HOME NEWS TRIBUNE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PICKS: Week 9

HOME NEWS TRIBUNE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PICKS: Week 9

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HOME NEWS TRIBUNE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PICKS: Week 9

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FRIDAY

(all games 7 p.m.)

Bishop Ahr (3-5) at Colonia (5-3): Both teams are headed to the playoffs — Bishop Ahr likely to face top-seeded St. Joseph of Montvale, widely regarded among the 10 best teams in the entire country, in Non-Public Group III, and Colonia to host a first-round North 2 Group IV game as a No. 3 seed. After winning five of its first six — the lone loss was 16-7 to undefeated White Division champion St. Joseph — the Patriots have dropped their last two by a combined 72-32 margin. Colonia quarterback Tenni Adewusi has passed for 864 yards and rushed for 541 more. Colonia Tailback Sam Pero has 1,113 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Bishop Ahr, which has two one-point losses and a third defeat in overtime, has won two of its last three. Quarterback David Holder completed 11 of 20 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns in a 26-16 win over Woodbridge last weekend. Bishop Ahr appears to be improving, while Colonia needs to recapture its early-season form. Bishop Ahr 16-15.

East Brunswick (1-6) at Piscataway (4-3): If all of the favorites in the North 2 Group V section win their respective regular-season games this weekend, Piscataway will be a No. 3 seed and Edison will be a No. 6 seed in the playoffs. That means the Chiefs will get a chance to avenge a season-opening loss to the Eagles on their home turf. Piscataway is the only school to defeat Old Bridge this season. The Chiefs have scored 35 points in each of their last two outings and look to extend their winning streak to three games. The 340 yards Piscataway rushed for two weeks ago ranks among the Top 5 single-game performances at the school since 1992. Freshman Elijah Barnwell (796 yards and eight touchdowns rushing) is hitting his stride for the Chiefs, who must cut down on penalties (38 for a whopping 359 yards) and improve their minus-3 turnover margin. Piscataway has been phenomenal in the red zone, converting 19 of 20 scoring opportunities. Piscataway 32-6.

Old Bridge (6-1) at J.P. Stevens (3-4): The Knights, who had a bye last week, can clinch the school’s first Red Division championship with a victory. Last year’s meeting with J.P. Stevens, which followed a lengthy superstorm Sandy layoff, will be on Old Bridge’s mind. The Hawks played incredibly well in that 16-13 loss. Old Bridge, which has already secured the top seed in Central Group V, boasts the conference’s best defense, yielding just 72 points. Chewy Chukwuneke (1,170 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing) is the Red Division’s third-leading ground gainer and is on pace to set J.P. Stevens’ single-season rushing record. Old Bridge counters with quarterback Nick LaVecchia (648 passing yards and 535 rushing yards) and a host of gifted skill position players. Old Bridge 28-12.

J.F. Kennedy (4-4) at Carteret (5-2): Both teams have already qualified for the postseason. Carteret will earn the No. 4 seed and a first-round home playoff game in Central Group III with a win, but will drop to the No. 7 seed with a loss. J.F. Kennedy is currently just two power points behind Irvington, which is ranked fourth in North 2 Group IV, but the Mustangs, who have already played eight games, will likely not accrue enough residual power points to earn a first-round home playoff game. J.F. Kennedy, which relied heavily upon the legs of gifted running back Anthony Roberts (1,175 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing) at the start of the season, is not a one-dimensional team. Opponents can no longer load the box with eight defenders because Roberts’ brother, Andrew, who was an option quarterback at the freshman level a year ago, has rapidly developed his passing skills. J.F. Kennedy’s defense — anchored by linebacker Brandon Wood and safety Terrance Young (five interceptions) — is also improved. The Mustangs held South Plainfield to negative rushing yards in a 23-9 loss. The defeat snapped a three-game winning streak in which J.F. Kennedy outscored opponents with a combined 3-19 record 142-19. Carteret has won four consecutive games. The once injury-riddled but now healthy Ramblers have their running game on track and their defense is living up to the preseason hype. Carteret 21-15.

