Unofficial NJSIAA football playoff pairings for Home News Tribune area teams

Unofficial NJSIAA football playoff pairings for Home News Tribune area teams

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Unofficial NJSIAA football playoff pairings for Home News Tribune area teams

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Opponents usually want to catch the Piscataway High School football team early in the year rather than later, because the Chiefs traditionally improve by the time the postseason rolls around.

Edison, which opened the season with a 34-22 victory over Piscataway, its first over the Chiefs since 1994, has unofficially drawn the three-time incumbent sectional finalists once again in the opening round of the North 2 Group V playoffs.

“It’s exciting that we are in the playoffs,” Edison coach Matt Fulham said. “Piscataway is a very hot team right now. They’ve gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year. It took us 19 years to beat them once. I hope it doesn’t take 19 more to beat them again.”

A total of 16 Home News Tribune area teams have unofficially qualified for the postseason. The NJSIAA will announce official pairings Sunday morning.

The eight teams with the most power points in each section as of Saturday night, regardless of record, have qualified for the playoffs.

The opening round will be contested next weekend, followed by the sectional semifinals on the weekend of Nov. 22-23 and the sectional championships on the weekend of Dec. 6-7.

The first two rounds will be contested at the site of the highest seed, while the finals will be played at neutral venues to be determined.

Piscataway, which opened the year 2-3, reeled off three consecutive victories to qualify as the No. 3 seed.

Wins over Monroe and Old Bridge, two teams that defeated sixth-seeded Edison, enabled the Chiefs to earn a higher seed even though both clubs have identical 5-3 records.

“I think that our bracket is solid,” Fulham said. “I think every team, one through eight, has the potential to win. I’ve seen most of the teams live – all but Ridge – and some of my coaches saw Ridge (Friday) night. Everybody is solid, so it’s going to be a battle.”

Piscataway has not lost twice in one season to the same school since dropping two games to Woodbridge in 1997.

Following are some postseason story lines to follow involving area teams:

Injury-riddled and fourth-seeded Monroe – which played most of Friday’s 56-26 loss to three-time defending sectional champion Sayreville without its starting quarterback, running back, center and two best linebackers – will host the fifth-seeded Bombers in a Central Group V first-round game.

South Brunswick, the defending Central Group V champion and the No. 6 seed, has drawn Trenton, which leaped ahead of Monroe for the No. 3 seed by picking up just enough residual power points on Nottingham’s upset of previously undefeated Hopewell Valley. Former South Brunswick coach Tarig Holman coaches Trenton.

After its stunning 9-0 loss to non-playoff qualifier J.P. Stevens on Friday night, Old Bridge lost the No. 1 seed to Manalapan and will now host injury-riddled and seventh-seeded Hunterdon Central in a first-round game. Hunterdon Central running back Jason Cabinda, who has made a nonbinding commitment to Penn State University and who missed the last three weeks with an injury, could return in time for the playoffs.

Carteret, winner of last year’s Central Group II title, rebounded from a 1-2 start to win five consecutive games and earn the No. 4 seed in Central Group III. The Ramblers will host fifth-seeded Long Branch.

With Central Group II qualifiers Lakewood, Delaware Valley and Bordentown all losing this weekend, Spotswood earned the No. 5 seed in that section. The Chargers were not expected to be seeded higher than sixth or seventh. They will face fourth-seeded Rahway.

Asbury Park, the No. 5 seed in Central Group I, has already defeated two Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division foes – Metuchen and Middlesex – in the regular season. The Blue Bishop will try to beat another when they play at fourth-seeded South River in the opening round.

Woodbridge Township is well-represented in North 2 Group IV with third-seeded Colonia hosting sixth-seeded Mendham and fifth-seeded J.F. Kennedy traveling to fourth-seeded Irvington for first-round games.

Third-seeded St. Joseph, which gets to host a playoff game in just its third varsity season, puts its unblemished 9-0 record on the line against sixth-seeded St. Augustine Prep in Non-Public Group IV.

Eighth-seeded Bishop Ahr has the most difficult draw of any school in the state, facing top-seeded St. Joseph of Montvale, which is widely regarded among the 10 best schools in the entire country, in Non-Public Group III.

South Plainfield has qualified in North 2 Group III for the second consecutive year. The fifth-seeded Tigers will play at fourth-seeded Parsippany Hills.

Following are unofficial pairings for sections involving Home News Tribune area schools:

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

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

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