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Although the state’s non-publics are still playing nationally relevant matchups, the publics have a few big matchups this week, as well. Ramapo and Old Tappan are two North Jersey publics that have the Vita Athletics – Gridiron New Jersey Top 20 on their minds, while Cherokee and Timber Creek are fighting to keep pace in the race for best public squad in the state.
After this week, we’ll be a quarter of the way to the playoffs for just about everyone in New Jersey, so it’s safe to say the season is already heating up!
Let’s look at some picks:
Last Week: 7-3
Ramapo (1-0) at Old Tappan (1-0)
Golden Knights quarterback Kevin Martinez was a perfect 5-of-5 for 118 yards and three scores in Old Tappan’s victory last week. Raiders running back Joe O’Hagan averaged more than nine yards per carry in Ramapo’s season opener.
The Pick: Ramapo
Seton Hall Prep (2-0) at St. Peter’s Prep (1-1)
The Marauders are eager to redeem themselves after getting dominated by Bergen Catholic last week. The Pirates’ season was ended by St. Peter’s Prep, 46-7, in last season’s Non-Public, Group 4 playoffs.
The Pick: St. Peter’s Prep
Hunterdon Central (0-1) at Elizabeth (1-0)
Wide receiver Ethan Christensen hauled in six passes for 93 yards and two scores last week for the Red Devils. Elizabeth has won three of the last four meetings between these rivals.
The Pick: Elizabeth
Neptune (0-1) at Middletown South (1-0)
Expect the Eagles to be focused from the opening kickoff following an opener in which they fell into an early 18-point hole. A late fumble cost the Scarlet Fliers last week’s game against Ocean Township, and they’ll need to protect the ball better if they want to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2005.
The Pick: Middletown South
Montclair (0-2) at Union City (0-1)
These two squads have lost three games by a total of just 28 points. The Soaring Eagles have struggled against the Mounties as of late, losing to them in each of the past two seasons.
The Pick: Montclair
Cherokee (1-0) at Timber Creek (1-0)
Linebacker Evan Powell and the Chiefs “D” were impressive in holding Washington Township to just a single offensive touchdown last week. They’ll be challenged this week by TC’s high-octane offense and its stud runner Walter Lewis.
The Pick: Timber Creek
St. Joseph (Montvale) (2-0) at DePaul (1-1)
Joe’s has a true two-way star in running back/defensive back John Thomas Giles-Harris, who can beat a team on either side of the ball. The Spartans have a brutal schedule and are reeling after a 42-28 loss to Our Lady of Good Counsel (MD) last week.
The Pick: St. Joseph (Montvale)
IMG Academy (Fla.) (3-0) at Bergen Catholic (2-0)
IMG, ranked No. 12 in the USA TODAY Super 25, is loaded with Division I talent, beginning with quarterback Shea Patterson. Bergen Catholic, ranked No. 18, showed great balance in its run game last week, but would love a boost if freshman phenom Josh McKenzie could return this week from a hip injury.
The Pick: IMG Academy
Hasbrouck Heights (1-0) at Park Ridge (1-0)
The Aviators got a big rushing day out of Brian Moran last week, as he ground out 135 yards and three touchdowns in a Heights victory. The Owls are hoping to get off to their first 2-0 start in four years.
The Pick: Hasbrouck Heights
Tom Szieber can be reached by emailing email@example.com.
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