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Westfield, under the steady guidance of head coach Jim DeSarno (left), here giving directions to running back Matt Varano (21), has been one of the more impressive large public school football teams in the state this season and the Blue Devils now prepare to face Bridgewater-Raritan in the North 2, Group 5 playoff final at 8 p.m. Thursday night. (Photo by Gene Nann-nannphoto)
Cranford's quarterback Jack Schetelich has had one of the best seasons of any signal caller in New Jersey this fall and he will now lead Cougars vs. Chatham Friday night at Kean University in North 2, Group 3 playoff title tilt. (Photo by Glenn Kross-www.glennkrossphotography.com)
Veteran QB Sebastian Montesdeoca (7) continues to be a playmaker deluxe for the Brearley Bears who will take on Hoboken in Saturday's N2G1 final. (Photo by Gene Nann-nannphoto)
Three Exceptional 11-0 Teams Ready
Like it did 30 years ago when it had all four champions in the section North 2, this year Union County has the opportunity to make its presence felt in a big way this championship weekend.
Not only does the county have the chance to have as many as three state champions for the first time in 22 years, but it will have all three of them undefeated as well if all three come through.
Union County football may not be regarded as highly as some other counties around the state. However, the county has three exceptional 11-0 teams playing for state championships beginning Thursday night.
The last time Union County had three state champions in the same season was in 1993 when Union three-peated in North 2, Group 4 at 10-1, Summit won North 2, Group 2 at 11-0 and Roselle Park repeated in North 2, Group 1 at 11-0 again.
In 1985, Union County swept North 2, with Union winning Group 4, Linden Group 3, Hillside Group 2 and Brearley Regional Group 1.
This weekend, Westfield, Cranford and Brearley are all gunning for state titles with 11-0 marks. Brearley finished 12-0 in 2006 and Cranford 11-1 last year.
Westfield , the second seed in North 2, Group 5, has won two state titles (both in N2, G4) in the playoff era, but not one since 1977.
Cranford , the top seed for the second straight season in North 2, Group 3, has one state crown to its credit, finally reaching the promised land in 2011 when it captured N2, G3.
Brearley, the top seed in North 2, Group 1 for the first time since 2008, has won five state championships since they have been contested on the field – all in N2, G1.
On Thursday night at 8 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford it will be second-seeded Westfield (11-0) vs. top-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan (11-0) in the fourth North 2, Group 5 final.
On Friday night at 7 at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium in Union it will be sixth-seeded Chatham (9-2) vs. top-seeded Cranford (11-0) in the North 2, Group 3 final.
On Saturday at 1 p.m. at Kean it will be second-seeded Hoboken (8-3) vs. top-seeded Brearley (11-0) in the North 2, Group 1 final.
WESTFIELD HEAD COACH JIM DeSARNO:
“This is a new experience for us.”
“We’ve played great defense all year long. A lot of kids have gotten playing time.”
“It’s been a great ride and we just want to try to finish it off.”
“Bridgewater-Raritan, we look at them like an undefeated team, so far they have conquered every challenge. Their skilled kids are fast and they have an aggressive team.”
“Our senior leadership has been outstanding. They’re not the most vocal group, but they set a great example. They don’t have to be pushed nor do they need a Knute Rockne speech to get them going.”
“With Jack Curry you really have to be a sure tackler. He’s just so hard to bring down. What you love about him is that he can run over you, by you and around you. He has speed and a little bit of everything.”
CRANFORD HEAD COACH ERIK ROSENMEIER:
“The first time I saw Chatham against Morristown I thought they were very good. On offense they do a great job with formations and a variety of plays – state-of-the-art stuff.”
“They’re good up front and the skill kids are the stars of the team. It’s not just one, but six kids that when they have the ball in their hands make you worry. They spread it out well.”
“I don’t know that any loss like what we had last year ever eats at you, but when you lose the last game of the year and it’s really the last game of the year, that’s what you’re left with.”
“We had to set that aside this year and realize that we couldn’t carry that burden. I thought we did that a couple of games into the season.”
“In order to get back to where we are now, we really had to get better as a team. The big thing I think is that we’ve improved. We’re not the same team we were in September.”
“Our kids gradually, but in time, embraced their new roles. We have strong supporting players.”
“We finally started playing like we are capable of.”
“In our first game we were faced with a fourth down and we rose up. Even though we weren’t playing that well as a team yet, somewhere in us we had the heart of a team that felt winning was important.”
