Middlesex football is back.
It was never on any kind of extended leave, to be sure. After all, the Blue Jays did win a title in 2017, going 11-1 under PJ Jankowicz, and even went 7-4 the following year, and started 8-0 in 2019 before finishing 8-2.
But in their second year with head coach Phlip McGuane – the former longtime South Plainfield skipper – at the helm, the Jays are poised to make another run at a title.
They finished as one of the top four teams in the South Group 1 supersection, and are the No. 2 seed in the South 1 section. The other No. 2 seed in Central 1 is South Hunterdon, the only loss on Middlesex’s schedule this season.
They’re not one of the big boys, not one of the Phillipsburgs, Ridges, North Brunswicks, and Watchung Hills. But sleeping on them and their chances to win a title would be a foolish idea.
Are the Blue Jays tested? Only time will tell. They only lost by five to South Hunterdon, but got by Group 2 New Providence 9-7 on Cutoff Weekend at Mountainview Park, a win that helped boost their seed.
Part of what has made Middlesex so good has been a balanced ground game. They’ve run for 1,284 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, but no back has eclipsed the 500-yard mark, five have scored touchdowns, including the two quarterbacks McGuane has used this year. Junior QB Dom Parenti is the top rusher with 431 yards and three scores.
On defense, they have pitched two shutouts, and are averaging over two sacks a game.
All of that will be put to the test when Middlesex (7-1) takes on 7th-seed Burlington City (7-2) in the opening round of the playoffs Friday at 7 pm at Mountainview Park. The Blue Devils defeated one team this year with more than three wins (Penns Grove with four), while Middlesex topped two teams with more than three wins in Dunellen (five) and New Providence (four).
Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Marcus Borden of Central Jersey Sports Radio talk with Middlesex head coach Phlip McGuane during our “Playoff Projection Show,” which aired Saturday, October 21st: