Hawks, Crusaders One Step Away from MetLife Stadium

River Dell faces Sparta while Bergen Catholic meets Don Bosco in the state football semifinals

The undefeated River Dell Golden Hawks may have been stricked with injuries throughout the season but their goal to return to MetLife Stadium is still alive this weekend. At the same time, Bergen Catholic will face archrival Don Bosco Prep in the semifinals this year rather than the title game as the Crusaders three regular season losses dropped them several points.

For both teams to get to Rutherford and a shot for a group title, they must each dig deep against their opponents on Friday night in the Non Public Group 4and North 1 Group 3 tournaments.

River Dell Golden Hawks vs. Sparta Spartans

The top-seeded Hawks have surpassed expections as the team lost key starters linebacker/running back Kevin Barry (knee) and quarterback Tim Barnes (leg) early in the season. 

Never relying on one quarterback has proved effective for River Dell which turned to Ryan Duran to lead the squad during the regular season. At that time, the Hawks were averaging 33 points per game but Duran's status for Friday night's game is unknown after missing the opening round victory over Jefferson due to injury. Third-string quarterback Pat McPartland took control at center and may have to do so again this week.

Fifth-seeded Sparta earned their semifinal date after shutting out Mahwah, 21-0 in the first round. The Spartans are 8-1 for the season having lost a tight game to Pope John in October.

Calling the shots for Sparta will be senior Jake Melville (1164 passing, 810 rushing yards) with Codie Aromando (1127 rushing), Zach Davis (351 recieving) and Teddy Fischer (349 receiving) in the mix as well.

Michael Boryeskne (59 tackles, 7 sacks) could spell for River Dell offense as he has been average six tackles per game.

River Dell takes the field Friday 6pm at home, 55 Pyle Street, Oradell.

Bergen Catholic Crusaders vs. Don Bosco Ironmen

For the past few years, Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco have battled each December for the Non Public Group 4 title and now these arch rivals will have to settle the score in the semifinal round.

The Ironmen edged past the Crusaders 20-17 in the regular season and another close game is expected on Friday at Granatell Stadium. But Bergen Catholic is coming into the match on a high note after blowing past Notre Dame 63-0 in the opening round and then again on Thanksgiving 35-21 over top-seeded Paramus Catholic.

The Crusaders will once again turn to senior quarterback Jon Germano, running back James Dawson, and wide-recievers JJ Kulcsar and John Feaster to lead the explosive offense while Kyle Quiero, Danny Grasso and Parker Tobia seek to slow the Ironmen on defense.

The second-seeded Ironmen may have started their postseason off with a 42-14 victory over St. Augustine, they were upset in their annual Thanksgiving Day game with St. Joseph of Montvale ending a 61-game, in-state win streak.

Unlike prior years where the Ironmen have put up big numbers, Don Bosco is currently averaging 109 passing and 131 rushing yards. Junior quarterback Frank Nutile has thrown for 527 yards and run for 34, letting teammates Elijiah Ibitokun-hanks (440 rushing) and Kyle Phipps (118 rushing) lead the offense on the ground.

Kickoff is Friday, 7pm at Don Bosco Prep, 492 North Franklin Turnpike, Ramsey.

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