Author: Dom Savino

No. 9 Watchung Hills carries winning streak into Skyland battle with Franklin

It’s been a brilliant two weeks of basketball for Watchung Hills. 5 games, 5 wins, all by double digits.

Most recently, the Warriors were road warriors, claiming victories at Hunterdon Central, Hillsborough, and Jefferson.

Now, No. 9 Watchung Hills (8-1) returns home looking to extend its perfect 3-0 Skyland Delaware Division record against Franklin (4-4) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Click here to listen to the broadcast with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action; pregame coverage starts at 5:45.

Note: Today’s game was moved from its original 5:30 start to a 6 pm tip-off, it was announced late Tuesday morning.

The Warriors are led by guard Elijah Lewis, who’s averaging 23.8 points-per-game – tops in Somerset County – and 7.6 rebounds-per-game. The senior went off for 25 points and eight rebounds last time out, in Saturday’s 58-44 win over Jefferson.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino talk with Watchung Hills head coach Justin Salton to preview the Warriors’ meeting with Franklin:

Simmon, Ingram lead St. Joe’s into GMC Red clash with East Brunswick

If you’re compiling a list of GMC breakout candidates, Ethan Simmon has scored his way to the top of the list. The St. Joe’s-Metuchen guard leads the team with 24.3 points-per-game, punctuated by a career-high 36 points in a blowout win over Old Bridge Tuesday.

It’s the latest triumph in a hot start for the Falcons (4-2), who stand at No. 4 in this week’s Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Rankings.

St. Joe’s now prepares for a battle of the last two GMC Red teams without a division loss, traveling to East Brunswick (3-1) Thursday at 7 p.m. for a game that will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Click here to listen to the broadcast with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action; pregame coverage starts at 6:45.

Simmon represents one-half of Joe’s two-headed backcourt monster, complemented by the emergence of point guard Josh Ingram. The junior is averaging a career-best 15.5 ppg, including a season-high 18 points Tuesday.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino talked with St. Joe’s head coach Jan Cocozziello to preview the Falcons’ meeting with EB:

Manville faces must-win on the road against rival Bound Brook to keep playoff hopes alive

It continues to be a memorable season for Manville, which is 5-1 for just the second time in the last 15 years.

A year removed from a winless campaign, the Mustangs have made a swift turnaround thanks to their rushing attack. Manville’s Wing-T offense, which is run-heavy by design, has churned out over 250 rushing yards per game. Junior running back Shawn Purcell has paced the offense with 1,121 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns in a breakout year.

And yet, Manville is one of the 132 teams who sit outside the playoff picture, currently residing in 18th place in ther South Group 1 supersection. And they’re one of only four teams in the entire state who might not make the playoffs, but have two or fewer losses.

On the second-to-last weekend of the regular season, Manville prepares to face Bound Brook and quarterback Patrick LePoidevin, who leads the Big Central with 1,536 passing yards, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Mark montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

Kickoff is set for 7 pm from Bound Brook’s LaMonte Field; join Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino for all the action with pregame set for 6:45.

Click here to listen to the live broadcast for free.

Click below to hear Dom Savino’s conversation with Manville head coach Pat Gorbatuk:

Alumni Spotlight: Edison’s Stansbury finding success at New Hampshire

Back in 2018, when he was roaming the secondary in his final season at Edison, Noah Stansbury led the entire state in interceptions as he paced the Eagles to their best season since Y2K.

That team’s eight-win campaign – highlighted by a first-round playoff victory – set the tone for Edison’s recent success, including last year’s 4-2 record in the shortened season.

Fast forward, and Stansbury is playing at a new level of football yet making the same impact.

The Edison native has earned the starting free safety job at New Hampshire, where he has helped guide the Wildcats to their first 3-0 start in 12 years.

Playing in his redshirt freshman season, Stansbury has recorded 15 tackles, two interceptions, and two pass breakups, all of which ranks among the team’s leaders.

This weekend, Stansbury and New Hampshire prepare for their biggest test of the fall, going on the road for an FBS/FCS battle with Pittsburgh at the home of the Steelers, Heinz Field.

Dom Savino caught up with Stansbury to chat about New Hampshire’s undefeated start, Stansbury’s time at Edison, and more.

Hunter guides veteran Old Bridge to opening win over East Brunswick

With most starters back from last year’s 5-1 squad that won the program’s second straight division title, No. 8 Old Bridge has high expectations for its veteran group.

That wealth of experience was put to use immediately, as the Knights weathered a late rally from rival East Brunswick for Saturday’s 27-24 victory on Opening Day.

Old Bridge was paced by senior RB/LB Lawrence Hunter, who compiled a complete stat line: 150 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, six tackles, and a fumble recovery.

Hunter’s early TD allowed Old Bridge to open the scoring eight minutes into the game, and in the fourth quarter his legs helped the Knights run out the clock. After East Brunswick’s Jayden Phillip cut the Bears’ deficit to three on a kick-return touchdown with less than five minutes left to play, the Knights leaned on Hunter to close out the win, collecting a crucial first down and forcing EB to burn all of its timeouts.

While the Bears did get the ball back with less than a minute remaining, another senior — WR/DB Evan Sobieski — reeled in an interception to cap off the win. Sobieski also finished with two second-half touchdowns: one receiving and one scoop-and-score fumble recovery that extended the Knights’ fourth-quarter lead to 27-17.

The win marked Old Bridge’s 11th straight victory over rival East Brunswick in the “Battle of Route 18.”

