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Ahh, Week 6. Also known practically as the playoffs. What a horrible time of year for football teams. While there are still three undefeated teams – Roxbury, North Warren and Hanover Park – there are a lot of teams that are playing for their postseason lives with every game. Right now there are a ton of teams holding on by a thread. Let’s see how Morris Sussex Sports predicts it will all shake out this week.

Friday Night Lights

Chatham (4-1) @ Vernon (1-4)

LAByrne: Chatham looks like they’re having fun, like if they could be anywhere on the planet they’d be on the field playing alongside their brothers. Nestler, Adams, Brady, Hayes, Bredahl were part of that tight group that couldn’t be stopped last week. I predict this week is going to be more of the same, even though Vernon is going to put up a fast, running-down-the-sideline fight. PICK: Chatham 21-10
Brian Kaes: Chatham is coming off a big win against Morris Hills, and Vernon was just shut out against Sparta. Two different ends of the spectrum for sure. I think that Alex Sands is just getting warmed up off coming back from a rough injury. Look for him to find the endzone twice one way or another. PICK: Chatham 28-12
George Muha: I still have not given up on Vernon, especially the way Cameron “I transferred from” Sparta and Brandon “Big Boy” Lockhart have been playing. They are not out of playoff contention either. But if they lose this one, they likely will be. However, Chatham’s Matt Nestler “Crunch” is the leading rusher on a team that is on a flaming hot streak and I don’t think they’re slowing down. But it will be close. PICK: Cougars 28-21

Hackettstown (3-2) @ Hanover Park (5-0)

LAByrne: Hanover Park has this insane offense, putting up all kinds of numbers on Casolaro’s arm but it’s that defense that I can’t stop thinking about. They’re going to shut down H’town’s speed this week. PICK: HP 28-7
Brian Kaes: Wow, HP is on a roll, and they are finally playing their first “home” game of the season at Lurker Park, kicking it old school in the friendly confines of his park located on the other side of the town from the high school. Last week “AO” was a beast on defense and contributed on offense as well, but this whole team is contributing big time. By the way, for such a dynamic player it’s interesting that AO’s favorite ice cream is Vanilla. Poor kids needs a gift card to McCool’s in Madison to try out some their awesome ice cream flavors. Anyway, it’s too early to tell if this is HP’s year but they are off to a great start. O-lineman Anthony Otto and the rest of the line will pave the way for HP backs to ring up over 250 yards of rushing while riding the home crowd’s momentum to a big win over a decent H-Town team. Look for the Hornets’ Mike Centanni to have a sack or two or an INT along with a dozen tackles as well. PICK: HP 35-14
George Muha: When I was in college there was this band that used to play on the local scene called Lurker Park. They were actually pretty good and would play thinks like Smashing Pumpkins and a lot of stuff from that Grunge scene. Where am I going with this. Oh yeah, they named their band after Lurker Park (for reasons I won’t get into) in East Hanover. It’s no coincidence that its also the same field that Hornet runningback Juniad Olanipekun is going to rush for 150 and a TD in a win against Hackettstown this weekend. PICK: Hanover Park 38-25

Hopatcong (2-3) @ Butler (3-2)

LAByrne: The Dom Gentile-to-Sean Mefford missile-offense will be deployed on their home field but Hopatcong has too much talent and too much heart to let another week go winless. Giordano—wherever he plays—will get this done, along with Dorman, Wilkerson, and Maddaluna getting after those bulldogs. PICK: Hopatcong 20-14
Brian Kaes: Butler is above .500 for the first time all year and riding that momentum coming into a home game against a tough Hopatcong team. Hopatcong’s Vincent Gioradano will throw for a touchdown and intercept a pass on defense but in the end Butler pulls it out with a scoring drive in the final minutes, led by the O-Line anchored by Cole Rhinesmith, Cory Mack “Attack” and Mike Warren. PICK: Butler 21-17
George Muha: I’ve figured what Hopatcong’s problem is. It’s the black uniforms. As much as I like how cool they are, they are cursed. Hand them back to coach and just stick with all green for home and all white for away. Don’t even wear the black pants. I know Butler is hot. But DaCong figures it all out in a monster win behind the human tank of a nose guard Mike “The Madman” Maddaluna. Unless they decide to wear then black forget it, Butler will win. PICK: DaCong 38-35

Kinnelon (0-5) @ Pequannock (4-1)

