Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Postseason in the Njic Taking Shape

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Postseason in the Njic Taking Shape

Article excerpt

Scott Mahoney stood in front of his players and emphasized the magnitude of the next game.

Undefeated Pompton Lakes will play unbeaten Harrison with not only the NJIC Liberty Division title at stake, the Cardinals' coach told them Saturday moments after they shut out Hawthorne. They also will be playing for a trip to the conference championship semifinals.

For these two teams, the playoffs begin a week early.

"That's why we put this format in," Mahoney said after he addressed his players on the field. "I think it's thrown a lot of meaning into every game."

Meaning. Intrigue. Excitement.

The inaugural NJIC playoffs have injected all of that into each week of games. Three divisions have been decided, and the winner of the Pompton Lakes-Harrison game Saturday will determine the last team to advance to the conference final four.

Here's a division-by-division look at the teams still in contention for the first NJIC football championship and what it took to get here:

Colonial

Rutherford, ranked No. 5 in The Record Public Top 20, has dominated this division. The Bulldogs (5-0) boast everything a championship-caliber team needs: A high-powered offense, a lock- down defense and -- maybe most importantly -- experience.

Rutherford lost in the North 2, Group 2 championship game last season to Madison.

Senior running back Kevin Kosakowski has rushed for 673 yards and nine touchdowns on 70 carries, while senior wide receiver Laris Mulic has caught 14 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns.

Rutherford's defense has been exceptional. The Bulldogs have outscored opponents, 188-37, allowing an average of just 7.4 points per game.

Rutherford will face the Liberty champion - Pompton Lakes or Harrison - in the conference semifinals.

The Cardinals and Blue Tide are similar to the Bulldogs, as they all have strong defenses and well-run offenses.

Meadowlands

This division has belonged to No. 14 Hasbrouck Heights.

Senior quarterback Frank Quatrone has thrown for 445 yards and seven touchdowns, and the dual-threat talent has a team-leading 589 rushing yards with 12 scores.

The Meadowlands Division is arguably the toughest in the conference, as it's filled with solid teams, including Saddle Brook, St. …

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