NJ Football Week 7 - Games of the Week Preview
St. Augustine - Camden Eastside
St. Augustine Prep has had an up-and-down season in the WJFL-American, one of the hardest divisions in South Jersey. This team was a force last year, and has shown potential to truly put things together towards the end of the season. They do not sit in a favorable playoff matchup in the Non-Public A bracket, and could really use a boost these last few weeks of the season. Camden Eastside, on the other hand, has figured it out at the right time. They only have two games remaining but could definitely gain a more favorable matchup in the South Group 3 playoffs if they can win both games. The debuts of studs Willy Love and Will Norman could not have come at a better time, and Eastside looks to roll through the end of their season and make some noise as the lower team no high seed wants in the playoffs.
West Side - Weequahic
West Side and Weequahic have been firing on all cylinders for the whole season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. West Side needs a win against this powerful Weequahic team, with a huge opportunity to jump in the UPR rankings. Weequahic will take their power points this week up against good competition from a group above. This Newark-based matchup has all the components of being an instant classic, with both teams hungry for wins and to keep their undefeated seasons alive and take advantage of playoff seeding.
Bergen Catholic - St Joseph Regional (Montvale)
The private schools of Bergen County all have a shared hatred for each other. It is no different for the Bergen Catholic Crusaders and St Joseph Regional Green Knights. Bergen Catholic is fresh off a bye week, but are stumbling into a giant trap game against the Green Knights. Both of SJR’s losses came in nail-biting thrillers against Don Bosco and St Peter’s. This game will come down to the wire, and the matchup of St Joe’s freak of nature running back Yasin Willis and the Crusader’s DJ Samuels and vaunted defensive line will be a chess match all night. You can throw precision out the window of a rivalry game like this, it is going to be a gritty battle throughout the night.
West Morris - Randolph
The heavyweights of Morris County will meet Friday night to determine the champion of the Liberty White division. The West Morris Central Wolfpack are a machine. The defense has let up an average of around 5 points per game and Vinnie Desiderio provides blanket coverage in the secondary. Stefano Montella, flanked by linemen Collin Leonhardt and Henry Frayne along with the rest of the offense, has rolled through every team standing in the way. A close game last week against West Essex showed that the Wolfpack are mortal. This week, West Morris is staring down the barrel at one of the most explosive offenses in the state. If the Wolfpack are a machine, then the Randolph Rams are a juggernaut. Their offense is led by gunslinger Sean Clark and his trio of wide receivers. While mostly relying on Clark’s arm, the tandem of Jesse Wilfong and Stephen Petruziello in the backfield showed they can win games for the team against East Orange. The Rams’ defense has held opponents at bay all season. This game will have it’s share of offensive fireworks, and will be one of the state’s most electric matchups of the season.
Ramsey - Newton
The Newton Braves had their biggest test of the season last week against previously undefeated Hackettstown, and pulled out a gritty win in the rivalry matchup. This deadly offense will somehow become more potent with senior wide receiver Osvaldo Ruiz finally getting clearance from the state’s transfer rules. Newton has dominated on both sides of the ball, but face their toughest challenge yet in the Ramsey Rams. Quarterback Robert Fuerst has been dealing for the Rams, who have paired his offensive prowess with Sean Hali’s defense to create an incredible balanced team. After dropping their only game to the best North Group 2 has to offer in Westwood, this is their game to jump up the standing from sixth against this fourth-ranked Newton team. The key to this game is the run. The Braves have two brutes in the backfield who have run all over teams this season in Thaylor Sibblies and Brayden Nolan. The team as a whole has almost 2,000 yards on the ground and two rushers over 600 yards and four others with over 100. Ramsey lost to Westwood because they could not stop the run. Can they flip the script? Or will Newton continue to dominate good competition.
Passaic Tech - East Orange
The defending champions will take on one of the championship favorites this Friday night at East Orange Campus. East Orange has turned their season around, winning three straight including a giant win over West Orange after dropping the first three games of their season. There aren’t many teams across the state as battle-tested as East Orange, with all three losses coming against some of the best in New Jersey. Maryland-bound Joshua Richards is both the offensive and defensive catalyst for this team. On the other side of the turf will be Passaic Tech, looking to add another quality win to their resume going into what may be one of the best North Group 5 playoffs we have seen in awhile. PCTI has a weapon on both sides of the ball themselves in junior Trashon Dye. Jockeying for playoff position, this game should be a close one with a lot on the line.
Ramapo - Old Tappan
The Ramapo Raiders are on a two game skid. Star quarterback Jack Grusser missed a game to injury, then came back last week still not looking one-hundred percent. The good news for the Raiders is that running back Ethan Moran has showed how valuable he is to the team. The bad news is they are looking to avoid three straight losses against Old Tappan. Dennis Delaney and the Old Tappan defense have mowed down every challenge in their path, but they have never quite seen a quarterback like Grusser. If he is back to being fully healthy, the battle between Grusser and the Old Tappan defensive unit will be one for the ages. Ramapo needs to right the ship but Old Tappan has not been slowed down yet. The outcome of this game will send shockwaves through both teams, no matter which way the scale tilts in the end.
Delsea - Hammonton
The two best teams (according to the UPR rankings) in South Group 3 and South Group 4 will meet this week in a championship-caliber game. Delsea has been one of the top teams in the state this entire season, and are rightfully at the head of the Group 3 rankings. Their run game pairs with a defense allowing an average of 11 points per game. They look to continue their South Jersey dominance against Hammonton. Hammonton has put together a spectacular season, outside of the one mark on their record against Mainland, also relying on their run game. This is the marquee matchup down south this weekend, and anyone within the area should make it a priority to attend this game.
Cedar Grove - Caldwell
The powerhouses of North Group 1 and North Group 2 will clash. Cedar Grove has not only won six games in a row since dropping their first game to Salem, but they have done utterly outclassed the opposition. They offer a balanced attack with sophomore playcaller Stephen Paradiso under center and surrounded by a backfield filled with talented runners. They are running full steam ahead into the state’s giant. Caldwell holds the longest win streak in the state at 21 games. They do not plan on stopping anytime soon with a state championship repeat on the horizon. West Essex gave them a test a few weeks back, and Cedar Grove will be the toughest team since then. A little adversity has never hurt anyone, and Caldwell quarterback-receiver duo Luke Kurzum and Harry Boland are welcoming the challenge with open arms.