Playoff time is here for fans across the state! You can feel the excitement in the air. The Non-Public Group III bracket will certainly be one of the most fun to watch. This section features some of the best players in New Jersey. St John Vianney comes in as the No 1 seed. The Lancers have been on a tear offensively.
DePaul’s 3-6 record can be very misleading, but don’t be fooled! The Spartans had to play one of the toughest schedules around. What can we expect out of defending champion Red Bank Catholic? Will the Caseys be able to build on their late season momentum? NJSR will break down all of the action.
St John Vianney – The Lancers have been on an offensive surge for the entire season. With a unit that has easily been averaging 40 points per game, is there anyone that can slow them down and make things interesting? That will be a very tough task for anyone to handle.
Anthony Brown is one of the best QB prospects around. The Senior has been lighting up every secondary that he has faced. Brown has already passed for over 1,700 yards and 27 touchdowns. Throw in another 500 yards on the ground and you have a serious weapon that has to be accounted for on every play. Brown has achieved almost everything that a high school kid can get, now he looks to go out with a ring.
St John Vianney has put together quite the supporting cast for Brown. Chris Chukwuneke and Calvin Beaty make up the perfect thunder and lightning running combination. Of course, you always have the threat of Brown pulling the ball on the read option which keeps the opposition on their heels.
At the same time, send too many defenders on a blitz and Brown will make you pay on the outside. Michael Stapert and Marcque Ellington are both 6’5″ and can make any corner look silly. Khalil Haskins and Jeff Sheard give you that blazing speed inside the slot. SJV loves to create mismatches by putting Haskins against any outside linebacker.
Could Head Coach Derek Sininsky have walked into a better situation? The Lancers are loaded with superstars on both sides of the ball. Now the time has come for the real games to begin! While the road is never easy, SJV looks more than prepared to make a serious run.
DePaul – The first question will be, How does a 3-6 team become a main contender? Let me say this, you have to respect the schedule that DePaul had to play. Three of DePaul’s losses are to powerhouse programs Don Bosco Prep, St Joseph’s Montvale, and Bergen Catholic. The team also scheduled some tough out of state competition with games against Canisius (NY), Good Counsel (MD), and Elder (OH). The season has not been easy, but the Spartans have shown a lot of growth and maturity.
The offense is led by Quarterback Shelton Applewhite. Applewhite has turned in another fantastic season for the Spartans. Applewhite has great vision in the pocket, and can hit receivers in stride. The Quarterback has thrown for 14 touchdowns on the year. Running Back Kareem Walker has been the workhorse in the backfield. Walker is nearly impossible to catch when he hits the open field. Walker recently decommitted from Ohio State and has been one of the most sought after players in the country. He is very close to 1,000 yards on the season.
Defensively, the team has forced over 10 takeaways with a lot of athletes in the secondary. The front four also has tremendous size and can make life very difficult for any ball carrier. Will we see DePaul at MetLife Stadium in December? The playoff push will begin tonight against Camden Catholic!
Delbarton – After posting a 7-2 regular season record, the Green Wave are looking to bring a championship home to Morristown. Delbarton came up just short in the title game last year. Quarterback Matt Zebrowski leads a very balanced Delbarton offense. Zebrowski has plenty of weapons around him with Luca Tria and Andrew Sanders out of the backfield. Kevin Hartley and Sam Johnson have also combined for 8 touchdowns on the outside. Delbarton will open up against Bishop Eustace. Defensively, they have enough athletes to move on, but it will be a matter of playing an “A” game tonight.
Red Bank Catholic – For the first time in six years, the Caseys have been battle tested in the Shore Conference. After graduating several seniors, Red Bank Catholic had to rely on younger players in the backfield and on the offensive line. However, Quarterback Eddie Hahn is still running this offense and has the ability to take over the game at any time. Hahn has been playing his best football in the second half of the year. He looked very impressive in a 21-10 win over Jackson Memorial.
Will Red Bank Catholic be able to successfully defend their title? The Caseys have truly been a work in progress. Two tough losses to Red Bank Regional and Ocean were tough to swallow, but you have seen consistent improvement on both sides of the ball. Liam Smith is very disruptive on the defensive line. Mike Wilen is a solid tackler at the linebacker position. Add in Mike Balzofiore in the defensive backfield and the Caseys definitely have the athletes to compete with anyone. I will say this, Red Bank Catholic is peaking at the right time. That is good news for Caseys fans! RBC will begin the postseason against Pope John on Saturday.
First Round Predictions
St John Vianney 48, Donovan Catholic 6
Red Bank Catholic 21, Pope John 18
Delbarton 30, Bishop Eustace 13
DePaul 24, Camden Catholic 14
St John Vianney 35, Red Bank Catholic 28
DePaul 28, Delbarton 14
St John Vianney 31, DePaul 24