High-SchoolNew-Jersey: South Brunswick

State title games set for the gridiron

November, 21, 2011
Most local football fans are likely to be thankful for the slate of title games set for the week after Thanksgiving.

*National No. 1 Don Bosco Prep easily reeled off its 44th straight win, riding Jabrill Peppers' four touchdowns to take down Paramus Catholic, 42-3, and set up a much-anticipated rematch with Bergen Catholic. Jonathan Germano threw for four scores as the Crusaders downed St. Peter's Prep, 42-21, to reach the Non-Public Group 4 state title game.

Granted, before this contest, the Ironmen will put their win streak on the line Thursday when they face St. Joseph (Mont.) in a Thanksgiving contest that has no postseason implications. Bergen Catholic, which handed St. Joseph (Mont.) its lone loss of the season, will face Paramus Catholic.

*St. Joseph (Mont.) will be looking to hand two teams their first defeat of the year. After the Ironmen, the Green Knights face 10-0 Delbarton in the Non-Public Group 3 title. Delbarton looked especially impressive in a double-overtime win against Red Bank Catholic. Will Reynolds picked off a pass in the second OT to give the Green Wave a 30-23 win. It didn't hurt that RBC lost its top player, RB John DiStefano, in the first quarter to a knee injury, but Delbarton still showed plenty of resolve in the back-and-forth contest.

*Wayne Hills and Old Tappan will meet in the North Jersey Section 1, Group 3 championship for the second straight year. Controversy surrounded the Patriots' 48-21 win against Paramus, as nine Wayne Hills players charged with aggravated assault were allowed to play. But their presence won't give the Patriots a decided advantage against Old Tappan. All-State quarterback Devin Fuller leads a Golden Knights squad that's won its last six games after downing Pascack Valley, 34-10. Fuller surpassed 10,000 yards of total offense for his career in the win and will have a chance to add even more yards in a Thanksgiving tune-up against Northern Valley Regional.

*Sayreville exacted revenge on South Brunswick, putting together a thrilling 22-15 win to spoil the Vikings' bid for their first-ever undefeated season. Delon Stephenson caught the decisive 63-yard touchdown with less than 90 seconds remaining to send the Bombers into the Central Jersey Group 4 final versus Manapalan.

*Eighth-seeded Piscataway showed why it was ranked in most preseason state polls by beating East Orange, 7-0, and reaching the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 championship for the second straight year. The Chiefs slid by on Tevin Shaw's first-quarter TD run, relying on its defense to seal the ultimate win and set up a repeat title bid against Elizabeth.

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.
In sports, there's nothing worse than losing, but few things are better than a rematch — in the playoffs, at that. Several teams have this opportunity for revenge as we enter the second round of the New Jersey football postseason, so let's get to it:

St. Peter's Prep at Bergen Catholic
The last time Bergen Catholic took the field, it defeated St. Peter's Prep, 28-17. After the Crusaders had a first-round bye, St. Peter's Prep will once again occupy the opposite sideline with a trip to the Non-Public Group 4 championship (likely to face national No. 1 Don Bosco Prep) on the line. St. Peter's Prep has made great strides since 0-2 start, but the Marauders had trouble slowing BC in critical moments. The Crusaders used big plays (93-yard TD on opening kickoff, two forced fumbles, fourth-quarter scoring drive to create cushion) to control their last contest. If the Marauders can't seize control of the game early, the result will remain the same.
My pick: Bergen Catholic 27, St. Peter's Prep 20

Old Tappan at Pascack Valley
Old Tappan pulled off the upset last week by beating higher-seeded Sparta, 40-14. But few were surprised, what with the Golden Knights boasting do-everything QB Devin Fuller. Now they have a chance to avenge a season-opening, 30-28 loss to Pascack Valley. The Golden Knights are a much different team now. They're healthier (Fuller has recovered from turf toe and WR John Trainor is back from a collarbone injury) and more confident (five straight wins after a 1-3 start). Still, the Indians have their share of weapons in RB Jordan Roses (909 rushing yards) and have been consistent all year. Should be a good one.
My pick: Old Tappan 31, Pascack Valley 27

Sayreville at South Brunswick
South Brunswick helped establish itself as a legitimate contender by knocking off Sayreville, 14-7, to open the season. Eight straight wins later, the Vikings face Sayreville again under much bigger circumstances. Delon Stephenson has helped Sayreville right the ship after an 0-2 start, but South Brunswick still boasts a strong playmaker in RB Jevon Tyree. Whichever team can eliminate the other from making big plays will be the key to this one.
My pick: South Brunswick 17, Sayreville 14

