Johnson football advances to Central Jersey, Group 2 semifinals for 2nd time in 3 years; Linden, Cranford, Roselle fall on first night of playoffs

PHOTOS BY STEVEN ELLMORE – The Linden offense is on the move in Nov. 10 playoff game at Irvington.
Linden, in white, is running the ball here vs. Irvington.

Remember when “official” practice commenced back in August, with players having to put on helmets and pads during near 100 degree temperatures.

Well Friday night, as the playoffs commenced, it was time to search for extra clothing.

Temperatures in the 30s and as low as the 20s in some places made for a very frosty opening night of playoffs around the state.

Concerning Union County teams, only Johnson pulled through victorious, with the host Crusaders taking care of Holmdel 34-6 in Central Jersey, Group 2.

Johnson (8-1) has advanced to the CJ, G2 semifinals for the second time in the past three seasons. The third-seeded Crusaders will seek to get to 9-1 for the first time since 2006 when they either play at second-seeded South River or host seventh-seeded Hillside in next weekend’s CJ, G2 semifinals.

Holmdel made the playoffs this year for just the seventh time.

Cranford made the playoffs for the seventh straight season, but lost at Parsippany Hills 48-21 Friday night in North 2, Group 3 play. The Cougars finished an eighth consecutive season over .500 at 6-4.

Linden and Roselle were also defeated Friday night, although both still have one game remaining.

Linden fell at Irvington 16-13 in North 2, Group 4. It was the first time the teams faced each other in the playoffs since Linden won at Irvington 14-6 in a first-round N2, G4 clash in 2004.

Linden, now 5-4, led Irvington 13-0 in the fourth quarter before the host Blue Knights prevented another painful first-round playoff loss at home by scoring the game’s final 16 points in the last eight minutes.

Irvington, still seeking to capture its first state championship in the playoff era, snapped a four-game playoff losing streak.

Linden will wrap its season at home against Union Nov. 22. On that night at Cooper Field, Linden will retire 2007 graduate Muhammad Wilkerson’s No. 91.

Union won at Hackensack 28-7 Thursday night to improve to 3-6.

Roselle fell at home to Manasquan for the second straight season in Central Jersey, Group 2 play, this time by a 41-8 count at Rahway River Park. In last year’s semifinals, Roselle was upended by Manasquan 31-27 at Roselle’s Arminio Field.

Roselle played its home games at Rahway River Park this year because Arminio Field is getting field turf.

The Rams, now 6-3, will play at Roselle Park on Thanksgiving morning in the 100th meeting between the neighborhood rivals. Because of Arminio Field’s unavailability, this will be the first time in the entire series that one of the schools is hosting the game for a second year in a row.

Roselle defeated Roselle Park 42-20 at Roselle Park’s Herm Shaw Field in last year’s Thanksgiving Day clash. The Rams seek a third straight win in the series and ownership of the game’s trophy.

This year’s clash is set for Nov. 23 at 10:30 a.m. at Herm Shaw Field.

Roselle Park (5-3) is at Glen Ridge (6-3) Saturday in a first-round North 2, Group 1 game set to be played at Hurrell Field.





8-Ridge (4-5) at 1-Westfield (8-0), 1 p.m.

5-Elizabeth (4-5) at 4-East Orange Campus (5-3), 1 p.m.



5-Rahway (5-3) at 4-Summit (6-3), 1 p.m.



6-Roselle Park (5-3) at 3-Glen Ridge (6-3), 1 p.m.



7-Hillside (6-3) at 2-South River (9-0), 1 p.m.



Kearny at Plainfield, 1 p.m.

Hopatcong at Scotch Plains, 1 p.m.

Gov. Livingston at Chatham, 1 p.m.