1st Round Preview: Groups 4, 5

By Tom Szieber
Posted:  Friday, November 10, 2017   11:00 am

Check out Mark Wyville's photo gallery from Bergen Catholic's win over St. Peter's Prep.



[7] Northern Highlands (6-3) @ [2] West Morris (6-3)
The Highlanders need to account for a talented two-way threat in Wolfpack TE/DE Jake Ligos. If QB Charlie Ratner is under distress, the Northern Highlands offensive load may fall completely on the shoulders of running back Mario Agyen (1,018 yards, 12 touchdowns).

The Pick: West Morris

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Old Tappan over [8] Teaneck
[4] Wayne Hills over [5] Morris Hills
[3] Mount Olive over [6] Morris Knolls


[7] Orange (4-5) @ [2] North Hunterdon (8-1)
Lions quarterback Matt Busher can win a game on his arm, as shown by his 1,925 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Orange has a dangerous offense in its own right, led by quarterback George Crespo and running back Nyquee Hawkins.

The Pick: North Hunterdon

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Phillipsburg over [8] Millburn
[4] Irvington over [5] Linden
[6] Sayreville over [3] Colonia


[5] Brick Township (5-4) @ [4] Allentown (6-3)
Redbirds quarterback Dan Merkel has been remarkable all year, going 80-of-145 for 1,662 yards and 17 touchdowns. He’ll face a talented do-it-all defensive threat in linebacker Rich Tallmadge, who has tallied 96 tackles for the Green Dragons.

The Pick: Allentown

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Nottingham over [8] Freehold Boro
[3] Long Branch over [6] Middletown South
[2] Brick Memorial over [7] Jackson


[5] Absegami (4-4) @ [4] Shawnee (5-3)
After a 1-4 start, the Braves have reeled off three straight victories. Shawnee quarterback Colin Wetterau has passed for 1,649 yards and thrown 15 touchdowns this season.

The Pick: Shawnee

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Moorestown over [8] Pennsauken
[3] Central over [6] Hammonton
[2] Burlington Township over [7] Highland Regional


[6] Paramus Catholic (4-5) @ [3] St. Joseph (Met.) (9-0)
PC’s record isn’t stellar, but there is no doubt they’ve got dangerous skill players like QB Shelton Applewhite and RB Xavier Devore-Briggs that give them a chance in any game. The Falcons haven’t played a team like the Paladins yet, its schedule including just two teams that finished the pre-playoff regular season above .500.

The Pick: Paramus Catholic

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Bergen Catholic over [8] St. Augustine Prep
[4] Seton Hall Prep over [5] Delbarton
[2] St. Peter’s Prep over [7] Don Bosco Prep



[5] Ridgewood (7-2) @ [4] Clifton (6-2)
The Maroons defeated the Mustangs, 28-7, on Sept. 22, despite being outgained on the ground, 216-131. Clifton running back David Martinez rushed for 107 yards in that meeting, and has only gotten better, totaling 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

The Pick: Clifton

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Montclair over [8] Livingston
[3] Union City over [6] North Bergen
[2] Passaic County Tech over [7] Bloomfield


[8] Ridge (4-5) @ [1] Westfield (8-0)
When many doubted they would, the Blue Devils have gotten to the postseason with their state-best 33-game winning streak in tact. They’ve already earned a win over the Red Devils this year, beating them 23-7 on Sept. 15.

The Pick: Westfield

The Rest of the Section:
[5] Elizabeth over [4] East Orange Campus
[3] Bridgewater-Raritan over [6] Watchung Hills
[2] Piscataway over [7] Bayonne


[6] Trenton (6-3) @ [3] Old Bridge (6-2)
Trenton is one of the section’s hottest teams, and has won five straight after a 1-3 start. Old Bridge cornerback Manny Wheagar has a real nose for the ball, and has four picks on the year.

The Pick: Old Bridge

The Rest of the Section:
[1] Manalapan over [8] Perth Amboy
[4] Freehold Township over [5] North Brunswick
[2] South Brunswick over [7] Hillsborough


[8] Vineland (7-1) @ [1] Lenape (7-1)
In a loaded section, the eighth-seeded Fighting Clan have quarterback Isaih Pacheco and running back Nihym Anderson leading the offense. Lenape, of course, will rely heavily on RB JoJo Kellum, who has rushed for 1,107 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The Pick: Vineland

The Rest of the Section:
[5] Cherokee over [4] Howell
[3] Millville over [6] Williamstown
[2] Rancocas Valley over [7] Eastern

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