Six Playoff Games Involve GMC Teams on Friday Night
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–On Friday night, semifinal round state playoff action begins with six games involving teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference. Â GMC Gridiron will be traveling out to Phillipsburg, just miles away from the Pennsylvania border to see the Woodbridge Barrons for the first time this season. Â Woodbridge will be taking on the second seeded Stateliners in the North Jersey Section 2 Group IV state playoffs. Â The Barrons are coming off an opening round come from behind victory at Irvington (34-33). Â Other match-ups include a rematch between Colonia and J.F. Kennedy in the other N2 Group IV semifinal, and a rematch between Trenton and South Brunswick in CJ Group V. Â Below are game capsules with predictions on the six contests.
Woodbridge (7-3) at Phillipsburg (8-1)–Woodbridge faces a tall order when it travels to West Jersey to take on the Stateliners of Phillipsburg. Â Entering this contest, Phillipsburg has only lost one game this season, and that was a heartbreaking loss to CJ Group V second seed, Hillsborough (14-13), which surged past Monroe in the opening round of those playoffs (34-7). Â The Stateliners have won their last two games by the combined total of 94-0 including a 33-0 rout of eighth seeded Mendham in the opening round last week. Â Meanwhile, Woodbridge has been rolling as well. Â Since losing their first two games of the season by a combined total of just 8 points, the Barrons have won 7 of their last 8 including a solid win over another semifinalist in this section, and crosstown rival, J.F. Kennedy (35-14) and the come from behind win over third seeded Irvington (34-33) in the opening round last week. Â The only loss that the Barrons have had during this stretch was to another team in this bracket, top seeded Colonia (49-27). Â Anthony Guarino is the QB and team captain of Phillipsburg, who has completed 36 of 85 passes for 707 yards and 9 TDs. Â The bulk of the Stateliner offense goes through RB Joe Maso, another team captain, who also plays defensive back. Â So far this season, Maso has run 162 times for 1,124 yards and 16 TDs. Â Woodbridge will need to control the line of scrimmage, and contain Maso as much as possible while forcing Phillipsburg to beat them in the air. Â The Barrons will counter on offense with sophomore QB Tracey Fudge, and RBs Zahneer Shuler and Keshaun Henry. Â Woodbridge also has plenty of talent in its passing corps with the likes of WRs Quassim Glover and Zaire Robinson, and TE Ryan Alcott. Â Expect Woodbridge to give a fight, but Phillipsburg will advance. Â Prediction: Â Phillipsburg wins, 35-17.
J.F. Kennedy (7-3) at Colonia (10-0)–The last two years, these two teams have played each other early in the regular season, Colonia defeated Kennedy easily both times by a combined score of 61-14. Â The Patriots have not been challenged in all, but one game this season, a three point victory on the road at Matawan (10-7) on October 11th. Â The second fewest points the Pats have scored this season was against South Plainfield on November 7th (20-0 win). Â However, Kennedy dismantled a West Morris team that had lost to the likes of state power Delbarton, N2 Group III playoff contender, Parsippany Hills, and North I Group V playoff contender Roxbury as well as beaten the likes of playoff teams such as Mendham and Randolph. Â The Mustangs, led by the performance of their junior QB, Andrew Roberts (3 pass TDs and 3 rush TDs) rolled past the Wolfpack in a stunning 42-14 victory in Iselin last Friday. Â If Roberts can play that kind of game again this week, and get the help that he got from receivers Terrance Young and Stepp Ozgiebe, JFK has a chance. Â The Mustangs aggressive, all out style of play calling opened things up, and showed the true potency of their offense. Â JFK has a lot of weapons, and if they are used well, it can score a lot of points. Â Colonia counters with Tenny Adewusi at QB, who is also a run and throw threat. Â Sam Pero churns up big yardage on the ground at RB while Pharoah Napoleon, Chase Barneys, and Bryce Barneys provide good targets in the air. Â J.J. Corbett, Brandon Haines, and Jodrell Thompson also contribute for the Pats while Ari King, Andrew Allen, Mark Rudolf, and Matt Scalia contribute for Kennedy. Â This game will be closer than the previous two meetings between these schools, but Colonia should advance. Â Prediction: Â Colonia wins, 24-17.
Trenton (7-3) at South Brunswick (9-0)–For the second year in a row, former South Brunswick head coach, Tarig Holman will be leading the Tornadoes of Trenton Central against the Vikings of SBHS. Â Last year, South Brunswick traveled to TCHS for an opening round playoff game, and won easily (28-8). Â This year, the Vikes are more invincible, and are playing at home. Â South Brunswick has even defeated a Piscataway team that has four shutouts this season. Â The Vikings also defeated three other playoff teams in Central Jersey Group V including East Brunswick (twice), Monroe, and Old Bridge. Â The top seeded Vikings are led by Syracuse bound running back, Dante Strickland, who has found ways to beat teams on both sides of the ball, but in many different ways. Â Josh Liao performed well filling in for the injured Amir Johnson at QB while Phil Campbell has also provided some help running the football. Â Matt Golden also contributes in the backfield, but has an even bigger presence on defense and special teams, especially with his place kicking. Â Marcus Jackson and Mohammed Jabbie are also threats at WR and defensive back. Â The Vikings should advance to their second CJ Group V championship in three years. Â Prediction: Â South Brunswick wins, 35-14.
