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Every week Morris Sussex Sports predicts football games across all 37 Morris and Sussex county teams, and the Warren county teams we cover. Participating in these selections is Morris Sussex Sports’ Laura Byrne and George Muha, along with George’s long time friend Brian Kaes. In an attempt to make the predictions as objective as possible, Morris Sussex Sports will give the writer with the best prediction percentage at the end of the season a cash prize–which should make things interesting and impartial. Here are this week’s picks:

Thursday Night Lights

Pope John (1-2) @ Par Hills (1-1)

LAByrne: Par Hills came to life last week. With Nick Verducci throwing all over the field to Alex Lerman, and with Marco Falivene carrying for an average of over ten yards every time he touched the ball, this offense feels balanced and deadly. On defense Ryan Hill’s monster game last week fueled a defensive machine already well-oiled by Jared “the Punisher” Salgado. I’m seeing a defining win against PJ. PICK: PH 28-20
Brian Kaes: This is going to be a heck of a game. Are they putting it on the NFL Network? Why are they playing football on a Thursday night? Anyway, PJ righted the ship last week (so did Par Hills by the way). Look for Berrell Neal to run for two scores for the Johnnies in a close one. PICK: PJ 21-17
George Muha: Nick Verducci and Nick Denucci. Say these names five times fast and I gaurantee they’ll meld together into the same name. Well, their similarities are actually pretty uncanny. They are both sophomores. They are both total freaks on the field. And they both have a skies-the-limit future. However, in the short term I think it’s going to be Denucci of Pope John, rather than Verducci of Par Hills, who will have the bigger smile at the end of this one. I predict PJ kicker Matteo Zapata will sink the game winner from behind the 30 yard line. PICK: Johnnies 24-21

Friday Night Lights

Boonton (2-0) @ Dover (1-1)

LAByrne: Last week, Boonton put Pequannock away with offensive production from guys like QB Gage Cabalar sending the ball downfield just five times for over 120 yards in a total team effort on both sides. And in Week 1 they crushed Butler. This is a team that just won’t quit. PICK: Boonton 35-21
Brian Kaes: Wow Boonton is rolling! Look for “Mean” TJ Green to run for a couple of scores and over 125 yards for Boonton. Dover will put up a fight at home but at the end of the day Boonton is not going to be stopped (this week at least). PICK: Boonton 27-19
George Muha: I think Dover is going to come into their own very soon but they are still getting over some early-season injuries. Plus Boonton is the hottest team in Morris County right now so momentum is in their favor. Boonton’s TJ Green will leave a trail of orange and black in his wake this week. PICK: Bombers 35-24

Delbarton (0-2) @ West Morris (2-0)

LAByrne: West Morris is playing like West Morris –again. Tough play all over the field, from the guys up front to the productive offense to their lockdown defense—again. Despite perennially strong teams, they haven’t beat Delbarton since 2010. This year, they’re going to make it happen. PICK: West Morris 21-20
Brian Kaes: Wow, West Morris continues to impress. If you asked me two weeks ago I would have said that Delby was winning this game by two touchdowns. Today, I will say they win by a point. What, you may ask? It’s not that I don’t have faith in WM, it’s just that Delby knows they have to win this game or their playoff chances become real slim, real quick.  Yes, it’s the 3rd game of the season, and it’s a must win. The Green Wave will wash over WM this week, while Matty Z throws for two scores and keeps Delby’s postseason alive. PICK: Delby 21-20
George Muha: I never thought Delby would be 0-3 after three games but I think that is where they’ll find themselves after this week. They’ll right their ship in time for the postseason but I don’t think they’ll have an answer for the “sassiest offensive line in all of Morris County,” especially in front of their home crowd. PICK: Wolfpack 24-20

Hopatcong (2-0) @ Lenape Valley (2-0)

