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Running back Joe Mobley and the Madison Dodgers still have two games left before the cut-off in terms of the first eight contests used as criteria for the upcoming NJSIAA playoffs which seed Nov. 9. Sean Reilly delves into all the Morris County teams below as far as their playoff qualifying possibilities as all other teams have just one more game in play this weekend as far being set for the ones to use to determine fields. (Photo by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)
Andrew Sanders (1) and Delbarton appear solid in their position in Non-Public, Group 3 as the Green Wave can nail down top seed with victory at Morristown this Saturday. (Photo by Nick Muscolino- www.nickmphoto.smugmug.com)
Morris County Football Teams
By Sean Reilly
This weekend will offer the final opportunity for 24 of the 25 Morris County teams to accrue power points for the upcoming NJSIAA playoffs.
Only the first eight games count for playoff purposes, and every team but Madison is playing its eighth this weekend. The Dodgers had an off week during the season because of their traditional Thanksgiving date with Millburn, so they have still have two more games to play before reaching the cutoff.
The playoffs won't be seeded until Sunday, Nov. 9, with the games beginning the following weekend.
Here's a general rundown on how each of the Morris County teams stand, with plenty of help from Jon Fass and his tremendous website, www.gridironnewjersey.com
Boonton (5-2): The Bombers are currently in third place in North 1, Group 1, so they're in decent shape. Where they place will ultimately hinge on the outcome of Friday's home game against Morristown-Beard (5-2).
Butler (1-6): Will not qualify.
Chatham (2-5): Will not qualify.
Delbarton (7-0): The Green Wave is currently in first place in Non-Public Group 3, and will likely secure the top seed with a win on Saturday at Morristown (3-4).
Dover (4-3): The Tigers got a huge boost in the form of last Friday's 19-14 win at Lenape Valley. Dover now sits in fifth place in North 2, Group 2 and is home on Friday to Hanover Park (5-2), which is right now in fourth place in the same section. The outcome of that game will have a major effect on the shape of the entire bracket.
Hanover Park (5-2): See the Dover summary directly above to read about the importance of Friday night's game at Hamilton Field. But there's more going on as far as the Hornets are concerned, Next week's game at Madison won't impact Hanover Park's power point total, but it will be Game 8 for Madison, which is 5-1 in the same section, and will thus mean plenty. So the next two games for Hanover Park will factor greatly into the look of the sectional bracket.
Jefferson (2-5): Will not qualify.
Kinnelon (4-3): The Colts are technically still alive, but will need a ton of help in order to make the field in North 1, Group 2. Kinnelon is currently in ninth place, and must beat Butler on Friday while hoping for several other unlikely results to break in its favor.
Madison (5-1): The Dodgers are right now in second place in North 2, Group 2 with a game in hand on most of the field, including first-place Mountain Lakes (which beat Madison, 24-15, on opening night). Madison's last two games before the cutoff are home games the next two Saturdays against Hackettstown (4-3) and Hanover Park (5-2). One thing that might help Madison when the final numbers are crunched is the rule that the NJSIAA adopted in 2013 whereby each team's lowest power-point gaining result is tossed out. So if Mountain Lakes were to go 8-0, it would be deducting the points from a win. If Madison was to finish 7-1, it would get to deduct the fewer points that were picked up in its defeat against Mountain Lakes.
In 2013, Mountain Lakes was 8-0 at the cutoff and actually earned more power points than second place Caldwell. But since Mountain Lakes had to deduct a win and Caldwell was able to drop fewer points because it had one loss, the Essex County team actually wound up with the top seed. Mountain Lakes beat Caldwell in the final anyway.
Mendham (3-4): The Minutemen are currently in sixth place in North 2, Group 4. A win on Friday at Mount Olive (1-6) should return Mendham, last year's runner-up to Phillipsburg in the section, to the post-season.
Montville (1-6): Will not qualify.
Morris Catholic (0-7): The Crusaders are technically alive, since they are in ninth place in an eight-team section where teams sometimes decline to participate. But with state powerhuse St. Joseph (Hammonton) sitting in first place, expect to see Morris Catholic play a consolation game regardless of where it finishes.
Morris Hills (4-3): It's not a lock, but it seems that the Scarlet Knights will qualify in Section 2, Group 3. Morris Hills is currently in seventh place, but will be a underdog at home Saturday against Sparta. Its cushion over Palisades Park and North Plainield, the teams currently in eighth and ninth place, appears large enough whereby the Scarlet Knights will make it.
Morris Knolls (1-6): Will not qualify.
Morristown (3-4): The Colonials are down, but not officially out. A ton of things have to go Morristown's way this weekend, First and foremost would be a win over Delbarton (7-0) at home on Saturday. That would be a power-point bonanza for the Colonials, but that might still not be enough since they are currently in 11th place in North 2, Group 4. Morristown may ultimately look back at its 42-35 home loss to Mendham on Oct. 11 as the game that kept it out of the post-season.