“Against Delaware Valley, that was more of a fist fight, a matter of who was going to be able to step up and win. We were determined and it was nice to see that determination, especially having a turnover late and playing on the road. Those were good signs.”
“We changed the offense a little bit. It’s the same base and concepts, but a little more complex. To Jack (QB Schetelich’s) credit, he’s been able to pick that up. When he can make those reads in this offense that makes him a very dangerous player and us a tough team to stop.”
“Our kids have taken on different roles and so have we as coaches. The overall thing is that we’re doing a better job of preparation.”
“The focus is on getting the team better and putting it in the best position to win. I think we’re a little different than last year.
“Last year Par Hills did a better job coaching and playing and forced us to play the way they wanted. Chatham will want to get out running too.”
“I think it will come down to both defenses. Our first team defense did not allow a touchdown in our two playoff games. Can these defenses slow down these offenses? I think it may be hard to tell who is the most comfortable in a high-scoring game.”
Here’s a look at the Westfield, Cranford and Brearley rosters and results:
WESTFIELD ’S STARTING OFFENSE:
6-SE Jelani Pierre, senior, (5-11, 175)
63-LT Max Schwetje, junior, (6-2, 255)
77-LG Tom Morley, senior, (6-0, 250)
55-C Brendan Collum, senior, (6-3, 205)
71-RG Tim Norris, senior, (6-3, 210)
75-RT Brett Spass, junior, (6-1, 255)
87-TE Chris Boutsikaris, senior, (6-4, 190)
5-FL Jack Shirk, junior, (5-11, 170)
14-QB Zach Kelly, senior, (6-3, 185)
21-RB Matt Varano, junior, (5-10, 185)
27-RB Jack Curry, senior, (5-10, 180)
10-PK Michael Moriarty, junior, (5-11, 170)
WESTFIELD ’S STARTING DEFENSE:
64-DE Owen Kessier, junior, (6-4, 215)
41-DT Jeff Gagum, junior, (6-0, 215)
54-DT Nick Maher, junior, (6-0, 205)
56-DE Devin Zrebiec, senior, (6-0, 190)
11-OLB Owen Colwell, senior, (6-2, 200)
42-ILB Michael O’Connor, senior, (5-10, 190)
33-ILB Steve Barmakian, senior, (6-0, 200)
1-OLB Jacob Kurstedt, senior, (5-10, 175)
20-CB Brett Robertshaw, senior, (6-0, 180)
4-FS Sid Douglas, senior, (5-11, 175)
9-CB Ishmael Glasco, junior, (5-10, 186)
56-RT Paul Esposito, senior, (6-0, 215)
51-RG Will Fries, senior, (6-6, 285)
62-C Michael Bellrose, senior, (5-9, 240)
75-LG Kevin Doran, senior, (6-3, 265)
50-LT Dylan Grady, senior, (6-1, 205)
70-T Anthony Ramirez, junior, (5-10, 235)
9-WR Joe Norton, senior, (5-10, 175)
11-WR Chris Szekeres, senior, (6-2, 175)
20-WR William Budries, senior, (5-10, 160)
4- SLOT Ryan Bakie, junior, (6-3, 185)
23- SLOT Sean Leonard, senior, (5-10, 165)
31-TB Brian McGovern, junior, (5-8, 170)
12-B Brian Oblachinski, junior, (5-9, 165)
2-B Sean Bryson, junior, (5-11, 170)
10-QB Jack Schetelich, senior, (6-2, 185)
9-PK Joe Norton, senior, (5-10, 175)
Returning starters (7): Fries, Bellrose,
Doran, Norton, Bakie, McGovern,
CRANFORD ’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
51-T Will Fries, senior, (6-6, 285)
75-T Kevin Doran, senior, (6-3, 265)
25-T Ethan Tom, senior (6-0, 225)
50-E Dylan Grady, senior, (6-1, 205)
56-E Paul Esposito, senior, (6-0, 215)
76-E Chris Kiame, senior, (5-10, 190)
67-E Thomas Armstrong, junior, (6-1, 190)
32-LB Niko Cappello, senior, (5-11, 195)
13- SLB Lucas Ramadan, senior, (6-2, 185)
2- SLB Sean Bryson, junior, (5-11, 170)
41- WLB Pat Hoey, junior, (5-8, 160)
59- WLB Dylan Budnik, sophomore, (6-2, 180)
11-S Chris Szekeres, senior, (6-2, 175)
31-S Brian McGovern, junior, (5-8, 170)
23-CB Sean Leonard, senior, (510, 160)
4-CB Ryan Bakie, junior, (6-3, 185)
12-CB Brian Oblachinski, junior, (5-9, 165)
9-P Joe Norton, senior, (5-10, 175)
Returning starters (7): Fries, Doran, Tom,
Cappello, Szekeres, Leonard, Bakie.
