Bernards has a familiar recipe for a champion: senior-laden team playing together for years

Bernards WR Jack Morra (left) and OL Logan Ritchie (with trophy) celebrate with their North 2, Group 2 title hardware after beating Lakeland 23-17 in OT for the school’s first-ever state sectional title on November 10, 2023 in Bernardsville. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Go back through the list of sectional champs in Big Central history – the last two seasons, plus this one, essentially – and you’ll find one common ingredient.

Whether it was Hillsborough or Cranford in 2021, or Edison or North Hunterdon last fall, one thing they all had in common was a senior-heavy team that had played football together virtually their entire lives.

That’s been the recipe for Bernards this season, and – lo and behold – it resulted in the school’s first playoff championship ever, a 23-17 overtime in over Lakeland last week heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Bernards senior right guard Logan Ritchie. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

But, of course, it doesn’t stop there anymore in New Jersey. Last year, the state started playing to group champions, like in all other sports. That means the Mountaineers could have as many as two more games to play, starting this Friday when North 2, Group 2 champ Bernards (12-0) visits North 1, Group 2 champ Westwood (11-0) in the North Group 2 semis. The winner will face the winner of the South semifinal between Rumson-Fair Haven (7-4) and Willingboro (10-2)

In any event, one of three seniors on the offensive line – and one of more than a dozen seniors on either side of the ball who start or see significant playing time – Logan Ritchie is one of those who grew up playing football with this whole crew, which is now two wins away from becoming the Big Central’s first-ever group champion.

He’s come up through the ranks, went through a difficult freshman year (the COVID season) and is now a champion, but still looking for more hardware.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Bernards senior Logan Ritchie:

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