Wallkill Valley (9-1) at Butler (8-1)
**Please note, I discovered this game has been moved to Pequannock this Friday night, which takes away the sloppy field conditions, since Pequannock has an artificial turf field.
This will be played on a muddy field and Butler made the best of it last week, beating Pompton Lakes, 21-0.
Wallkill Valley was clicking last week with QB Alex Mastroianni running for 228 yards. They also have a top defense that has allowed only 78 points on the season and possess quality wins against Group 2 semi-finalists Newton and Kittatinny.
Butler has playmakers in RB Sean Centinaro and WR Derek Timpanaro and they can put up points. What concerns me is they beat 3-6 Becton by a touchdown and 4-5 Saddle Brook in double overtime. They will have to take advantage of whatever opportunities they get; if not, Wallkill Valley wins.
Boonton (7-2) at Park Ridge (8-1) –
This should be a high scoring affair, with both teams averaging over 30 points a game.
Boonton’s Wing-T has rushed for 3,632 yards, including 473 against Emerson last week, and average 403 per game. The only game they rushed for less than 300 was a 21-12 win over Pequannock. They have only thrown 24 passes this year and only one last week against Emerson.
Park Ridge is more balanced behind the running and passing of Vince Pinto, who has some good targets to throw to. The only game they failed to score 20 was their loss to Hasbrouck Heights. They play an aggressive game of defense and they will need to be disciplined.
While I do not get crazy with common opponents, Boonton beat Emerson by two touchdowns and Park Ridge beat them by one score. The key to winning is limiting each other’s running game. The teams have three losses between them and those are the only games they rushed for less than six yards a carry.
High Point (6-3) at Newton (9-1).
This is a rematch of a game Newton won, 18-7. If the game doesn’t go into overtime, I would be surprised if the game was more than two hours.
The teams have similar styles, offensively: Newton rushed 279 times with 45 passes, while High Point has 374 rushes and 47 passes. Newton runs Wing-T and High Point has the triple option.
This will probably be a low scoring game, as both teams have good defenses; High Point has yielded 125 points, with one opponent scoring over 20 and that was 24. Newton has allowed 107, with the highest total allowed being 17.
The key for Newton’s defense is to limit High Point’s running game and force them into passing situations; High Point has thrown ten or more passes twice and they lost both games; at the same time, their three lowest rushing outputs came in the three games they lost.
The key for High Point is to limit the Newton running game under five yards a carry because the only time it happened to Newton, they lost.
Kittatinny (8-2) at Westwood (7-2)
Kittatinny comes off a dominant win and have a tough runner in Jacob Mafaro, with 1,400 yards rushing. Unlike the Sussex teams on the other side of the bracket, Kittatinny can throw the ball with QB James Franco, a two-way threat. Their defense has been solid with 119 points allowed and only two opponents hitting the 20 mark against them.
While they can throw the ball, a team can put them out of their comfort zone by making them throw more often. They threw for ten or more passes four times, with their two highest being fourteen: the two games they lost.
Westwood has the most balanced offense of the four teams, throwing for over 1,000 yards. Their defense has allowed the most of the four teams, but they have played two teams better than anyone else played: River Dell and Lakeland, who produced 77 of the 173 points.
What stands out is the rushing output in their two losses: River Dell held them to 8 yards and Lakeland to 46. While those are two very good Group 3 teams, this is another case of making the team throw and if Kittatinny can do that, they have a good chance of winning.
Sparta (8-2) at Ramapo (10-0)
A rematch from opening weekend, won by Ramapo, 21-18.
Ramapo has scored 456 points and has 4,000 yards of offense, spearheaded by quarterback AJ Wingfield. There are games where Ramapo’s rushing yards per carry aren’t great, but the air game more than makes up for it. They throw because they can, not when they have to; when the passing game is sharp, it is very difficult to stop them.
The defense has been solid, allowing 124 points and they have an outstanding group of linebackers in Mike Connor, Anthony Sargenti, Anthony Valvano, and Matt Wingfield.