LAByrne: Last week Pequannock started off with ground-and-pound and switched things up with their passing game. And, they have defensive duos Matt Forest and Jake Kershaw. This powerhouse team is going nuclear. PICK: 28-10
Brian Kaes: It is surprising to me that Sean Klimek didn’t find the endzone last week despite rushing for over 130 yards. He will make up for it this week when he scores twice in a win over Kinnelon. Pequannock linebacker Matt “Trees through the” Forrest will have a sack and INT in this one, along with Jake “Don’t Lose” Foukas will notch at least one sack if not two. PICK: Pequannock 27-10
George Muha: Kinnelon QB Jonny Toye has got the weapons around him to hang with anyone. But Peqannock’s Brunda, Crooks and Foukas have been hotter than hot the last three games and I don’t see them cooling off this week. PICK: Pequannock 30-21

Kittatinny (3-2) @ Mountain Lakes (3-2)

LAByrne: Griffin Baker tosses three TD passes in the first quarter of the Newton game. And, Dylan Gottesman, Jake Spagnola and Jordan Kern bring in four more TD’s. Can someone please tell this team that scoreboards don’t go to triple digits? PICK: ML 42-21
Brian Kaes: This should be a decent game and both teams are coming off wins. Lakes’ Griffin Baker “The Touchdown Maker” should throw for at least two in this one. Meanwhile Cody “Ray” Romano will run for over 100 yards again for the Kits. In the end I think the Lakes prevail in a close one. PICK: Lakes 21-18
George Muha: Kittatinny’s three game win streak is no fluke. These guys are the real deal. Coming into the preseason, I had them ranked very high. Some early injuries made their start a bumpy one. But now Cody Romano and Josh Klimek are punishing defenses while the Cougar D continues to play like they are flat out angry. I am sure the Cougars haven’t been predicted over Lakes in forever, but I have my money on them this week. PICK: Cougars 35-30

Madison (2-2) @ Jefferson (3-2)

LAByrne: You know what I love about this Madison lineup? I don’t see guys like Dom Luppino Joe Mobley, Mike Dalena and Zach Shupe in the last matchup’s top stats because they spread the ball around, which they can do because they’re all BEASTS. PICK Madison, by a hair 21-20
Brian Kaes: J-Town is stepping up and having a good season this year, and they have high hopes going into this game. Madison, well rested after their bye week, has other intentions. Connor “No Clown” Brown is going to run for 150 yards at least in this one for J-Town, but in the end Madison is going to escape with a W here. The Dodgers’ PJ Mulcahy and Mike Dalena will each get an INT in this one. PICK: Madison 22-20
George Muha: Jefferson’s Connor Brown went bananas last week by rushing for 140 and three scores. But Madison’s been studying the Falcons for two weeks and Petar “Pass the Cabbage” Haboj and Jake “The Ducinator” Ducey are way to fired up to drop this one at home. PICK: Dodgers 42-35

Mount Olive (1-4) @ Roxbury (5-0)

LAByrne: Mount Olive has a lot more going for it than those numbers might show, with guys like Bryson Bey who is one of the best running backs in the area. But Mount Olive let up a lot of points in their last game and I see Roxbury picking them apart this week. PICK: Gaels 35-10
Brian Kaes: Mt. Olive is having a rough year, and unfortunately it’s not going to get any easier on Friday night when they make the short trip to Roxbury High. Craig Roumes will break the century mark for Roxbury and Grant Dixon will continue to do his thing while Roxbury cruises. Mt. Olive’s Joe Dimeo will have a sack and a dozen tackles but it will be in a losing effort. PICK: Roxbury 49-12
George Muha: Mount Olive’s Christian DiMonda, Joe Dimeo and Bobby Corpion realize winning now is dire to their playoff hopes. The good news is a win against Roxbury comes packed with valuable residual power points. The bad news is Roxbury is, well, Roxbury. We’ll keep mentioning the fact that D1 schools are missing out on Roxbury QB Grant Dixon until one of them wakes up and recruits the flipping guy. PICK: Gaels 34-14

North Warren (5-0) @ Lenape Valley (4-1)

