Playoff Predictions: Semifinals
By Tom Szieber
Posted: Friday, November 18, 2016 1:25 pm
Check out Brian Carr's photo gallery from Toms River North's victory over Middletown South.
(5) Cresskill (7-2) @ (1) Hasbrouck Heights (9-0)
The Aviators beat the Cougars soundly on Sept. 30, 34-6. Hasbrouck Heights QB Frank Quatrone has rushed for 1,025 yards and 21 touchdowns this season.
The Pick: Hasbrouck Heights
(4) Hoboken (6-4) @ (1) Weequahic (9-0)
The Indians beat the Red Wings in a 28-6 game three weeks ago. Hoboken knocked Weequahic out of this bracket’s semifinals last year en route to a sectional title.
The Pick: Weequahic
(3) Keyport (9-1) @ (2) Point Pleasant Beach (6-4)
Running back Devin Wollner had a 100-yard game and a touchdown in Keyport’s opening day win over the Gulls. The Raiders are a balanced squad that can win a high or low-scoring affair.
The Pick: Keyport
(4) Salem (7-2) @ (1) Woodbury (7-2)
The Rams won round one earlier this year, and have a stud running back in Jonathan Taylor. Woodbury has won five straight games since that loss.
The Pick: Salem
The Other Group 1 Picks:
North 1: (3) Becton over (2) New Milford
North 2: (3) Shabazz over (2) Bound Brook
Central: (1) Shore over (5) Asbury Park
South: (2) Paulsboro over (3) Pennsville
(6) Pequannock (6-2-1) @ (2) Mahwah (9-1)
Pequannock will have its hands full with talented Thunderbirds running back Brian DePaola, a balanced rusher with good breakaway ability. The Panthers have been so dominant at times that some of their losses (not to mention their tie with Caldwell) have been head-scratchers.
The Pick: Mahwah
(4) Hanover Park (8-2) @ (1) Madison (9-0)
Hanover Park’s defense had difficulty stopping the potent Dodgers O earlier this year, but so did everyone, as it has dropped at least 27 points in every game.
The Pick: Madison
(3) Manasquan (8-1) @ (2) Roselle (9-0)
Quarterback Gerald Hairston III and the Rams offense may be the most high-octane in all of Group 2, having dropped 60+ points four times this year. Wins over Middletown North, Red Bank Catholic and Johnson in the last month have quieted anyone skeptical over exactly how big a threat the Warriors are.
The Pick: Manasquan
(4) Collingswood (7-2) @ (1) West Deptford (9-0)
If Collingswood wants to pull off the upset, it needs to contain running back Anthony Seas better than in these teams’ showdown two weeks back, when he rushed for a 172 yards. The Eagles have now won 20 of their past 21 games.
The Pick: West Deptford
(8) Immaculata (6-4) @ (4) Holy Spirit (7-2)
Immaculata is rolling, having won its last three after a 3-4 start. It isn’t necessarily a shocker that Holy Spirit beat Montclair Kimberley last week, but the dominance it showed in the 42-6 triumph certainly opened some eyes.
The Pick: Holy Spirit
The Other Group 2 Picks:
North 1: (4) Westwood over (8) High Point
North 2: (2) Rutherford over (3) Lenape Valley
Central: (1) Lincoln over (5) Bernards
South: (2) Cedar Creek over (3) Willingboro
Non-Public: (3) St. Joseph (Hamm.) over (2) Mater Dei Prep
(3) River Dell (8-2) @ (2) Ramapo (7-3)
Ramapo has owned the Golden Hawks over the last two seasons, beating them three times (including in last year’s sectional final) and scoring 122 points in those contests. Raiders QB Tom Jaten can beat a team through the air, as shown by his 2,157 yards and 27 touchdowns.
The Pick: Ramapo
(4) Parsippany Hills (6-4) @ (1) West Essex (7-3)
The Vikings have won four straight since losing to the Knights (and dropping to 2-4) on Oct. 14. The Knights rushed for 366 yards as a team in last week’s win over Nutley.
The Pick: West Essex
(4) Rumson-Fair Haven (7-2) @ (1) Somerville (10-0)
With every huge victory Somerville accrues, it becomes more remarkable that the Pioneers were 2-8 a year ago. It’ll be interesting to see how Somerville’ absurdly high-scoring offense matches up with a stingy Bulldogs squad that has allowed just 42 points all year.
