Northern Highlands, Old Tappan, PCTI football at first public Finals

Old Tappan, Northern Highlands and Passaic Tech are Entering a Brave new world in the history of New Jersey high school sports.

New Jersey will hold its first official public state football championships this weekend, and Old Tappan, Northern Highlands, and Passaic Tech are among 10 teams competing for one of the five group titles at Rutgers. Each game pits a North Jersey Champion against a South Jersey champion.

“It’s an honor to represent the North in the first game,” Passaic Tech junior standout Travon Dye said.

After decades of discussion, the NJSIAA, the state’s governing Athletic organization, changed its bylaws to allow public schools to join non-publics in playing down to a single Champion in each group.

“I’d be lying a little bit if I said us, as a senior group, didn’t think about it a little bit – the first group to make history,” Northern Highlands senior cornerback Andre Johnson said.

Northern Highlands vs. North Hunterdon in a Group 4 football semifinal at Franklin High School in Franklin Township on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Northern Highlands #4 JR Walley throws a pass.

Old Tappan (11-1) will face Delsea (12-0) in the Group 3 final at 3 pm Saturday. Northern Highlands (9-3) will follow and battle Millville (11-2) in Group 4 at 6 pm In Group 5, Passaic Tech (11-2) faces Toms River North (13-0) at 3 pm Sunday.

“Now that it’s happening, and we’re playing at Rutgers, it feels kind of surreal,” Old Tappa senior quarterback Tommy Caracciolo said.

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