LAByrne: This could be one of the best games this season. Hopatcong’s Vince Giordano is a force with his arm, his speed, and his all-over-the-field defense. Hopatcong’s also got the bruising Jake Dorman who averaged an insane 15 yards a carry last week. And let’s not forget Jake Wilkerson averaging over thirteen yards a carry. On the other side of the field, Lenape Valley’s Stevie Leyden ran fifteen yards a carry for a total of almost two hundred yards and they did it against Madison, one of the toughest teams around. Smolyn prepared his squad well for that Madison match-up, and he’ll do the same for this rivalry game. PICK: LV 21-20
Brian Kaes: Great game on tap in the Valley this Friday. Hoptacong is coming in hot, but unfortunately for them they will get cooled off in the Valley real quick. Look for Stevie Leyden to run for 3 scores and over a buck fifty for The Valley. PICK: The Valley 34-21
George Muha: I can’t imagine what it’s like sitting in class with Lenape Valley linebacker Greg Cooper this week. He’s probably just staring straight ahead snapping pencils with his fingers and not even realizing it. Last year the guy had 20 solo tackles in this match-up. There is no doubt this is the Game of the Week and it will be a battle to the last play. DaCong’s Vince Giordano will continue his weekly INT tradition but the Pat’s Stevie Leyden will be too much in the return game. PICK: LV 42-35

Madison (1-1) @ Butler (0-2)

LAByrne: Madison was stunned last week by Lenape Valley and they’re too good a team to let it happen it again. Dom Lupppino is the trainwreck in the middle that’s going to keep the Dodgers in this game. Butler’s experienced QB Dom Gentile won’t make it easy on the Madison secondary. Gentile isn’t afraid to send the ball downfield and last week picked up over two hundred passing yards. PICK: Madison 28-14
Brian Kaes: Madison beat the Lakes, who just beat Butler, so you would figure that Madison should beat Butler too. PICK: Madison 22-14
George Muha: The Gentile-to-Mefford aerial attack is seeming to be working for the Butler Bulldogs but they just can’t seem to get a W as of yet. After coming off a heart-breaking loss against Lenape Valley last week, you can expect the Dodgers to bringing the heat. The Delenas, Mobley, Luppino and Mulcahy are not going to get on the bus ride home unless they are the victors. PICK: Dodgers 30-14

Morris Hills (1-1) @ Vernon (0-2)

LAByrne: Morris Hills has one of the best cheering sections in the league, led by MSS contributor Ryan Sudol. But they also have a solid offense behind superstar Rey Almodovar who broke the plane three times last week, and Nick Walls, who left some of his DNA on Montville’s field. Vernon’s got weapons, like Van Lenteen, who flies by so fast you’re not even sure where he is until he’s tapped out of bounds somewhere waaaay downfield. PICK: MH 28-21
Brian Kaes: Vernon is having a rough start to the season but they will definitely have a chance to win this one at home against an okay Hills team. That being said, the Hills are alive with the sound of momentum, having just beat Montville. Look for Nicky Walls to score two TDs for the Hills in this one. PICK: Hills 35-20
George Muha: There is no doubt in my mind that this game is going to be a battle to the last play. But with a healthy Cole “Browning” Nagle back in the lineup, I see Vernon getting their first W of the season in front of the home town fans. PICK: Vernon 28-24

Sussex Tech (2-0) @ Pascack Hills (1-1)

LAByrne: We talk so much about Shyheim Outlander in my house I accidentally set a place for him at the dinner table last week. And, in last week’s win, ST quarterback Tyler Crum threw two passes. Two. That’s all he needed to throw because both were TD’s. PICK: ST 38-7
Brian Kaes: I don’t know anything about Pascack Hills except it sounds like it’s in NY State and not NJ. I may be wrong, but I’m not wrong about the Outlander running for over a buck fifty and three scores. He is going to take Tech to the playoffs this year. He is unreal, as is his offensive line, which is paving the way for him. PICK: ST 28-14
George Muha: Is anyone paying attention to Sussex Tech? Their runningback rushes for nearly 300 yards a game and their offense is scoring points all over their opponents. This is the same team that has never, ever made it to the postseason in school history. How about rallying around our bros in Sussex Tech who play only teams out of Morris and Sussex counties? PICK: ‘Stangs 42-10