LAByrne: North Warren has become a favorite team to watch with talent across the entire turf. Sean Thornton-to-wideout Darian Redman is deadly, and Ricky Baird and Nick Heinz powering out the yards. And, they have a huge, athletic line. But Lenape Valley is strong in the secondary, on the line, their running game is explosive, and they can catch anything. This is going to be a battle and I’m going with the team that spent the week frothing at the mouth to avenge a loss. PICK: LV 28-21
Brian Kaes: This is shaping up to be the game of the week! North Warren has surprised me going undefeated thus far and the Valley is coming off a tough loss to HP. The Valley is not happy and they are playing at home. That should cause NW some concern, but they are not ones to back down. Khalid “Eric” Dickerson will run for over 100 yards for the Valley along with 2 scores. Nick “57 Varieties” Heniz will score three times for NW. In the end I’m going to pick the Valley as I think they have enough momentum building off that loss to HP to whip them into a frenzy to win this one at home. PICK: Valley 28-27
George Muha: Here’s an interesting tidbit; every single team Lenape Valley has faced this season has been undefeated when they played them. The fact that they’ve gone 4-1 against that schedule should tell you something about them. This game has a lot of dimensions to it. NWR’s Coach Parzero played for LV’s coach Don Smolyn. Both teams had a transfer stud receiver drop in their lap before the season (NWR got Darian Redmond and LV got Michael Josephs). And both mascots are called the Patriots. This game will be won in the trenches and I see Lenape’s Rich Fritzky, Ralph Hall and the Hyter Bros being the victors. PICK: LV 28-24

Parsippany (0-5) @ Dover (2-3)

LAByrne: Dover’s huge win against Hackettstown put them back on track. PICK: Dover 21-10
Brian Kaes: Poor Parsippany can’t catch a break. They played better last week and their offense scored some points, but Dover at home is no joke, and the Tigers are coming off a close win over H-Town and are pumped up. Dan Castro is going to score some sort of defensive touchdown in this one. PICK: Tigers 20-13
George Muha: I loved Dover coming into this preseason but the injury bug has made for a rocky first half of the season. But bodies are healing and guys like Dan and Sean Castro are playing like they want to make a run at MetLife. Parsippany’s Robert Hockey will make a big defensive play for his second week in a row. But this week the Tigers will deliver their #1 fan Betty Inglis a win on their home turf (I love that lady!). PICK: Tigers 32-14

Sparta (3-2) @ High Point (0-5)

LAByrne: Sparta’s Matt Maute threw three TD’s in the first half of last week’s blowout win over Vernon. This team has been deadly after their loss to Pope John. They probably need therapy—after the season is over. PICK: Sparta 35-7
Brian Kaes: Another rough start for High Point, and Sparta is heating up after destroying Vernon last week. Sparta is going to win big, there is no question about it. Matty Ice Maute will throw for two scores and while HP’s Cliff Rutter will have a sack or two in this one it won’t be enough to stop Sparta’s roll. PICK: Sparta 38-10
George Muha: Sophomore receiver Jake “Sticky Hands” Philip has had a nice season for High Point so far. But Sparta’s defense behind F3 (Faner, Falco and Ferrara) and Richie “Rich” McDonald are coming off a big 42-0 shutout against Vernon and I think momentum is in their favor. PICK: Spartans 30-12

Wallkill Valley (2-3) @ Newton (2-3)

LAByrne: In order to have that home field win, the Braves need to get at Wallkill Valley’s talented QB Marko Bakovic. And, the Walkill Valley guys will be chasing Cramer all over the field. This one is going to be close but I’m going with the Braves. PICK: Newton 21-20
Brian Kaes: The Valley was upset by Whippany last week in a shoot-out and Newton got beat pretty bad by Mountain Lakes. So where does that leave us? Cole Van Luvender will be all over the field for Newton in this one on defense and look for him to make at least a dozen tackles. He is going to have to stop the air assault of Valley’s QB Marko Bakovic, who almost threw for 300 yards last week and will get another 200 this week in the air. Going to be a great one in Newton this Friday for the home fans for sure. PICK: Newton 24-20
George Muha: Newton runningback Chase “Cosmo” Cramer causes so many problems for opponents. The fact that he can control the clock or bust out for a 60-yard run on any given play are both very hard things to defend against. In the end, I think Wallkill’s receivers Justin “The Wrecker” Decker and Rich “Stitches” Stecher will answer right back but it will be a close, high scoring affair. PICK: WV 52-50

Saturday Afternoon Specials

Boonton (4-1) @ Whippany Park (1-4)

