With one round of playoff football in the books, teams are now one step closer to realizing their goal of winning a sectional title. But this week, the competition progresses after Round 1 saw each No. 8 seeded team eliminated from contention, leaving only the cream of the crop battling for a title in this weekend’s semifinal rounds.
West Morris Set For First Playoff Action
After earning a first round bye in the North 2, Group III playoffs, the West Morris football team is getting set for its first postseason action of 2011 as the Wolfpack play host to No. 4-seeded Par Hills on Friday at 7 p.m.
This semifinal round playoff matchup is a regular season rematch from Week 2, and with the first meeting ending with West Morris eking out a 28-21 win at home, this one looks to be as exciting a matchup as any this weekend.
But while West Morris was enjoying some time off last week, Par Hills was making a statement with a dominant 27-0 win over fifth seed Nutley at home in round one.
As has become the norm this season, quarterback Tyler Simms led the way for the Vikes, throwing for 289 yards and four touchdowns–finding receiver Kyle Baxter for a team-high four catches for 71 yards and two scores. Running back C.J. Joyce also got in on the action, finishing the day with 85 yards on 18 carries, to go along with nine tackles, one fumble recovery and an interception to help the Par Hills defense to its first shutout this season.
The Par Hills defense will need to be just as good in Round 2 as it was in the postseason opener if the Vikings want to stop the Wolfpack’s two-headed rushing attack of Jon Ciccone and Jason Mackewicz. The two backs have combined for just under 1,500 yards and 20 TDs on the ground this season,
It’s sure to be a test for both West Morris and Par Hills, which finished second and third, respectfully, in the American Division this season. Whichever team earns the win will face the winner of Cranford vs. Colonia in the North 2, Group III finals.
Cross-Town Rivals Set to Meet
In their first matchup of the season, Madison routed cross-town rival Chatham in a 50-8 thumping in Madison. This weekend, Chatham gets a chance to take something back from its cross-town rival as these two teams meet up in a North 2, Group II semifinal matchup on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Madison.
With second-seeded Madison earning a convincing 62-38 win over Hackettstown in the first round–a win fueled by a five TD performance from junior Justin Goodwin–and Chatham escaping with a 10-7 win over Bernards sealed by a last second field goal from Dave Fiumara–both teams are heading into this game with high expectations.
The Dodgers have the edge coming in (the regular season victory, combined with a 22-game winning streak dating back to 2010), but Chatham also has momentum on its side.
While the final score may not be exactly what the Cougars were looking for in their first playoff game of the season, the Chatham defense proved that it has what it takes to shut down a prolific offense.
Despite Bernards averaging 35 points per game heading into last weekend, the Chatham defensive was able to limit it to just seven points, proving that the playoff stage isn’t too big for a team that seemed to struggle to find its identity throughout a good portion of the season.
The Cougars have their work cut out for them this week as well, as head coach Dan Morgenroth’s Chatham squad is saddled with the task of stopping a vaunted Madison Dodger rushing attack that hasn’t been silenced yet this season and looks to repeat as North 2, Group II champs.
Summit Hosts Caldwell
At the same time Madison and Chatham are doing battle, the other teams in the North 2, Group II semifinals will be doing the same, as No. 1 seed Summit (10-0) hosts fifth-seeded Caldwell.
Caldwell (6-3) is looking to make its second straight visit to the sectional finals (last year’s visit resulted in a loss to Madison), but will have to go through offensive juggernaut Summit if it wants another crack at the sectional belt.
Caldwell’s focus will be on containing Summit’s duel threat quarterback Ryan Bringewatt, who has the capability to beat teams with both his arm and his legs. This season, Bringewatt threw for 946 yards and nine touchdowns, and carried the ball 102 times for 767 yards and six scores, according to NJ.com.
But Bringewatt isn’t the only Summit threat that Caldwell needs to worry about, as running back A.J. Iarussi racked up 722 yards and 15 TDs this season to help a Summit offense that has averaged 44 points per game this season.
While the Summit defense hasn’t been as good as an offense that scored more than 40 points six times this season, it has been extremely effective, holding opponents to just 15 points per game.
For a Caldwell team facing what might be its biggest challenge of 2011, nothing less than a stellar defensive performance will do if the Chiefs hope to make an appearance in the sectional finals.
Butler Set to Host Glen Rock
The Butler football team bullied its way to a No. 2 seed in the North 1, Group I playoffs, and after a 17-14 win over Pequannock in the first round, the Bulldogs look to continue their impressive run as they host Glen Rock (7-2) in a semifinal matchup on Friday at 7 p.m.
For Butler, the recipe for success has been simple this season: run the ball, limit turnovers and play tough defense.
With senior Mike Tenned carrying the ball for 144 yards against Pequannock, Butler (8-1) rallied from a 7-0 deficit to advance in the tournament and, in turn, earn its second straight playoff home game.
Glen Rock (seeded No. 3) also knows how to pound the ball at opposing defenses with their horse, running back Joe Leem, who helped his team to a 30-7 win over Cresskill in Round 1, with 138 yards and three TDs on the ground, according to NJ.com.
For those interested in some good old fashioned smash mouth football, this Friday night matchup is sure to impress.