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Don’t think for a second that because the Week 8 postseason cutoff is already passed for most teams that football is meaningless this week. Because it’s not. We have some of the best matchups of the season and there are still playoff and conference championship implications on the line. Check out how we think its going to all play out along with some of our typical hilarity in our Week 9 Predictions. Enjoy!

Thursday Night Lights

Butler (5-3) @ North Warren (6-2)

LAByrne: Butler QB Dom Gentile seems so comfortable right now, working with both Mefford and Castiglia like the old Peyton Manning did with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. But North Warren has the punishing downhill run in Heinz, and—with last week’s huge pick against Hopatcong—Conor Frehill is in the books as one of the deadliest opponents around. North Warren’s solid defense will make the difference tonight. PICK: NW 28-14
Brian Kaes: North Warren is gearing up for what they hope is a deep run into the post season. Butler’s defense played well last week and looks to continue that going forward. I think that at the end of the day NW’s Burns and Carlucci will make the big defensive plays that stymie Dom Gentile and Company enough to win the game. PICK: NW 21-20
George Muha: This is going to be one of the best games of the weekend. Butler is bringing pure ire for not making the playoffs and NWR fighting to be Liberty Division champs. I see Butler’s passion taking over as QB Gentile dishes often to seniors Mefford, Guagliardi and Castiglia while junior linemen Mack, Warren and Taggart start to lay the foundation for next season. PICK: Butler 28-24

Friday Night Lights

Hopatcong (3-5) @ Boonton (7-1)

LAByrne: Hopatcong might be the best 3-5 team in the history of 3-5 teams, which means they’ve had some heart-wrenching losses—particularly last weekend’s close battle against a tough North Warren team. This week they’ll go at Boonton with all they’ve got—that’s the way they play at Hopatcong—and Boonton is going to have the scare of their playoff lives. If Boonton underestimates Hopatcong’s two Jakes, they’re done. PICK: Boonton, but barely 14-13
Brian Kaes: Boonton is excited and looking forward to the playoffs already, but they won’t look past a decent ‘Cong team that is coming off a hard fought game against North Warren in which they came up a point short. Sean McKeown will get into the endzone for Boonton at least once in this one. PICK: Boonton 24-12
George Muha: Hopatcong has the ability to upset Booton in front of their home crowd. Last week Jake “The Snake” Dorman and Michael “Madman” Maddaluna combined for 29 tackles and a sack and they will surely keep the Bombers on their heels in this one. Boonton is just too well oiled of a machine to let this one slip away though. PICK: Bombers 33-27

Jefferson (3-5) @ Dover (3-5)

LAByrne: Rumor has it Dover has a few beat-up superstars so I’m going with the upset win on this one. Jefferson’s Sheruda and Brown are going to break the plane a few times each. PICK: Jefferson 28-10
Brian Kaes: Dover is almost in the playoffs but they need a little help. A loss here will hurt any confidence they have going into the playoffs if they make it. They need to win this one and I think they can do it at home. PICK: Tigers 14-7
George Muha: I saw Dover have Hanover Park on their heels for the 1st half of the game last week before some key injuries changed the outcome of the game. The Tiger’s defense was relentless. I see Jefferson struggle to have an answer for Dover’s D. Offensively, Dover’s Anthony Calcaterra will be a Calca-Terror as the Tigers give their home crowd something to be psyched about. PICK: Dover 38-30

Kinnelon (1-7) @ Newton (3-5)

LAByrne: The Colts showed up in a huge way against a tough Butler team last week, and they’ll make another big appearance for the upset win against Newton. PICK: Kinnelon 28-21
Brian Kaes: Newton is at home and if Luke “Steve” Young can have a higher completion percentage than he did last week this one won’t be close. PICK: Newton 27-17
George Muha: I think Kinnelon finally cracked the code. Look for Chris “Bring it to the” Hausler to do exactly that three different times in the Colts’ second win of the season. PICK: Kinnelon 30-20

Kittatinny (5-3) @ Pequannock (7-1)

LAByrne: Last week Pequannock’s shut down defense against the Herd might have played the single most impressive game of the season. PICK: Pequannock 28–0
Brian Kaes: This is an interesting matchup, both teams are playing after the regular season is over but Pequannock has something to prove this year for sure. How about Nicky Geimer with his 8 million QB rating last week for the Kitts? I think that Jake “Don’t Lose” Foukas and Justin “What’s With All The” Fuss will make Mr. Geimer’s life in the pocket difficult in this one, and the Quan will take advantage. PICK: The Quan 21-13
George Muha: This is the Game of the Week in my opinion.  However, Pequannock has the Fab Five on defense:  Jake “Won’t Lose” Foukas, Justin “Time” Fuss, Jake “The Tackle Machine” Kershaw, Derek “Pick-6” Nelson and Zach “Knock’em on Their Back” Toback.  I think it will actually be a battle to the end but with The ‘Nock prevailing in the end.  PICK:  Peq 17-10

