After a pair of big wins, Sussex Tech’s early success will be put to the test as it travels down to Jersey City on Saturday afternoon for a United Blue Division matchup against Hudson Catholic.

There has been no area team that has been more dominant on the scoreboard thus far this season than the Sussex Tech Mustangs.


It’s not too long ago that a fact like that would have seemed impossible, but Sussex Tech is dreaming big after a 7-3 record last season accounted for the most wins in program history.


The Mustangs have started off the 2019 season in a rousing fashion with a 52-0 win over Marist and a 40-13 victory at Fort Lee. In both of those games, Sussex Tech scored 28 points in the first quarter.


While wins by that kind of margin are eye-opening, the Mustangs will be going from the easiest part of their schedule to the toughest part. It all begins this weekend with a trip down to Jersey City to take on Hudson Catholic on Saturday in a United Blue Division matchup. A lot more will be known about the Mustangs after this stretch against Hudson Catholic, Morris Catholic and Wallkill Valley.


“The expectation coming out those first two weeks was knowing that Hudson Catholic was going to be one of the biggest challenges we’re going to have all season,” Sussex Tech head coach Brian Stellingwerf said. “Really, these next three weeks are going to make or break us and show what kind of team we really are.”


Hudson Catholic is 0-2 against two out-of-state opponents, but beat Sussex Tech by a 39-14 score last year and still puts a ton of talent on the field. The Hawks are deep at wide receiver, led by 6-foot-2 junior wide receiver Amarrie Bolden, who holds an offer from UMass. Slot receiver Isiah Decias owns game-breaking speed.


If that wasn’t enough, Hudson Catholic returns four of its five starters across the offensive line. Sebastian Ramirez is a three-year starter at center, while left tackle Aaron Dantler is an imposing figure at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds.


“Obviously, I’ve seen the film on everything, and they could have won each of their games,” Stellingwerf said. “They played very well. There were a couple of mistakes in the football games changed the difference for them. They’re fast. They can run the ball. They can throw the ball.


“It’s going to be a real test of our character. There may be some people who question whether our team has that kind of character, but I can tell you our guys have seen a lot of adversity to get to here.”


For Sussex Tech, its biggest headline so far has been the dynamic play of Bo Maroney. Letting Aiden Smith take over as quarterback has allowed the Mustangs to use Maroney all over the field.


In Week 1, Maroney responded with a rushing touchdown, a punt return touchdown, an interception brought back all the way to the end zone and a safety -- an incredible display. He managed to follow that up with 119 rushing yards and four more touchdowns on the ground in the Fort Lee win.


It’s been a three-headed monster at running back with Maroney, Brendan Hall and Austin Durham all running for 100 yards last week.


“He’s a special athlete,” Stellingwerf said. “We knew we needed options to take the burden off of Hall, who is one of the best running backs in the county by far. We’ve used him in a lot of different ways, and we’re really just scratching the surface on what we can do with this offense. Even if you look at the progression of Austin Durham this year, he’s come back and has been great to watch. It’s as if they’re all competing with each other.”


Hall was a workhorse last year with five games of at least 20 carries, so keeping the hits off him so far heading into an important stretch can only be seen as a good thing. That has also allowed Hall to play more defense, which has helped that side of the ball.


Sussex Tech has not allowed a single point in the first halves of games this year. Last week five different Mustangs -- Maroney, Krystian Kipp, Ryan Marshall, Bryadon Holt and Chris Conyers -- recorded one sack each.


“You have a bunch of seniors in that group,” Stellingwerf said. “You look at Ryan Marshall up front, who is tough to contend with at the defensive tackle spot. Our linebacking crew has been playing together now for a couple of years. That’s been a huge part of this. There’s nothing like getting the ball right back to the offense.


“We’re doing a good job of making the offenses guess where the pressure is coming from. We have the guys to be able to do that. You’re seeing that exactly. You can’t simply key on one aspect. That’s really one of the strengths of the team this year.”


The energy around the Sussex Tech program right now is palpable. The Mustangs are on a mission to make it to the state tournament after being shunned last year, even with six wins in the regular season.


Football games are now must-see events for people around the school, which never used to be the case.


“We’ve got 20 freshmen that came out this year, so that says everything to me about the buzz of this team,” Stellingwerf said. “We’ve had kids that since school started have come out for football. It’s great for the school and the sport to see some kids coming back to it when numbers had been down.


“Winning breeds some of that success and creates some of that buzz. We’re seeing energy and people in the stands that we’ve never seen before.”


TONIGHT


Madison (0-1) at Hackettstown (0-2), 7 p.m.


The brutal schedule to begin the season continues for the Hackettstown Tigers.


Following games with Jefferson and Lenape Valley, Hackettstown gets another test with Madison. While Madison has not been as good the past two years as it was earlier in the decade, the Dodgers still present challenges.


They competed well in their first game with a 27-21 loss to a good Mountain Lakes squad. Madison put up 56 points against Hackettstown last year, and the Tigers have already allowed at least 40 points in each of their first two games.


