After nine weeks of battling to solidify position to earn a sectional title, the time has come for teams to put up or shut up.
This week, we’re focusing on a few playoff games that are repeats from the 2011 regular season schedule–and a few that aren’t–and dissecting what each team will have to do to earn a spot in the second round.
Butler Hosts Pequannock
In Week 3, Butler running back Mike Tenned thrashed the Pequannock defense for five touchdowns in a 59-26 win over the Golden Panthers.
With Tenned carrying the ball 16 times for 197 yards and three touchdowns against an Independence Division rival, scoring another TD on a 47-yard punt return, and connecting with quarterback Chris Heredia for a fifth touchdown, Butler was dominant from the start, rolling to a 38-6 lead at halftime.
With the win, Butler improved to 3-0, while Pequannock suffered its first loss of the season.
Now it’s seven weeks later, and these two teams are meeting up for a second time, this one in a North 1, Group I first-round game with No. 2 seed Butler (7-1) hosting seventh-seeded Pequannock (7-2) on Friday night at 7.
After Butler’s Week 3 performance, the Pequannock defense–which held opponents to a 19 points per game average this season–knows it will have to be at its best if it hopes to contain Tenned and the Butler offense, which averaged just under 40 points per contest in 2011.
It’s not a very favorable matchup for Pequannock's offense, which comes in averaging just 23 points per game, as the Panthers matchup with a Butler defense that locked up two shutout victories and allowed opposing offenses to an 18-point-per-game average.
Madison Begins Title Defense
In another rematch from the regular season, No. 7 seed Hackettstown (5-4) will visit second seed Madison (8-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first round of the North 2, Group II tournament.
In the second week of the season, this matchup resulted in junior Justin Goodwin scoring four Madison touchdowns, as the Dodgers pummeled Hackettstown, 60-21 in a Freedom Division clash.
With Madison looking to defend its North 2, Group II title from last season, Hackettstown can expect a heavy dose of running from Goodwin, Shone Register and quarterback Carson Lassiter. The trio make up part of a Madison running game that racked up over 2,000 yards this season, according to NJ.com.
Goodwin led the Dodgers in rushing during the regular season, racking up 1,182 yards and 20 touchdowns this season.
Hackettstown will have its hands full in this one, as the Dodgers come in riding a 21-game winning streak dating back to last season’s sectional title year.
Par Hills to Host Nutley
With wins in two of its final three games this season, the Parsippany Hills football team earned the No. 4 seed and a home game against fifth-seeded Nutley (5-3) in a North 2, Group III first-round matchup on Saturday at 1 p.m.
For the Vikings, an up-and-down regular season that included a tough 22-0 loss to Roxbury in Week 8 has put them in position for a winable round-one matchup.
Par Hills heads into this playoff matchup riding a 27-7 win over Jefferson (4-5) last week, and will look to attack the Nutley defense with quarterback Tyler Simms and running back C.J. Joyce.
Simms has been as consistent as any coach could hope for from the quarterback position, completing 59 percent of his passes and throwing 18 touchdowns to just two interceptions this season.
The quarterback’s favorite target this season, receiver Dan Hardwick, leads all Vikings' receivers with 33 catches for 615 yards and seven touchdowns.
With Simms lighting up opposing secondaries to the tune of just less than 1,500 yards passing this season, Joyce’s defensive punishment came in the form of over five yards per carry and six touchdowns during the regular season.
Defensively, the Vikings formed a solid complement to the Par Hills offense, as they held opposing offenses to an 18 points per game average throughout the regular season.
The defense will need to be on top of its game as it faces a Nutley team led by running back Matt DelMauro (1,053 yards, 16 touchdowns) that scored 33 points per game this season, according to NJ.com.
Here are some other NJAC playoff matchups this week:
- Morris Hills at West Essex, 7 p.m.
- Hopatcong at Ramsey, 7 p.m.
- Kittatinny at Park Ridge, 7 p.m.
- Randolph at Clifton, 7 p.m.
- Roxbury at Union City, 7 p.m.
- Chatham at Bernards, 7 p.m.
- Saddle Brook at Mtn. Lakes, 1 p.m.
- Msgr. Donovan at Delbarton, 1 p.m.
- Old Tappen at Sparta, 1 p.m.
- Pascack Hills at Lenape Valley, 1 p.m.