Click below to hear Dom Savino chat with Lawrence Hunter about Old Bridge’s win, expectations for the season, and upcoming battle with #1/#2 North Brunswick:

LaSala’s Woodbridge Set for New Season with New Leaders

It is the cyclical nature of high school sports: players gain experience, grow into seniors, and graduate to the next level, giving a new group of players the chance to break through.

After graduating an accomplished class that guided the Barrons to its first sectional final in 22 years, Woodbridge begins that cycle again this fall, as head coach Joe LaSala leads a team filled with skill players stepping into larger roles.

Seniors Isaiah Allen and Mike Calvert assume the mantle as the Barrons’ top offensive playmakers, replacing All-State running back Ali Lee, Jr. Under center, Saint Joe’s transfer Matt Stanton takes over for three-year starting quarterback Anthony Santino.

READ MORE: Ali Lee Jr. commits to Stony Brook

Woodbridge is one of ten teams that will open the 2021 season with a Week Zero game, as they play Winslow Township in the Sunday 6 pm finale of the mammoth Battle at the Beach showcase, hosted by the West Jersey Football League in Ocean City, NJ.

Click below to hear Woodbridge coach Joe LaSala talk with Dom Savino about the new-look Barrons:

Igbinosun prepares Union for another title pursuit

The last time New Jersey hosted a high school football postseason, Union hoisted the North 2, Group 5 trophy.

Even though Davison Igbinosun recorded an interception in that 2019 championship game, he was just a sophomore then, and he regards that title as his predecessors’ accomplishment – not his.

Now a senior and a Rutgers commit preparing for his final high school season, Igbinosun will lead another senior-laden Union squad in pursuit of the program’s 12th sectional crown.

Dom Savino caught up with Igbinosun to preview the 2021 Union Farmers, who have a “state championship or bust” mentality this fall:

Miller, Bryant ready to lead Somerville air attack

If you only knew a little bit about the Somerville Pioneers, it would be easy to write them off. After all, they graduated their top player on both sides of the ball – runningback Cookie Desiderio and defensive end A.J. Pena – from last year’s undefeated team.

How, then, do the Pioneers enter the fall as the consensus No. 1 squad in both Central Jersey Sports Radio Top 10 polls?

Enter Somerville’s latest cast of offensive stars – led by quarterback Mike Miller and wide receiver Jaimen Bryant – who are expected to post juggernaut numbers like last year’s 46 points-per-game.

Both players are returning starters who were key pieces of that powerful offense. After transferring in last year, the now-junior Miller racked up 1,600 passing yards – among the top ten in New Jersey – with 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Entering his senior season, Bryant is expected to be Miller’s top target once again, coming off a productive 2020 in which he led Somerville with 671 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Dom Savino caught up with Miller and Bryant to preview the Pioneers, who are aiming for their fourth straight sectional final appearance. Click below to hear from both of them:

Somerville QB Mike Miller:

Somerville WR Jaimen Bryant

“Ready to shock some people”: South Brunswick kicker Patel likes his Viking’s chances in ’21

Across New Jersey high school football, there’s only one returning All-State kicker.

He resides in the Big Central, and he has South Brunswick’s game-changing leg.

After a standout junior season, Jai Patel returns to the Vikings for his final season of high school football to help lead an offense that also brings back its starting quarterback and three of its top four receivers.

Last year, South Brunswick finished 4-3 in the Big Central’s Division 5C, though two of those three losses came by a touchdown or less. This fall, Patel – who’s committed to Rutgers – says South Brunswick is “ready to shock some people.”

Click below to her Dom Savino talk to South Brunswick’s Jai Patel about the Vikings’ upcoming season:

No. 2 Gill St. Bernard’s, No. 3 Franklin prepare for divisional battle of Top Ten girls’ hoops teams

In the decade that Audrey Taylor has led the Franklin girl’s basketball program, the Warriors have faced many of the best teams New Jersey has had to offer. After all, they played in three consecutive New Jersey Tournament of Champions Finals from 2017 to 2019, winning two of them.

But this current stretch of games easily ranks among the most arduous in recent memory.

Tonight, No. 4 Franklin (3-3) will play its third consecutive top-5 team in just a four-day span, with No. 2 Gill St. Bernard’s (6-0) coming to town on High School Basketball powered by Bellamy & Son Paving on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Pre-game is at 5:45 p.m., with game time at 6 p.m. You can listen live to Dom Savino’s play-by-play from Franklin High School by clicking here.

Franklin is coming off a 68-53 loss Monday night to No. 3 St. Thomas Aquinas. On Saturday, the Warriors began their trip through Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Top 10 with a 65-33 loss at No. 1 Rutgers Prep.

They will face the Knights having lost three of their last four games. The last time that happened was the start of the 2017-18 season, with a season-opening loss at Rutgers Prep, a win against Hunterdon Central, a loss at St. John Vianney, and a loss at Rumson-Fair Haven. That was also the last time the Warriors lost three in a row – a fate they will try to avoid tonight – having lost to Vianney, Rumson, and Long Island Lutheran to start the year 1-4.

Of course, that year, they would finish 25-8, win the Somerset County Tournament, win the North 2-Group 4 title, and go all the way to the Tournament of Champions final, losing to Manasquan, a year after beating them in the TOC title game.

Gill St. Bernard’s enters this Skyland Delaware Division matchup as the top team in the division and one of three remaining unbeaten girls’ basketball teams in the Skyland Conference. The Knights are led by a pair of Division 1 commits: center Caileigh Walsh (Northwestern) and guard Ella Fajardo (Fairleigh Dickinson).

Click below to hear Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gnapp talk about Tuesday night’s Top Ten matchup: