When the Mid-State and Greater Middlesex Conferences merged to form the Big Central Conference, which played its inaugural season in the COVID year of 2020, the deal brought together what now consists of 59 schools in five counties.
The GMC brought all 24 schools from Middlesex County, while the Mid-State brought in 35 from four counties, including 17 from Union, eleven from Somerset, and now seven from “out west” (Warren Hills left for the Super Football Conference due to geography) including Hunterdon and Warren Counties.
So, we’ve decided – at the end of each year – to honor one of geographical groups with the “Central Jersey Sports Radio Cup!” It goes to the county/region that had the best winning percentage throughout the season. To balance out the groupings, we’ll have three of them, generally based on geography and/or the leagues in which they play for all other sports:
- Middlesex (24 Greater Middlesex Conference schools, not including North Plainfield, which is in Somerset County)
- Union County (17 Union County Conference schools)
- Skylands (18 Somerset/Hunterdon/Warren Counties, essentially the “Skyland Conference” schools)
And even though the season isn’t over yet – three teams still have to play Thanksgiving Day games, including Phillipsburg (against Easton) and the Westfield-Plainfield matchup – we’ve already got a winner!
The Skyland Conference – bolstered by eight teams with at least seven wins this season – is our inaugural winner, with a combined record of 100-86-1 (so far) among 18 teams, for a .534 winning percentage. That includes Bernards – the only sectional champion from the Big Central this year – which finished its season 12-1, a program record for wins, and with their first-ever sectional title.
Other top teams included Ridge (8-2), Hillsborough (8-3), Watchung Hills (8-3), Montgomery (8-1-1) in Somerset County, plus Voorhees (7-4), South Hunterdon (9-2) and Phillipsburg, which is 9-2 and still has its annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game with Easton Thursday morning.
The other two counties finished under .500 overall. Union County finished second, with a current record of 79-86-1 and a .479 winning percentage. That won’t change much with one game remaining, the Westfield-Plainfield Thanksgiving game to be played Thursday at Hub Stine Field. The much-improved Cardinals will be seeking their first win in the series since 2011 and just their second since 2005.
Union County’s top team was Summit, which finished with a 7-3 mark. They were the only seven-win team, but Plainfield (6-4) could equal that with a win on Turkey Day. (Westfield is 5-5.)
Middlesex County finished in third, with an overall 109-131 record, for a .454 winning percentage. That won’t change much with St. Thomas Aquinas playing Immaculata Wednesday night at the Torpey Athletic Complex in Bridgewater.
The top team from Middlesex in terms of wins was St. Thomas Aquinas with nine (9-1), followed by North Brunswick (8-1), Sayreville (8-3), and Spotswood (8-2). Seven former GMC teams had seven wins or more, but three went without a win all season: New Brunswick, South River and JP Stevens.