The NJSIAA Saturday afternoon announced its schedule of regional championship games to be played over the next two weekends, including the South Group 5 matchup between Hillsborough and Kingsway, and the North Group 3 contest between Cranford and West Morris Central.
Both teams are undefeated, with the Raiders 12-0 – having already setting a program record for wins in a single season – and the Cougars at 11-0, looking to match their program best 12-0 mark set in 2015, when they last won a sectional championship.
Cranford will get to play first, taking on West Morris Central (9-3) on this coming Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, at 4 pm at MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands. The Cougars blew past Sparta this past Friday night in the North 2, Group 3 title game 45-21 as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland. It was their third title in four trips to the sectional final, all coming under 17th-year head coach Erik Rosenmeier.
Meanwhile, Hillsborough and Kingsway (7-4) won’t play until Saturday, December 4th at 1 pm at Rutgers University’s SHI Stadium. That’s because the Dragons have a Thanksgiving Eve game to play against rival Clearview. Teams with games on the week of Thanksgiving get moved to the second week of regional championships.
Hillsborough snapped a 21-year title drought with a 35-8 win over North Brunswick Friday night in the Central Jersey Group 5 title game, their second win over North Brunswick in four weeks. They will try to be the first Somerset County team ever to win 13 games in a season.
The only current Big Central team to win a regional championship and finish 13-0 is Piscataway, which beat Ridgewood in the inaugural North 5 bowl game at Met Life Stadium in 2018. Sayreville won the South 5 title that year, but finished 11-1, while Hillside won the South 2 title in 2019 and was undefeated, but only played 12 games.
In fact, only four teams statewide have ever hit 13-0; in addition to Piscataway, Haddonfield did it in 2018, while Ramapo did it in both 2018 and 2019 under the late Drew Gibbs.
Perhaps fittingly, the only two Big Central Conference teams to reach the regional championship games were the only two league teams to receive the top overall seeds in their respective supersections. They’re also the only two from the league to still be undefeated.
West Morris was the overall No. 2 team in North 3, and the top-seed in the North 1, Group 3 section, while Kingsway was the four-seed in the South Group 5 section, knocking off third-seed Toms River North Friday night in the title game.
Central Jersey Sports Radio will announce its coverage of both games once clearance is received from the NJSIAA.