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Out of the 37 teams that Morris Sussex Sports covers, four have made it to the pinnacle – MetLife Stadium. As Madison and Lenape Valley, and Par Hills and Morris Hills battle it out against each other in their respective state sections, our area is guaranteed at least two state champions?

These teams match up so well we’ve brought in two of our star interns, Marcella Parisi and Mattie Marano, to help us try to predict these games right.  Let’s all rally behind these fabulous four teams as they slug it out to find out who’s the best!

North 2, Group 2 Championships
Friday, December 2 at 5:00pm

1 Madison (11-0) vs. 3 Lenape Valley (10-1)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: You couldn’t have scripted it any better folks. Two teams that know each other extremely well as that was evident in their Week 1 match-up. Madison had just enough that day to pull out the 45-42 victory. I am telling you, if there is one game that you check out in the 20+ state championships that are getting played, this is a must see. I am really torn on who to pick here. Since that Week 1 loss Lenape Valley hasn’t looked back, winning 10 straight but on the other hand, Madison has a chance to run the table and go undefeated. Alright, here it goes, in a game that we will all remember, the Dodgers quest for perfection…is achieved at MetLife. PICK: Madison 38-35
Brian Daniel: What can I say, Madison proved me wrong. They bent, but didn’t break at the end of the game last week against HP, and what a game it was. These two teams battling each other reminds me of the rivalry between the Starks and the Lannisters, (or Hatfields and McCoys for you old folks). You couldn’t ask for a better State Championship because the Valley is having a heck of a season as well. Week 1 was ages ago, so while that film is going to be analyzed, both teams have evolved since Madison won that contest. Mike Kearney deserved “Player of the Week” honors last week as he and the Mulcahy Brothers, anchored by their outstanding offensive line, led the charge last week. But Kearney did it through the air and on the ground. Unbelievable game by the QB. I loved how his hero was his dad! That stuff always gets me. The problem the Valley will have is their offense seems to be centered around the ground game. They have a great O-line, and Stevie Leyden is a beast (over 200 yards last week with two scores), but the Dodgers have been getting ready for the Valley’s game plan all week. I think that the Valley’s Jay Pruden is going to have to throw more if the Valley wants to turn the tables on the Dodgers in this one. No matter what, these two teams had awesome seasons and both of them deserve to be here. I think that Madison will end up having an easier time this week than last, but it will still be a close game. Both teams will leave it all on the field come December 5. PICK: Dodgers 34-24
Marcella Parisi: This one is super tough to call. On one hand we have Madison with their dynamic duo of PJ Mulcahy and Mike Kearney who can break through d-lines like nobody’s business. Then we have the Patriots with Stevie Leyden and Jay Pruden at their helm carefully orchestrating consistent TDs with Troy Dupont and Michael Josephs.I think Madison will take this one because the fire I have seen in the eyes of their players and Coach Kubik is something the Patriots just won’t be able to extinguish. Look for Mike Kearney to go for at least one TD and a 100 yards easy on the ground. PICK: 28-21 Dodgers
Mattie Marano: With the Madison Dodgers coming in off a 11-0 season, it would be difficult for any team to face them for the win. Players like Mulcahy and Kearny know what it’s like to win at MetLife Stadium. In every game I have seen the Dodgers play, they have fought to the end, showing no sign of letting up until the clock runs out.  I expect nothing different this Friday. With that being said, the Lenape Valley Patriots had an almost perfect season themselves, coming into Friday with a 10-1 record. After loosing to Madison during the regular season, the Patriots will be even more persistent on taking the game. I expect a battle to the very last second between these two teams fighting for the W. PICK: Madison 35-28
George Muha: I am officially putting the over/under on this game at 95 points and my betting tip of the week is to take the over (this is just a joke NJSIAA, we don’t promote gambling…he he). That is not an indictment of either team’s defense either. There is just a ton of fire power on both sides.  First of all, if you like heavy weight boxing matches you are going to love to love the battle between Lenape’s linemen Scott MacMillan, Aidan Proulx, Corey Iannotta, Joe Ruggieri and Will Ernst and tight ends Sean Prior and Chris Grube and Madison’s big men consisting of Max Downing, Dante DiIonno, Griffin Meister, Paul Links and Yiakos Kostidakis. If you go to this game, you just have to watch the trenches and you will see magnificent linemen battles all night long. As for the skill guys, there are too many to count. I would say Lenape Valley has the best pure athletes in Stevie Leyden and Michael Josephs. Actually, there are a ton of studs on this team.  You look at Troy DuPont, Jay Pruden, Khalid Dickerson…who the heck knows, they’re all incredibly talented. Then you look at Madison’s skill guys. PJ Mulcahy has already been named MVP of a state final for his heroics last year. His younger brother Matty seems to be just as good. The Dodgers also have studs like Brian Bradley, Santi Quintero and Ryan Schmitz. These two teams are so darn comparable I can’t take it! Their coaches are both two established legends with two amazing staffs. Both have excellent fans. Lenape Valley has Walt “The Sign Guy” Wormann, Madison has Mrs. Mulcahy (who is literally my favorite fan of all time). Uggh, I know I have to pick somebody. I’m stalling here. Okay, here’s the deal. I gotta go with the Dodgers by 1-point in double OT. The reason I am going with them is Kearney. No, not the sketchy guy who runs the Gravitron at the Rose City Festival. I’m talking about Mike Kearney, the freakazoid who came on the scene in Week 1 and scored five touchdowns against Lenape Valley and hasn’t stopped literally dominating the world. PICK: Dodgers 48-47