Red Bank Catholic at Delbarton
After beginning the season 9-0, one of these teams will go with its first loss and nothing to show for a solid year. That's the tragic beauty of the playoffs. Red Bank Catholic is looking to continue its resurgence after winning its first playoff game since 1998. The Delbarton offense is explosive — witnessed by its five occasions of putting up 40-plus points this year — and defense is stingy – evidenced by the 8.7 points per game it's allowed. But the Red Bank Catholic offensive line is imposing, opening holes for talented tailback John DiStefano, who has racked up 1,517 yards and 23 scores this year. Which team will bend and which team will break?
My pick: Delbarton 35, Red Bank Catholic 28

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.
After facing Don Bosco Prep and Friendship Academy (Washington, D.C.) in consecutive weeks, the road doesn't get any easier for No. 3 Bergen Catholic, as it takes on No. 6 St. Joseph (Mont.).

The Crusaders are 3-2, but have held their own throughout their tough slate, nearly knocking off Don Bosco and Plant (Fla.) while putting together a comeback win against Friendship. Jonathan Germano is really coming into his own at quarterback (five touchdowns last week) and John Tsimis has been a beast of late at receiver.

Still, they will be going up against an equally explosive offense in the Green Knights. Led by running back Jabari Garvin, St. Joseph has hung at least 34 points on all of its opponents and won by an average margin of 30 points during a 5-0 start.
My pick: Bergen Catholic 24, St. Joseph (Mont.) 21

Woodbridge (4-1) at Sayreville (4-2)
This is a very intriguing matchup for several reasons. For one, Woodbridge is just coming off a near-upset of South Brunswick (a last-minute touchdown and red zone stop made the difference) while Sayreville narrowly lost to the same team in its opener. Also, Sayreville, which began the season ranked in the top 10 but dropped out after losing its first two games, appears to have found its rhythm. The Bombers have won their last four by a combined margin of 126-26. With these two arcs colliding, it should be a good one.
My pick: Woodbridge 28, Sayreville 27

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Stock is rising for Hughes, Davies on gridiron

September, 29, 2011
"Lookin' at my rollie, it's about that time"... for the New Jersey All-State Football Stock Watch. This week, we feature two players who are living up to the hype and leading the state in production at their respective positions.

UP — Elijah Hughes, Elizabeth RB
He's listed as a running back, but Elijah Hughes is also doing work at wideout this year. Along with his 194 rushing yards and three touchdowns, the Elizabeth senior is leading the state with 14 catches for 339 yards and three scores. Most of that production came in a Sept. 16 win against Hunterdon Central when Hughes caught nine balls for 220 yards and two TDs.

DOWN — Piscataway defense
The hope for Piscataway was that its Sept. 16 loss to South Brunswick was an aberration. But the Chiefs, who entered the season ranked fourth in the state, gave up 28 points for the second straight – this time in a loss to Woodbridge. What's surprising is that the defending North 2, Group 4 champs have no shortage of talent on defense, from Nadir Barnwell, Kyle LaPorte and Tevin Shaw at defensive back and Jonathan Kinslow on the line. But they, along with a special teams unit that surrendered two touchdowns last week, will have to turn things around in a hurry. The silver lining for the Chiefs is that their two losses came against solid squads and with the talent and experience on this team, chances are good that they will rebound.

UP — Ryan Davies, Howell QB
After throwing for 2,864 yards and 36 touchdowns in his first year as starter, most knew that Davies was a legit gunslinger. And not much has changed this season for the senior. Through three games, Davies leads the state in passing, completing 70 of 90 attempts for 907 yards, 12 scores and just one interception. Equally impressive are the five touchdowns he's thrown in each of his last two games, both of which resulted in wins for the 2-1 Rebels.

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Pollock, Tyree reach new heights on the gridiron

September, 21, 2011
In this week's New Jersey All-State Football Stock Watch, we zero in on a tailback who makes 200-yard games a habit as well as a two-way starter who has his team climbing up the rankings.

