A half-dozen WCTC-area teams won opening round playoff games Friday night, while another eight teams saw their seasons come to an end.
Two more play Saturday afternoon, while a third won’t begin the postseason until next weekend.
North Brunswick, Ridge, Hillsborough, Woodbridge, Somerville, and Bernards all were victorious Friday in the first round of the sectionals, and will move on to semifinal play next weekend.
North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 5: In its closest playoff win ever, 2nd-seed Ridge advanced with a 6-0 victory over 7-seed Union City, the sectional runner-up from 2018. A lone touchdown from Brendan Bell was the difference in the game, the Red Devils’ first playoff shutout since 2003’s North 2, Group 3 final win over Scotch Plains at Giants Stadium, the program’s second title overall and first sectional final win. Ridge moves on to play third-seed Clifton, which beat 6-seed Hackensack 26-6 Friday night.
On the other side of the bracket, 5th-seed Piscataway lost 30-18 at 4-seed West Orange, which will play at top-seed Union next Friday night.
North Jersey, Section 1 – Group 5: The only area team in action was 7th-seed Watchung Hills, which lost at 2nd-seed Passaic Tech 45-19. This afternoon, 5th-seed Bridgewater-Raritan will visit 4-seed Westfield. The two teams met in three straight state finals from 2015-2018, with the Blue Devils winning all three, before the Panthers finally broke through with a 17-6 win over Westfield. Today is the rematch. The winner will travel to top-seed Ridgewood next Friday, after the Maroons topped 8-seed Bayonne Friday night 34-12.
Central Jersey – Group 5: Top-seed North Brunswick, the only No. 1 seed among the teams in our area, survived a scare from 8th-seed Eastern. In fact, the Raiders trailed as late as the third quarter until all-time school-leading rusher Myles Bailey ran for two touchdowns to put North Brunswick ahead; they would go on to win 32-20. Now, they host 5th-seed Cherokee next Friday, after their 12-10 upset win at 4-seed Manalapan Friday night.
The other side of the bracket saw two area teams lose. Third-seed Old Bridge was mistake-prone in a home loss to 6th-seed Kingsway 32-7, while 7th-seed South Brunswick was routed at second-seed Toms River North 42-17.
South Jersey – Group 5: Of the two local teams in this section, only 3rd-seed Hillsborough advanced, as the Raiders got 64 yards, a touchdown, and an interception from Sean Levonaitis in a 28-7 win over visiting 6th-seed Washington Township. Hilslborough played stingy defense all game long, holding the Minutemen without a single first-half touchdown. The Raiders will travel an hour-plus next Friday night to take on 2nd-seed Lenape of Medford, which beat 7th-sedd Edison Friday night 39-6.
The other half of the bracket will feature top-seed Williamstown hosting 5th-seed Vineland. Williamstown pummeled 8th-seed Hunterdon Central 42-3, while Vineland pulled the mild road upset of 4th-seed Southern 24-21.
North Jersey, Section 1 – Group 4: Only one of the three WCTC-area teams in this section came out victorious: 2nd-seed Woodbridge pulled out a 21-14 victory at home over 7th-seed North Hunterdon. En route, Ali Lee, Jr. became the Barrons’ single-season and career rushing leader. Woodbridge will seek to set a new school record for wins in a season (it’s 9-0 right now) when it faces entertains 6th-seed Randolph next Friday night; they beat 3rd-seed Montgomery 42-28 on the road last last night.
The other side of the bracket saw the other Woodbridge school in the playoffs – 8th seed Colonia – lose at top-seed Northern Highlands 40-7. The Highlanders will face the winner of today’s 4 pm game featuring 5th-seed Cranford at 4-seed Irvington.
South Jersey – Group 3: Second-seed Somerville won big over 7th-seed Absegami at Brooks Field Friday night behind 228 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns from Cookie Desiderio. Deondre Gadson also had two scores for the Pioneers, who will get at least one more sectional home game. They’ll host 6-seed Seneca Friday night, which knocked off third-seed Ocean Township in a 27-23 upset.
The other side of the bracket will have 4-seed Holmdel – which beat 5-seed Red Bank 22-14 last night – facing the winner of today’s game between 8-seed Hopewell Valley and top-seed Woodrow Wilson in Camden.
Central Jersey – Group 2: Third-seed Bernards will wait to find out where it will play its sectional semifinal after a solid shutout win over 6th-seed Delaware Valley last night, 24-0. The Mountaineers will face the winner of today’s game featuring 7th-seed Point Pleasant Boro at 2-seed Cedar Creek. The other side of the bracket saw top-seed Pleasantville shut out 8th-seed Collingswood at home 35-0, and they’ll go on to play the winner of today’s game featuring 5th-seed Lincoln at 4th-seed Camden (which might be the most ridiculous first-round matchup yet, considering neither team is in Central Jersey).
North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 1: On a day when its soccer team won the Central Jersey Group 1 championship (now that’s the right geography!), the Bound Brook football team lost its opening round game at top-seed Hasbrouck Heights 42-8.
In Central Jersey Group 1 action Saturday, 6th-seed Middlesex will travel to Salem to play the third-seeded Rams. The Blue Jays are 8-1, with their lone loss to Bernards. Salem is 6-3, coming off a 27-21 Cutoff Weekend loss to South Jersey Group 1 top-seed Penns Grove. Should they win, they would play at 2nd-seed Woodstown, which beat 7th-seed Pennsville Friday night 47-14. The semifinal in the other side of the bracket is set, and will feature top-seed Willingboro – a 61-0 winner over 8-seed Haddon Township last night – entertaining 4th-seed Buena – which beat 5th-seed Burlington City at home last night 63-19.
Meamwhile, St. Joseph of Metuchen – the 7th-seed in Non-Public Group 4 – will host 10th-seed Paramus Catholic this afternoon at Brenner Family Field in Metuchen. While the Paladins are 3-6 and not the PC of the Jabrill Peppers era, they’re still a big parochial school from the North Jersey Super Football Conference United Red Division. And the Falcons will be without starting quarterback Matt Stanton and star WR/DB K-Shawn Schulters, both of whom are injured. Paramus Catholic has won the two previous meetings – in 2016 and 17 – by a combined 77-7 score.
Next week, 6th-seed Immaculata visits 3rd-seed Hudson Catholic in a Non-Public Group 2 playoff game on Saturday at 1 pm.