2023 NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 Football Playoffs Preview
SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 2
Last year’s champion: Rumson-Fair Haven
(8) Delaware Valley at (1) Rumson-Fair Haven
(5) Haddon Heights at (4) Oakcrest
(6) Middle Township at (3) Gloucester City
(7) Raritan at (2) Haddonfield
The Favorite: Rumson-Fair Haven (4-4)
The Bulldogs have played arguably the toughest schedule in the Shore with American Division games against Donovan Catholic, Red Bank Catholic, Toms River North, Middletown South, and Wall, plus nondivisional games with Point Boro and Marlboro. All eight opponents are playoff teams with Toms River North (Central Jersey Group 5) and Point Boro (Central Jersey Group 2) as No. 1 seeds and Red Bank Catholic likely the same in Non-Public B. For Rumson, it’s all about getting to the playoffs healthy, with some momentum, and with a favorable seed. All three boxes have been checked and now they will embark on another championship run. RFH has won all seven of its sectional titles since 2010 and was in the Group 2 final last season. They’ve been a postseason force for the last 15 years. Junior quarterback Owen O’Toole has thrown for 1,222 yards and 10 touchdowns but with 10 interceptions. Still, he is a great passer and can also burn a team with his legs if the opportunity presents itself. Standout senior wideout Nick Rigby has missed the last three games with an injury but is expected back during the playoffs. The running game doesn’t feature eye-popping numbers but has been very good recently with senior running back Alastair Orr and sophomore running back Kellen Murray. Defensively, senior defensive lineman Cooper Bunnell (48 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 9 TFL) and senior linebacker Reed Elsas (83 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 7 TFL) lead the way for a unit that has produced several epic playoff performances under longtime defensive mastermind Jerry Schulte.
Contenders: Haddonfield (7-1); Gloucester (7-1)
Haddonfield has won three sectional titles in the last six seasons and has been a consistent contender in the state playoffs. The Haddons are 7-1 with their lone loss coming to Camden (20-7), which is seeded No. 3 in Central Jersey Group 3. They have not played nearly the schedule Rumson has, however. Their top two wins are over West Essex (24-10) and Group 1 teams Woodstown (48-16) and Woodbury (21-6). Senior running back Dominic Hahn leads the run game with 877 yards and 12 touchdowns on an average of nearly nine yards per carry, while senior quarterback Declan McCarthy has thrown for 790 yards and seven touchdowns. Their secondary has intercepted 11 passes this season and could be an intriguing matchup with Rumson if the two meet in the final.
Gloucester beat Haddonfield, 14-13, in last season’s sectional semifinals before falling to Willingboro in the championship game. Since a 17-14 loss to unbeaten Schalick in Week 0, the Lions have ripped off seven straight wins and enter the playoffs off three consecutive shutouts. Their defense has been outstanding in allowing just 6.5 points per game. Their offense centers around the backfield duo of senior running back Jake Zearfoss (811 yards, 7 TDs) and junior running back Mason Widman (909 yards, 13 TDs). Senior Jake Seibert has thrown for 675 yards and 14 touchdowns with senior Justin Frazer his top target with 13 catches for 293 yards and seven touchdowns.
Dark horse: none
Shore Shots: Rumson-Fair Haven (4-4); Raritan (2-6)
As mentioned above, Rumson has plenty of recent championship history, is battle-tested, and is getting injured players back at the right time. They are the favorite in the bracket.
Raritan is just 2-6 but one of those wins came over Manalapan, which helped the Rockets reach the postseason. After that 20-16 win over the Braves on Sept. 22, however, Raritan has lost four in a row and scored just 20 points. Despite their recent postseason success and having reached two straight sectional finals, It’s a stretch to think the Rockets can go on the road and pull the upset over Haddonfield in the first round.
Non-Shore Player to Watch: Aidan Oldfield, Jr., DE, Oakcrest
Outside of the players we already mentioned, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Oldfield has been terrorizing opposing backfields this season with 14 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.
Badders’ pick: Rumson-Fair Haven
Stump’s pick: Rumson-Fair Haven