2021 North 2, Group 4 NJSIAA Championship Preview: Middletown South vs. Irvington
NORTH 2, GROUP 4 CHAMPIONSHIP
WHO: 2-Middletown South (8-1) at 1-Irvington (9-2)
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m.
WHERE: 1253 Clinton Avenue, Irvington, NJ 07111
MIDDLETOWN SOUTH'S ROAD TO THE FINAL: Defeated North Hunterdon, 34-20, in the quarterfinals; defeated Sayreville, 17-8, in the semifinals.
IRVINGTON'S ROAD TO THE FINAL: Defeated Linden, 11-6, in the quarterfinals; defeated Colonia, 14-7, in the semifinals.
MIDDLETOWN SOUTH'S BEST WINS: 15-12 over Manasquan; 13-7 (OT) over Manalapan; 17-8 over Sayreville.
IRVINGTON'S BEST WINS: 36-32 (OT) over Hudson Catholic; 7-0 over Ridgewood; 21-7 over West Orange; 14-7 over Colonia
PLAYOFF HISTORY: Middletown South is making its 22nd appearance in a sectional championship game. The Eagles' 10 titles are second all-time in Shore Conference history behind Manasquan (12). Their last sectional title game in 2015 when they finished 12-0 and were the No. 1 team in New Jersey. Middletown South is 49-21 in 31 playoff appearances all-time...Irvington is seeking the program's first sectional title and is making its third appearance in a sectional championship game. The Blue Knights have a 10-15 record in the playoffs across 15 appearances. Since head coach Ashley Pierre took over in 2016, Irvington has a 47-17 record and has won at least seven games each season.
MIDDLETOWN SOUTH STAT LEADERS
-Dan Primiano, Sr., RB: 143 carries for 955 yards and 10 TDs
-Tom Schork, Sr., QB/DB: 678 yards passing, 4 TDs, 7 INTs; 271 yards rushing, 5 TDs; 1 INT on defense.
-Jack Latore, Sr., DE: 75 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 19.5 TFL, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
-Colin Gallagher, So., LB: 64 tackles, 12 sacks, 18 TFL, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
-Jack Willi, Sr., LB: 80 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 8 TFL, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
-Tyler Carey, Sr., DB: 39 tackles, 4 sacks, 8.5 TFL, 2 INT, 2 forced fumbles, 4 pass breakups
-Matt Grab, Sr., DB: 24 tackles, 3 INT, 6 pass breakups
-Donovan Summey, So., RB: 218 yards rushing and 3 TDs.
-Anthony Brasco, Sr., WR: 10 rec. for 144 yards and 2 TDs
-Ryan St. Clair, Sr., WR: 13 rec. for 125 yards
-Jake Czwakiel, So., K/DB: 6-for-7 on field goals; 38 tackles, 4 INT, 1.5 TFL, 4 pass breakups
IRVINGTON STAT LEADERS
Saquan Gordon, Sr., QB: 1,500 yards passing, 11 TDs, 7 INTs; 42 carries for 158 yards and 2 TDs
Kyshir Desir, Jr., RB: 143 carries for 970 yards and 6 TDs; 14 rec. for 158 yards.
Famah Toure, Jr., WR: 21 rec. for 491 yards and 3 TDs
Nasir Addision, Jr., WR: 18 rec. for 328 yards and 3 TDs;
Zaheem Crawford, Sr., WR: 15 rec. for 290 yards and 3 TDs
Justin Evans, Sr.: 69 tackles, 11 sacks, 14 TFL
Adon Shuler: 58 tackles, 6 INTs, 2 TDs, 3 blocked kicks
Zamar Grove: 54 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 16 TFL
Tafari Thompson, Sr., DE: 68 tackles, 8 sacks, 18 TFL
Lensley Therlonge, Sr.: 66 tackles, 4 sacks, 9 TFL
Isaiah Augustin: 50 tackles, 1 sack, 6 TFL
Stanley Corneille: 44 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 TFL
A traditional state power will try to add to its championship haul while a program that has been knocking on the door for the past five years will attempt to break through when Middletown South travels north to meet Irvinvgton in the NJSIAA North 2, Group 4 sectional championship game on Friday night.
The Eagles are one of the winningest programs in Shore Conference history with 10 sectional titles, six of which have come under Hall of Fame head coach Steve Antonucci. The Eagles have won this season with their tried and true combination of suffocating defense and a power rushing attack and will look to do the same against Irvington.
Irvington has won nine games and has also played great defense this season. The Blue Knights have two shutouts and have allowed more than 20 points in a game just twice this season. They have allowed 13 points combined in their first two playoff games.
Irvington, however, has scored just 25 points over those past two games despite having some big offensive numbers, especially in the passing game with senior quarterback Saquan Gordon leading the way. Middletown South can get after a quarterback as good as any team but the Eagles have also shown they can play a bend-but-don't break style, making sure the other team's No. 1 weapon doesn't beat them. Sayreville did a pretty good job staying out of third-and-long against Middletown South but the Eagles played a great game up front to limit Sayreville's rushing attack.
One player not listed among the stat leaders for Middletown South but is an indispensable player is senior two-way lineman Jake Williamson. He is their leader along the offensive line and an important player at defensive tackle, taking up blocks and also getting up field. It helps Jack Latore get one-on-one matchups on the edge and the linebackers to run unimpeded.
All signs point for a low-scoring game and the team avoiding any critical mistakes coming out on top. Middletown South's program thrives in these kinds of situations but Irvington has been building towards a championship for several seasons. It's a fascinating matchup that could come down to the wire.
The pick: Middletown South 17-14
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