Madison (5-2) @ Hanover Park (8-0)

LAByrne: Madison’s Dom Luppino, Zach Shupe, and PJ Mulcahy are going to churn out the yards again this week but it’s not going to be enough to take down the Dark Knights at Hanover Park. PICK: HP 35-21
Brian Kaes: Madison may play HP in the first round of the playoffs. That is unfortunate for the Dodgers. They can’t slow down all these weapons. Casolaro, Olanipekun, DeLuca, etc. etc. etc. Their offense doesn’t stop. And their defense? Almost as good as the offense. It’s going to be a long night in Parsippany. Parsippany? Yeah, the team without a home continues their season, and their winning ways. Who needs a home field? PICK: HP 35-13
George Muha: Last season Madison kept HP’s receivers in check with the same personal they have on staff today. I think they’ll have the Hornet’s number through the air. However, it won’t matter because no one has had an answer for Hanover Park runningback Junaid Olanipekun all season so they’ll just hand the ball off to him if the passing game isn’t working. It should still be a barn-burner but HP will win at home (wherever home may be this week). PICK: Hornets 45-40

Mendham (2-6) @ Montville (1-7)

LAByrne: Mendham’s two Tommys combined for ten tackles in last week’s spectacular win against Mount Olive, and they’re ready to do it again this week. PICK: Mendham 21-7
Brian Kaes: Danny McHugh threw 3 TDs for Mendham last week in a drubbing of Mt. Olive. But the defense was even more impressive, with sacks and turnovers aplenty caused by Morrell, Haddad, Wierzbicki and so on. Look for Mendham to get their third win against the ‘Stangs. Matty Burke from Montville will be all over the field in this one making tackles but Mendham is too much for them. PICK: Mendham 33-19
George Muha: Montville wants nothing more to deliver their home fans their second win of the season. But with a healthy Jack Anderson looking to blow off some major steam, it ain’t going to happen this week. PICK: Minutemen 32-20

Morris Knolls (6-2) @ High Point (0-8)

LAByrne: Jayson Parisi has been racking up the yardage all season and after last week’s brutal overtime loss he was seen running route 206 up to High Point and has been sitting on the football field all week, waiting to give the HP scoreboard a punishing workout. PICK: Knolls 35-10
Brian Kaes: Unfortunately this Knolls team is still upset from losing a shootout last week against West Morris. They are going to take it out on High Point. PICK: Knolls 39-12
George Muha: I guarantee all week High Point coach Jim Delaney has had his second team offense trying their best to mimmick Morris Knoll’s triple option veer offense. It’s a heck of a thing to prepare for. While I am sure the Wildcats second team-ers will do a great job practicing against the fakes and mis-directions that go along with them, playing against the real thing is a different story. PICK: Knolls 44-30

Mount Olive (1-7) @ Vernon (2-6)

LAByrne: Mount Olive has the goods to bring home the W, but I’m picking Vernon because Coach Tommie Martino has made it clear to his team: you don’t ever quit. PICK: Vikes 21-14
Brian Kaes: Vernon has home field advantage in this one, and Mt. Olive is having a rough season. Look for Vernon’s Brandon Lavorini to find the endzone once in this one. PICK: Vernon 20-13
George Muha: Vernon’s motivational coach Tommie “Gun” Martino will have his Vikings loaded, locked and fired up to deliver a W in front of their home crowd. PICK: Vernon 30-21

Parsippany (0-8) @ Lenape Valley (7-1)

LAByrne: Stevie Leyden has rushed for over a thousand yards this season and I’m betting he’ll add another two hundred this week. PICK: LV 35-10
Brian Kaes: The Valley does not want to slow down on the way to the playoffs. Stevie Leyden ran for 200 yards last week, he won’t do that again this week, but only because he will be taking a breather for most of the second half. PICK: The Valley 41-10
George Muha: When I went into the voting booth at my local election this past Tuesday I scratched out one of the names and wrote in Lenape’s Stevie Leyden for my town’s mayor. I figured there’s nothing this kid can’t do, so why not? You’re welcome pal, now can we talk about lowering my property taxes? Also, my street needs to get re-paved. And since we’re friends, can you make it so I never get pulled over by the police? Thanks brah! PICK: LV 45-14

Roxbury (7-1) @ Par Hills (4-4)

