Home News Tribune Football Notebook: Bishop Ahr gets slight playoff reprieve while Old Bridge faces tough draw

Home News Tribune Football Notebook: Bishop Ahr gets slight playoff reprieve while Old Bridge faces tough draw

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Home News Tribune Football Notebook: Bishop Ahr gets slight playoff reprieve while Old Bridge faces tough draw

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The Bishop Ahr High School football team went to bed Saturday night believing it had the toughest draw of the entire NJSIAA Tournament, but woke up Sunday morning to find out it did not have to play a Non-Public Group III first-round game against one of the country’s best programs.

With St. John Vianney, believed to be the No. 7 seed, opting out of the postseason, Bishop Ahr, which thought it was the No. 8 seed, takes the Lancers’ place in the bracket and will now meet second-seeded Pope John (8-1), which had its eight-game winning streak snapped with a 21-16 loss to Delbarton on Saturday.

The NJSIAA released official state playoff pairings on Sunday morning. Sixteen teams from the Home News Tribune area qualified and will participate.

Facing Pope John, which entered Week 9 ranked among the Top 10 teams in New Jersey in one statewide poll, isn’t much of a reprieve, but Bishop Ahr Athletics Director Mike Wolfthal said he believes his team can be competitive.

“We are looking at a competitive game that we feel we can win,” said Wolfthal, noting Bishop Ahr has lost two games by a point, a third in overtime and is the only school to outgain undefeated St. Joseph in total yards from scrimmage this season.

Bishop Ahr (3-6) finished with 61 power points, the least in the eight-team section, and initially thought it was going to play undefeated and top-seeded St. Joseph of Montvale, widely regarded as one of the 10 best teams in the entire country.

St. John Vianney athletics director Rich Lamberson said he contacted Wolfthal over the weekend to inform him that the Lancers would be playing in a consolation game instead of the playoffs.

Lamberson submitted St. John Vianney’s official intent form to the NJSIAA last month, well before the deadline, and told the statewide athletics association at the time the Lancers would only participate in the playoffs if they finished with a record of .500 or better at the cutoff. The Lancers fell to 3-5 with a 23-20 loss to Raritan on Saturday.

St. John Vianney, according to Lamberson, adopted a school-wide policy prior to the start of this academic year that all of its sports teams must be .500 or better to compete in NJSIAA tournaments.

Lamberson, noting teams in the Shore Conference, of which St. John Vianney is a member, must have a record of .500 or better to participate in some league tournaments, said the school wants its student-athletes to set and achieve attainable goals, thus its .500 or better policy regarding state playoff competition.

“We’re trying to teach our student athletes to set goals for themselves and achieve them,” Lamberson told the Asbury Park Press. “Is it wrong to try and teach our youth that you have to achieve greatness? Is it wrong to do that?”

Old Bridge has tough draw

Hunterdon Central (5-4), the No. 7 seed in Central Group V, will apparently enter Friday’s first-round game against second-seeded Old Bridge (6-2) with its full lineup.

Quarterback Mike Knight, who fractured his leg Oct. 4 against Westfield, returned to action, playing one quarter in a 16-14 loss to Union on Friday night. Knight passed for 575 yards and seven touchdowns before the injury, helping Hunterdon Central win its first four games.

Jason Cabinda, a senior running back and linebacker who has been sidelined the past four weeks after undergoing an appendectomy, is scheduled to consult a physician on Monday and will likely be medically cleared.

“We think he’s going to be able to play,” Hunterdon Central coach Matt Perotti said of Cabinda, who rushed for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns on 123 carries before the surgery. Cabinda made a nonbinding commitment to Penn State University last month.

Hunterdon Central, whose potent offense went from averaging 33 points per game to 12.5 with its two stars out of the lineup, enters the postseason on a four-game losing skid, with all of its defeats coming to NJSIAA playoff qualifiers with a combined 28-6 record.

Three of those losses – Phillipsburg, Immaculata and Union – were by a total of nine points. The other defeat was to undefeated Ridge, the top seed in North 2 Group V.

