Ramapo football
Ramapo celebrates a touchdown during the sectional playoffs. (JSN file photo by Shaquan Woody)

Mt. Olive vs. Ramapo Group 4 State Semifinals Preview

The state high school football semifinals have arrived, and JSN will be in Franklin Lakes Friday night when Mount Olive travels to Ramapo for a chance to advance to the Group 4 Final. Both teams are coming off dramatic wins and are looking to keep the magic alive this week. The Marauders have shown grit and grind all season long, never being out of a game. The Raiders have been a force all year with a dynamic offense with playmakers all over the field. Here’s what you need to know about this huge matchup under the Friday night lights.

How They Got There:

Mount Olive came into this game buzzing off a late win against rival Roxbury last week. The Gaels were up by two scores on the Marauders as the 2nd half started. Mount Olive quarterback Jake Asbury and company did not let that phase them, however, scoring on their opening drive of the 2nd half. Asbury scampered into the end zone to cut the Roxbury lead to just six. 

After getting the ball back, Marauder running back Tyler Cumming powered his way down the field and into the endzone, tying the game at 20. Roxbury retook the lead, but the Mount Olive special teams blocked the PAT and gave the offense a chance to drive down the field and win the game. On a 4th and 7 from the 9-yard line, Asbury connected with wide out Vincent Carpini and Izzy Kolbusz buried the PAT sending the Marauders into the next round.

Ramapo had to come back from a deficit, as well, against Northern Highlands. The first half of the game was ugly for the Raiders on the offensive end. Quarterback Landon De Prima tried to get the ball moving with his legs and the Ramapo running game but could not get a drive together. The Raiders trailed 10-0 going into the half.

The play that woke the offense up for Ramapo was a huge completion from De Prima to his go-to wideout Zach Schnorrbusch that took the Raiders from their own 45 to the doorstep of the red zone. With 42 seconds left in the 3rd, De Primo connected with junior receiver Charlie Wingfield to cut the Northern Highlands lead to 10-7 heading into the 4th quarter. 

The Raiders got the ball back, but De Prima threw an interception with 5:55 left in the game as the home crowd went silent. Ramapo’s defense, which had been strong all half, needed to make a stop in order to give the offense a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Gavin Taylor came up huge when he intercepted Northern Highlands, swinging the momentum back in the Raiders' favor. De Prima completed a 21-yard touchdown to Brandon Del Valle and Ramapo jumped on top 14-10. Northern Highlands drove the field and had one shot at the endzone, but the Raiders' defense stood strong and Ramapo held on to advance.

Key Players:

Mount Olive: Tyler Cumming - The junior running back rushed for 200 yards and found the end zone against Roxbury. He will need to keep running down hill to tire out the Ramapo defense and keep them guessing. The biggest factor is if Mount Olive has the lead, it will be on that running game to close the game out which he is absolutely capable of doing. 

Ramapo: Landon De Prima - It’s all or nothing for De Prima, as each game could be his last—and he has certainly played that way. After a slow start to the game, the senior quarterback threw for 110 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the 2nd half. He needs to get out to a faster start using his arm and legs to try and put the Marauders away early. Mount Olive is never out of a game, but a fast start could go a long way.

Final Thoughts: 

Mount Olive comes in as the underdog on the road facing an offense that has plenty of talent. Ramapo at home is a favorite but faces a team that is built on grit and will not give up at any point in time in the game. A trip to the section final is on the line—which team wants it more? We will find out at 6pm Friday night.

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Who wins the Group 4 semifinal between Ramapo & Mount Olive?
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