Morris Knolls (2-0) @ Roxbury (2-0)

LAByrne: Last week, Knolls handled Delbarton and Roxbury struggled a little with Mendham. Roxbury’s Grant Dixon and Jack Clevenger got the job done but Dixon was forced to run with good coverage from Mendham. And, playing at Roxbury is intimidating—but probably not to Knolls, who had the calm confidence to pull out the OT win against Hills, and then to take down the Delbarton dragon. PICK: Knolls 28-27
Brian Kaes: Knolls is having a great start to the season, which is a little suprising. Roxbury’s good start, not so much a surprise. The Gaels will win this one at home and make it look easy. Roxbury’s Jack “Cleaver” Clevenger (or “Avenger” there is a lot to work with, admittedly, none of it makes much sense) will play another Darrelle Revis type game and get at least one INT against Knolls, who are coming off a big win against Delby. Look for Jason Parisi to find the endzone for Knolls at least once but they will fall short this week. PICK: Roxbury 29-20
George Muha: It seems Knoll’s victory over Delbarton last week was celebrated by every Morris County team that has gotten beat by the Green Wave for the last 10 years. But I am afraid the Victory Tour is going to get cut short at the hands of the Gaels of Roxbury. Jack “the Turnover Machine” Clevenger continues to be disruptive on defense in a convincing Rox win. PICK: Gaelsl 40-21

Morristown (1-1) @ Mount Olive (1-1)

LAByrne: Mt Olive played tough against West Morris last week, with QB Jason Drury keeping his team in the game through most of four quarters. But Morristown always plays tough football with guys like Brian Fajardo and Samari Robinson leading the effort. PICK: Morristown 21-14
Brian Kaes: Morristown lost a nail biter last week and faces another tough game away this week when they play Mt. Olive. I think that Morristown will dig deep and pull off what I would consider an upset in Mt. Olive this week. PICK: Morristown 13-10
George Muha: This is a big game for both teams as they both are desperate for some positive momentum after both getting dished a Week 2 loss. It will be a close one with the Motown Colonials taking advantage of a late game turnover. PICK: Motown 28-25

Mountain Lakes (1-1) @ Kinnelon (0-2)

LAByrne: Kinnelon is not an 0-2 team, and guys like Seamus Nelson and Chris Hausler have the speed to turn things around for this team. But Mountain Lakes Dylan Gottesman scored two touchdowns in one quarter, a pick six, and a forty-one yard run—and he’s just getting warmed up for the season. PICK: ML 21-14
Brian Kaes: The Lakes won their first game last week and Kinnelon is still looking for answers. The Lakes’ Griffen Baker “The Touchdown Maker” will throw for one TD and pass for another as the Lakes roll. PICK: Lakes 24-6
George Muha: Although they are 0-2 I still have not lost faith in the Kinnelon Colts. They have a lot of fire power and I don’t think they’ve even had a chance to pull the trigger that much. Mt Lakes receiver Jimmy Schicke and Kinnelon defensive back Seamus Nelson will have a battle of the big men as this one goes to the final minute. Look for the Colts to start their winning ways in upset fashion. PICK: Kinnelon 42-40

North Warren (2-0) @ Jefferson (1-1)

LAByrne: North Warren’s Nick Heinz ran for 165 yards in their shut out game against Kinnelon and, thing is, he’s not the only guy scoring on this team. Ricky Baird, Conor Frehill, and Joe Toribio all put points on the board. And, Dom Carlucci helped make sure North Warren didn’t get scored on with two sacks and a safety. Jefferson played tough against Hanover Park but North Warren’s got attitude. PICK: NW 21-14
Brian Kaes: North Warren will make quick work of a J-Town team that was exposed last week by the Hornets. As I said last week, this ketchup Heinz character from NW is for real. He will score two more TDs this week. PICK: NW 33-13
George Muha: It took me two weeks but I figured out what you are doing, Luke Robertson! Your plan is brilliant actually. First you tell everyone you are going to Susquahanna to play football then you leave town for awhile. Then you show up Week 1 against Mo-Beard wearing #25 and continue doing what you did all last year – running over teams for a buck fifty and two TDs every week. Don’t worry “Nick Heinz,” your secret is safe with me. PICK: NWR 34-27