Carteret (6-3) at Long Branch (7-2)–For the second time this season, and for the third time in the past two seasons, these two teams will be going at it. Â The Ramblers and Green Wave met in the opening round of last year’s CJ Group III playoffs with the Ramblers advancing. Â Then, in week two this season, the Green Wave returned the favor with a 31-6 victory in Long Branch. Â The Green Wave have only lost to Red Bank Catholic, which easily disposed of CJ Group V third seed, Manalapan a month ago, and neighborhood rival, Neptune. Â Long Branch has recorded two shutouts and three other wins where it only allowed one score. Â On the other hand, Carteret has lost to LB, Colonia, and Kennedy, has one shutout, and three other wins where only one score of some kind was allowed. Â The Green Wave are led by RB Dahmiere Willis, who has rushed for over 1,800 yards this season. Â Carteret will try to counter with QB Nelson Baez, who returned to the lineup with a stellar performance in the Ramblers opening round win over Nottingham last week (33-0). Â Baez has plenty of weapons to work with including RB Ra’Keem Bennett, and WRs Brandon Gilder, Hassan Williams, and Justin Taylor. Â The Ramblers also are led on defense by Sam Kamara and Mike Nowak. Â Carteret makes some adjustments here, and stays a bit closer, but Long Branch advances. Â Prediction: Â Long Branch wins, 24-14.
Hoboken (7-3) at Dunellen (8-1)–For the second time in the past three seasons, Dunellen will be facing the Hoboken Red Wings in the North Jersey Section 2 Group I semifinals. Â The last time these two teams met in November 2012, the Red Wings rolled to a 35-0 victory. Â Hoboken’s three losses have come at the hands of top teams in Hudson County in Lincoln, St. Anthony’s, and Hudson Catholic. Â All three of those losses have come by a combined total of 81-17. Â Dunellen, on the other hand, has won 8 straight since losing its season opener on the road at Spotswood (28-14). Â The Destroyers may be looking to return the favor this year, especially since the game is being played in the friendly confines of Columbia Park. Â Â Dunellen has soundly beaten the likes of playoff teams Mater Dei, Metuchen, and Point Pleasant Beach while edging another playoff contender in Shore Regional. Â Hoboken has played the likes of other playoff teams such as Shabazz and Glen Ridge on its schedule. Â QB Dave Johnson leads the single wing Destroyer attack with help from RBs Rob Young and Nassan Anderson as well as FB Paul Appleton. Â Danny Russomanno, Rob Puckett, Ryan McCann, and Conrad Paddyfoot help anchor a tough DHS defense. Â Hoboken may get the win, but Dunellen won’t go down without a fight. Â Prediction: Â Hoboken wins, 21-16.
Middlesex (7-2) at Shore Regional (8-1)–The Middlesex Blue Jays will try to continue its playoff run with a trip out to West Long Branch and Shore Regional for the semifinals of the Central Jersey Group I playoffs. Â The last time, the Jays were in this position in 2008, they lost to eventual champion, Asbury Park. Â Shore Regional has played three GMC teams this year, and has gone 2-1 against them including a 10-0 win over Spotswood in week two, a 16-7 loss at Dunellen in week four, and a rout of South River (35-0). Â Middlesex has played three Shore teams and has gone 3-0 against them including a week two victory at home over playoff team, Point Pleasant Beach. Â The Blue Devils rolled past the Garnet Gulls in the opening round of the playoffs last week (49-0). Â Shore beat Point Beach twice this year by a combined score of 66-0. Â Middlesex will look to stay competitive. Â The Jays and Blue Devils have played two common opponents in Point Beach and Spotswood. Â The Chargers defeated MHS in overtime several weeks ago at Middlesex (17-14). Â The GMC Blue has fared much better against the Shore’s Class B Central Division, but Shore has not been scored upon in over four games, have five shutouts, and have only given up 36 points all season. Â It will be a tough task for the Blue Jays led by the likes of QB Anthony Abate, RB Kayshawn Wilson, Anthony Marshall, Carran Marks, Dennis Brodnax, and Matt Hode. Â Shore gets the edge here, but the Jays will be tough. Â Prediction: Â Shore wins, 20-6.
GMC Gridiron will be at Phillipsburg on Friday night to see the Woodbridge Barrons take on one of the most storied football programs in the state of New Jersey in the semifinals of the North Jersey Section 2 Group IV playoffs.