53-C Nicolas Nazario, senior, (5-7, 190)
55-G Robert Moscicki, senior, (6-0, 230)
66-G Jeff Yosurack, junior, (5-10, 210)
60-T Erik Loneker, senior, (6-5, 245)
68-T Tyler DaCosta, senior, (6-3, 250)
20-TE Nick Arcieri, junior, (6-1, 205)
32-TE Dan Palumbo, junior, (6-4, 205)
3-WR Brian Resende, senior, (5-8, 160)
12-WR Chris Keith, freshman, (6-2, 170)
21-WR Evan Collier, senior, (6-1, 180)
22-RB Dillon Murphy, junior, (5-9, 180)
28-RB Anthony Primavera, senior, (5-7, 175)
40-TB Khalid Bonnet, sophomore, (5-8, 205)
7-QB Sebastian Montesdeoca, senior, (6-0, 175)
20-PK Nick Arcieri, junior, (6-1, 205)
Returning starters (4): Loneker, DaCosta,
BREARLEY’S 5-2 DEFENSE:
Interior linemen include
Moscicki, Loneker, DaCosta
55-Robert Moscicki, senior, (6-0, 230)
60-Erik Loneker, senior, (6-5, 245)
68-Tyler DaCosta, senior, (6-3, 250)
20-E Nick Arcieri, junior, (6-1, 205)
32-E Dan Palumbo, junior, (6-4, 205)
17-E Tyler Muniz, junior, (5-9, 200)
28-LB Anthony Primavera, senior, (5-7, 175)
10-LB Emmanuel Salado, senior, (5-10, 190)
24-CB Justin McRae, junior, (5-7, 150)
3-CB Brian Resende, senior, (5-8, 160)
44-CB Nico Senica, senior, (5-5, 145)
7-S Sebastian Montesdeoca, senior, (6-0, 175)
21-S Evan Collier, senior, (6-1, 180)
14-S Christian Burns, junior, (5-9, 160)
2-S Richard Eremus, junior, (5-10, 165)
20-P Nick Arcieri, junior, (6-1, 205)
Returning starters (4): Moscicki, Loneker,
WESTFIELD BLUE DEVILS (11-0)
(A) Westfield 35, Montgomery 6
(H) Westfield 42, Scotch Plains 10
(H) Westfield 10, Linden 7
(A) Westfield 37, Ridge 13
(A) Westfield 34, Immaculata 6
(H) Westfield 45, North Hunterdon 6
(H) Westfield 40, Watchung Hills 0
(A) Westfield 33, Hunterdon Central 14
(H) Westfield 49, Columbia 14
(H) Westfield 44, Union 14
(H) Westfield 32, Plainfield 6
Dec. 3 Bridgewater-Raritan, 8 p.m.
at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford
Head coach: Jim DeSarno,
10th season, 68-36 (.654)
Section: North 2, Group 5
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Watchung 7-0, champs
Points for: 401
Points against: 96
CRANFORD COUGARS (11-0)
(A) Cranford 24, Warren Hills 23
(H) Cranford 41, Somerville 14
(H) Cranford 41, Roselle 7
(A) Cranford 42, Summit 0
(A) Cranford 49, Voorhees 24
(H) Cranford 51, Hillside 17
(A) Cranford 28, Delaware Valley 21
(H) Cranford 35, Gov. Livingston 20
(A) Cranford 50, North Plainfield 8
(H) Cranford 56, Voorhees 7
(H) Cranford 48, Ridgefield Park 14
Dec. 4 Chatham, 7 p.m. – at Kean
Head coach: Erik Rosenmeier,
11th season, 76-39 (.661)
Section: North 2, Group 3
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Raritan 6-0, champs
Points for: 465
Points against: 155
BREARLEY BEARS (11-0)
(A) Brearley 28, Belvidere 14
(H) Brearley 30, South Hunterdon 6
(H) Brearley 27, Dayton 14
(A) Brearley 20, Roselle Park 10
(H) Brearley 39, Manville 0
(H) Brearley 35, Pingry 6
(A) Brearley 35, Roselle 21
(A) Brearley 25, Bound Brook 0
(H) Brearley 27, New Providence 19
(H) Brearley 35, North Arlington 6
(H) Brearley 34, Belvidere 14
Dec. 5 Hoboken, 1 p.m. – at Kean
Head coach: Scott Miller,
14th season, 101-45-1 (.692)
Section: North 2, Group 1
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Valley 8-0, champs
Points for: 335
Points against: 119
For the first time, Union County has not just one, not two, but three 11-0 teams going for state championships.