LAByrne: Boonton is playing tough right now, with Quinn Sweeney plowing through guys and Gage Cabalar either running or throwing—whatever his team needs. But Whippany Park showed up in a big way at their last matchup and it’s going to give them some steam in this battle. PICK: Boonton 24-14
Brian Kaes: Whippany Park is riding high after last week’s win and that will carry them into this weekend. However, Boonton isn’t going to let another team’s momentum get in the way of them winning after they lost their chance to go undefeated season last week against North Warren. Boonton’s Dave Koval probably hasn’t slept much since last week, where he was a beast on defense with almost 20 tackles and an INT. Rumor is he wanted to play WP on Sunday to get over the thought of losing to NW. His buddies on the defense feel the same way. Whippany’s Andrew “Go Jump In A” Lake and Michael “When In” Roma will do their part on defense as well and will probably get two dozen tackles between them, but in the end Boonton will prove too much and Gage Cabalar will find the endzone at least twice in a Boonton win. PICK: Boonton 20-15
George Muha: Whoa, Whippany Park’s Kyle Lisa and Robert Greenwald are all of a sudden the hottest quarterback-to-receiver connection in Morris Sussex. Well, they’ll need to continue to gel because an angry Boonton team is coming to town and they are not happy about dropping their first loss last week. Lisa and Greeny will keep up to Boonton’s fast pace, but the Bombers will be the last team to score in a back-and-forth showdown. PICK: Bombers 35-29

Mendham (1-4) @ Delbarton (3-2)

LAByrne: Last week Mendham’s comeback was spectacular, proving what they can do when they’re against the ropes. But Delbarton has this ability to adjust mid-game unlike anyone. It’s like they have this calm confidence to go along with their insane athleticism. Oh, and it’s Homecoming for the Wave. PICK: Delbarton 35-10
Brian Kaes: Delby is on a tear and their crosstown rivals are not going to slow them down this week. Delby’s Matt Zebrowski had a QB rating of a million percent last week, he didn’t throw an incomplete pass!!! That being said, Mendham’s Danny McHugh threw for almost 300 yards and 3 scores in Mendham’s loss to Morristown last week. I don’t think this will be a typical shoot-out though because Delby has a good defense and they also have a decent running game. I think this one is over by the third quarter. PICK: Delby 42-21
George Muha: A few weeks ago I saw Mendham defensive tackle Grady Smith (who has to be 6-4, 250) knock a 230-lb tackle off his feet, then tackle a runningback 3-yards behind the line so hard I didn’t think the player was going to get up. And Smith is a flipping sophomore! Delby is going to win this one (partly because Anthony Siragusa is playing like a man possessed), but trust me, Mendham won’t be laying down one bit. PICK: Delby 30-24

Morristown-Beard (0-5) @ Morris Catholic (1-4)

LAByrne: Morris Catholic played TOUGH last week against Butler, with Madison Evans stealing the show with his 71-yard TD run. Morristown-Beard is going to pull things together but this hard-working Morris Catholic team already has. PICK: MC 21-7
Brian Kaes: I think that the Beard learned some things against MKA this week and MC will be a picnic compared to them, but I still think MC is going to pull this one out. Look for MC’s Peter Palumbo to get a pick-6 in this one as they win a close one. I do think Tahj “Won’t You Be My” Valentine will rush for over 100 yards for the Beards in a losing effort. PICK: MC 13-6
George Muha: Blood will be all over the field this Saturday. Chill out mom – not that kind of blood. I am talking about Morris Catholic’s Charlie Blood.  I could throw for a few hundred yards with junior Zack “Not a Dweeb” Sieb blocking for me.  That guy is 6-4, 275-pounds of pure beef.  PICK: MC 38-19

Parsippany Hills (3-2) @ Montville (0-5)

LAByrne: Sometimes I go onto the field to shoot game photos and I always stay far back from the endzone because I’m a little nervous about getting killed. I shoot Par Hills games from Route 10. Those players would run through the galvanized steel fence if it meant making the play. This team’s intensity is like none other. PICK: Par Hills 35-10
Brian Kaes: Par Hills is gaining more and more momentum as the season goes on and this won’t be but much of a blip on their radar screen on to a 4-2 record. Nick Verducci will throw for over 200 yards and 2 scores in this one as he continues to gain confidence as the leader of this squad. PICK: Par Hills 28-7
George Muha: You have to key in on the match-up between Montville’s center Hubert Bakowski and Par Hill’s NT Ryan Hill. Bakowski is 6-5, 285-pounds and glides like he’s on roller blades. Hill is 5-9, 230 pounds and is probably the quickest defensive lineman I’ve ever seen. I am pretty sure the Par Hills will win the game but the score won’t really matter to these two gladiators will be slugging it out all afternoon. PICK: Par Hills 30-14

Pope John (4-2) @ Morris Hills (2-3)

