First Round Preview: Groups 1, 2, 3

By Tom Szieber
Posted:  Wednesday, November 8, 2017   11:25 am

Check out LaRon Hall's photo gallery from West Deptford's win over Haddonfield.



[5] Hasbrouck Heights (7-1) @ [4] Cedar Grove (5-4)
The Aviators want to get the taste of a heartbreaking NJIC title game loss to Rutherford out of their mouths with a first round victory as their sectional championship defense begins. The Panthers offense is led by QB Sammy Ventola, who has passed for 1,663 and 18 touchdowns.

The Pick: Hasbrouck Heights

The Rest of the Section:
[1] New Milford over [8] Wood-Ridge
[3] Emerson over [6] Pompton Lakes
[2] Wallington over [7] Park Ridge


[6] Roselle Park (5-3) @ [3] Glen Ridge (6-3)
Ridgers quarterback Tyler Liddy is riding high, coming off a 15-of-27, 226-yard,  three-touchdown day against Hoboken. Roselle Park has struggled as of late, losing three out of four -- its only win coming against winless New Providence.

The Pick: Glen Ridge

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Weequahic over [8] Hoboken
[4] Belvidere over [5] Becton
[2] Shabazz over [7] Newark Collegiate


[5] Shore (4-4) @ [4] Middlesex (7-1)
A 25-yard touchdown pass by John Kressbach to Zack Godfrey and Kressbach two-point run gave Middlesex a 22-21 overtime win over Shore on Oct. 13. Shore isn’t exactly going into the playoffs on the right foot, having lost three of its past four games.

The Pick: Middlesex

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Burlington City over [8] Asbury Park
[3] Bound Brook over [6] Florence
[2] Manville over [7] Point Pleasant Beach


[5] Woodbury (6-2) @ [4] Salem (6-2)
The Thundering Herd defeated the Rams, 14-6, after a late goal line stand on Sept. 30. Salem has been on a tear ever since, averaging 52.3 points per game in four straight wins.

The Pick: Salem

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Paulsboro over [8] Pennsville
[3] Gateway over [6] Woodstown
[2] Penns Grove over [7] Schalick



[5] Pequannock (9-0) @ [4] Newton (9-0)
After years of struggling, the Braves are 17-2 over the past two years under head coach Matt Parzero. Still, the Newton defense will have its work cut out for it trying to stop Pequannock running back Sean Klimek, who this season became the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher.

The Pick: Pequannock

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Westwood over [8] Ramsey
[3] Manchester Regional over [6] Waldwick
[2] Lakeland over [7] Mahwah


[8] Lyndhurst (5-3) @ [1] Rutherford (8-0)
Lyndhurst running back Piotr Partyla has rushed for 694 yards and 13 TDs on the year. QB Kyle Russell and the Bulldogs are looking to ride the momentum of their NJIC title win to a sectional championship.

The Pick: Rutherford

The Rest of the Section:
[4] Lenape Valley over [5] Hanover Park
[3] Mountain Lakes over [6] Hackettstown
[2] Caldwell over [7] Whippany Park


[5] Manasquan (5-3) @ [4] Roselle (6-2)
The Warriors beat Roselle, 31-27, in last season’s sectional semifinal on its way to a Central, Group 2 title. Roselle’s defense has allowed just over 10 points per game, and hasn’t surrendered more than 14 over its last five tilts.

The Pick: Roselle

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Point Pleasant Boro over [8] Raritan
[3] Johnson over [6] Holmdel
[2] South River over [7] Hillside


[7] Cinnaminson (6-2) @ [2] Camden (7-1)
Cinnaminson has a lot of momentum following a huge victory over West Deptford and a blowout win over Bordentown. They’ll need to continue the lights out defense they’ve been playing to slow Camden RB Najyere Edwards, who has rushed for 941 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The Pick: Camden

The Rest of the Section:
[1] West Deptford over [8] Pleasantville
[4] Cedar Creek over [5] Willingboro
[6] Haddonfield over [3] Sterling


[7] Gloucester Catholic (5-3) @ [2] Holy Spirit
These teams have gone in completely opposite directions as the season has wound down. The Rams have lost three straight leading into the playoffs, while Holy Spirit has won six in a row (including wins over Delsea, St. Augustine Prep and Camden Catholic).

The Pick: Holy Spirit

The Rest of the Section:
[1] St. Joseph (Hamm.) over [8] St. Mary
[4] Hudson Catholic over [5] Immaculata
[3] Mater Dei Prep over [6] Holy Cross



[6] Englewood (5-4) @ [3] Demarest (8-1)
Demarest QB Austin Albericci has passed for 2,248 yards and 25 touchdowns and scored nine times on the ground for a squad that has scored at least 35 points in every game this year. Englewood safety Quanzie Lumsden is a ball hawk (70 tackles, 2 INT) who will surely be eyeing Albericci all day.

The Pick: Demarest

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Ramapo over [8] Pascack Valley
[4] Sparta over [5] Bergenfield
[2] River Dell over [7] Paramus


[5] Rahway (5-3) @ [4] Summit (6-3)
The Hilltoppers defeated Rahway decisively two weeks ago, 34-14. Rahway will need to do a better job containing Summit’s Jackson Tyler, who scored four touchdowns in the regular season meeting.

The Pick: Summit

The Rest of the Section:
[1] West Essex over [8] Ridgefield Park
[3] Voorhees over [6] Nutley
[2] Parsippany Hills over [7] Cranford


[8] Lawrence (5-4) @ [1] Rumson Fair-Haven (7-1)
Lawrence has rebounded from an 0-3 start to win five of six -- its sole loss in that stretch coming by 5 against 8-1 Nottingham. Rumson running back Peter Lucas will be a challenge to stop, and has rushed for 1,819 yards on the year.

The Pick: Rumson Fair-Haven

The Rest of the Section:
[5] Wall over [4] Steinert
[3] Monmouth over [6] Carteret
[2] Somerville over [7] Ewing


[8] Seneca (3-5) @ [1] Timber Creek (8-0)
Chargers QB Devin Leary has passed for 2,052 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. Timber Creek is looking to begin its march to a third consecutive sectional crown by beating a Seneca squad that hasn’t won back-to-back games yet this year.

The Pick: Timber Creek

The Rest of the Section:
[4] Delsea over [5] Ocean City
[3] Lacey over [6] Lakewood
[2] Woodrow Wilson over [7] Deptford


[5] Camden Catholic (7-1) @ [4] St. John Vianney (9-0)
Fighting Irish RB Marcus Hillman has 1,113 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground this year. His Lancers counterpart, Johnny Buchanan, has tallied 1,012 and 14 of his own, and will look to lead his team past Camden Catholic for a second straight season in the playoffs.

The Pick: St. John Vianney

The Rest of the Section:
[3] St. Joseph (Mont.) over [6] Red Bank Catholic
[2] Pope John over [7] Donovan Catholic

Tom Szieber can be reached by emailing