Westfield is 11-0 and seeking to capture its first North 2, Group 5 crown. The Blue Devils are 11-0 for the first time since they last won a title in the playoff era, which was when they repeated as North 2, Group 4 champions in 1977.
Cranford is 11-0 for the second straight season and is out to nail down a second North 2, Group 3 crown in five seasons. The Cougars, who won their first and only playoff title by winning N2, G3 in 2011, were 11-0 last year before falling to Parsippany Hills 20-13 in the final at East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium.
Brearley is 11-0 for the second time and for the first time since it last won a sectional title, which was in 2006 when the Bears captured North 2, Group 1 for the fifth time in the playoff era. Brearley’s 2006 squad was Union County’s first to finish 12-0.
Union County ’s 12-0 teams:
2006: Brearley, won North 2, Group 1
2009: Summit , won North 2, Group 2
2012: Summit , won North 2, Group 3
2013: Summit, won North 2, Group 3
Thursday at 8 p.m. at MetLife Stadium it will be second-seeded Westfield facing top-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan – a battle of 11-0 teams – for the fourth North 2, Group 5 championship. There will be a fourth different winner in this section so far, with Elizabeth claiming the crown in 2012, Ridge in 2013 and Linden in 2014.
Since the two Bridgewater high schools merged over 20 years ago, BR has never won a playoff title and is making its first appearance in a final. Westfield is in its first final since 1998 and only second since 1977.
BR won the Mid-State 38 Conference’s Delaware Division crown for the first time with a 7-0 league mark. Westfield won the Watchung Division title for the first time at 7-0.
The teams last faced each other in the regular season when both were in the Delaware Division in 2013, Westfield winning 40-20 at BR. Westfield came out of the Delaware and moved into the Watchung in 2014.
The teams faced each other last year in a North 2, Group 5 quarterfinal at Westfield, with the home team Blue Devils winning 24-14.
Including that playoff victory, Westfield has a four-game winning streak against BR. The Panthers last defeated Westfield 19-13 at Westfield in 2010.
Westfield has won 10 games by double digits, BR seven. The Blue Devils have scored the second most points of any Union County team with 401 and given up the least at 96.
Cranford is the top seed in North 2, Group 3 for the second straight season and will face much-improved, sixth-seeded Chatham (9-2) in Friday night’s 7 p.m. final at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium in Union.
Cranford repeated as the Mid-State’s Raritan Division winner, producing another 6-0 league mark. The Cougars will begin their 2016 season with a 20-game regular season winning streak.
Cranford is 46-9 (.836) since 2011 and in the North 2, Group 3 final for the third time in the past five seasons. The Cougars have scored the most points of any Union County team at 465 and for the second straight season are averaging at least 40 points. Cranford has won nine of their games by double digits, including the last four.
Brearley is the top seed in North 2, Group 1 and will tackle second-seeded Hoboken (8-3) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Kean in that section’s final.
Brearley won the Mid-State’s Valley Division crown for the first time, posting a perfect 8-0 league record. Like Westfield, the Bears have won 10 of their games by double digits.