LAByrne: Roxbury’s Grant Dixon is Morris Sussex’s Tom Brady: he can roll out and throw on the run like no one else. And, he’s backed up by a solid defense, with guys like Jack Clevenger who gives his QB plenty of time on the field. PICK: Roxbury 28-14
Brian Kaes: I am kind of surprised the Hills lost last week and it will give them added incentive to beat the ‘Bury this week but Roxbury is just too tough. Grant Dixon completes 11 passes last week, 5 of them were for TDs. That’s bananas. Jack “Cleaver” Clevenger will record 10 tackles and a sack in this one, and I could be light on those numbers. PICK: Roxbury 35-21
George Muha: There is no doubt that Par Hills wants to burn off some steam for not making into the playoffs and take down the mighty Roxbury Gaels in front of their home crowd. While I do think nose tackle Ryan Hill will be a mouthful for the Roxbury offensive line, the Gaels have momentum on their side. Look for last week’s Fantasy Player of the Week, Rox receiver Stephen Loreng (5 receptions for 248-yards and 3 TDs) to get into the endzone twice through the air and Malik “The Freak” Goldberry to add two more on the ground. PICK: Gaels 44-28

Sparta (6-2) @ Randolph (3-5)

LAByrne: Week after week, I pick this Sparta team because of their yards rushing and passing, their sacks and tackles, and, of course, the score on the board at the end of the game. This past week, I realized this team is way more than physically dominant and athletically talented: this team also supports a Newark group called Tilly’s Kids. Sparta football invites these at-risk kids to their game, with each inner-city kid paired up with a Sparta player for the home matchup, then for eating at their tailgate afterward. Sparta, you guys got it all going on, and we’re in awe. PICK: Tilly’s Kids, 35-10
Brian Kaes: Sparta’s Alex Miliken will not be stopped in this game, at all. Look for him to run for over 200 yards and 3 scores. PICK: We are Sparta 39-24
George Muha: Sparta is heating up the closer the playoffs come. Fantasy sensation Matt Maute will continue to dish out a ton of offensive production at the QB position for the Spartans as they easily escape the Rams. PICK: Sparta 40-20

Warren Hills (4-3) @ Hackettstown (4-4)

LAByrne: Patrick Sullivan started last week’s H’town game versus Madison by returning a kickoff for an 80-yard score. He’ll do it again this game, and throw in a few more hundred rushing yards to seal the deal for H’town. PICK: Tigers 35-14
Brian Kaes: I have all the respect in the world for Warren Hills and what they have gone through this season. My heart goes out to the Murray family, the school and the team. It was a tragedy and he will always be remembered. I think that Kyle Connelly and Anthony Gonzalez will play some great defense and carry H-Town to a close win in this one. PICK: H-Town 20-17
George Muha: This is such a tough game for so many reasons. This is virtually a playoff game for Warren Hills because if they win it looks like they will make the postseason tournament. Given what they’ve gone through this season with QB Evan Murray’s passing, I bet even Hackettstown wants them to advance. However, the Blue Streaks will struggle to contain H-town’s tackle machines Anthony “Gonzo” Gonzalez and Zach “Galifianakis” Nesheiwat. PICK: H-town 34-30

Whippany Park (2-6) @ Mountain Lakes (5-3)

LAByrne: Mountain Lakes Griffin Baker was sacked five times in last week’s blowout loss to Pequannock. You know who else was sacked five times in one game this season? Tom Brady. Mountain Lakes’ winning ways will be back this week. PICK: ML 28-10
Brian Kaes: Whippany Park has played well as of late, and a lot of that has to do with the play of Kyle Lisa, the QB. That being said, I think the Lakes are about to rain on WP’s parade this week. The loud home crowd will help. PICK: Lakes 17-14
George Muha: Apparently the second coming of Montana-to-Rice is at Whippany Park with the way QB Kyle Lisa and WR Robert Greenwald have been gelling. The duo connected on 8 passes last week for 160-yards and 4 TDs. However, in this one I see the Herd bouncing back in a huge way after their shutout loss to Pequannock. Wideout Jimmy Schick will have at least two scores and noseguard Mike Aiello will not allow Lisa to be comfortable enough to have as much production as he is used to. PICK: Herd 40-24

Saturday Afternoon Specials

Chatham (6-2) @ Morristown (3-5)

LAByrne: Nick Zack intercepted a Par Hills pass in the last minute of last week’s huge playoff-stakes game that marked the culmination of years of working together for him and his talented squad. They were invited to the playoff dance, but that’s not good enough for this team. There’s no letup in them. PICK: Chatham 28-14
Brian Kaes: Chatham is on a roll, and Morristown is going in the opposite direction. Look for Justin Hayes to score twice for Chatham in a game Chatham wins easily. PICK: Chatham 35-24
George Muha: Don’t think Chatham is a one-trick-pony with their running game behind Justin “Willie Mays” Hayes. Nope, in fact QB Alex Sands “Of Time” feels comfortable throwing it to a collection of receivers including Rob Moskowitz, Timmy Adams and Brian Brady…to name a few. The Cougars continue to roll. PICK: Chatham 42-30

