The Johnson Crusaders did not panic after a 0-3 start included two losses by exactly one touchdown and another by a single point.
The Crusaders, guided by first-year head coach and 2006 ALJ graduate Anthony DelConte, bounced back to win three of their next four to clinch a playoff berth in Central Jersey, Group 2.
Presently, Johnson (3-4) is the seventh seed, four points ahead of Lakewood and Point Pleasant Boro. The Crusaders are favored to win at home tomorrow night against 0-8 Somerville in their final qualifying game.
The playoffs commence next weekend, with Johnson actually having a chance to play – once again – the one team it has not defeated in the past month.
That would be Roselle. The Rams are presently second in the power points in CJ, G2. If the playoffs were this weekend, Roselle, as the No. 2 seed, would be hosting Johnson, the seventh seed.
Roselle hosted Johnson on Oct. 18 at Arminio Field and came away with a 20-7 Mid-State 38 Conference-Mountain Division triumph. That was Roselle’s first home win of the season.
Roselle has another big home game this weekend when it hosts Bernards Saturday, with the Mountain Division title on the line. If Roselle wins, it’s over, Roselle is the champion. If Bernards wins, then there’s the possibility of a three-way tie, which would result in tri-champs.
If Bernards wins, but then loses at Delaware Valley on Nov. 28, then there would be a three-way tie. As a result, Roselle, Bernards and Delaware Valley will have finished 4-1 in the divison, with Roselle defeating Delaware Valley, Bernards defeating Roselle and Delaware Valley defeating Bernards.
Roselle is the only team that can win the five-team Mountain Division crown outright and will do so with a home win over Bernards Saturday.
Roselle is 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the Mountain Division. Bernards is 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the division and Delaware Valley is 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the division.
Brearley, which produced a rare tie at home against Bound Brook last Friday night – the game ended at 41-41 – will win the Valley Division if the Bears win at New Providence and Bound Brook beats Belvidere at home tomorrow night.
Brearley is 5-2-1 overall and 5-1-1 in the division. Belvidere is 6-2 overall and 6-1 in the division. Belvidere opened with a 27-22 loss at Brearley, won six straight and then lost at home to Johnson 28-14 this past Friday night in non-division play.
The Mid-State’s other division winners have been crowned, all of them first-time winners. Hillsborough captured the Delaware, Cranford the Raritan and Linden the Watchung.
This is the first time in the six-season history of the Mid-State that Summit did not win a division title.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE:
Friday, Nov. 7 (8 games)
Brearley at New Providence, 5 p.m.
Linden at Elizabeth, 7 p.m.
Plainfield at Hillsborough, 7 p.m.
Scotch Plains at Phillipsburg, 7 p.m.
North Plainfield at Cranford, 7 p.m.
Somerville at Johnson, 7 p.m.
Manville at Roselle Park, 7 p.m.
Dayton at Pingry, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 8 (4 games)
Hunterdon Central at Westfield, 2 p.m.
Bernards at Roselle, 2 p.m.
Summit at Hillside, 2 p.m.
Gov. Livingston at Rahway, 2 p.m.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS:
Friday, Oct. 31 (6 games)
Westfield 42, Watchung Hills 20
Delaware Valley 42, Hillside 12
Brearley 41, Bound Brook 41 (tie)
Ridge 38, Union 34
Johnson 28, Belvidere 14
Dayton 22, Manville 0
Saturday, Nov. 1 (5 games)
Elizabeth 40, Plainfield 13
Scotch Plains 35, Warren Hills 20
Cranford 30, Gov. Livingston 13
Summit 30, Rahway 20
New Providence 20, Roselle Park 7
Off: Linden, Roselle.
THIS WEEK’S PICKS (12):
Brearley over New Providence
Linden over Elizabeth
Hillsborough over Plainfield
Phillipsburg over Scotch Plains
Cranford over North Plainfield
Johnson over Somerville
Roselle Park over Manville
Dayton over Pingry
Westfield over Hunterdon Central
Roselle over Bernards
Summit over Hillside
Gov. Livingston over Rahway
Best bet: Cranford
Upset special: Roselle
Last week: 9-1-1
This year: 73-26 (.737)
Best bets: 8-0
Upset specials: 4-4
UNION COUNTY TOP 10:
8-New Providence (5-2)
9-Scotch Plains (3-5)
Gov. Livingston (2-5)
Roselle Park (2-5)