It was a great week for the local participants in the NJSIAA football state playoffs.
Just how great?
Well, North Bergen defeated Passaic County Tech, 27-25, ending 13 years of North Jersey Section 1, Group IV playoff frustration in the process.
Union City pulled the shocker of the weekend. The Soaring Eagles, the eighth and final seed in the same section as the Bruins, defeated top-seeded West Orange, 19-14, avenging a loss that the Soaring Eagles suffered, 21-6, in the second week of the season.
St. Peter’s Prep traveled to Lawrenceville and knocked off Notre Dame, setting up another showdown with Don Bosco Prep in the Non-Public Group 4 semifinals.
And Lincoln didn’t play like a No. 6 seed, steamrolling all over Glen Ridge, 38-19, in the first round of the North Jersey Section 2, Group I playoffs, earning the school’s first state playoff victory in 29 years, since the Lions captured the North 1, Group III state title in 1981.
It was also a great weekend for former Reporter Athlete of the Week honorees.
For example, Union City’s Steve Le rushed for 100 yards and caught four passes for 49 yards on offense, but forced a fumble to set up a score on defense and collected two interceptions along with nine tackles on defense in getting Union City’s first-ever state playoff win.
Lincoln’s two former Athletes of the Week, Ty Stevens and Ronald Butler, had huge games in their big win over Glen Ridge, with Stevens rushing for 211 yards and a touchdown and Butler rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown and completing six of 10 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
And the brilliant Savon Huggins of St. Peter’s Prep rebounded from his only sub-super human performance of the season a week earlier to collect an astounding 275 yards on 26 carries and four touchdowns in Prep’s 44-13 victory over Notre Dame. In that game, the Marauders had trailed, 13-10, at the half.
So much for that Athlete of the Week jinx…
The only local teams to fall last week were Hoboken, which dropped a heartbreaking 24-21 loss to New Providence on a field goal in the last minute, and Secaucus, which fell to Verona, 28-20, at home.
However, with five local teams moving on to their respective sectional semifinals (St. Anthony received a bye and will host St. Joseph of Hammonton this weekend in Non-Public Groups 1 & 2), it’s been a very solid season for the local gridiron warriors.
It also leads to a very interesting scenario in North 1, Group IV. If both local teams win this weekend, it would set up an all-Hudson County showdown in the New Meadowlands Stadium in two weeks. Something to think about….
Anyway, the Great Hagueini went 4-2 with his selections last week. No way could have he predicted Union City’s upset special, but he was pretty close in his picks involving Lincoln and North Bergen. Hagueini picked Lincoln to win 40-14 and the Lions came through, 38-19. Hagueini picked North Bergen to win 20-14 and the Bruins won 27-25.
Hagueini puts his 4-2 mark on the line this week with five games to pick, so here goes. And remember, don’t use these selections for any monetary wagering, unless it’s for a Cuban Panini and a Fanta Orange with your Uncle Looie. That was in honor of not picking Union City last week.
North Bergen at Randolph, Group IV: Can the Bruins catch lightning in a bottle for a second straight week? It’s going to be tough to take that long bus ride to Morris County and knock off a perennial power on their home field. Randolph 21, North Bergen 14. Union City at Montclair, Group IV: Ditto. Montclair 20, Union City 7. Although Hagueini is rooting for the North Bergen-Union City state final.
St. Joseph (Hammonton) vs. St. Anthony, Non-Public Groups 1 & 2: St. Joseph is making its 32nd playoff appearance and has won a state-record 19 championships. St. Anthony is making its second playoff appearance. History prevails. St. Joseph 21, St. Anthony 14. Lincoln at Dayton Regional, Group I: The Lions have won three straight, but Dayton has won nine straight since losing to New Providence on Opening Day. Ball control is the key, although a Lincoln victory wouldn’t be a complete shocker. Dayton Regional 20, Lincoln 13. St. Peter’s Prep at Don Bosco Prep, Non-Public Group 4: The Marauders have dropped five straight games to the dreaded nemesis from Ramsey since winning the state title in 2005. Although Savon Huggins is the best player on the field, nothing he can do against the Ironmen. Don Bosco 35, St. Peter’s Prep 14.
It’s true, Hagueini is going against all the locals. He can only hope that the locals prove him wrong this weekend. – Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.