To say the Plainfield football program was not in good shape before the arrival of head coach James Williams would be an understatement.
From 2012 to 2020 they had not won more than two games in a single season.
Since 2020? The Cardinals are 15-12, going 5-5 each of the last two seasons, and taking a step up this year to 5-2 through their first seven.
A big part of this year’s success has been Ala-meen Watkins. The junior quarterback has thrown for 1,067 yards and eight touchdowns this year.
But Friday at Monroe was the topper. Watkins went off for a school record 392 passing yards with four touchdowns in a 48-14 victory over the Eagles.
Not only that, he rushed for 53 yards and two more touchdowns, giving him six scores in the game and over 450 all-purpose yards.
Did we mention he also played defense? At defensive end, he logged five tackles.
For all that, Watkins is our Bellamy & Son Paving Big Central Player of the Week for Week Six.
Watkins will have three more opportunities to add on to those numbers, while also trying to extend the Cardinals’ season. Besides a Cutoff Weekend game Saturday afternoon against Franklin at Hub Stine Field and Westfield at home on Thanksgiving, Plainfield will be in the playoffs yet again – a phrase almost unthinkable just a few short years ago – likely falling in the middle of the pack of North 1 or North 2 Group 5.
Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s interview with Week Seven Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Al Ameen Watkins of Plainfield:
The Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week is chosen from nominees by Big Central coaches. At the end of the season, one player will be chosen to receive a $500 scholarship courtesy of Bellamy & Son Paving. As we did last year, we will recognize a few “Honorable Mentions,” and include all other all nominees in our weekly story.
- Isaiah Bennett, Manville: The sophomore came up big in a 49-24 win at Highland Park Friday, scoring two touchdowns on 17 carries for 297 yards on offense – the TD runs were 67 and 62 yards and came on his first two carries of the night – while also registering 10 tackles (6 solo) playing at outside linebacker.
- Xahmir Evans, Old Bridge: The junior defensive end was disruptive against New Brunswick, forcing four fumbles, logging 2 1/2 sacks and 11 tackles, as well as 4 TFLs in a 51-0 win over the Zebras.
- Will Deady, Ridge: The senior continued his excellent year Saturday afternoon in a late come-from-behind 34-15 win over Westfield, with 22 carries for 183 yards and four touchdowns, while also converting a two-point play. That came in a stretch of the final 12 minutes where – down 15-14 – Deady carried ten times for 100 yards and three of his four TDs to score 20 straight points and win going away.
- Braden Paulmenn, South Brunswick: The senior quarterback helped lead South Brunswick in a fourth-quarter comeback against Edison Friday night to win 30-27. His team down 20-16, Paulmenn led got the Vikings the lead with a 27-yard run. After Edison got it back to take a 27-23 lead, Paulmenn answered on the next play from scrimmage with a 68-yard touchdown pass that resulted in the final score.
- Javin Hudson, St. Joseph-Metuchen: The junior linebacker had five tackles, a TFL and two interception returns for touchdowns in a 26-21 win over Watchung Hills Friday night.
(in alphabetical order, by school)
- RJ Nubnowski, Bernards: It seems like it’s a different player every night and everybody contributing for the Mountaineers. Friday night, in a 38-14 win at New Providence, senior center RJ Nubnowski anchored an offensive line that paved the way for seven yards per carry, and graded out to a 96 as an OL, their highest of the year. He allows no sacks or QB hurries, and “dominated his man all night” according to head coach Jon Simoneau.
- Shaun Garland, Edison: The freshman tight end impressed for the Eagles in a loss to South Brunswick. He carried nine times for 58 yards and a three-yard touchdown and grabbed three catches for 76 yards and a 21-yard touchdown on offense. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, two TFLs, a sack and a QB hurry.
- Kyle Johnston, Metuchen: The junior defensive end/linebacker came up big for a banged up Metuchen team in a 14-0 win Saturday over visiting JP Stevens. He had nine total tackles, five solo, 2 1/2 TFLs, a sack and a pass breakup. On offense – where he plays left guard – he had three pancake blocks.
- Sal Marchione, Monroe: The senior had six catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Plainfield, while also adding six tackles from his outside linebacker spot.
- Adrian Palacios, Roselle Park: The senior runningback ran for 217 yards and a touchdown in a 42-24 win over Dunellen.
- Dominic Massaro, South Plainfield: In a 29-27 win at Perth Amboy on Friday, the sophomore runningback carried 14 times for 281 yards and three touchdowns. He had two long runs, of 60 and 80 yards, among them.
- Justin Wistuba, Voorhees: The slot receiver was instrumental in a 42-7 win against JFK Friday, grabbing two catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns (of 30 and 38 yards), rushing three times for 81 yards and a 63-yard touchdown, while also making two tackles and grabbing an interception at cornerback.