The Pick: Somerville
(3) Delsea (6-4) @ (2) Burlington Township (8-1)
Running back Rashaad Williams ran for two touchdowns in Delsea’s 20-point win over Seneca last week. The Falcons haven’t played the toughest of schedules, but they’ve steamrolled the likes of Pemberton (twice) and Ewing during their current six-game tear.
The Pick: Delsea
(3) Pope John (6-4) @ (2) DePaul (5-5)
The Spartans beat the Lions 26-14 on October 29, in a game that turned out to be the difference in the NJSFC United White Division race. That game handed the Lions their worst loss of the year, as its setbacks against Malvern Prep (PA), Bergen Catholic and Paramus Catholic came by 4, 5 and 7 points, respectively.
The Pick: DePaul
The Other Group 3 Picks:
North 1: (4) Old Tappan over (1) Sparta
North 2: (7) Orange over (3) Morris Hills
Central: (3) South Plainfield over (2) Ewing
South: (1) Wall over (5) Hamilton
Non-Public: (1) St. Joseph (Mont.) over (5) St. John Vianney
(6) Morris Knolls (6-3) @ (3) Wayne Valley (7-2)
Valley QB Grant Ferrauilo has thrown for 2,552 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. They already beat Knolls, 47-28, on Sept. 30.
The Pick: Wayne Valley
(3) Summit (8-2) @ (2) Middletown North (7-2)
The Hilltoppers have been impressive in victory, but have struggled a bit with the tougher portion of their schedule. The Lions are looking to avoid a second consecutive semifinal playoff exit.
The Pick: Middletown North
(5) Freehold Boro (6-4) @ (1) Brick Township (7-2)
Freehold Boro quarterback Ashante Worthy rushed for 465 yards and scored 10 total touchdowns (8 rush, 2 pass), in last week’s victory over Pennsauken. The Green Dragons’ answer figures to be Ja’Sir Taylor, a former receiver who is dangerous when he gets to the edge.
The Pick: Freehold Boro
(3) Shawnee (8-1) @ (2) Timber Creek (9-0)
Timber Creek beat Shawnee in last year’s final, but the Renegades won the two prior. Chargers QB Devin Leary has thrown 36 touchdowns this season.
The Pick: Timber Creek
(3) St. Peter’s Prep (7-3) @ (2) Bergen Catholic (7-3)
BC quarterback Johnny Langan threw six touchdowns when these teams met earlier this year. Still, the Marauders got the win, its only against the Bergen County Big Four this year.
The Pick: Bergen Catholic
The Other Group 4 Picks:
North 1: (1) Wayne Hills over (8) Roxbury
North 1: (4) West Morris over (5) Fair Lawn
North 1: (2) Irvington over (7) Randolph
North 2: (1) Middletown South over (5) Sayreville
Central: (6) Jackson over (2) Allentown
South: (1) Lenape over (5) Highland Regional
Non-Public: (1) Paramus Catholic over (4) Don Bosco Prep
(5) Montclair (6-3) @ (1) Ridgewood (10-0)
Running back Zach Feagles is a strong, bruising weapon for the Maroons. The Mounties have had some letdowns against West Orange and Seton Hall Prep over the past four games, but a win over rival Bloomfield in the first round gave them some all-important momentum.
The Pick: Ridgewood
(6) Union (5-4) @ (2) Westfield (9-0)
Union actually gave the Blue Devils their third-closest game of the year on Oct. 8, pushing them to a 28-13 contest. Westfield quarterback Phil Martini has 1,266 yards and 18 yards passing this year.
The Pick: Westfield
(3) Old Bridge (5-3-1) @ (2) Piscataway (7-2)
Running back Nick Sodano and the Knights gave Piscataway its first loss of the year, ending the Chiefs’ undefeated streak at 4. The Knights, though, are just 2-2 since that huge triumph.
The Pick: Piscataway
(3) Millville (8-1) @ (2) Rancocas Valley (8-1)
Millville’s ability to win likely hinges on its ability to slow down RV running back Iverson Clement. The Red Devils have not beaten a single team that currently has an above-.500 record.
The Pick: Millville
The Other Group 5 Picks:
North 1: (3) Passaic County Tech over (2) Union City
North 2: (1) Bridgewater-Raritan over (5) Elizabeth
Central: (1) Manalapan over (5) South Brunswick
South: (1) Toms River North over (5) Howell
Tom Szieber can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.