Parsippany (0-2) @ Newton (1-1)

LAByrne: Both Newton’s sophomore quarterback Luke Young and RB Chase Crammer had a solid game against Morristown Beard and the Braves are going to pull out another one with this offense. PICK: Newton 34-28
Brian Kaes: Newton will get it done at home against a Parsippany team that is still looking for its offensive identity. Newton, on the other hand, exploded for half a hundy points last week. Crazy. Chase Cramer from Newton will rush for at least 175 yards and two scores, but the way his O-Line is blocking he may run for a mile. PICK: Newton 24-6
George Muha: It’s getting close to do-or-die time for the Parsippany Redhawks. But I think Chase “Cosmo” Cramer and his Newton Braves are going to put on another show this week (and its not going to be about nothing). PICK: Newton 40-31

Saturday Specials

Hackettstown (2-0) @ Morris Catholic (1-1)

LAByrne: Hackettstown Mike Castellano and Joe Renne ran all over the Redhawks last week and I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon. PICK: H’town 42-28
Brian Kaes: H-Town run roughshod over Parsippany last week and is looking to do the same against MC this week. That being said, MC isn’t going to roll over. Look for a decent game but The duo of Renne and Castellano will combine for over 200 yards and three scores for H-Town in a good game. PICK: H-Town 27-21
George Muha: Wow, H-Town back’s Mike Castellano and Nick Renne averaged 20-yards per carry last week. There is no way Morris Catholic D-linemen Joe “Klecko” Lapinski and Paul “the Minister of Defense” Onorati will allow that much production from the Tigers. But I do see Hackettstown to continue their winning ways. PICK: H-Town 28-21

High Point (0-2) @ Chatham (1-1)

LAByrne: Chatham got a little beat up last week, and I see High Point ready to right the ship. Unleash Wildcats Klag and Yarosz on Cougar Field and I this will be a defining win for the ‘cats. PICK: HP 21-20
Brian Kaes: The Point is struggling more than I thought it would, but maybe I was just wrong about them. Chatham will do better than the Bears (who their helmet is modeled after) will this week. Look for Tim “John Quincy” Adams to throw for two scores and sneak for another in a Chatham win. PICK: Cougars 27-7
George Muha: I love how scrappy and versitile this Chatham Cougar team is. Just see how quarterback Tim Adams has stepped in for the injured Alex Sands. But I am not about to give up on High Point. I see HP’s QB Mike Yarosz rallying his Wildcats in an away upset. PICK: High Point 35-30

Kittatinny (0-2) @ Whippany Park (0-2)

LAByrne: Whippany Park’s linebacker Andrew Lake is the bull in the middle of the field that’s going to disrupt Kittatinny’s fun. But Kittatinny played tough against Hopatcong, with both Cody Romano and Drew Walker picking off passes, and giving Kittatinny a chance to get back in the game. PICK: Kittatinny 21-14
Brian Kaes: The good news is that one of these teams will be walking out of Whippany with their first win. The bad news for Kittatinny is that it won’t be them. That being said, Tommy “On The” Hunt from Kit will record almost 20 tackles in the loss. The Kit will get their first win soon, but the Park will squeak this one out at home. PICK: Whip Park 14-6
George Muha: The loss of quarterback/safety Chris Russell to injury has been a tough blow for Kittatinny. But I think they are adapting and guys like Tommy Hunt have been stepping up to let his team know that this season is very salvageable. Look for the Cougars of Kittatinny to dig deep to get their first W of the season. PICK: Kittatinny 21-14

Montville (0-2) @ Sparta (1-1)