Morristown-Beard (5-2): The Crimson are looking fine in Non-Public Group 1 with a total that's currently good for fourth place. Where they ultimately finish, and whether or not they play at home or on the road in the first round, will likely depend on the result of Friday's game at Boonton (5-2).
Mountain Lakes (7-0): The Herd is right now in first place in North 2, Group 2, which it won last year. A win this weekend over Pequannock (7-0) would give the Mountain Lakes the most points in the section, but they still aren't guaranteed the No. 1 seed. (Read the Madison rundown above for an explanation of that odd NJSIAA rule, which bumped the Herd down to the No. 2 slot last year).
Mount Olive (1-6): Will not qualify.
Parsippany (2-5): Will not qualify.
Parsippany Hills (5-2): The Vikings, who lost to Summit in last year's North 2, Group 3 sectional final on the worst weather night of the season, right now occupy third place in the section, so a win on Saturday at Chatham (2-5) would likely earn the Vikings a first-round home game.
Pequannock (7-0): The Golden Panthers will finish high in North 1, Group 2. The question is where. A huge boost would come with a win at Mountain Lakes (7-0) on Friday, but regardless, a first-round home game is a strong possibility.
Randolph (5-2): What we know now is that the Rams are sitting in sixth place in North 1, Group 4 Where they stand when it matters on Nov. 9 is anyone's guess. Randolph plays Friday night at third-place Roxbury (6-1), so the immediate objective for the Rams is to beat its arch rival and then see where the chips fall elsewhere throughout the section. A loss could send Randolph down to the eighth spot.
Roxbury (6-1): The Gaels are right now in third place in North 1, Group 4, so the hope right now is to beat sixth-place Randolph on Friday night and get other results in the section that enable it to finish in second place and earn home field for the first two rounds.
West Morris (4-3): The Wolfpack is right now 4-3 and occupying fourth place in North 2, Group 4, mainly because of decisive wins the past two weeks over two Morris teams in this section, Morristown and Mendham. West Morris is at Morris Knolls (1-6) on Saturday. A victory could secure a first-round home game.
Whippany Park (3-4): The Wildcats' hope for a berth in North 2, Group 2 likely ended with last week's loss to Kinnelon. Whippany Park is currently in 11th place in the section. Making the outlook even worse that is that three of the four teams directly above the Cats in the standings have only played six games.
MO-BEARD AT BOONTON PART OF A WEEKEND OF BIG GAMES
It didn't project as one prior to the season, but Friday's tilt sending Morristown-Beard to Boonton is actually one of the biggest of the year in Morris County.
There are two reasons why: First of all, both teams would gain a big boost in the power point standings in their respective brackets. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is that barring a tie, it will decide at least part of the championship in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference-Liberty Division.
Four of the six Liberty teams have winning divisional records, led by Boonton at 3-0. Morristown-Beard is right now in second place at 3-1, with North Warren at Hopatcong both at 2-1.
That means that unless Boonton ends 5-0, four divisional wins would clinch at least a piece of the divisional title, a number that the winning team on Friday night will reach. There still might be a multi-team tie at the conclusion of divisional play next week, but either Boonton or Morristown-Beard would at the very least be a co-champion with a win on Friday. Boonton may continue to be without standout QB Joe Norton, who has missed the past two games with an injury.
As for the playoff implications, both teams are in, but are also bidding for first-round home games. Boonton is in North Jersey, Section1, Group 1, while Morristown-Beard is in Non-Public Group 1.
Another divisional title will be on the line when Pequannock visits Mountain Lakes on Friday night. Both are 7-0 overall, and 4-0 in the NJAC-Independence Division.
The Golden Panthers and Herd are the only teams mathematically alive in the divisional race, with the winner clinching a tie for the title and chance to make it an outright championship next week.
Mountain Lakes, which is riding a state-best 19-game winning streak, is 46-1 all-time in NJAC games since the start of the league in 2009. Its only loss was a 7-6 game to Pequannock during the infamous snowstorm on Oct. 29, 2011. The game will also have a bearing on each team's playoff standing. Mountain Lakes is targeting the top seed in Section 2, Group 2, while Pequannock is hoping to gain home field advantage for as long as possible in North 1, Group 2.
ROXBURY HOPES FOR BETTER RESULTS POST-DELBARTON
Roxbury coach Cosmo Lorusso's concerns about facing Delbarton didn't end after his team lost a hard-fought 36-28 decision last Saturday afternoon in Morris Township.
The victory was Delbarton's 27th straight against Morris opposition in the NJAC-National Division. But adding another layer to that statistic is the fact a majority of those losing teams have also failed to win the following week as well.
