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Welcome to the playoff football! Getting to this point is a huge milestone so if your favorite team is here, give them a round of applause. In fact, out of the 37 teams that Morris Sussex covers, 19 schools qualified for the playoffs. These Notorious 19, as we are calling them, are represented in eight different sections (or brackets). That means it’s possible there could be a total of eight state champions that come from Morris Sussex when it’s all said and done.

As a point of reference, last season there were 17 Morris Sussex teams that made it to Round 1 of the playoffs. By the time the state finals rolled around there were only two teams left, Chatham and Madison. And only one team that came away with the ultimate prize (Madison).

Morris Sussex Sports rallies around these Notorious 19 with the goal of getting as many state championship rings as possible. Round 1 won’t be easy and this is how we see it playing out in our 2016 Round 1 Predictions.

North 1, Group 1

5 Cresskill (6-2) @ 4 Boonton (7-1)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: The 4/5 seed games tend to be the best ones in the opening rounds of the state playoffs and this match-up should be no different. Both teams coming into the “second season” on winning streaks but the Bombers have a leg up playing on their home turf. They also haven’t lost since Week 1. PICK: Boonton: 28-24
Brian Daniel: Boonton overcame some adversity in the beginning of the year and played great throughout. I’m a little surprised they got a 4 seed with their record but it’s a tough conference I guess. Maleek Awan will come to play in this one, and that isn’t good for Cresskill. He won’t even be slowed down, running for over 200 yards behind Boonton’s line while scoring 3 TDs. PICK: Boots 35-17
George Muha: It wouldn’t matter if Boonton guard Steve Delaporte left the field to go to the bathroom every quarter in this game.  The Bombers are on a 7-game win streak and are hot as they come. Their d-line will continue to wreak havoc while delivery their home crowd a playoff victory. PICK: Boonton 33-23

North 1, Group 2

8 High Point (5-3) @ 1 Pompton Lakes (7-1)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: The Cardinals are a playoff caliber year in and year out. Lakes almost had a perfect regular season but had that spoiled by Hasbrouck Heights, 14-13 last week. Lakes have a great coaching staff and kids who buy into the program year after year. They are truly the definition of “not rebuilding but reloading”. PICK: Lakes 35-14
Brian Daniel: High Point had a heck of a year, and will leave it all on the field in this one. Look for HP’s Jake Phillip to run for 100 yards and 2 scores but in the end Pompton Lakes is just too much to handle. PICK: The Lakes 30-20
George Muha: High Point got this far on sound blocking and hard running. That will carry them through this game if the Wildcat defense can keep Pompton’s O in check. However, that will be easier said than done. Pompton Lakes has momentum on their side. HP will take their pound of flesh out of them though. PICK: HP 30-10

6 Pequannock (5-2-1) @ 3 Newton (8-1)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: It is hard for me to go against a team that runs the table in the regular season. Pequannock had a heck of a season but it comes to an end against the Braves who are lighting up the scoreboards over the past two weeks. PICK: Newton 38-21
Brian Daniel: I guess a 3 seed is good but 8-1 is a 3 seed? I feel bad for the ‘Quan because they had a decent year and it’s too bad it’s going to end in the first round of the playoffs, but it will. Newton is on a mission this year, and they are not going to stop until they get to, and win, that championship game. I am not sure if they can, but it will be interesting to see. They start this week. Chase Cramer runs for over 120 yards and 2 scores for Newton, and their defense led by Luke Young will do enough to slow down the ‘Quan’s beast of a running back Sean Klimek, to only 100 yards and one score. PICK: Newton 21-17
George Muha: Pequannock’s Sean Klimek is so dynamic it is scary. Newton’s Chase Cramer is such a powerhouse and Will “The Thrill” Larsen is the quick footed, change of pace kind of back. There will be a lot of running and worn out defenses in this one. PICK: Newton 32-28

North 1, Group 3

8 Demarest (5-4) @ 1 Sparta (1)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: I am going to make this easy on everyone. Sparta is my pick all the way to MetLife, see you there. PICK: Sparta 45-7
Brian Daniel: Sparta is off the chain these days. Matty Maute and Alex Milliken are too much to handle offensively, especially with their offensive line playing the way it has been all year. Those two alone will account for 4 scores and hundreds of yards. Demarest will be out of the game by half time, despite their best efforts. PICK: Sparta 42-15
George Muha: Richie McDonald will have 14 tackles and an INT on D while the offense accounts for 450-yards and 6 touchdowns. No offense Demarest, Sparta is just that good. PICK: Sparta 35-20