Sparta has the tough running of Austin Castorina’s 1,471 yards to go with the passing of Kenny Oelkers, who has thrown 20 touchdown passes to only two interceptions. They were without their leading tackler, safety Ryan Richardson, last week and I do not know his status this week. The Spartans showed great resilience in the earlier game and must be this week for them to win.
River Dell (7-2) at Paramus (10-0)
This is their fourth meeting in two years and Paramus won three weeks ago, 20-13.
Paramus is a senior-dominated group, but the big guns are juniors Trevor Bopp at QB and Kyle Jacob at RB, both 1,000 yard rushers. This is another team with 400 points with 4,000 yards of offense. Bopp also has 13 touchdown passes to 2 interceptions.
River Dell has RB Dave Fletcher, WR/DB Jack Racine, and QB Jack Gillies. River Dell has tough players on defense, including linebackers Matt Froonjian and Conor Murphy, plus lineman Aaron Furneaux.
River Dell is the only team to both keep Paramus under seven yards per carry and keep the Spartans under 35 points. If they can duplicate that, they can win the rematch. Paramus needs to keep doing what it has been doing.
Morris Knolls (5-4) at Wayne Hills (8-2)
Wayne Hills is tough to stop with difference makers at wide receiver in Charles Njoku and Jaaron Hayek. The two have 25 touchdown receptions between them and average 21.8 and 19.2 yards per catch, respectively. Defensively, lineman Joe Rondi is having a spectacular season.
Morris Knolls runs the veer, which is not seen very often and difficult to prepare for. QB Connor Chegwidden runs the offense very well and Michael Kaiser is their top running back. The problem is, the Eagles have scored only 123 points on the season, while allowing 167.
Wayne Hills is a heavy favorite and Morris Knolls needs almost everything to go right in order to win.
Wayne Valley (6-4) at Old Tappan (8-2)
This is another rematch, won by Old Tappan, 7-6.
Old Tappan has been hit with injuries and should have a couple of their starters back this week. However, WR/DB Johnny Lohrer is not expected to play. QB Drew Dippolito will have to lead the way and he still has some good receivers to throw to. This has been their reloading year after graduating many from their 12-0 team and they start a good amount of underclassmen.
Wayne Valley has run the ball 401 times to 162 passes and have used two quarterbacks: seniors Ryan Michels and Alex Trani. In fact, Trani plays running back when he is not taking snaps and is also a three-year starter at linebacker.
I do not have a great feel for this game. It could be another close one, but it also may not be. In order for Wayne Valley to win, they need to put points on the board, as there is a huge difference in points scored between their wins and losses.
North Bergen (7-2) at Montclair (6-4)
Montclair has had an up-and-down year, but Josh Crawford appears healthy and can hurt anybody. They will be without the services of linebacker Willie Matthews the rest of the season and he has been plagued with injuries much of the year. They have still scored 300 points, but while appearing to be coming on in recent weeks, they lost to Irvington. The Mounties can score, but they also allow a lot of points, 185 on the year.
North Bergen started 22 seniors last week against Hackensack and are at their best running ball in the Wing-T. Backs Mike Santini and Christian Angulo can move the ball, with Santini a very physical runner. They have a lot of experience and impressed me last week when I saw them.
It is a hard game to call, but I do think North Bergen will give Montclair all they can handle.
Clifton (7-2) at Ridgewood (7-2)
A rematch of a game won by Ridgewood, 38-14 and this will be the fourth time they have played in the last two years.
Ridgewood has featured the running of Will Cardew, who hit the 1,000 mark last week and is almost all the way back from last year’s ACL injury. They run as good a Wing-T as anyone, with a 334 rush to 79 pass ratio. It is interesting to not that they passed 23 times against Old Tappan and 24 against Paramus, their two losses on the year. The highest amount of passes thrown in their wins is 10.
Clifton has a solid line to support their 1,200 yard rusher in David Martinez. Devon Swasey is a small speedster who is a threat to score any time. The Mustangs can put points on the board, but need a better game this time around than they played the first time against the Maroons.
While Ridgewood can win this game, I expect it to be closer this time.