After back-to-back losses to CAL parochials, Millville needed a spark. And a spark they got thanks to running back Ryquell Armstead, who broke a school rushing record at the expense of Absegami. The Thunderbolts rode 27 carries by Armstead—which he turned into a Millville-best 337 yards—to a 48-13 victory, just three games after former back Rob Ennis set the previous mark at 315. Of course, Ennis’ departure from the team following an off-the-field incident several weeks ago was a low point for the Thunderbolts, but Armstead’s performance pumped life back into the season, and kept his team within three power points of the eighth playoff spot in South, Group 5
It’s another big week, with perhaps the
biggest game of the year so far: #1 Don Bosco Prep vs. #2 Paramus
Catholic. In addition, there is another ranked parochial vs. ranked
parochial showdown involving #5 DePaul and #7 Bergen Catholic. There are
so many other big-time rivalry games, particularly in the WJFL and the
Mid-State 38, as well. Things are heating up, and the playoffs will be
here before you know it. Let’s look at some picks for the week:
The monkey is officially off of Cranford’s
back. The Cougars, despite all their success, had not been able to
overcome powerful Summit over the past several years—until Friday night.
Finally, they can boast a win over the rival Hilltoppers, thanks to
their 33-14 win this past weekend. Wide receiver Luke Christiano led the
way with 254 yards of total offense, including 189 in receptions. He
also scored two touchdowns through the air. The win puts Cranford in the
driver’s seat in the Mid-State 38 Raritan Division, where both the
Cougars and Voorhees are 3-0 in the division. They’ll meet Friday in
The Paladins are loaded with talent, but the
key for the BC defense may be getting to quarterback Willy Hansen, who
was still highly effective playing through a knee injury a week ago.
Bergen can erase the very last remnants of last season’s 2-7 campaign if
they can upend the team that beat them in the 2012 Non-Public, Group 4
Haddon Heights and Haddon Township may have
engaged in the most exciting contest of the young season this past
weekend, as the Garnets won a double overtime shootout, 57-56. Running
back Roman Massi scored the game-winning two-point conversion following
Connor Beckas’ 24-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jay Smith. The victory
was a critical one for Heights, as a loss would have dropped them to
0-3. With the win, the Garnets remain in a very tight South, Group 1,
which has five teams within four power points of each other for the
seventh and eighth playoff slots.
Three weeks, three dominant victories for #5
DePaul. This one may have been the most impressive yet, as the Spartans
rolled past one of the state’s best public school teams in #8 Pascack
Valley, 35-14. There have been a lot of heroes, but running back Kareem
Walker has undoubtedly been the engine behind DePaul’s success. Against
the Indians, he rushed for 251 yards and four scores, bringing his
season totals to 447 and six, respectively.
It’s only Week 2, but there are already a
full slate of prime matchups on tap in New Jersey high school football.
Sure, there are some big out-of-state contests, but you don’t have to go
to Arkansas, Maryland or New York to see great football this weekend.
It’s a big statement to make, but given the
context, Saturday afternoon may have been one of Don Bosco Prep’s most
dominant performances ever. As such a powerhouse, the Ironmen have had
their fair share of huge wins, but the way they handled St. Thomas
Aquinas (FL) on Saturday was nothing short of remarkable. Ironmen
running back Malik Bakker rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown on 27
carries, while the Bosco defense had 4 1/2 sacks on the way to an
imposing 24-7 victory. Aquinas was widely regarded as the top team in
the entire nation, but Bosco was too much for the Raiders nearly all
The two-time defending North 1, Group 5
champion (Montclair) will look to win their 25th straight game when they
head to Hillsdale. The defending North 1, Group 4 champion (Pascack
Valley) have a loaded backfield with the likes of Rocco Swatek, Jorge
Cortes and Josh Belmonte.
Opening weekend of New Jersey high school
football was obviously going to revolve around the North Jersey
parochials and their out-of-state showdowns. But what was most notable
was the dominance shown by several of them.
The Lions have an ambitious first few weeks
on their schedule, and a win over a non-NJAC parochial like DePaul would
provide a lot of momentum heading into their second game against
Paramus Catholic. It will be a test for Pope John to keep junior
linebacker Quayshon Alexander (nine sacks in 2013) off of its star
junior quarterback, Sonny Abramson.
A is for
Shawnee running back Anthony DiOrio. In leading the Renegades to a
South, Group 4 championship, DiOrio was a true workhorse. DiOrio carried
the ball 222 times for 1,321 yards and 16 touchdowns, and was a big
part of why Shawnee earned its first sectional crown since 2008.
It seems like every year we do our finals
recap, and every year the theme is the same. It’s always a verbal
highlight reel of the weekend’s best performances. It isn’t a
lack of creativity on our part. It’s the fact that at the end of the
day, that is what its all about, right? Celebrating these exceptional
athletes on the biggest stage.
Running back Jamauri Bogan was the catalyst
behind Union’s rise from a 1-2 start to a sectional finalist, and enters
the title game with 1,514 yards and 18 TDs on the ground. Don’t sleep
on his backfield mate Jabree Robertson, either -- the senior has 663 yards
and 11 rushing scores of his own. Guard/linebacker Connor Stieglitz is
as important a two-way player as you’ll find in this game. His 89
tackles lead the Red Devils, and he’s a cog in the Ridge run game.
The Chargers have possibly the most
dangerous passing game in New Jersey thanks not only to quarterback Dan
Williams, but the star wide receiver duo of Adonis Jennings and Cameron
Chambers. Even when their offense isn’t clicking, they’ve shown they can
win defensive slugfests -- having beaten Moorestown and Paul VI by scores
of 7-6 and 8-7, respectively. Shawnee knows how to keep games close, but
are just 2-2 in games decided by under seven points. Running back
Anthony DiOrio is the engine that makes the Renegade offense go, and has
1,188 yards and 16 touchdowns this year.
Needless to say, the first year under head
coach Kevin Kostibos has been a rousing success for the Hilltoppers, who
have now won 23 straight and are looking for their third title in five
years. Parsippany Hills meanwhile, looked like they might struggle come
postseason time after mid-season losses to Delbarton and West Morris --
two of the tougher opponents on their NJAC schedule -- but they stormed
back to win their last four, including a 20-17 upset over a West Essex
squad that had been near-perfect all year. Hills has never won a
Caldwell has a formidable defense,
particularly in its linebacking corps, but it’ll be hard-pressed to slow
down a Herd running back that has over 3,400 yards on the ground this
year. Mountain Lakes won the last postseason meeting between the
perennial postseason contenders, 26-20. The Chiefs are out for revenge
and have won nine straight games. Caldwell has its own dangerous back in
Ray Iodice, who has 1,228 yards and 18 touchdowns.
The Heights offensive line -- consisting of
Justin Porzl, Chris Verdi, Dimitri Forde, Mauro Altamura and Ryan
Palladino -- has been the engine behind an offense that boasts a
dangerous run game and top-flight quarterback in Darren Iurato. Iurato
scored three times (2 pass TD, 1 rush) in the Aviators’ 28-21 win over
the Cardinals in early November. Pompton is looking to become the first
team to win three straight North 1, Group 1 crowns since Glen Rock won
five in a row between 1998 and 2002.