5 Jefferson (7-2) @ 4 Old Tappan (7-2)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: Another 4/5 match-up, should be another good game. Jefferson has been the surprise team in the county, no doubt about it and it looks like first year coach Jerry Venturino has something good going. However, Brian Dunn has been taking his team to MetLife for years and he will look to make another run at a title. PICK: OT 35-7
Brian Daniel: J-Town had a great year, and they have no intentions of ending their season this week. Brandon Magnotta will run for score on offense and maybe defense in this one for Jefferson, and Connor Brown will add 100 yards and 1 score on the ground as well. Look for about 4 combined sacks from Alex Leming and Mike Fleming on defense for the Jeffersonians. PICK: J-Town 27-13
George Muha: Losing MLB Jakob Jakova to injury last week would be devastating. But I see Magnotta, Brown and the Benfatti bros getting the team to rally to play 11 as 1. This one will be a battle with the Jefferson Airplanes coming out victorious on the road. PICK: Jefferson 24-21

North 1, Group 4

9 Northern Highlands (5-4) @ 8 Roxbury (4-4) ***Play In Game***

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: This whole bracket is a mess. This situation takes the fun out of it all. Anyways, I digress. Roxbury wins this one. PICK: Gaels 28-10
Brian Daniel: Roxbury overcame some adversity this year and finished a decent year, but this Wayne team is tough. Here is what I know, the ‘Bury will give it all they have even if Vegas has them as 14 point underdogs. Look for Mike Roumes, Connor Mahoney, Andy “Axe” Axelson and Matty Garofalo to be maniacs on defense and keep this game close until the final seconds. PICK: Highlands 13-10
George Muha: I think everyone in New Jersey has a friend they call Joey Bags. It’s like, “Where you going?” And you’re like, “Me and Joey Bags are going to the thing to meet up with that guy.” And he’s always the toughest guy you know. It’s like, “This guy was giving me crap and out of nowhere Joey Bags gets right in his face…” So it’s fitting that Roxbury has a Joey Bags on their team (Badgley) and he’s also the tough fullback who creates all of the holes for Gael backs to run through (along with the line of course). PICK: Roxbury 39-30 (forgetaboutit!)

*Wayne Hills will play the winner of Northern Highlands vs. Roxbury on November 18th in what is a continuation of Round 1.  Other Morris Sussex teams that are playing in the continuation of Round 1 next weekend are Fair Lawn (5) @ West Morris (4), Morris Knolls (6) @ Wayne Valley (3) and Randolph (7) @ Irvington (2). 

North 2, Group 2

8 Hackettstown (5-4) @ 1 Madison (8-0)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: See Sparta… Madison all the way to MetLife. PICK: Madison 28-10
Brian Daniel: Madison is looking for another ring to add to their collection. H-Town had a decent year but they won’t be able to upset the Dodgers at home. Ireland’s pride Kyle Connelly and Ryan Gallagher will record a combined 3 sacks and 1 INT with 20 something tackles for H-Town but it won’t be enough to stop Matt Kearney and PJ Mulcahy for running for over 200 combined yards and 3 scores. PICK: Dodgers 29-14
George Muha: Hackettstown is as feisty as they come and I am happy they got into the postseason. But Madison has been on a roll going on a few years now. H-town could shock the world, but I think Madison will have this one under control. PICK: Dodgers 44-21

5 Caldwell (6-2-1) @ 4 Hanover Park (7-2)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: Caldwell was one of the teams that I said if they were a stock, I would suggest you ‘buy now!’ Sticking with that statement. PICK: Caldwell 21-10
Brian Daniel: HP had a decent year, and the only problem with this seed is that if they win, they have to face Madison again. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Caldwell is a decent team and not to be taken lightly. But there is no question there is more talent on the Hornets’ roster. Last week HP beat a good West Essex team, with Donato Casolaro doing his thing, running for a score and throwing for three TDs. Rory DeLuca added 114 yards on the ground last week as well (besides catching one of those TD passes). Look for Donato to take over this game as well, with help from his pal Rory, with the two combining for over 200 yards on the ground and 3 scores. Sean Conley and Eddie Schimminger will combine for a million tackles in this one. HP wins convincingly. PICK: HP 35-19
George Muha: It’s been a great season and it was a lot of fun to watch Hanover Park play really hard this season. Unfortunately it all ends…in three more games of course! We are not even close to done. Defenders like like Edward “Scissor Hands” Schimminger, Sean “The Irish Maniac” Conley and Jimmy “The Greek” Fortier are going to continue to be tackling and turnover machines. Three more games HP, let’s do this! PICK: Hornets 28-21

