BCG Game Preview—Northern Highlands vs. North Hunterdon—North Jersey Group 4 Regional Championship—November 19, 2022

North Hunterdon RB, Alex Uryniak dives into the end zone to wrap up the Lions 49-35 sectional championship over Randolph at Singley Field in Annandale last Saturday.

Lions Look to Win First Ever Regional Crown on Saturday

FRANKLIN, NJ—On Saturday evening, Big Central Gridiron will be watching our two remaining Big Central Conference schools in action.  Edison will be taking on Toms River North in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 5 Regional Championship at Cherokee. Simultaneously, North Hunterdon will be battling it out with Northern Highlands for the North Jersey Group 4 Regional Championship at Franklin High School in Somerset at 5:30 PM.

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How They Got Here

North Hunterdon punched its ticket to Franklin Township by virtue of its 49-35 victory over second seeded Randolph at Singley Field in the North Jersey Section 2 Group 4 title game. Meanwhile Northern Highlands outlasted a power outage and a potent Ramapo team 49-42 in the North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 final.  The Lions enter the contest at 11-1 while the Highlanders come in at 9-3.  Take a look below at the BCG Tale of the Tape.

BCG Tale of the Tape—2022 NJSIAA North Jersey Group 4 Regional Championship

Overall seed in Region#1#7
Strength Index79.2179.49
Power Points20.1114.00
SectionNorth Jersey Section 2North Jersey Section 1
ConferenceBig Central Liberty SilverSuper Football Conference Liberty Red
Points Per Game – Season31.923.9
Points Allowed Per Game-Season15.916.8
Shutouts – Season00
Games Where Defense Allowed One Score – Season64
Points Per Game – Playoffs36.031.0
Points Allowed Per Game – Playoffs18.722.3
Shutouts – Playoffs00
Games Where Defense Allowed One Score – Playoffs10
Yards Rushing Per Game202.5141.3
Yards Passing Per Game178.9184.8
Total Yards Per Game381.4326.1
Run/Pass Ratio65.6 % to 34.4 % (1.9 or ~ 2 to 1)57.4 % to 42.6 % (1.35 ~ 1.4 to 1)
# of Playoff Opponents – Season107 – including Ramapo twice
Record vs. Playoff Opponents9-15-3 including 2-0 vs. Ramapo
Common OpponentsBeat Montgomery 21-14 on the roadBeat Montgomery 27-12 at home

Key Players – North Hunterdon

QB/P Luke Martini – 109 of 183 for 2,147 yards and 22 TDs vs. 7 INTs; Also rushed for 4 TDs

RB/DB Kente Edwards – 158 rushes for 1,259 yards or nearly 8.0 yards per carry and 12 TDs; Also caught 9 passes for 143 yards and a TD, and 59 tackles with 2 INTs on defense.

WR/DB Derek Vaddis – 46 receptions for 949 yards or 20.6 yards per catch and 11 TDs; Leads team with 7 INTs on defense.

WR/DB Danny Delusant – 20 receptions for 517 yards or 25.9 yards per catch and 7 TDs.

RB/LB Alex Uryniak – 144 rushes for 992 yards or nearly 6.9 yards per carry and 13 TDs; Also leads team in tackles with 170 on defense.

WR/DB Tyler Anderson – 8 receptions for 212 yards and 2 TDs while also has an INT and is 3rd on the team in tackles with 68.

OL/DL Greg Rayl – 55 tackles including 25 solos and 8 sacks (leads team).

TE/LB Andrew Schenkel – 78 tackles (2nd on team) including 44 solos, 12 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks.

OL/DL Hunter Vos – 43 tackles including 21 solos, 8 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks (2nd on team).

TE/LB Christian Brand – 58 tackles including 28 solos, 4 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.  Also has 2 INTs.

K Ben Cleary – made 41 of 43 PATs.

Key Players – Northern Highlands

QB Nate Johnson – 88 of 137 for 1,195 yards and 9 TDs vs. 6 INTs; Also rushed 87 times for 340 yards and 5 TDs.

QB JR Walley – 69 of 98 for 838 yards and 11 TDs vs. 4 INTs.

RB Charlie Sparago – 166 rushes for 799 yards or about 4.8 yards per carry and 8 TDs; Also caught 20 passes for 261 yards and 2 TDs.

