More Fries? Cranford’s O-line, led by Illinois commit, has been critical to its success

Cranford senior Matt Fries (58) stands among his teammates Tuesday as they practice for the North 3 Regional Championship game against West Morris Central. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Big Matt Fries wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but he’s also improved on his legacy.

Will Fries is currently on the two-deep at right guard for the NFL’s Colts, after playing collegiately at Penn State, where he was named Second Team All-Big Ten in 2020, and was drafted in the seventh round by Indianapolis.

Not to be outdone, Cranford senior Matt Fries (6-5, 280 pounds) also is headed to Big Ten country, to play for Illinois next fall.

But not before he also won a state championship in his senior season, the North 2 Group 3 title, taken with a 45-21 win over Sparta at Memorial Field last Friday night.

Will played in two finals – dropping the first in 2014 to Parisppany Hills, but winning on their second try, defeating Chatham at Kean in 2015 for the North 2 Group 3 title.

That win made Cranford 12-0, its first undefeated season since 1927 (6-0-1) and first-ever perfect season.

This Friday, Fries and company will try to match that 12-0 record when they take on North 1 Group 3 champion West Morris Central (9-3) in the North 3 Regional Championship at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Game time is 4 pm. Coverage on Central Jersey Sports Radio for the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland begins approximately 3:45. Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko and guest color commentator Matt Yascko call all the action.

Cranford players – including senior RG Matt Fries (58) stand at practice Tuesday in preparation for Friday’s North 3 Regional Championship game against West Morris Central. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Fries, who starts at right guard, is a big part – and yet, just a part – of a huge offensive line, not quite the norm for a Group 3 school – that has four of its five parts at least 6-2 and 280 pounds, including left tackle Geoff Gretta (6-6, 208), left guard Kevin Shriner (6-2, 280), and right tackle Kyle Fay (6-6, 285)

Click below to hear Cranford senior Matt Fries talk about the 2021 season, their state title, and his future at Illinois:

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