6 Fort Lee (7-2) @ 3 Lenape Valley (8-1)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: I had to read this twice to make sure it said Fort Lee. It has been a nice story for the Bridgemen in 2016, after going 3-7 a season ago. Fort Lee meet Lenape Valley, Lenape Valley meet Fort Lee. Fort Lee, don’t get lost on the way home. PICK: LV 38-7
Brian Daniel: The Valley is on fire and they won’t be slowed down by Fort Lee in the first round of the playoffs. Look for Stevie Leyden to take this team on his back offensively and score three times while running for over two hundred yards. PICK: The Valley 34-17
George Muha: I would love to film Fort Lee’s face when they drive way out west and park their bus next to Don’s House (Lenape Valley’s Stadium). It’s so intimidating for an opposing team to see all of those crazy fans in red, white and blue and Walt “The Sign Guy” Wormann flashing all of those signs about the “Big Red Train” and such. That, plus the fact that there is not a hotter team in Morris Sussex than the Pats.  I just don’t see them getting beaten. PICK: LV 40-12

7 Whippany Park (6-2) @ 2 Rutherford (7-1)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: Both teams had a pretty weak regular season schedule. The fact that Rutherford played Pompton Lakes close is what is making me pick them in this match-up. PICK: Rutherford 17-10
Brian Daniel: No matter what happens Whippany Park had an outstanding year and they should be proud of their efforts. Of course, that won’t mean much to them if they lose. I think they will put up a heck of fight and Luke Papa will throw for 2 scores for WP but in the end they will fall just short. Jake Crane and/or Nickey Foglia will score a defensive TD in this one as the Park leaves it all on the field after a great year. PICK: Rutherford 33-24
George Muha: Let’s just get something straight, Jake Crane is a total stud. This kid can play football! What a year for the ‘Cats! I loved all of the cast of characters that stepped up. Unfortunately, I think the road stops here. Rutherford made it to the state finals last with with a team full of juniors last year (and now they are all seniors). They also have a player named Kevin Kosakowski who is basically all world. Congrats on a great season Whip and this is one prediction I hope you make me eat. PICK: Rutherford 30-18

North 2, Group 3

5 Snyder (5-4) @ 4 Par Hills (5-4)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: The Vikings are rolling in their last three games, winning in dominant fashion. No better time to be doing that than right now. PICK: Par Hills 35-14
Brian Daniel: Snyder? Seems like an interesting name for a High School. Dee Snider spells his name differently so I know it wasn’t named after the lead singer of Twisted Sister. Other than that, I have no clue. Here is what I do know, Par Hills thrives in the playoffs. Look for Tristan Nichols, Vinny Bianchi and Dom Musto to combine for 7 sacks and 25 tackles on defense in this one for the Hills as they cruise to the next round. PICK: Hills 29-6
George Muha: Par Hills has gotten hot at the right time. That and the Vikes have dominated all of the city teams they’ve faced this year. Watch them advance as My Cousin Vinny Bianchi continues to be the freak that he is on D. PICK: Vikes 34-21

6 Governor Livingston (3-5) @ 3 Morris Hills (6-3)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: The explosive Hills offense will look to keep their season alive as they host a well deserved home playoff game. Look for the Knights to survive and advance. PICK: Hills 28-14
Brian Daniel: I’m not sure how Govey Livingston got in with that record but they are not to be underestimated. I have seen a bunch of GL hoops games because my nephew Hoddy Mahon was their point guard back in the day. For a small school, they have some decent athletes. Morris Hills is having a heck of a year though, and they won’t be denied. Plus, my sister-in-law Amy Shera teaches there so I’m not going to pick against them. I see Daymon Fleming taking over this game and leading this team to the promised land with a combined 250 yards on the ground and in the air and 3 scores. PICK: Hills 34-20
George Muha: MoHills was last in the state finals the first year Morris Sussex Sports was established in 2007. They were a fun team with a big cast of characters with a ton of chemistry. This team seems to have the same thing going on. To advance I think the o-line and fullback Dajon “Mustard” Chappell will need to wear down the defense with punishing blocking. Since that’s just what they do, Hills will deliver their fans their first playoff win in awhile. PICK: MoHills 35-20

