivalry that has endured for years will be back on center stage in championship week, thanks to semifinal victories by Verona and Cedar Grove in the North 1, Group 1 semifinals this past weekend.

Semifinals 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.

Semifinals 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.