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First Round Playoff Predictions

The regular season is in the books and we are now sitting on the edge of the postseason, wondering who will make it to the State Finals out of Morris Sussex teams.  In three games, the State Champions will be decided but it all starts with this week, Round 1 of the State Tournament.

North 1, Group 1

5 Hasbrouck Heights (7-2) @ 4 Butler (8-1)
George Muha: In the left corner, you have Hasbrouck Heights who leads with a three-headed running attack led by Anthony Seidel, AJ Traina and Darren Iurato. The trio has combined for 1,715 yards on the season and amassed a 7-2 record against a very competitive NJIC Conference. [Lights go black…crowd quiets down…everyone starts getting goose bumps] (Enter in big pyrotechnic explosion!) AND IN THE RIGHT CORNER…weighing in an astounding 13 tons and featuring the buzzsaw they used to clobber their division.  Here’s yoooooouuuuuuuurrrrr BUTLER BULLDOGS (que red, white and blue float with the entire Butler team singing Living in America by James Brown – now pan the camera to a wide eyed Hasbrouck Heights team with streamers raining down in the background). Annnnnnnnd Scene! Great job everyone, we got it! Okay listen up…Hasbrouck Heights had a great season. But Chris Heredia throws for 300 yards a game and Ensley and Cirillo combine for another hunge on the ground. That’s going to prove to be too much firepower for the Heights.
PICK: Butler 43-28
Brian Kenney: I find it a little suspicious that Butler is a 4 seed but it is what it is. They have a tough match up with a decent Hasbrouck Heights team but no matter. Butler Quarterback Chris Heredia would start on my high school fantasy football team if I had one. I have been a big fan all year, and he is going to deliver again. Butler’s defense will do its part as well.
PICK: Butler 27-16

North 1, Group 2

6 Kinnelon (6-3) @ 3 Elmwood Park (8-1)
George Muha: Elmwood Park’s Michael Dare is a super sophomore quarterback who has thrown for 2,251 yards and 26 TDs, which is impressive indeed. But here is why am predicting the upset so people don’t think I am a total homer (which I admit I can be). Elmwood Park, while they did amass an 8-1 record, only beat one team with a winning record (Hawthorne 21-14). Not one of their other wins was against a team with a winning record. Kinnelon on the other hand, has five teams on their schedule that are currently in the state playoffs. But putting all that aside there is no way Sean “Tony” Robbins, after playing four years as a starting quarterback, is going to not advance to the next round. He’s just too talented and driven.
PICK: Kinnelon 35-14
Brian Kenney: Kinnelon’s Eric Clement is going to run for over 100 yards and a score in this one but it won’t be enough to defeat a solid Elmwood Park squad.
PICK: EP 28-14

7 Hopatcong (4-4) @ 2 North Warren (7-2)
George Muha: These two teams faced up earlier in the year and North Warren took the W with a 42-7 victory. But I spoke to Patriots coach Matt Parzero this week and he told me to not look at the score. Apparently Hopatcong took enough flesh out of North Warren that Parzero is not taking these guys lightly. Hopatcong’s Ryan Clark and Johann Lara have the ability to score fast so I think I know what Parzero is talking about. But at the end of the day, I see Jon-Jon Davalos and Nolan “Keep’em Rollin’” Robertson advancing to the next round.
PICK: North Warren 37-24
Brian Kenney: North Warren’s Jon Davalos likes Led Zepplin? Thank God kids still like the classics. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Strokes and the Black Keys and some other new bands, but the Rolling Stones, Zepplin and a few other old ones can still bring it. Anyway, North Warren will get one step close to State after beating Hopatcong. Look for John “Straight Outta” Compton to record a sack or two in this one.
PICK: NW 35-13

North 1, Group 3

8 Jefferson (6-3) @ 1 River Dell (9-0)
George Muha: Unfortunately for Lolo Sanchez, Danny Brown and AJ Willard, I think this might be the last game of their high school careers. River Dell has amassed a great season battling through some tough opponents in some tough games and I just don’t see the Falcons stopping them this week. Luckily for JR Reese and Kyle Neuschatz will get a neuschatz (that’s Hungarian for another shot) next season. River Dell’s Ryan Duran-Duran and Brian Wopelhorst-Raddish will amass big numbers on the ground as they move on to the next round of the tourney.
PICK:  River Dell 40-21
Brian Kenney: Unfortunately, J-Town’s fortune was decided when they drew the 8 seed. Playing River Dell is going to be rough. Kyle Neuschatz will score once but that is the only time Jefferson will get in the endzone in this one.
PICK: The Dell 35-7


Junior Sparta linebacker Randy May has built a reputation as a guy offenses need to account for.

