2021 NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 Championship Preview: Raritan vs. Haddonfield
CENTRAL JERSEY GROUP 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
WHO: 3-Haddonfield (8-2) at 1-Raritan (6-4)
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Joseph J. DeVirgilio Field - 419 Middle Road, Hazlet, NJ 07730
RARITAN'S ROAD TO THE FINAL: Defeated Barnegat, 30-6, in the quarterfinals; defeated Hillside, 41-34, in the semifinals.
HADDONFIELD'S ROAD TO THE FINAL: Defeated Middle Township, 34-7, in the quarterfinals; defeated Bernards, 24-14, in the semifinals.
RARITAN'S BEST WINS: 20-13 over Shore Regional; 30-6 over Barnegat; 41-34 over Hillside
HADDONFIELD'S BEST WINS: 28-14 over Delran; 34-7 over Middle Township; 24-14 over Bernards
PLAYOFF HISTORY: Haddonfield has made 16 playoff appearances in program history with a 27-11 record. They have won five sectional titles and will be appearing in their ninth championship game. The Bulldogs' last title came in 2018 when they went 13-0. They also won a sectional title in 2017, finished 12-0 in 2014, went 10-2 and won a title in 2013, and went 11-1 to win a championship in 2010...Raritan will be making its seventh appearance in a state championship game and has two state sectional titles to its credit. They went 12-0 to win the CJ-2 title in 2004 and in 2015 stunned Lincoln to win the CJ-2 championship. Raritan is 16-18 all-time across 20 playoff appearances.
RARITAN STAT LEADERS
Kieran Falzon, Jr., RB: 1,381 yards rushing and 22 TDs
Joe Campanella, Sr., RB/DB: 50 carries for 676 yards and 4 TDs; 12 rec. for 244 yards and 5 TDs
Ben Hutchins, Sr., QB: 661 yards passing, 7 TDs, 5 INTs; 390 yards rushing and 1 TD
Dan Calcari, Jr., RB/DB: 195 yards rushing and 1 TD; 8 rec. for 190 yards and 2 TDs
Alex Dekis, Sr., LB: 86 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 FR
Anthony Bavaro, Sr., LB: 55 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 TFL
Matt Agar, Jr., LB: 47 tackles, 2 TFL
Rob Scarola, Sr., DB: 3 INTs
HADDONFIELD STAT LEADERS
Carson Wolff, Sr., QB: 935 yards passing, 13 TDs, 3 INTs; 115 carries for 600 yards, 3 TDs
Bobby Hahn, Sr., RB/LB: 170 carries for 1,002 yards and 12 TDs; 13 rec. for 193 yards and 3 TDs; 78 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 INT
Dante Del Duca, Sr., WR/DB: 15 rec. for 321 yards and 7 TDs; 5 INTs on defense
Johnny Mink, Jr., LB: 114 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL
Ryan Foley, Jr., DB: 8 INTs, 28 tackles
Justin Walker Rhyne, Sr.: 75 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 TFL
Charlie Klaus, So., WR/DB: 13 rec. for 161 yards and 1 TD; 4 INTs on defense
Jack Cutter, Sr., K: 29-for-30 XP, 4-for-6 FG
When the playoff brackets were released and a 4-4 Raritan team was the No. 1 seed in the Central Jersey Group 2 bracket there were surely some eyes being rolled by teams outside of the Shore Conference. But the Rockets couldn't have cared less bout the outside opinions and set out to prove they were worthy of the top seed.
Two weeks later, the Rockets have held serve and will run out onto their home field on Friday night with a chance to claim the program's third sectional title. A challenging schedule that included Red Bank Catholic, Manasquan, Central Regional, and Shore Regional helped pave the way for what the Rockets hope is another championship run.
Raritan's shotgun, triple-option attack is running hot right now after a wild 41-34 win over Hillside in the semifinals. Throughout the season, Raritan has shown it can score on just about anybody. The question was keeping other teams from also lighting up the scoreboard. The defensive numbers aren't anything special on the surface, but what the Rockets have been able to do is rise up in key moments, just as they did vs. Hillside. With how well its offense is playing, timely stops go a long way for Raritan.
The aforementioned offense is led by senior slotback Joe Campanella, junior running back Kieran Falzon, and senior quarterback Ben Hutchins. Campanella is the versatile piece that makes the Rockets' offense so dangerous while Falzon is their bell cow with 1,381 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns. Hutchins seems to make a huge play every week and that was again the case in the win over Hillside.
On the other side is a balanced Haddonfield offense and a ball-hawking defense. The Bulldawgs have rushed for 1,873 yards and 16 touchdowns and passed for 1,073 yards and 15 touchdowns. Defensively, they have 21 interceptions in 10 games. Raritan's run-heavy offense counters that strong pass defense but it's something Hutchins needs to be aware of when he looks downfield.
Haddonfield has a strong tradition and is just two postseasons removed from going 13-0. Raritan does have two championships to its credit so it's not like this is uncharted territory for the program. Also, after entering the 2015 playoffs with a 3-5 record and then going on a Cinderella run to win the title, you can never count the Rockets out in big games.
The pick: Raritan 35, Haddonfield 28