2021 NJSIAA Center Shirt Group 2 Football Championship preview
CENTRAL JERSEY GROUP 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
WHO: 3-Haddonfield (8-2) to 1-Raritan (6-4)
WHEN: Friday November 19, 7 p.m.
OR: Field Joseph J. DeVirgilio – 419 Middle Road, Hazlet, NJ 07730
RARITAN’S ROAD TO THE FINAL: Defeated Barnegat, 30-6, in quarter-finals; defeated Hillside, 41-34, in the semifinals.
HADONFIELD’S JOURNEY TO THE FINAL: Defeated Middle Township, 34-7, in quarterfinals; defeated Bernards, 24-14, in the semifinals.
RARITAN’S BEST WINS: 20-13 on the regional coast; 30-6 on Barnegat; 41-34 on Hillside
HADDONFIELD’S BEST WINS: 28-14 against Delran; 34-7 on Middle Township; 24-14 against Bernards
HISTORY OF the qualifiers: Haddonfield made 16 playoff appearances in program history with a 27-11 record. They have won five section titles and will compete in their ninth league game. The Bulldogs’ last title came in 2018 when they went 13-0. They also won a section title in 2017, finished 12-0 in 2014, went 10-2 and won a title in 2013, and went 11-1 to win a championship in 2010 … Raritan will make his mark. seventh appearance in a state championship game and has two state section titles to his name. They went 12-0 to win the CJ-2 title in 2004 and in 2015 upset Lincoln to win the CJ-2 championship. Raritan is 16-18 all-time in 20 playoff appearances.
RARITAN STAT LEADERS
Kieran Falzon, Jr., RB: 1,381 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns
Joe Campanella, Sr., RB / DB: 50 runs for 676 yards and 4 TDs; 12 rec. for 244 yards and 5 TDs
Ben Hutchins, Sr., QB: 661 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 INT; 390 rushing yards and 1 TD
Dan Calcari, Jr., RB / DB: 195 rushing yards and 1 TD; 8 rec. for 190 yards and 2 TDs
Alex Dekis, Sr., LB: 86 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 FR
Anthony Bavaro, Sr., LB: 55 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 TFL
Matt Agar, Jr., LB: 47 tackles, 2 TFL
Rob Scarola, Sr., DB: 3 INT
HADDONFIELD STATUS LEADERS
Carson Wolff, Sr., QB: 935 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 3 INTs; 115 runs for 600 yards, 3 TDs
Bobby Hahn, Sr., RB / LB: 170 carries for 1,002 yards and 12 touchdowns; 13 rec. for 193 yards and 3 TDs; 78 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 INT
Dante Del Duca, Sr., WR / DB: 15 rec. for 321 yards and 7 touchdowns; 5 INT in defense
Johnny Mink, Jr., LB: 114 tackles, 1 bag, 3 TFL
Ryan Foley, Jr., DB: 8 INT, 28 tackles
Justin Walker Rhyne, Father: 75 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 TFL
Charlie Klaus, So., WR / DB: 13 rec. for 161 yards and 1 TD; 4 INT in defense
Jack Cutter, Sr., K: 29 for 30 XP, 4 for 6 FG
When the playoffs were released and a Raritan 4-4 team were the No.1 seed in Central Jersey Group 2, teams outside of the Shore Conference surely looked up. But the Rockets couldn’t have cared less about outside opinions and set out to prove they were worthy of the seed.
Two weeks later, the Rockets held the serve and will head to their field on Friday night with a chance to win the third section title of the program. A tough schedule that included Red Bank Catholic, Manasquan, Central Regional and Shore Regional helped pave the way for what the Rockets hope will be another championship race.
Raritan’s shotgun, triple-option offense is in full swing right now after a crazy 41-34 win over Hillside in the semifinals. Throughout the season, Raritan has shown he can score on just about anyone. The question prevented other teams from illuminating the dashboard as well. The defensive numbers aren’t anything special at first glance, but what the Rockets have been able to do is stand up at key moments, just like they did against Hillside. Along with the quality of his offense, timely saves are very useful for Raritan.
The aforementioned offense is led by senior slotback Joe Campanella, junior backer Kieran Falzon and senior quarterback Ben Hutchins. Campanella is the versatile piece that makes the Rockets’ offense so dangerous while Falzon is their lucky charm with 1,381 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Hutchins seems to be making a huge play every week and it was again in the win over Hillside.
On the other side, there’s a balanced attack from Haddonfield and a bullet hawker defense. The Bulldawgs rushed for 1,873 yards and 16 touchdowns and had 1,073 yards and 15 touchdowns. Defensively, they have 21 interceptions in 10 games. Raritan’s heavy offense thwarts that strong passing defense, but it’s something Hutchins should be aware of when looking down.
Haddonfield has a strong tradition and is only two times away from a 13-0 record. Raritan has two championships under his belt, so it’s not like this is uncharted territory for the program. Plus, after making the 2015 playoffs 3-5 and then competing in a Cinderella run to win the title, you can never count the Rockets in the big games.
The choice : Raritan 35, Haddonfield 28