Mantz, Panthers all business as Bridgewater-Raritan hosts rival Hillsborough

Bridgewater-Raritan takes the field. (Source: @BRHSPantherFB on Twitter)

As Rick Mantz prepares for his first home game as Bridgewater-Raritan’s head coach, it would be easy for him to get lost in sentimentality. Not only will Friday night be his first time coaching from the home sidelines at John Basilone Memorial Field, but it will be against Hillsborough, his alma mater, and first ever head coaching job.

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Mantz kicked a game-winning field goal to win the Raiders a state title in 1980, and coached them to a tile in 2000; those were their only crowns before last year’s dominating 13-0 season, which Mantz was excited to see.

“It’s always hard. I grew up there. I went to school there. I coached there. Hillsborough is always going to be a special place to me,” Mantz said. “But when it comes down to it, they’re the next team on the schedule. It’s not about all that other stuff. It’s about our kids lining up and playing ball.”

In a vacuum, it’s another opportunity for the ninth-ranked Panthers (1-1) to make a statement in the Big Central. After falling to Passaic Tech in the season opener, Bridgewater-Raritan rallied to defeat Union (previously sixth in the media poll), 7-6, behind a fourth quarter touchdown run by Antoine Hinton. It doesn’t get any easier with No. 4 Hillsborough (1-0), the 2021 Central Group 5 and South Jersey Group 5 Regional Champs, whose last loss came almost 22 months ago, making the short trip north in the Big Central Game of the Week on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action from John Basilone Memorial Field, with kickoff slated for 7 pm. Pregame coverage begins at 6:45. Click here to listen live.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk with Bridgewater-Raritan head coach Rick Mantz:

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