LAByrne: Sonny decided PJ is not losing again during the regular season. And I believe him. PICK: PJ 35-7
Brian Kaes: Pope John hasn’t lost since week two and will continue that trend against the Hills. We all know Sonny is going to do his thing for the Johnnies, but look for Sam Howson to get at least two sacks in this one for PJ. Ray Almodovar will score twice for the Hills in solid effort. PICK: PJ 32-19
George Muha: I feel like PJ coach Bryan Carlson has been test driving their Super Sophs (Neal, Denucci, Greenhagen, Hranicka, etc) to see what their top speed is. It doesn’t seem he’s reached the ceiling on these studs yet so I see him continuing to ride these guys through the regular season. In the meantime he’s creating very little scouting tape of their passing game. I like that strategy because you know center Howson and QB Abramson are at at the ready to deploy their aerial assault as soon as Carlson presses the button – which I suspect is going to be against their NPG3 playoff section in a few weeks. I actually do think Big Boy Caruso and the rest of the Red Knights are capable of hanging with the Johnnies for most of this game. But in the end PJ will be the victors. PICK: Johnnies 45-28

Randolph (2-3) @ Morris Knolls (4-1)

LAByrne: Let’s forget about the Delbarton game for a minute. Before last week, Randolph has been playing tough D which means Knolls has been watching film on guys like Drew Koskinen, Matt Knox, and LB Dan Gonzalez shutting things down. This is a must-win for Randolph and they are a very dangerous team when their backs are against the playoff wall. Expect Knolls to be stunned in the first quarter but to rally because Knolls has already shown that’s what they do: they play every minute of every game like their backs are against the wall. PICK: Knolls 28-21
Brian Kaes: Morris Knolls is exceeding expectations this year as far as I’m concerned. That’s great. Randolph thought they would be at least 3-2 if not 4-1 at this point in the season. It’s going to be a tough game and it’s very hard to call this one. Knolls scored 54 points last week, which is bananas. Look for Nick Vittorio to throw for a score and run for two more in this one behind the offensive line that is paving the way for all of their backs to have some success. Knolls needs this win to legitimize them even more, and I think they will get it. PICK: Knolls 24-21
George Muha: No offense Parisi and Vittorio but I’d be rushing for 100-yards a game too if I had The Dragon Bros (Dean and Luke Drugac) blocking for me. Knolls keeps on rolling! PICK: MK 35-30

Sussex Tech (2-3) @ Newark Collegiate (3-2)

LAByrne: Sussex Tech was totally in that game against Middlesex right up ‘til the last quarter’s turnovers. ST needs to keep putting up big points, clean up the turnovers and stay tough on defense in order to stop the bleed and repeat last years win over NC. They’ve got the goods to make it happen. PICK: ST 43-30
Brian Kaes: This one is tricky. I was glad to see Muha’s favorite player Outland run for 2 scores and 168 yards last week for the Techies, but they are facing a tough foe in NC this week. Outland and Frank Hoffman will each run for 100 yards this week against NC but somehow NC will pull this one out in the final seconds. PICK: NC 28-21
George Muha: I am just going to say Sussex Tech quarterback Tyler Crum’s name just because I love saying it. But I don’t think the ‘Stangs will be able to hang with a college team. Who the heck put this game on their schedule anyways! PICK: The college team 30-20

West Morris (3-2) @ Morristown (3-2)

LAByrne: West Morris is always tough. Always. They are going to leave a bucket of sweat and a pound of flesh on the field in every game they play. Against Morristown, every yard will be a challenge, but West Morris will take home this W one down at a time. PICK: West Morris 28-10
Brian Kaes: This should be a fantastic game on a chilly fall afternoon in Morristown. Cam Boswell had a great game last week for Morristown in their win over Mendham, and he is looking to build on that this week. Meanwhile West Morris got blanked by a tough Roxbury squad. Either way, it will be a great game and look for Ryan Pruss from WM to get a bunch of tackles and at least one sack in a hard fought game. PICK: Motown 17-13
George Muha: It never matters what the records are when these two teams play. I do think WMC is favored coming into this game, but I think Motown is getting better each week. Morristown’s runningback Andrew Chilson and receiver Eugene Hayes will dazzle their own crowd in a home game win.  PICK:  Motown 21-14

How We Did Last Week

Laura: 14-5
Brian: 16-3
George: 15-4

How We’re Doing So Far

Laura 66-31 (68.04%)
Brian 68-29 (70.10%)
George 65-32 (67.01%)

Last Year’s Prediction Percentages

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

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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