Hunterdon Central is battle-tested and, with its full lineup, appears to be one of the toughest teams in the section.

Eagles have two wings

Ibrahim Mosad, a transfer from Woodbridge who has performed mostly on special teams and in the secondary, got his chance to shine at quarterback Saturday in Edison’s 21-0 win over Marlboro.

The senior threw a 33-yard touchdown pass on his first attempt and finished 7 of 15 for 62 yards. He also had seven carries for 37 yards. Mosad entered the game having completed 6 of 8 passes for 54 yards.

James Waldron, who entered Week 9 action as the conference’s second-leading passer with 1,172 yards, will start Saturday’s 1 p.m. North 2 Group V first-round playoff game against Piscataway at Ciardi Stadium.

“Ibrahim is a solid player,” Edison coach Matt Fulham said. “He can run and he can throw. (Waldron and Mosad) have been getting almost identical reps in practice, so both will be ready to play if we need them.”

Monroe injury update

Monroe running back and returning specialist Akeer Franklin (ankle), among the GMC’s leaders with more than 1,700 all-purpose yards, and linebacker Elijah Davis (foot), the team’s leading tackler, were both injured in Friday’s 56-26 loss to Sayreville.

Monroe coach Chris Beagan said Davis will undergo an MRI this week, while Franklin is nursing a high-ankle sprain. He said both players’ status for Friday’s Central Group V first-round rematch with Sayreville should be considered a “game-time decision.”

Of getting a second-chance to face three-time reigning sectional champion Sayreville, Beagan said: “You usually don’t get do-overs, so it’s kind of cool from that standpoint. We didn’t like the way the first one turned out.

“I think we are pretty familiar with one another and we’ll get the opportunity to try to take another shot at them.”

Monroe has already lost its starting quarterback and best linebacker to season-ending injuries. Its starting center, also sidelined with an injury, may be able to return for the postseason.

NJSIAA Tournament pairings

CENTRAL GROUP V

8. Brick Memorial at 1. Manalpan; 7. Hunterdon Central at 2. Old Bridge; 6. South Brunswick at 3. Trenton; 5. Sayreville at 4. Monroe

CENTRAL GROUP III

8. Allentown at 1. Lawrence; 7. Warren Hills at 2. Ocean; 6. Ewing at 3. Hopewell Valley; 5. Long Branch at 4. Carteret

CENTRAL GROUP II

8. Bordentown at 1. Rumson-Fair Haven; 7. Delaware Valley at 2. Weequahic; 6. Lakewood at 3. Delran; 5. Spotswood at 4. Rahway

CENTRAL GROUP I

8. Palmyra at 1. Shore; 7. Burlington City at 2. South Hunterdon; 6. Florence at 3. Point Pleasant Beach; 5. Asbury Park at 4. South River

NORTH 2 GROUP V

8. Westfield at 1. Ridge; 7. Watchung Hills at 2. Union; 6. Edison at 3. Piscataway; 5. Linden at 4. Bayonne

NORTH 2 GROUP IV

8. Scotch Plains-Fanwood at 1. Phillipsburg; 7. Morristown at 2. West Morris; 6. Mendham at 3. Colonia; 5. J.F. Kennedy at 4. Irvington

NORTH 2 GROUP III

8. Orange at. 1. West Essex 7. Governor Livingston at 2. Summit; 6. Cranford at 3. Palisades Park; 5. South Plainfield at 4. Parsippany Hills

NON-PUBLIC GROUP 4

8. Notre Dame at 1. Paramus Catholic; 7. Paul VI at St. Peter’s Prep; 6. St. Augustine at 3. St. Joseph; 5. Seton Hall Prep at 4. Don Bosco Prep

NON-PUBLIC GROUP 3

1. St. Joseph (Montvale) bye; 7. Bishop Ahr at 2. Pope John; 6. Monsignor Donovan at 3. Delbarton; 5. Immaculata at 4. Red Bank Catholic

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