Group 1: I see the best game in this bracket being Middlesex-Florence: the defending champion in Middlesex against a traditional program in Florence. I see Willingboro, Paulsboro, and Woodbury winning without much problem. Maple Shade, who plays Paulsboro, has had a good year after experiencing losing seasons the last few years.
Group 2: Hillside is the defending champ and can repeat, but they are in a good group. They should win against South River and play the winner of Lincoln-Bernards. This is a very good game and I would go to this one if it wasn’t for my choosing two good games in Northwest Jersey. I call this one a tossup. Both Cinnaminson and Manasquan will be heavily favored this weekend and both teams are capable of winning the title.
Group 3: This group has the potential of an exciting final rematch between Somerville and Rumson-Fair Haven, won by Somerville last year. However, games need to be played, with both Red Bank and Holmdel are having good years. On one side of the bracket, I expect Somerville to cruise over Raritan, while Holmdel may have a hard time beating Nottingham. Rumson-Fair Haven will beat Ocean, while Red Bank-Allentown will be an interesting game, Allentown is 4-4, but have a quarterback who can make things happen in Dan Merkel.
Group 4: This is a tough group that has several who can win the big prize. Defending champ Long Branch and should beat 1-6 Middletown North. Freehold Boro-Brick Memorial is a rematch of a game won earlier by Freehold Boro, 20-17. Brick and Jackson is usually a slugfest and I expect the same this time; Brick won two weeks ago, 24-7. Middletown South should beat Northern Burlington.
Group 5: This is a strong section with top-seeded Sayreville playing Hillsborough, a game they should win. Manalapan takes the ride north to play Hunterdon Central in a rematch of their sectional final from five years ago. A game I would like to see is Edison at South Brunswick. Edison is 6-2 with their losses being by a total of six points to Sayreville and North Brunswick. South Brunswick is down from last year’s championship, but they are still a tough out. North Brunswick is another good squad, but Trenton has the potential to give them a good game.
Group 1: The only game that may be competitive is Buena-Glassboro. Penns Grove, Salem, and Gateway should roll in their games.
Group 2: This arguably the best public school group with numerous teams capable of winning the title. Haddonfield has been awesome all year and beat Sterling earlier, 41-7. They play the Pleasantville-Cedar Creek winner, a game won earlier this year by Pleasantville, 38-22. I expect West Deptford to beat Barnegat and Camden to beat Collingswood, but Collingswood has weapons and upset Camden a few years ago in the first round.
Group 3: Top-seeded Burlington Township is undefeated, but Oakcrest has potential to give them a battle. Wall and Timber Creek will has good potential; Timber Creek has played a tough schedule, including undefeated out-of-state teams in Central Catholic (Ohio) and New Rochelle, NY. Triton has had a very good year, but they face a very talented Woodrow Wilson team. Delsea-Deptford features a Delsea team that is on a roll, winning the last four and scoring 196 points in that span.
Group 4: Top-seeded Millville has done a very good job bouncing back from an 0-3 start against very tough competition, while Winslow has players who can win a game, such as QB Prince Dru-Bey. Mainland-Shawnee will be closer than the records are and that is no criticism of Mainland. Highland hosts an Ocean City team that has lost its last four after winning the first three, while only a one-point loss two weeks ago keeps Highland from being undefeated. Clearview-Hammonton is a game that also can be closer than the records and I think it will be a good game.
Group 5: Top-seeded and 9-0 Williamstown has been outstanding and has only allowed 49 points this year. They come off an impressive win over St. Augustine and beat Washington Township three weeks ago, 34-3. Toms River North-Vineland will be a good one. Vineland has been in all their games and TRN bounced back from last year. Lenape-Kingsway and Rancocas Valley-Eastern are both potentially good games. If Lenape and Rancocas Valley both win, this will be the fourth time they have played the last two years, with all three previous games being decided by three points, including last year’s final.