With the state playoffs complete through two weekends, and sectional finals coming up this weekend, two heavy favorites are among the three Big Central teams remaining in the state playoffs.
The Big Central went 3-9 in sectional semifinals, with Somerville losing at undefeated Cedar Creek Saturday afternoon 27-0, while St. Thomas Aquinas hung in at St. Joe’s of Hammonton – down just 15-12 at the half – but ended up losing 45-12.
That leaves just third-seed North Brunswick (8-3) and top-seed and unbeaten Hillsborough (11-0) in Central Jersey Group 5, and unbeaten top-seed Cranford (10-0) in North 2, Group 4.
It will be a battle of the Raiders in the CJ5 title tilt, as Hillsborough goes for its first title since it shocked Brandon Hoyte-led Sayreville in 2000 at Rutgers Stadium. ‘Boro is 2-2 all-time in finals, losing in 1974 and 1996, but winning in 1980 and 2000. It will be the first sectional final at home for Hillsborough, which played the 1996 and 1980 games at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, and the 1974 game in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
North Brunswick is 0-2, losing in 1979 and 2018, the most recent defeat coming at Sayreville, which went on to win the South 5 bowl championship over Williamstown, which Hillsborough just beat this weekend in the sectional semifinals.
In North 2, Group 4, Cranford will also play its first-ever sectional final at home. The Cougars are 2-1 all time in finals, winning in 2011 and 2015, losing in 2014. They’ll face third-seed Sparta, which has quite the history; the Spartans have made it to the finals ten times, and won seven of them.
Both games will take place Friday night at 7 pm.
Central Jersey Sports Radio will announce its coverage plans later this week.