The first round of the NJSIAA football playoffs are just two weeks away and it appears as if several local teams are still in contention. Some have already clinched a spot in the postseason and are jockeying for seeds and possible home field advantages in the first round, while others are still fighting to qualify for a playoff spot.
Let’s take a closer look.
North Jersey Section 1, Group IV: Three local teams appear headed to the postseason party. North Bergen has 99 power points and currently owns the second place in the standings, behind runaway frontrunner Montclair. The 5-2 Bruins have more than likely locked in a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
Union City is currently third in the bracket with 94 points. Union City and North Bergen meet this weekend, so the winner should get home field straight to the finals if they keep winning. The Soaring Eagles own a 5-1 record and have another game against Ferris before the eight-game cutoff for qualifying.
The third team in the bracket that appears in is surprising Memorial, which currently sits fourth with 79 points. The Tigers, under the supervision of Memorial alum Oscar Guerrero, have a 4-3 record and are poised to make their first state playoff appearance since 2001.
The Tigers were the top seed in the North 1, Group IV bracket in 2001, but lost to West Milford in the first round. They were also the top seed in the bracket in 1999, when they defeated Passaic, then lost to Teaneck in the second round.
But since that time, the Tigers have been playoff outsiders.
Right now, the Tigers may be a little battered and bruised. They were missing six injured starters last week when they faced St. Peter’s Prep and got hammered, 68-6. It’s hard to say that a team could ever lose by such a lopsided margin and still manage to qualify for the state playoffs, but that’s the Tigers’ fate right now.
And incredibly, as it stands now, they would get a first-round home game in the playoffs. If the Tigers defeat Nazareth of New York this weekend, they would get a home game in the first round. What an incredible turn of events for a program that had a 2-7 record last year in Guerrero’s first season back at his alma mater.
So that sectional looks to have three local participants.
North Jersey Section 2, Group II: Despite losing their last two games to North Bergen and Hoboken, the Lions of Lincoln are hanging in there, desperately trying to become the first Jersey City public school team to qualify for the state playoffs in four consecutive seasons.
The Lions are 4-3 and have 68 power points. They sit seventh in the standings and are in a logjam with five other teams, namely Chatham, Caldwell, Hackettstown, Roselle and Hanover Park, for three spots. All five teams are separated by a total of just 14 points. The Lions should be in good shape if they beat Jersey City rival Snyder this weekend, but the Lions won’t get a lot of points for that victory, so they might need a little help as well as the win over the Tigers.
North Jersey Section 2, Group I: By virtue of big wins over Lincoln and St. Anthony the last two weeks, Hoboken has clinched a berth in this section. The Red Wings are 6-1 and have 88 power points, good for fourth in the section and could very well earn a first round home game.
Secaucus is 5-2 and has 82 points, good for sixth in the standings, but the Patriots have lost their last two and cannot afford another loss this weekend to Hasbrouck Heights, with teams like Shabazz, Verona, Weequahic (with a game in hand) and Becton Regional on the Patriots’ heels. A win over Hasbrouck Heights and the Patriots keep their state playoff streak alive.
North Jersey Section 2, Group IV: Surprising Bayonne is headed to the state playoffs in coach Rick Rodriguez’s first year back as the helm. The Bees are 5-2 and stand fifth in this section, already having clinched a berth. A win over St. Anthony this weekend may give the Bees a first round home game, which would next to miraculous, considering the state of the program in recent years.
Non-Public Group 1: It’s plain and simple for St. Anthony. A win for the Friars this weekend against Bayonne and they’re in. A loss eliminates the Friars from contention. The Friars sit third in the section with 59 points, but they need a .500 record or better to qualify. They are currently 3-4. In essence, the playoffs begin this weekend for the Friars.
Non-Public Group 4: By defeating Memorial last weekend, the Marauders of St. Peter’s Prep have clinched another state playoff berth. After losing their first two games, the Marauders have stormed back to win five straight and move into third place in the bracket behind state powers Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic. The Marauders have a showdown with Bergen Catholic this weekend and could clinch a home game in the playoffs with a win. A loss turns the Marauders into road warriors for the playoffs.
So there’s the entire scenario in a nutshell. One thing is for sure: Hudson County will be well represented in the upcoming grid playoffs…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-2). 2. North Bergen (5-2). 3. Bayonne (5-2). 4. Union City (5-1). 5. Hoboken (6-1)…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (17-1). 2. Bayonne (9-7). 3. Union City (8-9-1). 4. Ferris (9-9). 5. North Bergen (9-9)….
In soccer, St. Peter’s Prep earned a huge win over Kearny, the No. 12 ranked team in the state, on Monday. The Marauders have now won 11 straight and will face Harrison in the Hudson County Tournament semifinals this weekend. Union City faces Kearny in the other semifinal…–Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.