We’re coming into the home stretch of the high school football season in New Jersey, and five of the 59 teams in the Big Central are perfect so far.
And the good news is that none of them play each other – or could play each other – so all could run the table not only in the regular season but through the playoffs.
Of course, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. But here’s a look at all five teams, how they got here, and maybe where they’re going:
North Brunswick (5-0): They’re the only one of the bunch that hasn’t played six games yet this season, but the top-ranked Raiders have already gotten through the toughest part of the schedule, having beaten the likes of South Brunswick, Edison and Sayreville. Their defense has been stellar, allowing an average of 8.8 a game. That includes a 50-0 shutout of Franklin – their highest offensive output of the year – and a win at Old Bridge where the Raiders allowed only took a safety. New Brunswick and East Brunswick the next two weeks are a combined 0-12. Cranford in Week 8 is 3-2 at the moment, and likely to come in at 5-2 or 4-3 by then. The Raiders fell to the Cougars up in Union County last year, 34-14.
Montgomery (6-0): The 5th-ranked Cougars have been on fire all year long, thanks in large part to the combo of quarterback Michael Schmelzer, Jr., and his top receiving target Matt D’Avino, who have eight TD hookups this year, and have connected on 5 of their last eight touchdowns over the past two games. Like North Brunswick, they will be favored to win their next two games over North Hunterdon and Scotch Plains-Fanwood, who are a combined 1-11. But Linden on the road should be a real test. The Tigers are 5-1, with their lone loss to Woodbridge. They’ve won three straight since then, and have an immensely tough last three weeks. They’re at Summit Friday, and at Cranford next week before hosting the Montgomery on Cutoff Weekend.
St. Thomas Aquinas (6-0): The No. 6 Trojans again are doing it with a potent offense, and a nearly lockdown defense. They have posted four shutouts on the season, two years after tying a playoff-era Middlesex County record with seven. They have four more regular season games to play, since non-publics have an extra week before their playoffs start. Three of the next four are on the road, starting with Rahway this week. Then they host North Plainfield and visit Edison, followed by a trip to Somerville to play Immaculata. The way they’re playing, it’s definitely doable.
Bernards (6-0): The 8th-ranked Mountaineers are doing it the same way Aquinas is. They’re averaging 36 points a game while allowing 6.2 points a contest. That includes shutouts in their last two games. Their best win was a second half rally at Conant Street Park over HIllside, a 28-12 victory. This week they host Bound Brook, then two tougher matchups: at New Providence in Week Seven and at Governor Livingston on Cutoff Weekend. The Pioneers are 3-3, while the Highlanders are 5-1, and have picked up all those wins in a row since dropping their opener… to New Providence, 14-7.
Spotswood (6-0): The Chargers occasionally have broken out offensively, but they’ve been really good on defense, allowing just 22 points all season, with dour of their six victories coming via shutout. It hasn’t been the most challenging of schedules, which could hurt them on Cutoff Weekend. Their strongest remaining opponent is Johnson, which is 4-1 with a 61.12 Strength Index value. But the Chargers – who sit 11th in the current South Group 2 standings – may not be able to withstand a loss in that game because the other two opponents – Dayton (1-4) and winless JP Stevens – are going to bring their numbers down even with wins. They may need to finish 9-0 to get in the playoffs.
Here’s a breakdown of the remaining undefeated teams in the state, listed by conference, heading into Week 6:
Shore Conference (5):
- 5-0: Point Pleasant Boro, Holmdel, Jackson Memorial, Marlboro
- 6-0: Brick Memorial
West Jersey Football League (7):
- 4-0: Florence
- 5-0: Haddonfield, Timber Creek
- 6-0: Notre Dame, Mainland, Cinnaminson, Schalick
Super Football Conference (10):
- 4-0: Fair Lawn, Newark East Side
- 5-0: Caldwell, Ramapo, Weequahic, Old Tappan
- 6-0: Westwood, Passaic Tech, Roxbury, Cedar Grove
- 4-0: Weehawken
- 5-0: Rutherford, Park Ridge