Following a 1-10 season in 2018, North Plainfield got things headed in the right direction with a 4-6 record in 2019.
In a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Canucks almost entirely reversed field, and finished with a 7-1 mark, their lone loss coming by a 30-14 score in a Week 8 postseason affair with Linden.
It was their best season by far and away since North Plainfield went 9-1 in 2010, their lone loss to Carteret in the state playoffs.
Head coach Jimmy DiPaolo’s squad only won three games in his first two seasons at Krausche Field, but now are 11-7 over their last two seasons.
Adam Elsais was a big reason why. The three-year starter at linebacker was a big influence on the team, which also saw like Kahn-Yae Stevens emerge. The junior, who played in all three phases of the game, scored at least a touchdown in each of them. Fellow junior Keiahn Grenald at QB will help form a solid base for the future as well, for a team that learned from Elsais and other seniors, but will have to forge their own way in 2021.
Click below to listen to head coach Jimmy DiPaolo talk about North Plainfield’s big turnaround:
Honorable mentions for Turnaround Team of the Year include Monroe and Scotch Plains-Fanwood.
Monroe finished 5-1, by far its best record since Chris Beagan left in 2016 to coach his alma mater, Sayreville. Dan Lee’s squad went 8-30 in his first four seasons, but this year’s 5-1 record – interrupted by a COVID stoppage – included wins over two solid teams in South Brunswick and, ironically, Sayreville. The Falcons’ only loss came to Old Bridge, which ended the season ranked 7th in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood, meanwhile, finished 5-2 in head coach Austin Holman’s second year, following a 4-6 record in his first campaign. From 2013-2018, under Jon Stack, then Mark Ciccotelli, the Raiders had gone a combined 9-50 over six seasons. This year, they lost only to Woodbridge – which finished 7-1 and was ranked No. 1 for most of the year in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten and Big Central Media Poll – and Cedar Grove, which finished 5-1 playing in the North Jersey Super Football Conference. The Raiders also picked up blowout wins over Princeton, JFK and Colonia by a combined 136-29 margin.