North Hunterdon looking to turn tables on Morris Knolls in bid for first finals trip since ’17

North Hunterdon with the “Milk Can” after beating Voorhees in their annual rivalry game. (Source: @NHLionsFootball on Twitter)

One more win.

Well, two really.

One more win is all North Hunterdon needs to reach a sectional final for the first time since 2017.

That season, the Lions went all the way, winning the North 2, Group 4 championship, beating Phillipsburg 21-20 at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands for the program’s first title since 1975, just the second year of the current playoff system’s existence.

Two more wins, and they’ll have a title, but first things first.

The top-seeded Lions (9-1) will have to get by Morris Knolls (7-2) Friday night in a North 2, Group 4 semifinal game to be broadcast live by Central Jersey Sports Radio on the “Big Central Game of the Week.”

You can hear the game for free by clicking here, with pregame set for 6:45 pm, and Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling all the play-by-play with kickoff set for 7:00.

Both teams have been great all year. Their three losses have been to Phillipsburg (North Hunterdon), Randolph and West Morris (Morris Knolls), teams with a combined record of 27-1. Randolph is 8-1, the only team with a loss. The Stateliners are 9-0, the Wolfpack 10-0 and the defending North Jersey Group 3 Regional Champions.

North Hunterdon has been averaging 30.9 points per game, and has scored no fewer than 21 points in a contest all season.

They’re led on offense by quarterback Luke Martini (1,505 passing yards and 5 TDs), receiver Derek Vaddis (33 catches, 649 yards, 7 TDs), and the dual-threat of runningbacks Kente Edwards (1,035 yards and 11 TDs) and Alex Uryniak (900 yards and 12 TDs).

Edwards has been banged up for a few weeks and seen limited playing time over the past month. With Uryniak handling the bulk of the carries in that timespan with ease, Edwards hasn’t necessarily been needed.

Not yet, anyway.

But he very well could be needed against a Golden Eagles’ squad that runs the the Houston veer option to the tune of over 2,600 yards and 27 touchdowns on the season, averaging 24 points a game. When held to no more than two touchdowns, Morris Knolls is 1-2.

So it may be that defense is the key. The schools have very little history, only meeting two times, but those have come in the last two years, and both wins by Morris Knolls: 35-21 in last year’s season opener, and 35-14 in the 2020 season-opener, a “COVID” game picked up with just one day’s notice after a last-minute pandemic-related cancellation.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko preview the game with North Hunterdon head coach Kevin Kley:

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