Cougars Look to Win First Ever Regional Crown on Friday
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—On Friday afternoon, Big Central Gridiron will head up the Garden State Parkway and Route 3 East to Met Life Stadium in the Meadowlands to cover the 2021 NJSIAA North Jersey Group 3 Regional Championship between top seeded Cranford, and second seeded West Morris Central. Both teams were the top seeds in their respective sections, but the Cougars were the top overall seed.
Cranford punched its ticket to Met Life by virtue of its dominant performance in its 45-21 victory over third seeded Sparta at Memorial Field in the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 title game while West Morris Central defeated second seeded West Essex, 21-0 in the North Jersey Section 1 Group 3 final. The Cougars enter the contest at 11-0 on the season while West Morris comes in at 9-3. Take a look below at the BCG Tale of the Tape.
BCG Tale of the Tape—2021 NJSIAA North Jersey Group 3 Regional Championship
|Cranford||West Morris Central|
|Overall seed in Region||#1||#2|
|Section||North Jersey Section 2||North Jersey Section 1|
|Conference||Big Central Division 4||Super Football Conference Liberty Red|
|Points Per Game – Season||39.4||32.3|
|Points Allowed Per Game-Season||17.6||15.4|
|Shutouts – Season||0||4|
|Points Per Game – Playoffs||47.7||32.7|
|Points Allowed Per Game – Playoffs||18.0||10.3|
|Shutouts – Playoffs||0||2|
|Yards Rushing Per Game||294.6||247.8|
|Yards Passing Per Game||136.8||122.3|
|Total Yards Per Game||431.4||370.1|
|Run/Pass Ratio||71.7 % to 28.2 %||75.6 % to 24.3 %|
|Common Opponents||Beat Summit 45-8; Beat Sparta 45-21||Beat Summit 56-31; Beat Sparta 36-21|
NOTE: In addition to playing Summit, West Morris Central played Randolph, and won 35-0 on October 1st. Randolph also lost to Colonia 32-21 in the opening round of the North Jersey Section 2 Group 4 Playoffs on November 5th. Cranford defeated Colonia (27-14) at Memorial Field on October 8th. West Morris also lost to Morris Knolls (24-16) on October 23rd. Morris Knolls defeated North Hunterdon (35-21) on September 4th, and Cranford rallied to defeat North Hunterdon in overtime (43-37) on September 10th.
BCG’s Players to Watch—2021 NJSIAA North Jersey Group 3 Regional Championship
QB Shane Van Dam: Completed 90 of 168 passes for 1,485 yards and 18 TDs while only throwing 3 INTs; Also rushed 44 times for 247 yards and 4 TDs.
RB Colin Murray: Rushed 287 times for 2,379 yards, or about 8.3 yards per carry, and 33 TDs. Murray has rushed 61 times for 784 yards, or an average of 12.9 yards per carry so far in playoffs, and 9 TDs.
RB Lucca Limeira: Rushed 79 times for 537 yards and 7 TDs. Also has 38 total tackles including 5 for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 INTs on defense.
WR/DB Will Gallagher: 37 receptions for 687 yards, or about 18.6 yards per catch, and 10 TDs; Also has 9 INTs on defense including two returned for TDs.
WR/DB Jake Carter: 15 receptions for 273 yards and 2 TDs; Also has one INT, which occurred in win over Colonia. Leads team in both kickoff and punt returns.
WR/DB Jack Conley: 12 receptions for 192 yards and 3 TDs.
WR/DB/K Liam Godwin: 11 receptions for 166 yards and 2 TDs. On defense, he has 45 total tackles, 3 INTs including one in each of the last two playoff rounds, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Also handles place kicking: Made all 3 FG attempts this year including 30 yard in win over Sparta, and has converted 50 of 55 extra point attempts.
TE/DL Lukas Ruby: 11 receptions for 126 yards and a TD. Also has 31 total tackles including 3 for loss, and a sack on defense.
LB Shane Kanterman: Leads team in total tackles with 84 including 34 solos, 8 for loss, and 5 sacks as well as 4 fumble recoveries and a kick block.
DB Angelo Fiorenza: Has 38 total tackles including 14 solos, and 5 for loss. Shares team lead in sacks with Kanterman at 5.
DB Stephen Kisly: Has 46 total tackles including 21 solos, and 3 for loss along with 2 INTs.
DB Ryan Lynskey: Has 45 total tackles including 18 solos and an INT.
OL/DL Matt Fries: University of Illinois commit anchors both sides of the line of scrimmage for Cougars.
For West Morris Central:
QB/LB Trevor Hillier: Completed 79 of 130 passes for 1,394 yards and 19 TDs while throwing 6 INTs. Also rushed 57 times for 244 yards and 4 TDs. On defense has 111 total tackles including 36 solos, 9 for loss, 3 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and an interception.
RB/LB Stefano Montella: Rushed 203 times for 1,632 yards, or about 8.0 yards per carry, and 18 TDs. Also caught 21 passes for 258 yards and 3 TDs. Leads team in total tackles with 135 including 53 solos, 19 for loss, and 6 sacks as well as an INT.
RB/DB Vinnie Desiderio: Leads team in INTs with 4. Also has 49 total tackles including 24 solos,
WR/DB Ryan Brady: 23 catches for 377 yards and 7 TDs. Also rushed 64 times for 454 yards and 4 TDs. On Defense has 69 total tackles including 21 solos, 7 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
WR/DB Noah Turner: Leads team in receiving yardage with 393 yards on 18 receptions for an average of 21.8 yards per catch and 2 TDs. Turner has also rushed 53 times for 266 yards and 5 more scores. On defense has 93 tackles including 27 solos, one for loss, and 2 INTs. Also team’s leading returner.
WR/DB Zach Byank: Has 9 catches for 235 yards, or about 26 yards per catch along with 5 TDs. Also has 64 total tackles including 20 solos, 2 forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery on defense. On special teams, he handles placekicking duties and has made 44 of his 45 extra point attempts.
DT Collin Leonhardt: Has 76 total tackles including 18 solos, 10 for loss, and a team leading 8 sacks along with a forced fumble.
DT Henry Frayne: Has 54 total tackles including 14 solos, 4 for loss, and 2 sacks.
DB James Panico: Has 68 total tackles including 14 solos and one for loss along with an INT.
RB Sam Rizzuto: Sophomore, who contributes a little bit to West Morris Central’s rushing attack (11 carries for 119 yards and a TD), defense (7 total tackles including 3 solos), and 11 return yards.
BCG Keys to Game:
Line of Scrimmage: The team that dominates or controls this area will have the best chance of winning. Cranford’s offensive line, led by Fries, has been an integral part of the team’s success, particularly in the running game. Similarly for West Morris Central, which has helped Hillier and Montella as well as Brady and Turner enjoy a great deal of success in 2021.
Cranford’s offense vs. West Morris Central’s defense: The Cougars offense ranks in the Top 5 in the Big Central Conference at over 39 points per game, and in the playoffs, it has even been better by averaging 47.7 points per game. West Morris Central’s defense has had four shutouts this season including two in the playoffs. The Wolfpack has given up just over 15 points per game on the season, and has been more stout in the playoffs at just over 10 per contest.
Prediction: Cranford wins, 27-24.