Central Group V First Round
No. 7 Freehold Township (4-5) at No. 2 New Brunswick (8-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
The game is a rematch of a regular-season meeting which the Zebras won 38-28, but if Freehold Township can find a way to contain University of Pittsburgh commit Maurice Ffrench, who amassed 311 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns, it has a chance to post an upset. The problem for the Patriots, however, is that New Brunswick’s offense is a three-headed monster featuring running back Samad Davila, who rushed last weekend for a career-high 225 yards in a 27-21 win over a quality St. Joseph of Metuchen team, and quarterback Jah’bree Jefferys-Seawright. Freehold Township’s spread offense is the brainchild of head coach Corey Davies, who enjoyed tremendous success with that attack in his previous stop at Howell. The Patriots have rolled up a whopping 3,193 yards of offense. Quarterback Jack O’Brien has completed 143 of 243 passes for 1,805 yards and 19 touchdowns. He will once again test a stellar secondary featuring Ffrench. Freehold Township has rushed for 702 yards with Max Nowak (273 yards) and Anthony Lotti (224 yards) leading the way. O’Brien has thrown to 11 receivers including Nick Galanti (592 yards) and Adrian Rybaltowski (442 yards). Three other wideouts have 260 or more receiving yards. Quin Cleary (109 tackles), Lotti (92 tackles) and Austin Edelman (52 tackles) anchor a defense that has been tested by some potent offenses including Middletown South and Middletown North. The Patriots have recorded nine sacks, six interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. Galanti gives Freehold Township an edge on special teams, one which Ffrench, however, can negate as one of the state’s most dangerous return specialists. Galanti is averaging an impressive 37.6 yards per punt, has converted 28 of 31 PATs and two of three field goal attempts. The Patriots are making their first playoff appearance since 2001 (lost to Old Bridge) and playing just their second ever postseason game. New Brunswick, which is enjoying a remarkable turnaround, returns to the playoffs following a six-year drought. The Zebras have posted a 5-45 record over the past five seasons. In the previous meeting between the schools, Ffrench rushed 19 times for 164 yards and caught four passes for 147 yards. Davila had 145 rushing yards on 20 carries. Jefferys-Seawright completed 4 of 7 passes for 147 yards. He had one touchdown passing and another rushing. Outside linebacker German Pimentel, who leads the Greater Middlesex Conference in sacks, registered eight tackles, four sacks and two blocked passes for the Zebras. Sophomore placekicker Jeffrey Garcia booted his first career field goal, a 30-yarder, and converted four of five PATs. New Brunswick led 28-14 at the half.
Prediction: New Brunswick 30-28.