Hackettstown has had some success with its ground game so far, but will be looking for answers on defense.


North Warren (1-1) at High Point (0-2). 7 p.m.


High Point will get its first home game of the season after competing hard in two road games, but coming up short in the end against quality opponents.


The Wildcats fell by a touchdown at Passaic Valley and by four points at Jefferson. For a team with a boatload of new starters, it’s a good sign that it should continue to get better as the season goes along. Quarterback Alex Buchwald had a breakout game at Jefferson with 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns.


North Warren is 1-1 following a 42-7 win at Dover last week.


Lakeland (1-1) at Lenape Valley (2-0), 7 p.m.


The Patriots will be out for revenge in this one following a 22-6 loss to Lakeland last season.


Lenape Valley has gotten out to one of the strongest starts in the area with wins by 28 and 23 points over Newton and Hackettstown, respectively.


An outstanding running game came with multiple contributors and stingy defense have been the calling cards. Nick Mollinari had a huge game last week with 156 rushing yards and two scores.


Lakeland reached the North 1, Group 2 finals in 2017 and had a record of 8-2 last year. The Lancers have a record of 65-31 since 2010 with only one losing season (2014). This year could be more of a rebuilding one with Lakeland losing most of its skill positions on offense and quarterback Mike McKay.


Lakeland is 1-1 with a win over Ramsey and a loss to Passaic Valley.


Jefferson (2-0) at Mount Olive (1-1), 7 p.m.


Jefferson will get a look at the impressive stadium seating at Mount Olive with a tough road test against the Marauders.


The Falcons have had great balance offensively between the running of Michael Gould and the passing attack of Bam Johnson to go along with outside threats David Hanna and Caleb Rippey.


This one might come down to how Jefferson does in the trenches against a Mount Olive team that relies on its size and strength down there. The Falcons will have to compete well at the point of attack to come away with a win.


Mount Olive’s defense has allowed just 14 points this season in games against Clifton and Chatham.


Hopatcong (1-1) at Kittatinny (1-1), 7 p.m.


Both of these teams will be looking to bounce back after their first losses of the season.


It was a heartbreaker for the Cougars as they blew a 15-point lead in a one-point loss at Wallkill Valley. Kittatinny will look to get its running game back in order after struggling last week. Jacob Mafaro will look to recreate his magic against Hopatcong from last year when he ran for 325 yards.


Hopatcong lost 42-6 last week to Parsippany after beating Dover to open the season.


Pope John (0-3) at Livingston (0-2), 7 p.m.


Somebody will get their first win of the year here as Pope John has its only game against a public school this year at Livingston.


The Lions hope they found something with their passing game last week against Iona Prep as Peter Delaportas threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns with Omari Hutchinson catching five passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.


Defensively, Pope John is trying to iron things out with 144 points allowed in its three losses. Livingston is coming off an overtime loss to Bayonne and a defeat against Randolph. Brian Russo had more than 100 yards rushing in each game for the Lancers.


Vernon (1-1) at Morris Hills (1-1), 7 p.m.


A road game at Morris Hills will be another good test to see where Vernon stands.


The Vikings got a huge win last week on the road over West Milford and certainly seemed headed in the right direction. Aden Moskovitz was a beast in the passing game, catching seven balls for 175 yards and two touchdowns. In total, Zack Waschek threw for 227 yards.


Morris Hills should come in fired up after losing its big rivalry game against Morris Knolls on a touchdown with 39 seconds remaining. Stopping the run against Morris Hills is always the first priority.


Newton (0-2) at Whippany Park (0-2), 7 p.m.


Newton has a solid opportunity to pickup its first win of the season following a performance in Week 2 that was much improved.


The Braves lost on a last-second field goal to Pequannock, but saw the emergence of quarterback Jack Young as a potential young star. He went 12-for-18 for 208 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions to go along with 114 yards and a touchdown rushing.


Whippany Park has lost its two games by a combined score of 83-14.


Sparta (1-1) at West Morris (2-0), 7:30 p.m.


This has been a great matchup the past three seasons with Sparta winning two of those games.


Each time it was close, and it should be no different this time around. After playing a poor second half at Ramapo, the Spartans rolled up 538 yards of offense behind freshman quarterback Austen Frattura. He threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start.


Meanwhile, all West Morris has done this year is outscore its first two opponents 104-0. West Morris is historically a run-oriented team, although Joe Spano has brought more of a passing attack to the equation.


Wallkill Valley (2-0) at Kinnelon (1-1), 7 p.m.


The Rangers come in sky-high following an emotional win over Kittatinny that was the result of a game-winning touchdown pass from Alex Mastroianni to Ben Mizeski.


Mizeski had a huge game in the victory with two interceptions on defense and 72 rushing yards. The Wallkill Valley defense held Jacob Mafaro to just 48 yards despite losing Ryan Nugent to an injury.


Kinnelon has only scored seven points this season, although its defense has played reasonably well by shutting out Parsippany and holding Montville to 20 points.