Part of that is obviously due to the opponent that was faced in those follow-up games. But the effort that goes into playing 48 hard minutes against the Green Wave can also have a lingering effect.
"I just hope we're physically okay after this game," Lorusso said after the contest on Saturday, which wasn't decided until the final play. "People don't realize the physical toll a game like this takes on a team, and it's the same for everyone else."
Roxbury has now lost five straight games against Delbarton, it's longest losing streak against any opponent since it dropped seven straight against Randolph during the time of the Rams' dynasty in the 1980s and early '90s.
In the week after its last four losses against Delbarton, Roxbury has lost three times (once against Mendham, twice against West Morris).
This week, the Gaels are home to Randolph. It's a very meaningful game for both teams, who angling for high seeds in North 1, Group 4.
Roxbury can also tie Delbarton for the NJAC-National title this weekend, but only if it beats Randolph on Friday and Morristown topples Delbarton on Saturday.
WHIPPANY PARK IMPRESSES COACH IN DEFEAT
Keeping up with Kinnelon is hard enough for any team, but it becomes even tougher when you loss your best offensive player before halftime.
Whippany Park lost fullback Michael Poulter with an injury to his shoulder/collarbone area with four minutes left in the first half. He had already rushed 14 times for 113 yards and one TD.
Guys like Andrew Lake, Michael Lacitignola and Joe Michalewsky stepped up in Poulter's absence. Whippany Park rallied from a two TD deficit to tie before ultimately falling, 35-21.
"I'm very proud of the way my team played on Friday night," Whippany Park Todd Callaghan said. "They never gave up and continued playing until the very end of the game. Even after Mike got hurt, there were a few mistakes that we need to clean up, but they give it all they had regardless of who was on the field. In the end, that's all we can ask."
SIDELINE CHATTER MORRIS COUNTY FOOTBALL TOP 10
1-Delbarton (7-0) LW: 1
2-Roxbury (6-1) LW: 2
3-Parsippany Hills (5-2) LW: 3
4-Mountain Lakes (7-0) LW: 4
5-Madison (5-1) LW: 5
6-West Morris (4-3) LW: 6
7-Randolph (5-2) LW: 7
8-Pequannock (7-0) LW: 9
9-Mendham (3-4) LW: 8
10-Hanover Park (5-2) LW: 10
MORRIS COUNTY FOOTBALL SCHEDULE AND SELECTIONS
(X- denotes choice)
FRIDAY, OCT. 31
X-Morristown-Beard at Boonton, 7
X-Kinnelon at Butler, 7
Hanover Park at X-Dover, 7
X-Lenape Valley at Jefferson, 7
X-Mendham at Mount Olive, 7
X-Montville at High Point, 7
Pequannock at X-Mountain Lakes, 7
Randolph at X-Roxbury, 7
X-Whippany Park at Newton, 7
SATURDAY, NOV. 1
X-Parsippany Hills at Chatham, 1
X-Delbarton at Morristown, 1
X-Parsippany at Morris Catholic, 1
X-Sparta at Morris Hills, 1
X-West Morris at Morris Knolls, 1
Hackettstown at X-Madison, 2
Last week: 14-3 (.823)
Season-to-date: 92-21 (.814)
NORTHWEST JERSEY ATHLETIC CONFERENCE STANDINGS
X-Delbarton 6-0 (7-0 overall)
Roxbury 5-1 (6-1)
Randolph 4-2 (5-2)
West Morris 4-2 (4-3)
Mendham 2-4 (3-4)
Morristown 2-4 (3-4)
Morris Knolls 1-5 (1-6)
Mount Olive 0-6 (1-6)
X-clinched tie for division championship
X-Sparta 6-0 (6-1)
Pope John 5-1 (5-3)
Parsippany Hills 4-2 (5-2)
Morris Hills 3-3 (4-3)
Vernon 3-3 (3-4)
Chatham 2-4 (2-5)
Montville 1-5 (1-6)
High Point 0-6 (0-7)
X-clinched tie for division championship
Madison 4-0 (5-1)
Dover 3-1 (4-3)
Hackettstown 3-2 (4-3)
Lenape Valley 2-2 (5-2)
Hanover Park 2-2 (5-2)
Jefferson 1-3 (2-5)
Parsippany 0-5 (2-5)
Mountain Lakes 4-0 (7-0)
Pequannock 4-0 (7-0)
Kinnelon 3-2 (4-3)
Kittatinny 2-2 (2-5)
Whippany Park 1-3 (3-4)
Newton 1-3 (1-6)
Wallkill Valley 0-5 (0-7)
Boonton 3-0 (5-2)
Morristown-Beard 3-1 (5-2)
North Warren 2-1 (5-2)
Hopatcong 2-1 (3-4)
Butler 1-3 (1-6)
Morris Catholic 0-5 (0-7)
Follow Sean Reilly on Twitter @SeanReillyHS
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