North 2, Group 3 Championships
Saturday, December 3 at 10:00am

4 Par Hills (7-4) vs. 3 Morris Hills (8-3)

Dan Exter from Layups 4 Life: If you like offense, then this is the game for you. Both Par Hills and Morris Hills light up the scoreboard so this will be a game loaded with points. I’ve been a Nick Verducci fan since Day 1. There is no question he is the driving force and leader of this Vikings team. On the other hand for the Knights, you have Daymon Fleming who can get you with his arm and or with his legs. A duel threat that the Par Hills defense will certainly be keying in on. Again, another tough choice but I think Verducci and company have just enough to get it done and hoist a championship trophy at MetLife. PICK: Par Hills 35-28
Brian Daniel: Wow!  What an awesome season and playoff run these two teams are having!  The Hills are alive with the sound of a championship! I said from Day 1, never count out Par Hills! I may not have said that out loud, but I thought it! Honestly, I have to say that I think that now that they have gotten to the championship, it is almost destiny that they are going to win it. Nicky V. had himself a game last week, throwing for a buck twenty five and 2 scores and running for 173 yards and 3 TDs! That is b-a-n-a-n-a-s!  Holy heck! Wilson “I’m not” Done also broke the century mark on the ground. Plus, their experience alone gives them the edge in this one. They know how to “act like you’ve been here before.” However, since I came in last place in the prediction standings this year and can’t even tie for second place, I’m not picking this game based on my pride, gut or brain and can go with all heart! Mo Hills hasn’t won a championship in…I’m not sure how long. They had a heck of a season, and Daymon Fleming is a great QB and leader. Their O-Line is a force to be reckoned with. Angelo Macera, Fleming and Sam Valerio are all beasts on both sides of the ball. And Devin Caruso and Damian Gonzalez and Nicky Walls are all over the field on defense as well. The tipping point? Well, my sister-in-law teaches at Morris Hills, and she is getting married at the end of the month, so I’m thinking it would be a good wedding present from the team. I’m 22% kidding about that being a present, but that’s why I’m going with Mo Hills. Again, nobody ever accused me of being unbiased. No matter what, these teams played their hearts out all year and that’s not going to change in this game. They should be proud of themselves no what the outcome. PICK: MoHills 21-20
Marcella Parisi: I want to pick Morris Hills so badly. I never saw them coming and now I’m eating my words. But their road to victory has the huge road block of Par Hills. I watched Par Hills twice this season and every time I was amazed by their means of fighting through the toughest situations. In their game versus West Morris, it was astounding to watch them continue to rally even with their formidable opponent. Nick Verducci has gotten the Vikings too far to lose now and his intensity will carry his team to the win. PICK: 28-14 Vikings
Mattie Marano: After seeing the emotion Nick Verducci puts into a regular season game, I am looking forward to seeing how he leads the Vikings into the game on Saturday. I expect players like Nick Ho and Michael Bettelli to be play makers because you know they are desperate for a state win. Par Hills will have to stand up strong against the rivaling Morris Hills defense lead by Devin Caruso if they hope to stand a chance. The Scarlet Knights have put up a fight all season long, and aren’t going to give up now. The game will be close, the Vikings focusing on Offense and the Knights staying strong on defense. PICK: Par Hills 27-21
George Muha: The Par Hills Vikings and the Morris Hills Scarlet Knights are so appropriately named because both of these teams are total gladiators. This one is going to battle of warriors, much like in the Colosseum in the Roman Times. I could totally see MoHill’s Devin Caruso, Billy Nieman and Davon “Dave” Chappell with a sword in one hand, a shield in the other and scars all over their bodies. In the same vein, Par Hill’s Billy Taylor, Justin Gurth and Marco Falivene are total beasts as well. These teams are so evenly matched I am having a tough time with this. Both have QB’s who have played since their freshman year (which is incredible itself). MoHill’s athletic signal caller Daymon Fleming took the reigns four years ago and Par Hill’s QB junior Nick Verducci started as a frosh and even won the state title that year as a 14-year-old. Both have crazy run games, MoHills behind Nick Walls and Par Hills behind Wilson Done. Both teams have all big name players. Par Hills has Betelli, Ho, Minardi, Bianchi, McDonald, Stampone…to name a few. MoHills has Gonzalez, Almodovar, Valerio, Macera, etc. Both have long time, legendary coaches. Par Hills with Dave “Captain Lou” Albano and MoHills with Mike Sabo who’ve both been to the final dance before. I guarantee this one will be a back-and-forth battle to the end. I know Football Fanatic’s Ryan Sudol won’t like this but I picking the Vikings by 1-point. PICK: Par Hills 39-38

How We Predicted Them Last Week

Dan: 2-0 (100.00%)
Brian: 0-2 (00.00%)
George: 0-2 (00.00%)

How We Predicted Them This Year So Far

Dan: 173-62 (73.61%)
Brian: 159-76 (67.65%)
George: 162-73 (68.93%)

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

marcella-mattie

Mattie Marano & Marcella Parisi are seniors at Mendham HS and two year interns at Morris Sussex Sports, providing game articles and photos. They both have a ton of insight about the game of football and probably know more about the teams in Morris Sussex then many of the players (photo from last year’s Madison championship at MetLife).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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