UP — Donta Pollock, Holy Spirit RB
We all knew Pollock was good. Rushing for 1,878 yards as a junior made that pretty clear. But the senior has upped the ante this season, totaling 436 yards and five touchdowns through two games for the Spartans. Next up for Holy Spirit is Bridgeton before facing a major showdown with powerhouse St. Joseph (Hamm.). Until then, check out this video to see just how dominant Pollock has been.

DOWN — D.J. Singleton, St. Peter's Prep LB
It's been a long and surprising first two weeks for Singleton and the Marauders defense, to say the least. In losses to Montclair and St. Joseph (Mont.), the Marauders have given up 92 points, raising questions about a team that was thought to be one of the state's best. Of course, all the blame doesn't fall on Singleton, a Wisconsin commit, and the Marauders first two opponents were top-10 teams. So while an 0-2 start is never good, it's quite time to panic for a team with enough talent to make a turnaround.

UP — Devon Tyree, South Brunswick RB/DB
When South Brunswick beat Sayreville in the opener, it was impressive but not everybody was drinking the Kool-Aid. But following a 28-7 defeat of another sectional champ in Piscataway, it's clear the Vikings are for real. Count Tyree as a big reason why. On offense, he's rushed for touchdowns in each win, including the decisive score last week. On defense, the senior has intercepted two passes, picking off third-quarter pass last week to completely swing the game in the Vikings favor against Piscataway.

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

South Brunswick debuts, Piscataway falls in Week 2 NJ rankings

September, 19, 2011
It was a big weekend for New Jersey schools, as Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic traveled Florida with hopes of increasing the Garden State's national profile. And although only the No. 1 Ironmen pulled out a 22-16 win against Manatee (BC fell 12-7 to Plant), both schools represented well in the two defensive struggles.

South Brunswick shot to the No. 10 spot after beating their second straight ranked opponent, this time defending sectional champ Piscataway, 28-7. Meanwhile, Montclair continued its strong start behind speed demon Khalif Herben's five touchdowns in a 48-24 win against West Orange.

On the national front, Don Bosco strengthened its hold on the top spot and Holy Spirit maintained its No. 45 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here's how the state rankings shake out after Week 2:

1. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey) 2-0 (1)
Ironmen showed their resilience in 22-16 comeback victory against nationally ranked Manatee (Fla.) on the road. The nation's top squad will put its 37-game win streak on the line against 1-0 Ridgewood this Friday.

2. Holy Spirit (Absecon) 2-0* (2)
Despite having to forfeit last week's win due to an ineligible player, the Spartans didn't miss a beat, riding Donta Pollock's 235 rushing yards and three scores to a 42-14 win. A road contest against Bridgeton is on slate this week. (*does not include forfeits)

3. Bergen Catholic (Oradell) 1-1 (3)
The Crusaders lost a tough one to Plant (Fla.) by the count of 12-7, but between their solid effort against a power program and Piscataway's loss, BC stands pat in the rankings. Next up: Teaneck.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly New Jersey rankings.

Stock is rising for Don Bosco defense, Fuller

September, 15, 2011
It's time for the New Jersey All-State Football Stock Watch, as we look at players who saw their potential value rise or fall over the past week. A player could have performed well in a game, gotten a big-time scholarship offer, broken his leg or just had an off game. (Hey, it happens to the best of us.)

UP — Don Bosco Prep defense
Yes, I know this is a player stock watch, but I had to make an exception for the Ironmen defense. Can you blame me? Four first-team players (Darius Hamilton, Elijah Shumate, Yuri Wright, Jabrill Peppers) and one honorable mention (Mike Strizak) showed why Don Bosco Prep is going to be a problem this year by easily beating No. 6 Mission Viejo (Calif.), 35-7. The Ironmen hauled in four interceptions and tallied six sacks for their 36th straight win.

DOWN — Delon Stephenson, Sayreville RB
The Bombers suffered a 14-7 upset at the hands of South Brunswick, and one look at the stat sheet can tell you why. Sayreville gained just 174 total yards, with Stephenson getting bottled up for 33 yards on seven carries. It won't be the last time defenses key in on the Bombers star senior RB, but based on last year's 1,089-yard production, it won't be long before Stephenson breaks out again.

UP — Devin Fuller, Old Tappan QB/DB/RB....
There's been constant debate over which position Fuller will play in college, and his all-around performance in Friday's 30-28 loss to Pascack Valley did nothing to settle it. The senior passed for 136 yards and a score, rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, and had nine tackles as well as an interception on defense.

Brandon Parker covers New Jersey for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.