UNION COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE:
Thursday, Dec. 3 (1 game)
North 2, Group 5
at MetLife Stadium
2-Westfield (11-0) vs. 1-Bridgewater-Raritan (11-0), 8 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 4 (1 game)
North 2, Group 3
at Kean University
6-Chatham (9-2) vs. 1-Cranford (11-0), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 5 (1 game)
North 2, Group 1
at Kean University
2-Hoboken (8-3) vs. 1-Brearley (11-0), 1 p.m.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS:
Wednesday, Nov. 25 (1 game)
Linden 35, Union 14
Thursday, Nov. 26 (4 games)
Johnson 21, Rahway 17
Gov. Livingston 10, New Providence 0
Roselle 41, Roselle Park 33
Westfield 32, Plainfield 6
NJSIAA FINALS PICKS (3):
Westfield over Bridgewater-Raritan
Cranford over Chatham
Brearley over Hoboken
Best bet: Cranford
Upset special: Westfield
Last week: 3-2
This year: 94-37 (.718)
Best bets: 12-0
Upset specials: 4-8
JR’S UNION COUNTY TOP 10:
9-New Providence (7-3)
10-Roselle Park (5-5)
Gov. Livingston (4-6)
Scotch Plains (1-9)
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME HISTORIES FOR
WESTFIELD , CRANFORD AND BREARLEY:
1998 N2, G3 : Morristown 37, Westfield 14 – at Giants Stadium
1977 N2, G4: Westfield 33, Barringer 12 – at Giants Stadium
1976 N2, G4: Westfield 14, Plainfield 0 – at Westfield
2014 N2, G3: Parsippany Hills 20, Cranford 13 – at MetLife Stadium
2011 N2, G3: Cranford 27, Parsippany Hills 0 – at Kean University
2006 N2, G1: Brearley 21, Verona 20 – at Giants Stadium
2005 CJ, G1: Florence 19, Brearley 6 – at Rutgers University
1991 N2, G1: Brearley Regional 14, Mountain Lakes 13 – at Mt. Lakes
1988 N2, G1: New Providence 30, Brearley Regional 14 – at Brearley
1986 N2, G1: Brearley Regional 28, Roselle Park 7 – at Roselle Park
1985 N2, G1: Brearley Regional 35, Roselle Park 6 – at Brearley
1981 N2, G1: Brearley Regional 17, Roselle 15 – at Brearley
1977 N2, G1: Glen Ridge 18, Brearley Regional 12 – at Brearley
* This is the fifth time Brearley is in a championship game as the top seed.
The others were in 1977, 1981, 1985 and 1988.
NOTES: Chatham, which will face Cranford in the North 2, Group 3 final, was 7-3 last year after going 0-10 in 2012 and 0-10 in 2013. Chatham last won a sectional title before the playoffs began in 1974. Chatham was declared the North 2, Group 1 winner in 1965. Chatham Boro won its only playoff title in 1984, capturing North 2, Group 1 that season.
When Chatham reached the 2005 North 2, Group 2 final – falling to Lodi 21-7 – its head coach was Don Dayon. The former Brearley player is presently a volunteer coach on Westfield’s staff.
Bridgewater-Raritan, which will face Westfield in the North 2, Group 5 final, is making its first appearance in a championship game.
Hoboken is making its 18th appearance in a state championship game, with the Red Wings owners of nine playoff crowns. Hoboken’s last championship came in 2013 when the Red Wings repeated as North 2, Group 1 champs.
Since the NJSIAA began reclassification in 2003, no Union County team has won a section title in Central Jersey.
BACK TO THE FUTURE;
LOOKING BACK AT 1985:
During the same year - 1985 - that the movie “Back to the Future” was released, Union County football owned North 2.
Union County had all four champions in the section that year, including Union repeating in Group 4, Linden winning Group 3 for the first time, Hillside capturing Group 2 for the first time and Brearley Regional winning Group 1 for the first time since 1981.
As a matter of fact, Union County had five teams playing in championship games that year, Roselle Park being the other. Brearley Regional defeated Roselle Park 35-6 in the North 2, Group 1 final played at Brearley.
The Union County head coaches that led their teams to championship games 30 years ago included Lou Rettino at Union, Bucky McDonald at Linden, Jerry Alexander at Hillside, Bob Taylor at Brearley Regional and John Wagner at Roselle Park.
NORTH 2 CHAMPIONS IN 1985:
Group 4 – Union over Montclair
Group 3 – Linden over West Morris
Group 2 – Hillside over Madison
Group 1 – Brearley Regional over Roselle Park
MILLER, ROSENMEIER, DeSARNO
Scott Miller, 14 seasons, all at Brearley:
Winning seasons: 10
.500 seasons: 1
Playoff seasons: 11
Playoff record: 9-9
State championship games: 3, including this year
State championships: 1
Miller is also first Union County coach to go 12-0.
Miller is a 1987 Brearley Regional graduate.
Erik Rosenmeier, 11 seasons, all at Cranford:
Winning seasons: 8
.500 seasons: 1
Playoff seasons: 5
Playoff record: 8-3
State championship games: 3, including this year
State championships: 1
Rosenmeier is also 6-0 in consolation games.
Rosenmeier is a 1983 Johnson Regional graduate.
Jim DeSarno, 10 seasons, at Westfield:
Winning seasons: 9
Playoff seasons: 8
Playoff record: 5-7
State championship games: 1, including this year
State championships: 0
DeSarno is also 9-1 vs. Plainfield on Thanksgiving.
He was previously a head coach at Group 1 Kinnelon,
with a 5-season record of 18-32 from 2001-2005.
DeSarno is a 1987 Pompton Lakes graduate.
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