5 Sparta (7-1) @ 4 Mahwah (8-1)
George Muha: It is a little weird that we’ve been calling Jake Melville, “Herman Melville” and the quarterback he faces in the playoffs is named Zach Herrmann. Not sure what to make of this but both of these teams are pretty stacked. Mahwah has had some impressive wins. But before the season started I predicted Sparta would win a state title. Honestly, even as good as they looked in the regular season, I still don’t think they’ve touched their potential. I see Sparta buckling down in these next few weeks and landing this ship where I predicted.
PICK: Sparta 35-34
Brian Kenney: This is going to be a great game. Mahwah is no joke. Sparta will have its hands full but I’m going to go with the upset here. I think Jake “Herman” Melville will lead his team to victory. It’s what big time QBs do.
PICK: Sparta 21-20

North 1, Group 4

8 Vernon (4-5) @ 1 Pascack Valley (9-0)
George Muha: Vernon made a respectable season for themselves and had a big win against Mount Olive earlier in the year. But I think their time has come. Pascack Valley hasn’t scored less than 32 points all year have taken down some really good teams. I see Vernon’s Ryan “Psych” Ward making some big plays, but in the end it won’t be enough for the win.
PICK: Pascack Valley 40-21
Brian Kenney: I’m glad Vernon made it into the playoffs but they are going to have a heck of time beating the team from the Valley. I just don’t see it happening. That being said, Vernon can use the experience to build on next year’s season. A little playoff experience is good for the team.
PICK: PV 42-6

7 Mount Olive (5-4) @ 2 Roxbury (8-1)
George Muha: Just last week Roxbury went into Mount Olive’s house and laid down a 32-7 patio. One week later, its the same matchup except on Roxbury’s home field. Mount Olive’s Mancini and Maksimow will do a good job at containing the Gael’s running attack. But in the end, Roxbury will continue the Off Broadway version of the Donny Pants Show.
PICK: Roxbury 35-14
Brian Kenney: Mount Olive did not have the best year, and for that they will have to face a strong No. 2 seed in Roxbury. I don’t see this one being much of a game by the time the 3rd Quarter rolls around. That being said, I’m not right all the time, so who knows. I do know this, Danny P is going to run for over 150 yards and three scores.
PICK: ‘Bury 35-13

North 1, Group 5

7 Randolph (6-3) @ 2 Bloomfield (7-1)
George Muha: Although Bloomfield has a lot wins, only one of them was against a team with a winning record. But that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that they have a lot of firepower on their team. The way I see this playing out is Randolph chomping big chunks of time off the clock with Gangemi running behind Mahon. Even if they don’t get close enough to score a TD, Frank Raggo can kick field goals all day long on Bloomfields new turf.
PICK: Randolph 31-21
Brian Kenney: I personally think Randolph had a pretty good season. I’m sure the Rams wish they played a little better and got better than a 7 seed but it is what it is. Bloomfield is tough, and the Rams will hang with them until the end but it isn’t going to be enough to beat them.
PICK: Bloomfield 28-21

North 2, Group 2

8 Hanover Park (6-3) @ 1 Madison (8-0)
George Muha: Honestly, I don’t know how you game plan for Justin Goodwin. Playing him is like trying to carry give gallons of water in a one gallon bucket. But I will say that we…ehem…I mean Hanover Park is the only Madison opponent to score 24 points on them this year so that has to be bothering the Dodgers. The Hornets have a history of playing very tough in big games. I see this game playing out like the movie Balboa, where the 50 year old Rocky Balboa takes on the young Heavy Weight title holder. Hanover Park will keep it competitive to the end, but Madison is just too good for them to close it out.
PICK: Madison 35-28
Brian Kenney: It was a good run for HP and yes, they scored twice more than most teams against Madison, but Madison is on a mission. Mr. Good-Win isn’t going to let up until he gets his hands on that State Championship trophy. I think the Hornets can build on this season and make a run next year. They have a decent defense and a few key injuries set them back this year. I just don’t see them stopping the Dodgers and their running game.
PICK: Madison 35-20

