Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Group 1 Football Playoff Preview

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Group 1 Football Playoff Preview

Article excerpt

North 1

Today

No. 8 Cresskill (6-3) at No. 1 Park Ridge (8-1), 7 p.m.

Story line: The Owls are having a dream season, but the one bump in the road was an 18-15 loss to the Cougars last month. The Park Ridge offense centers around QB Evan Matthews, and his strong collection of receivers including Gabe Robles (38 catches, 767 yards, 4 TDs),Tommy Morgan (34 catches, 635 yards, 7 TDs) and Josh Lewis (24 catches, 541 yards, 8 TDs). The Owls' defense is anchored by LBs Glen Hafenmeister (97 tackles) and Michael Lisa (85 tackles) along with DL Mitch Abraham (54 tackles 5 sacks). The Cougars have a top-shelf running game anchored by RB Brendan Coffey, but he's not a one-man show. QB Jack Maltby has thrown 8 TD passes, John Connelly has 21 catches and Chris Riley 17. LB Nick Funiciello (71 tackles) and DL Johnny VanCleft (62 tackles, 6 sacks) star on defense.

The pick: Park Ridge

No. 7 Saddle Brook (6-3) at No. 2 Boonton (8-1), 7 p.m.

Story line: Senior QB Robert Lazzaro (7 TD passes, 4 rushing TDs) and senior RB Joe Ferri (10 rushing TDs) must help the Falcons get off to a fast start on the road against Boonton, which has won 10 straight home games. On defense, Saddle Brook must figure out a way to slow down Boonton's relentless rushing attack. The Bombers, who run a Wing-T offense, have rushed for 2,798 yards and 35 TDs in nine games this season. Senior QB Gage Cabalar (1,136 rushing yards, 14 rushing TDs on 139 attempts) and senior RBs TJ Green (69 carries for 549 yards, 8 TDs) and Sean McKeown (53 carries for 470 yards, 5 TDs) will try to move Boonton into the sectional semifinals for a second straight season. The pick: Boonton

Saturday

No. 5 Hasbrouck Heights (7-2) at No. 4 Verona (9-0), 1 p.m.

Story line: A tough opening draw for the Aviators. The Hillbillies, the defending champions and favorites to repeat, have won 20 straight, including 11 in a row at home since November 2013. They've scored 30 or more points seven times this season, so this will be a huge test for a Heights defense that has posted three shutouts and held the opposition to two TDs or less seven times. The Heights' defense, led by junior MLB John Iurato, is strong across the board, including junior DT Sean O'Malley and junior LB Michael Dichiara. …

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