RB John Abousselman – 11 rushes for 129 yards or about 11.7 yards per carry and 3 TDs.

WR Zach Madison – 43 receptions for 801 yards or 18.6 yards per catch and 5 TDs.  

WR Danny Smiechowski – 41 receptions for 502 yards or 12.2 yards per catch and team leading 9 TDs; Also leads team in INTs with 2.

WR Luke Saturn – 35 receptions for 371 yards or 10.6 yards per catch and 4 TDs; Also leads team in kickoff return yards with 151 or 25.2 yards per return

WR Fred Kanning – 14 receptions for 152 yards or 10.9 yards per catch.

OL/LB Zach Chostaka – Team leading 24 tackles and 2 sacks.  Also has a forced fumble and recovery as well as an INT.

TE/DL Jack Inserra – Leads team with 2.5 sacks.

K Daniel Moor – made 5 of 6 FGs including a long of 37 yards vs. Pascack Valley; Also converted 30 of 31 PATs.

Additional Facts – North Hunterdon

The Lions play in the BCC’s Liberty Silver Division, where all four teams (North Hunterdon, Watchung Hills, Montgomery, and Plainfield) were .500 or better.  The four teams combined for an overall record of 30-12 including a 21-11 mark in Big Central Conference play.  Three of those four teams (North Hunterdon, Watchung Hills, and Montgomery) qualified for the playoffs while Plainfield won the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 5 Invitational Tournament.

North Hunterdon is playing for its first ever regional championship.  The Lions won their second sectional championship in the last 6 years when they defeated Randolph (49-35) last week.  The Lions only loss was a 48-21 defeat at the hands of West Jersey rival Phillipsburg back in Week 3 on September 16th.  The Stateliners, BCG’s top ranked team, lost to West Orange in the North Jersey Section 2 Group 5 Championship (28-7) last week.

Additional Facts – Northern Highlands

The Highlanders play in the Super Football Conference’s Liberty Red division, where just 3 of its 5 teams (Ridgewood, Ramapo, and Northern Highlands) were .500 or better.  The five teams in the division combined for a record of 31-20 including a 21-16 mark in SFC play.  Four of the five tams (Ridgewood, Ramapo, Northern Highlands, and Wayne Hills) qualified for the playoffs.  

Northern Highlands is 6-0 since 2019 against teams now playing in the Big Central Conference.  The Highlanders defeated Colonia (40-7) and Woodbridge (37-7) in 2019.  Defeated Union in the pandemic shortened 2020 season (45-35).  Knocked off Somerville (32-20) in the Rumble on the Raritan and Montgomery (61-14) last season.  The Highlanders also defeated Montgomery (27-12) in the opening round of the 2022 playoffs.

Northern Highlands has also played Ramapo three times in the past 12 months including twice for sectional championships, and won.  The Highlanders defeated Ramapo (35-30) back on November 26, 2021 to win the North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 Championship.  Then, Northern Highlands upended Ramapo twice this year including a 29-26 win on September 30th and last Thursday night (49-42) to win the 2022 North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 title.  Both games this year were played at Ramapo while all three games were decided by a total of just 15 points.

BCG’s Prediction

Both of these teams have the ability to put up a lot of points on the board.  While North Hunterdon has the ability to run and through more effectively, Northern Highlands is more balanced offensively.  The Lions look tougher on defense with fewer points allowed and more games with only one score allowed.  Neither team has recorded a shutout.

Both squads played Montgomery during the season with North Hunterdon winning on the road in Skillman while Northern Highlands led 27-0 in the fourth quarter before defeating the Cougars at home (27-12).  Ridge played Ramapo in the sectional semifinals, and only lost by a score (34-27).  The Red Devils also played Ramapo in the same round a year ago, and only lost (41-31).

Another key could be the kicking game where the Highlanders may have an edge.  Daniel Moor has made 5 of 6 FGs including a season long of 37 yards while Ben Cleary has not attempted a field goal this season.  Moor has also made 30 of 31 PATs versus Cleary’s 41 of 43 PATs.  The Highlanders are more experienced in this round as well with its third straight regional final appearance. Travel and some home cooking could benefit the Lions, which will be playing at a Big Central field in Franklin Township.

Prediction:  North Hunterdon wins, 42-38.