Sayreville (6-2) at Monroe (6-2): Both teams have already qualified for the Central Group V playoffs. Sayreville appears to be locked in as the No. 5 seed. Monroe could finish as the No. 3 or the No. 4 seed, with the latter scenario meaning these schools will meet again in seven days. Monroe coach Chris Beagan, who hoped to have quarterback Stephen Karoly (broken wrist) and linebacker Paul Baclayon (foot) back from injuries in time from the playoffs, recently learned both are sidelined for the year. Akeer Franklin rushed for a single-game school record 347 yards last week and backup signal caller Kyle Volkmann appears to be settling back into the position (he split time with Karoly a year ago). Sayreville, meanwhile, has won five games in a row and appears to have recaptured its three-time defending sectional championship form. Myles Hartsfield has amassed 1,498 yards from scrimmage and 21 touchdowns and Deion Miller looked like his former self, running North-South on the way to a 161-yard performance in an impressive win over South Brunswick last weekend. With quarterback Malik Pressley showing no signs of an early-season ankle injury, the Bombers’ offense is functioning on all cylinders. Sayreville 25-19.

Perth Amboy (1-6) at South Plainfield (5-2): After snapping a 15-game losing streak with a 39-13 victory over winless New Brunswick, Perth Amboy dropped a 14-7 decision to previously winless Marlboro last weekend. Some injuries have depleted South Plainfield’s depth at wide receiver, which could hinder league-leading passer Kyle Moroney (1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns). Moroney had a career day last week, completing 24 of 36 passes for 279 yards and three scores in a 23-9 win over J.F. Kennedy. The Tigers were held to minus rushing yards in that game and will look to get Roemello Monroe (731 yards, 8 touchdons) back on track. South Plainfield has already secured a North 2 Group III playoff berth and will likely have a first-round game on the road against Parsippany Hills or Palisades Park. South Plainfield 29-6.

St. Joseph (8-0) at Woodbridge (2-6): The Falcons clinched the White Division title with a victory at New Brunswick last weekend. Rookie head coach Casey Ransone will not allow his team to look ahead to next week’s Non-Public Group 3 home playoff game, likely against St. Augustine. Despite its six-game losing streak, Woodbridge can be formidable because of its solid line play. St. Joseph running back Matt Olivo remains the league’s leading rusher with 1,482 yards and 15 touchdowns. St. Joseph 24-8.

Matawan (4-3) at New Brunswick (0-8): The Zebras have lost 10 consecutive games and have not held an opponent below 39 points this season. Matawan has won two of its last three with the lone loss 17-13 to Long Branch. Matawan 30-12.

SATURDAY

(all games 1 p.m.)

Spotswood (7-1) at Mater Dei (4-4): The Chargers have solidified a Central Group II playoff berth and will likely receive the No. 6 or No. 7 seed. Spotswood is reeling from last weekend’s 14-3 loss to South River which cost the Chargers the Blue Division title. The running game — Chase Fee and Jack Dalrymple have combined for 1,080 yards this season — must get back on track. Mater Dei snapped a four-game losing streak with a 39-15 drubbing of Metuchen last weekend. The Seraphs defeated two other Blue Division foes — Dunellen and Cardinal McCarrick — this fall. Spotswood has been good to the folks of Union Beach, making a sojourn in the preseason to help those folks with the rebuilding process in the wake of superstorm Sandy. The Chargers collected goods and money for the families of Mater Dei students at a Spotswood home game between the schools last year, which the Seraphs lost 37-7. The Chargers should be rewarded for their benevolence, but Mater Dei is vastly improved. Mater Dei 21-20.

Edison (4-3) at Marlboro (1-6): After ending a 12-year NJSIAA playoff drought last year, the Eagles have assured themselves of a playoff berth for the second consecutive season. They can likely finish no higher than a No. 6 seed in North 2 Group V. Edison rebounded from consecutive losses to South Brunswick and Monroe by winning two of its last three against teams with a combined 1-14 record. Quarterback James Waldron is the conference’s second-leading passer (1,172 yards and 11 touchdowns). He throws to an assortment of wideouts and backs. Marlboro snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 14-7 win over Perth Amboy last weekend. Its porous defense has allowed 41 or more points three times this season. Edison 30-8.

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