The NJSIAA high school football playoffs are in full swing, and this year everything is even more amplified as teams can play to become a true state champion. For the first time, New Jersey will crown overall state champions in each of its six groups. Gone are the days of being done after winning a sectional, or even regional, championship.
Mainland Regional, the No. 3 seed in Central Jersey Group 4, went on the road Friday night and blitzed top-seeded Middletown South, winning 34-24 on the strength of a pair of touchdown passes from freshman quarterback John Franchini as well as a blocked punt for a touchdown from Cohen Cook and a 69-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter by Hunter Watson that gave Mainland a commanding 34-17 lead.
The Mustangs, who won their first sectional championship since 2008, improved to 10-1 on the season and next week will travel to Cherokee High to take on Millville, the South Jersey Group 4 champion. The winner of that game plays either North Hunterdon, Randolph or Northern Highlands. North Hunterdon plays Randolph on Saturday, with the winner taking on Northern Highlands, a 49-42 winner over Ramapo.
Here’s a look at some other South/Central Jersey sections and how they are playing out:
SJG1: Top-seeded Woodbury hosts No. 3 Maple Shade on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
CJG1: No. 4 Paulsboro travels to No. 2 Salem on Saturday at noon.
SJG2: No. 2 Rumson-Fair Haven, which beat Oakcrest in the opening round, upset No. 1 Raritan 34-27 on Friday night to advance.
CJG2: No. 4 Willingboro went on the road and upset No. 3 Gloucester, 20-7. The Chimeras will take on Rumson-Fair Haven next week in the state semis.
SJG3: No. 1 Delsea hosts No. 3 Hopewell Valley on Saturday at 7 p.m.
CJG3: Top-seeded and undefeated Seneca hosts No. 2 Camden on Saturday at 6 p.m.
SJG5: No. 1 Toms River North beat No. 2 Kingsway, 48-14, on Friday.
CJG5: No. 6 Edison shocked No. 1 Lenape, winning 28-14.
Non-Public A: No. 8 St. Augustine Prep travels to top-seeded Don Bosco Prep at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the quarterfinals. Paul VI, the No. 13 seed, lost to No. 4 St. Joseph-Montvale in the opening round last week.
Non-Public B: No. 4 Holy Spirit beat No. 5 St. Thomas Aquinas 50-21 in the quarterfinals tonight and advances to take on No. 1 Red Bank Catholic next week. No. St. Joseph Academy of Hammonton beat No. 6 Montclair Immaculate in the opening round and travels to No. 2 DePaul on Nov. 18 in the semifinals.