Morristown-Beard (0-8) @ Glen Ridge (4-4)

LAByrne: With guys like Tahj Valentine running the ball, and a line anchored by horse Alex Motley it’s hard to understand that Mo-Beard record but I’m afraid it’s not going to change this week. PICK: GR 21-10
Brian Kaes: I don’t know much about Glen Ridge, except that I used to live in Montclair and it was the town that lasted for 5 seconds on Bloomfield Ave. I also know they are probably going to beat the Beard. PICK: GR 21-17
George Muha: Don’t let the 0-8 fool you. This Crimson team is laying down the foundation and will have a lot of success over the next few years. Tahj “Mahal” Valentine will run for a hundy but Ridge will edge them out. PICK: Glen Ridge 32-24

Poly Prep NY (5-3) @ Delbarton (6-2)

LAByrne: Poly Prep is a tough opponent that’s played even tougher teams, and last year they dominated against Delbarton. But this Delbarton team has scored over a hundred points in their last two games, and I think they’re going to get after that New York team. PICK: Delby 28-27
Brian Kaes: Ughhhh another NY team? It’s getting annoying Delby, just play teams in your division. I think they can win, they are on a roll and I don’t see many people stopping them. This Siragusa kid runs the ball too? Is he the one that helped the FP/EH Falcons win a Super Bowl? I don’t know. If so Delby is lucky to have him. PICK: Delby 35-30
George Muha: Delby struggled against out-of-conference games early in the season. But this team has different guys stepping up every week. Look for Delbarton to get a ton of offensive production from Cole “Crush You With Pain” Kreshpane, Brandon Gaceta and Greg Olson as they continue their winning ways. PICK: Delby 30-24

Wallkill Valley (2-6) @ Morris Catholic (3-5)

LAByrne: Morris Catholic had a romp over Parsippany last week led by Pete Palumbo on offense. This gutsy team is going to end their season strong. PICK: MC 28-14
Brian Kaes: This game is pretty close to call, and I am doing so well these days predicting games. I just flipped a coin and it came up MC. Look for Jordan Spencer to score twice for MC. PICK: MC 28-20
George Muha: This one is actually tough to pick. Wallkill’s offense has shown it can be lethal while Morris Catholic’s defense has shown it can lock down just about anyone when they want to. I think it will be the Crusader’s offense that will be the difference. PICK: Crusaders 30-21

West Morris (6-2) @ Morris Hills (3-5)

LAByrne: West Morris’s huge upset win over Knolls with four TD’s by Solomon Holzworth is more evidence of the Wolfpack’s endless domination. I wish I could watch this program in the preseason to find out what they’re doing. Are they shipping the guys out to Fort Bragg for a few weeks? Feeding the guys raw meat? What makes this program perpetually relevant? Whatever it is, it’s working. PICK: WMC 35-20
Brian Kaes: West Morris won a shootout last week and they aren’t slowing down this week as they charge towards the post season. Look for Solomon Holzworth to score two TDs (down one from last week) for WM as they roll through the Hills. PICK: WM 34-19
George Muha: If I didn’t know any better I would think WMC is acting like they want to win a championship this season. Are my Spidey Senses correct? We’ll see. PICK: Wolfpack 40-18

Sussex Tech (4-4) @ Montclair Kimberley Academy (8-0)

LAByrne: Sussex Tech should be in the playoffs already so this game’s about kicking dirt at MKA’s spotless record. When the dust settles, MKA will prevail—but they’ll be relieved when this scrappy Sussex Tech team leaves their field. PICK: MKA 28-20
Brian Kaes: Sussex Tech is having a decent year, but MKA is not losing this game. They are a borderline college team. Look for Kodiak Sturges (one of the best names ever, if it were a great name contest ST would win easily) to get a sack or two but it’s going to be hard for Mr. Outland to get going when MKA is going to be focusing on stopping him. PICK: MKA 40-20
George Muha: You did it ST! You made it to The Dance for the first time ever and congrats! This game won’t be easy. Connor “Roll Up Your Sleeves” Reeves will get two sacks but it will be all for naught as the Mustangs drop this meaningless game in order to regroup. PICK: MKA 40-21

How We Did Last Week

Laura: 16-3
Brian: 17-2
George: 15-4

How We’re Doing So Far

Laura 114-39 (74.50%)
Brian 118-35 (77.12%)
George 109-44 (71.24%)

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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