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Central Jersey Top 10: Public schools seek state sectional playoff titles

The Rumson-Fair Haven High School football team celebrates defeating Timber Creek 16-9 and advancing to the finals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 Tournament.

It’s sectional championship week for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association public schools, while non-public semifinals are on tap this weekend, too.

The public and non-public playoff games are scheduled for Nov. 22 and 23 through out fields across New Jersey.

Here is a look at the Top 10 rankings in Central Jersey after week two of the state playoffs.

(Ranking. Team, Record)

1. Notre Dame, 10-1: The Irish gave top-seeded St. Peter’s Prep all it could handle and more in a hard-fought 45-35 losing effort in the quarterfinals of the Non-Public, Group 4 playoffs. Running back Cortaz Williams and quarterback Jake Renda each had two total touchdowns in the  setback for the Irish. Coleon Williams had a 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to begin the game for Notre Dame, which finished with its best record since 2004.

2. Mater Dei Prep, 7-3: It was the Malik Ingram show in the quarterfinals of the Non-Public, Group 3 bracket for the Seraphs, who jumped up to No. 2 in the rankings this week. Ingram amassed 302 yards rushing and four touchdowns to help Mater Dei defeat Pope John XXIII of Sparta, 49-14, to advance to the semifinals. Mater Dei will face-off against Red Bank Catholic in the semifinals on Nov. 22 at Count Basie Park in Red Bank.

3. Jackson Memorial, 8-2: Jackson Memorial moves up a spot to No. 3 in the rankings this week with its come-from-behind 27-21 victory over Toms River East in the semifinals of the Central Jersey, Group 4 playoffs. Quarterback Lonnie Cebulski rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass to help lead the Jaguars to a comeback victory. Jackson Memorial will travel to play top-seeded Hammonton on Nov. 22 in the sectional final.

4. North Brunswick, 9-2: The 2019 season came to a tough end for the Raiders in the semifinals of the Central Jersey, Group 5 playoffs. North Brunswick was upset by Cherokee, 41-25, ending the Raiders’ eight-game winning streak.

5. Red Bank Catholic, 5-3: The Caseys had another bye this week and will serve as the host to Mater Dei Prep in the Non-Public, Group 3 semifinals on Nov. 22. It’s a rematch of last year’s Group 3 final where Red Bank Catholic topped Mater Dei, 14-10.

6. Rumson-Fair Haven, 6-4: For the ninth time in 10 years, the Bulldogs secured a spot in the sectional finals with a gutsy 16-9 victory over Timber Creek in the semifinals of the Central Jersey, Group 3 playoffs. Senior running back Peter Crowley rushed for two touchdowns to help Rumson-Fair Haven advance to the final. The Bulldogs will play Wall in the sectional finals on Nov. 22 at Wall Township High School.

7. Woodbridge, 10-0: The Barrons cracked the Top 10 this week by edging out Randolph, 14-13, to advance to the final of the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 bracket. Woodbridge will play Bergen County’s Northern Highlands in the sectional final on Nov. 22 in Allendale.

8. Hillsborough, 8-3: The Raiders saw their season come to an end in the semifinals of the South Jersey, Group 4 playoffs, losing to Lenape, 28-17. Hillsborough finished with its best record since 2014.

9. Old Bridge, 8-1: The Knights were upset by Kingsway in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group 5 playoffs on Nov. 8. Old Bridge won its first eight games of the season.

10. Middletown South, 4-5: The Eagles gave top-seed Hammonton a battle in the semifinals of the Central Jersey, Group 4 playoffs, but it was not enough as Middletown South was eliminated from postseason play with a 32-29 defeat by the Blue Devils. Middletown South will now gear up to be the host to rival Middletown North on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports


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