Week 7 Recap

By Tom Szieber
Posted:  Monday, October 24, 2016  1:45 am

Check out Brian Carr's photo gallery from Toms River North's victory over Middletown South.

Toms River North, the top-ranked public school in the Gridiron New Jersey Top 20, wanted to prove exactly how good it was against fellow public school powerhouse Middletown South, and boy did the Mariners do just that. North’s defense was stout against the Eagles, leading the way to a 41-21 victory and putting a stamp on its claim to being the best public school squad in the state. The Mariner D managed to slow down the Eagles’ run game, and quarterback Mike Husni produced another huge day to pace the offense. Husni was an efficient 11-of-16 for 246 yards and four touchdowns, and also carried the ball 17 times for 48 yards and a score. Meanwhile, running back Parker Day shouldered another big chunk of the offensive load, rushing 15 times for 78 yards and a touchdown.

On the individual side of things, there may be no one who had a bigger week than Butler running back William Verrico. He was the engine for the Bulldogs’ 59-40 shootout victory over Verona, hammering out a stat line of 25 carries for 377 yards and seven touchdowns. The performance and win came at a big time for Butler, who is trying to keep pace in an always-crowded North 1, Group 1. And while the Hillbillies may be going through a rebuilding year, they’re still the reigning champs, and the triumph gives Butler a nice feather in its cap.  

Another big individual performance came from Cherokee’s John Lovett, who rushed 19 times for 250 yards and hit pay dirt on four occasions. The Chiefs senior averaged over 13 yards per carry in a 42-21 win over Washington Township that was necessary if his team is to remain in the driver’s seat for a South, Group 5 playoff berth. After two early-season losses to top-tier opponents Shawnee and Timber Creek, the Chiefs have now won four-in-a-row, and can catapult themselves in the race for power points if they can beat 10th ranked and undefeated Lenape this week.

The NJIC’s novel league playoff idea is all set and ready to go. The winners of each of its four divisions will square off in a two-week, four-team playoff starting in week 8. The matchups will be as follows: Pompton Lakes (Liberty Division champ) at Rutherford (Colonial Division champ) and Becton (Patriot Division champ) at Hasbrouck Heights (Meadowlands Division champ). Both will take place on Friday night. All four division champions go into the playoff rolling. In week 7, Pompton Lakes shut out Lyndhurst, 41-0, while the Bulldogs beat up on Manchester Regional, 33-6. Becton, meanwhile, crushed Wallington, 42-13, while Hasbrouck Heights pounded Ridgefield, 48-6.

And for all the hullaballoo surrounding it having to play several of the Bergen County parochial powerhouses this year, Pope John did an impressive job against Bergen Catholic in defeat this week. Despite a 14-7 loss, the Lions pushed BC to brink, keeping the game knotted at 7 until the 5:59 mark in the final period, when QB Johnny Langan punched in the game-winning score. Pope John has now played two of the Bergen County Big Four two single-digit games in successive weeks, and should no doubt be seen as a dark horse in Non-Public, Group 3.

Tom Szieber can be reached by emailing tom@gridironnewjersey.com.