Four area teams from the WCTC coverage area - including top-seed Somerville - advanced on the opening night of the NJSIAA football playoffs.
Easily the biggest surprise of the night came up in North Caldwell, where 7th-seed South Plainfield pulled off an upset in North Jersey, Section 2-Group 3. The Tigers hung on when a last-second field goal attempt by 2nd-seed West Essex failed, winning 17-16. The Knights entered the game 8-0. South Plainfield (5-4) will move on to play at 3rd-seed Rahway (8-1) next Friday night at 7 pm.
In a game heard on WCTC, 2nd-seed North Brunswick defeated pesky 7th-seed Trenton 40-27, behind three touchdowns from star junior runningback Myles Bailey. It was the Raiders' first playoff win since 2010, when they defeated Pennsauken in the opening round of Central Jersey Group 4. North Brunswick (9-1) will have another home game next Friday night against the winner of Saturday's noon game between 3rd-seed South Brunswick (5-4) and 6th-seed Edison (6-2), which had its best regular season entering the playoffs since 2000, when they began the postseason with the same record.
In North Jersey, Section 2-Group 5, 4th-seed Ridge got by 5th-seed East Orange at home, 28-7. The Red Devils (8-1) move on to play the winner of Saturday's game between 8th-seed Bridgewater-Raritan (2-6) and top-seed Piscataway (8-0), a rematch of last year's sectional semifinal, won by the Panthers.
Top-seed Somerville played an uncharacteristically close one, but beat 8th-seed Raritan 35-14 in a Central Jersey Group 3 game at Brooks Field. Jalahn Dabney scored four touchdowns, despite being physically ill on the sidelines throughout the game. The defending sectional champion Pioneers (10-0) will host 4th-seed Holmdel (7-1) next Friday night at 7. The Hornets blanked 5th-seed Nottingham 42-0 Friday night.
Three other teams, however, went down to defeat.
In North Jersey, Section 2-Group 1, 8th-seed Bound Brook dropped to 6-3 after falling to top-seed Shabazz 46-7 in Newark. The Bulldogs are the defending sectional champions, and have won 20 of their last 21 since falling to Weequahic in the 2016 sectional final.
In Central Jersey Group 1, defending champion Middlesex was ousted. The 5th-seeded Blue Jays went to overtime at 4th-seed Florence, but lost 21-14. Florence scored first in overtime, but Middlesex fumbled on their possession, and the Flashes recovered, ending the game. Middlesex wraps up its season with its final Thanksgiving matchup against Dunellen on Thanksgiving, part of the WCTC "Round Robin."
And 7th-seed Bishop Ahr lost to state power DePaul, the 2nd-seed, 49-0 up in Wayne.
We're guaranteed to have at least two sectional championship games involving a WCTC-area team, in North Jersey, Section 2-Group 5 and Central Jersey Group 5.
In North 2, one semifinal will have North Brunswick taking on either South Brunswick or Edison. And an all WCTC-area final is possible with Hillsborough or Sayreville potentially coming out of the other side of the bracket.
In Central, Ridge will take on either Bridgewater-Raritan or Piscataway in one of the semifinals next weekend.
Below is the Saturday slate involving area teams, with 10 in action. Local teams are in bold.
Noon: (6) Edison at (3) South Brunswick (CJ5)
1 pm: (8) South River at (1) Hillside (CJ2)
2 pm: (5) Bernards at (4) Lincoln (CJ2)
3 pm: (8) Bridgewater-Raritan at (1) Piscataway (N2-5)
(8) Hillsborough at (1) Sayreville (CJ5)
7 pm: (7) Colonia at (2) Randolph (N2-4)
(5) Holy Cross at (4) Immaculata (NP-2)