Non-Public, Group 3

6 Red Bank Catholic (5-4) @ 3 Pope John (5-4)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: This is a tough one to pick. Pope John has been through the ringer this year and RBC doesn’t back down from anyone. It is a big trip from Red Bank to Sparta but I think they Caseys shake it off, get a good stretch in and enjoy the ride back home to the Jersey Shore. PICK: RBC 35-28
Brian Daniel: Pope John is definitely better than their 5-4 record, but can they relieve the glory days and bring home another State Championship? If you ask alumni like my buddies “Jolting” Joe D’Onofrio and Damien Conforti, they would say yes. But they are biased, so whatever (ha ha). I think PJ gets by RBC but it’s going to beyond close. I think Dalyn Wade “Luke” Perry will record a dozen tackles and a sack for the Johnnies. And look for Ty Hranicka to throw for 200 yards and 2 scores in this one, channeling old number 8 Conforti while leading his team to victory. PICK: PJ 27-17
George Muha: Pope John has not gotten beaten this year. They may have lost some games, but they have not been physically beaten by anyone. I know RBC has some big players. We do too. We have a middle linebacker who is built like a brick house, except we play him at quarterback and allow him to drink whiskey during games. His name? Ty Hranicka. Good luck with that RBC! *I am pretty sure he doesn’t actually drink whiskey…that part was a joke! But Hranicka is no joke. PICK: Johnnies 35-30

Non-Public, Group 4

6 Delbarton (4-5) @ 3 St. Peter’s Prep (6-3)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: Prep can’t think this will be a “gimmie” game. Delby will come in and hit you in the mouth. Still, SPP has some of the best players in the state led by super star quarterback Jonathan Lewis. Marauders continue their quest for a state title in a game that will be tougher than they expected. PICK: SPP 28-21
Brian Daniel: Delbarton has had a rough season, and I think that was expected given their brutal schedule. They are better than 4-5, but are they better than St. Peter’s? I don’t think so. And while I say that with great reservation, I believe it is the truth. Mashod Harrison will run for almost 100 yards and a score in the loss for Delby. PICK: St. Peter’s 33-27
George Muha: I think it’s totally unfair that Delby has to play in this section. They should be in G3 with Pope John. The one thing I will say is I never hear any Delbarton players complain who they are playing which shows these boys are just tough. Watch Greg Olson channel his older brother, the Carolina Panther TE who his parents gave the same name, and pick up 75-yards and a TD through the air. Cole “House of” Kreshpane will also rack up some respectable fantasy points. But I think the Green Wave season ends. PICK: St. Peter’s 35-20

How We Predicted Them Last Week

Dan: 19-5 (79.16%)
Brian: 19-5 (79.16%)
George: 18-6 (75.00%)

How We’re Predicting Them So Far

Dan: 155-53 (74.51%)
Brian: 146-62 (70.19%)
George: 146-62 (70.19%)

About the Predictors

Dan Exter spent eight years as a producer for MSG Varsity and is the founder and director of Layups 4 Life, a non-for-profit that uses a wildly popular 3-on-3 basketball tournament to raise money for cancer research.

Dan Exter is a Roxbury HS alumni that spent eight years as a producer for MSG Varsity and is the founder and director of Layups 4 Life, a non-for-profit that uses a wildly popular 3-on-3 basketball tournament to raise money for cancer research. Have an opinion about Dan’s picks?  Tell him what you think via his Twitter handles:  @d_exter15 and @Layups4Life

Brian Kenney

Brian Daniel is a Hanover Park alumni who really has nothing to do with high school sports.  But he’s George Muha’s oldest friend and frequent crasher of his couch so George feels obligated to give him something to do. Have an opinion about Brian’s picks?  Tell him what you think via his Twitter handle:  @bdk29

George Muha is a Hanover Park alumni who has been covering high school football for nine years.  George is the founder of MSS and is also on the board of the Greater Morris Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

George Muha is a Hanover Park alumni who has been covering high school football for nine years.  George is the founder of MSS and proud board member of the Greater Morris Chapter of the National Football Foundation. Have an opinion about George’s picks?  Tell him what you think via his twitter handle:  @UnrulyFan


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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