WCTC-area high school football teams went 5-5 Saturday afternoon and evening in the second and final day of the opening round of the NJSIAA state playoffs.
Top-seeds Sayreville and Piscataway were among those advancing, while Bernards, Edison and Immaculata also picked up wins.
St. Joseph of Metuchen had a first-round bye and will open play in Non-Public Group 4 next weekend.
Perhaps the most impressive was Edison. The 6th-seeded Eagles (7-2) stunned 3rd-seed South Brunswick (5-5) on the Vikings' home field 14-7, thanks in large part to senior wide receiver/cornerback Noah Stansbury. He hauled in an 8-yard touchdown pass, had two key catches on the Eagles' second scoring drive in the 4th quarter, and a few minutes later sealed the win with an interception in the red zone, the third pick by an Edison player on South Brunswick quarterback Gage Katzenell-Hall. South Brunswick's versatile receiver Thomas Joe-Kamara came out of the game before halftime with what coaches described as an apparent broken rib. He did not return. The win sets up a semifinal date for Edison at 2nd-seed North Brunswick (9-1) Friday night. It was also the first playoff victory for Edison's Matt Fulham in his 139th game as head coach, dating back to 2005. Edison and North Brunswick met in Week 2 of the regular season, with the Raiders coming away with a 26-21 road victory.
Also in Central Jersey Group 5, top-seed Sayreville got three touchdowns from Connor Holmes - two catches and one rush - to fuel a 42-7 running clock victory over 8th-seed Hillsborough. Savon Kirksey added two scores for the 8-1 Bombers, who will entertain 5th-seed Manalapan (6-3) in the semis next Friday night.
In North Jersey, Section 2 - Group 5, top-seed Piscataway improved to a perfect 9-0, beating 8th-seed Bridgewater-Raritan 42-14. The Chiefs had a balanced scoring attack, with four different players - Nasir Best, Lord Jones, Juwon Jackson and Khristian Hernandez - hitting paydirt. The Panthers fell to 3-6. The Chiefs now host 4th-0seed Ridge (8-1) next Saturday afternoon in the sectional semifinals.
In Central Jersey Group 2, one team advanced, while one went home. 5th-seed Bernards took out 4th-seed Lincoln (7-3) 31-6 at Caven Point up in Jersey City. The Mountaineers (8-1) were paced by a stellar defensive effort at a windy venue. They'll go on to face top-seed Hillside (9-0) on the road next Saturday afternoon. Hillside won 39-0, beating 8th-seed South River (5-4) for the second time this season.
In one of two night games involving area teams, 7th-seed Colonia fell late to 2nd-seed Randolph 34-27. The Patriots dropped to 5-4 with the loss in an opening round, North Jersey Section 2 - Group 4 game.
But in Non-Public Group 2, fourth-seed Immaculata took care of business. The Spartans (5-4) snapped a four-game losing streak after starting the season 4-0 with a 655-27 rout of 5th-seed Holy Cross of Delran (6-4) at Brooks Field in Somerville. The Spartans will make the long trek down to Hammonton next Saturday afternoon to take on St. Joseph of the West Jersey Football League.
Here is the expected schedule, by day, for the semifinals, for the remaining nine teams left in the state playoffs. Local teams are in bold.
(5) Manalapan at (1) Sayreville, 7 pm (CJ-5)
(6) Edison at (2) North Brunswick, 7 pm (CJ-5)
(7) South Plainfield at (3) Rahway, 7 pm (N2-4)
(4) Holmdel at (1) Somerville, 7 pm (CJ-3)
(4) Ridge at (1) Piscataway, 1 pm (N2-5)
(5) Bernards at (1) Hillside, 1 pm (CJ-2)
(4) Immaculata at (1) St. Joseph-Hammonton (NP-2)
(6) St. Joseph-Metuchen at (3) St. Peter's Prep (NP-4)