5 Lenape Valley (8-1) @ 4 Bernards (8-0)
George Muha: I know Bernards is undefeated and actually beat some very good teams. But I think they will be very shocked at how well coached and how good the Pats can execute on every single play. Plus, they will have no idea to handle looking across the line at a snarling Jimmy Braun.
PICK: Lenape Valley 21-7
Brian Kenney: I’m not sure why but I think Lenape Valley is going to hand Bernards their first loss of the season. It’s going to be epic for the Valley.
PICK: LV 14-7

7 Rutherford (6-3) @ 2 Mountain Lakes (9-0)
George Muha: Earlier this week I was talking to a coach from the Independence Division because I am gathering data for the All Unruly Team postseason awards. I asked him for some of the top players he’s played against and without hesitation he said, “The back from Lakes!” In the next sentence he said, “I couldn’t tell you how to pronounce his name, but all I know is he ran all over us for four quarters.” I have a feeling Rutherford is going to be saying the same thing after this weekend.
PICK: Mountain Lakes 40-14
Brian Kenney: ZOOM ZOOM. That’s it.
PICK: ML 28-10

North 2, Group 3

5 Voorhees (6-3) @ 4 Parsippany Hills (7-2)
George Muha: Considering Par Hills ended up 7-2 in the conference from hell, Voorhees better have their shoes tied tightly on this night. Carmine Verducci not the biggest guy but he runs like he’s 6’2” and 225lbs. Voorhees will figure out what I’m talking about very soon.
PICK: Par Hills 30-20
Brian Kenney: Par Hills is the team nobody wants to play in this tourney. Tyler “Phil” Simms is going to light up Voorhees like the Rockefeller Christmas tree in a big win.
PICK: PH 42-28

North 2, Group 4


West Morris junior defensive end will be a key cog in the Wolfpack’s run for a state title.

5 Millburn (4-4) @ 4 West Morris (5-4)
George Muha: West Morris coach Kevin Hennelly lives in the NJ State Football Tourney. He’s in the top in the state in trips to the finals and State Championships. I don’t care what their regular season record is, this will be a different Wolfpack team from here on out.
PICK: WMC 21-10
Brian Kenney: This is a tough one. I’m going with West Morris because I’m a Morris County guy. But this is anyone’s game. It should be fun to watch, but I think West Morris’ fans are going to will their squad to victory on their home turf.
PICK: WM 14-13

Non-Public, Group 1

5 Hudson Catholic (4-4) @ 4 Mo-Beard (6-3)
George Muha: Coach Fell has done a superb job turning around this Mo-Beard team. Matt McFadden and Malik Valentine are an excellent one-two punch to advance to the next round in the tourney.
PICK: Mo-Beard 35-30
Brian Kenney: Mo-Beard’s Matt McFadden will break out in this one which is going down to the final minute. Don’t let Hudson Catholic’s .500 record fool you, they are tough.
PICK: MB 22-21

Non-Public, Group 3

6 Camden Catholic (6-2) @ 1 Pope John (7-2)
George Muha: You don’t need last names with Pope John. You just hear Sonny, Noah, Austin, DeShawn, Noa or Seamus and you know exactly who I’m referring to. Camden will know all these guys by first name very shortly as well.
PICK: PJ 30-7
Brian Kenney: Pope John is going to dominate Camden Catholic. Noah Brown is going to score three touchdowns three different ways, lead the band at halftime, get water for the whole team during timeouts, and maybe even lead a cheer or two in this one.
PICK: PJ 42-13

7 St. John Vianney (5-3) @ 2 Delbarton (8-1)
George Muha: Its Jamie White time!  Just trust me on that.
PICK: Delby 35-10
Brian Kenney: I’m not sure why Delby is a 2 seed in this Group but it is what it is. I think the two seed may have gotten them all amped up to prove that they are really No. 1. I don’t think St. John’s has a shot in…oh wait I can’t say that, these are religious schools. Anyhoo, Mike Bicknese will play well as usual, and the defensive duo of Reynolds and Vittorio, Inc. will help shut St. John’s down.
PICK: Delby 49-13

George Muha has been covering high school sports since 2006. He feels high school scholar-athletes are the most important part of the community and highlighting their achievements on the field, in the classroom and within the community is his personal mission.



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