LAByrne: Sparta’s Louis Ferrara had 3 INTs in the win against Chatham. Alex Milliken rushed for 167 yards and Tom DeGasperis threw for 173 with three TDs. Come on, really? Sparta tax dollars are so high because they’re funding the team to genetically modify these guys, and that’s why they keep churning out talent like this. PICK: Sparta 35-10
Brian Kaes: Sparta won’t lose this one at home and while Lou Ferrara won’t have 3 INTs he will definitely get two, one in the closing minutes of the ‘Stangs’ last drive. Look for Sparta’s Tommy DeG to throw for two scores in this one. PICK: Sparta 22-20
George Muha: At some point Montville will come up and bite someone. But I think Sparta is back to last year’s form and Dean “the Gnat” Gennat and Louis “3-INT” Ferrara are still upset about Week 1’s loss to Roxbury to let this one get away. PICK: Spartans 42-18

Morristown-Beard (0-2) @ Hanover Park (2-0)

LAByrne: I watched Hanover Park/Jefferson last week and had to ask three people where I was because I was sure I’d accidentally wandered onto a college campus (except for the fact that Jefferson is literally in the middle of the woods). Hanover Park looked big, aggressive and extremely disciplined. Donato Casolaro had a solid game at QB. PICK: HP 28-14
Brian Kaes: The good news for Mo Beard is that this is a home game while HP deals with the disaster that is their home field. The bad news is that Beard is going to get beaten at home by the Hornets. The Hornets’ Anthony Olivieri will score three in this one. PICK: HP 34-12
George Muha: MoBeard QB Jim Zilinski looked like he was playing a video game last week with his 320-yard, 5 TD performance against Newton. However, there is no way the Beards have that much production against Hanover Park. It looks like the Hornets will likely be playing all of their games away this season (because their turf field is not installed yet). So far they seem to like the role of swooping in like the Dark Knights, taking care of business and swooping right back out of town. They will continue to leave carnage in their wake. PICK: Hornets 35-14

Pequannock (1-1) @ Wallkill Valley (1-1)

LAByrne: Tommy Crooks made it clear last week that he’s going to do whatever it takes to keep his team in the game. PICK: Pequannock 28-10
Brian Kaes: The Valley has home field advantage, but their offense is not quite clicking yet. I think Pequannock will come in and put up some points while winning handily in the Valley. PICK: Pequannock 29-17
George Muha: Pequannock will be coming into town with the intent to leave town with a W. But Justin “Gold” Bond and the rest of the rowdy Rangers won’t have any of it. Look for the Wallkill Valley to post some good offense of numbers against their foes. PICK: WV 34-28

Randolph (1-1) @ Mendham (1-1)

LAByrne: Mendham looked solid against Roxbury, keeping coverage so tight Dixon had a hard time getting his passes off. And, Jack Anderson is so fast, he reminds me of the ’08 superstar Mike Salerno, juking and strong-arming his way past guys twice his size. Throw into the mix the titanic talent of sophomore lineman Grady Smith and this team’s got this matchup. PICK: Mendham 28-14
Brian Kaes: This is going to be a heck of a game. Both of these teams play tough and while Randolph has some momentum I don’t know who will win this one. I may have to just flip a coin to determine the winner.  Ok, I flipped a coin and Randolph is winning this one, even though they are away. Look for Carlo Zarro to get in the endzone at least once for the Rams in a barn burner. PICK: Rams 24-21
George Muha: If I were to give a scouting report to Randolph about Mendham I’d say this: Be ready to get punched in the face on the first play (meaning they are going to come out very aggressive), make sure your punter is warmed up because you will be going three-and-out a lot against their defense and don’t plan on returning any kickoffs because their kicker literally puts it through the uprights every time. Oh yeah, and if they didn’t have three turnovers last week they would have beaten Roxbury. Bottom line, you better not sleep on them. PICK: Minutemen 35-21

How We Did Last Week

Laura 14-5
Brian 14-5
George 13-6

How We’re Doing So far

Laura 25-15 (62.50%)
Brian 25-15 (62.50%)
George 26-14 (65.00%)

Last Year’s Prediction Percentages

Laura (67.54%)
Brian (68.21%)
George (70.19%)

*Drawing by the exquisitely talented Emily Cody.

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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