Category: Football

North Group 5 Week 9 Breakdown: Four teams in, one on the bubble, and is Union a top seed?

In the North Group 5 supersection, Central Jersey Sports Radio projects five Big Central teams already have qualified for the playoffs. Here’s a breakdown of their scenarios heading into the weekend:

Union: The Farmers are sitting at Number One overall in the section heading into Week Nine. They are almost assuredly going to get the overall Number One seed. While we never like to pick one team we cover over another, Union (7-1) travels to Flemington Friday night to play Hunterdon Central (1-7), and should the Farmers lose that game, it would be the upset of the year to date in the Big Central. Our guess – if you want to call it that – is Union wins, officially locking up the No. 1 seed. Should they get upset, and things break the wrong way, there’s a chance Union ends up third overall. Beating the Red Devils would make that a moot point.

Phillipsburg: The Stateliners (5-3) sit in 5th heading into their Week 9 home game against Westfield, no gimme by any stretch of the imagination. The Blue Devils (3-4) are solid defensively, the only team to hold Union this year to under 20 points. Even Millville – which beat the Farmers in Week Zero – allowed 28 to Union. Westfield lost to Union 14-3 on October 1 at Kehler Stadium. They appear to be in play for a top four seed, which would guarantee home field through the sectional finals, with a win over Westfield, and either a Ridgewood or East Orange loss. Should the Stateliners lose, they could drop out of the top eight, if both Bridgewater-Raritan and Montclair are winners this weekend.

Bridgewater-Raritan: The Panthers (5-4) currently sit in 8th. The top eight teams get at least a first-round home game. Win or lose at South Brunswick (4-4) Friday, on their own, they appear to stay there. But with a win, they jump up in UPR enough that it appears no one would be able to catch them from behind. If they lose to the Vikings, it appears Westfield would be the only team that could catch them, if the Blue Devils are able to beat Phillipsburg at Maloney Stadium.

Westfield: You’ve got the Blue Devils’ story now. (If not, see Bridgewater-Raritan and Phillipsburg above.) Should Westfield win at P’burg, and Bridgwater-Raritan lose to South Brunswick, that’s Westfield’s path to a top eight seed. Otherwise, it looks like they’ll begin the postseason away from home.

Elizabeth: It appears Elizabeth is in the playoffs, and will finish in one of the final two spots, but where they end up will depend on last-minute jockeying by the teams at the bottom of the pack. The Minutemen (3-5) are looking like they’re in the 13-15 range, depending on what the teams around them do this weekend.

Plainfield: The Cardinals (3-4) host 3-5 Perth Amboy at Hub Stine Field Saturday afternoon. If the Cardinals win, there’s a chance they could sneak into the playoffs, but they would need a lot of help. North Bergen, Bayonne, Livingston and Watchung Hills would all have to lose for Plainfield to qualify. Even if they beat the Panthers, if any one of those four win this weekend, Plainfield would be out. All play Friday night, so it would appear the Cardinals would know well before kickoff Saturday, whether they’re out of the race, or still have a fighting chance.

Cutoff Weekend: A team-by-team breakdown of every Big Central team’s postseason standing and chances heading into Week 9

Heading into Cutoff Weekend, 27 Big Central teams appear to have clinched playoff berths, with three of them likely to be top seeds in their respective sections once the brackets are filled out.

This is the final weekend of the regular season before the playoffs, and the NJSIAA will be out with its official seeding on Sunday.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will air a LIVE projection show this Saturday at 5 pm, hosted by Mike Pavlichko, who will be joined by longtime Somerset County scholastic sportswriter Harry Frezza, and the King James Radio Network’s Korbid Thompson. Numerous coaches are expected to join in the show as well. Listen by clicking here.

There are also another nine teams CJSR considers “on the bubble” to make the playoffs. Some are in “win and in” scenarios, while others may need a little help.

We’ll be posting team-by-team scenarios for each supersection as we break them down. Scroll down to find a handy link for each supersection.

Union Appears to have one of the top seeds locked up in North Group 5, while a Hillsboro win Friday night against North Brunswick would give them one of the two in South Group 5. Cranford has locked up at least one of the top seeds in North 4. And Hillside should have one of the top two seeds in South Group 2.

Below are the teams we see as having clinched a playoff berth, win or lose this weekend. Click the supersection name for a link that will take you to a full team-by-team breakdown of each grouping, which will be available as we post them on

We’ll be starting with North Group 5 and working our way down to South Group 1. There will be no breakdowns of the non-public sections, which are being seeded by committee with power points, OSI and UPR being used only as guidance, making it difficult to predict where each team will land. Those teams are followed by their current standing in each 16-team group. (Note also that some teams may opt-out in the non-public groups, making the fields smaller.)

North Group 5: Union, Phillipsburg, Bridgewater-Raritan, Westfield, Elizbaeth

South Group 5: Hillsborough, North Brunswick, East Brunswick, Edison

North Group 4: Woodbridge, Sayreville, Colonia, Ridge, Linden

North Group 3: Cranford,

South Group 3: Somerville, Rahway

South Group 2: Bernards, Hillside, Delaware Valley, New Providence

North Group 1: Brearley

South Group 1: South Hunterdon, Middlesex

Non-Public A: St. Joseph-Metuchen

Non-Public B: St. Thomas Aquinas

Teams we determine to be on the bubble, on whichever side, include New Brunswick, North Hunterdon, Warren Hills North Plainfield, Roselle, and Bound Brook, while Plainfield is a longshot. And we believe it’s a “win and get in” situation for Montgomery, Summit and Manville.

One key to remember, is that it’s mostly about wins and losses this week. With residuals capped at an opponent’s first seven games, there will be few opportunities to get a last-minute boost from residuals this weekend. In fact, there are fewer than two dozen teams around the state who have played fewer than seven games this season and can provide residuals this weekend, with a good number of those in the NJIC, which shouldn’t affect Big Central teams very much.

Highlighting Elite Performers for Week Eight with Elite QB’s Matt Bastardi

We’re back again with Central Jersey Sports Radio sponsor Elite QB, highlight Coach Matt Bastardi’s “Elite Performers of the Week.”

Run by Matt Bastardi, a former high school and college quarterback who has either played the position or coached it for over 40 years, Elite QB trains players at all position levels, with an emphasis on QBs.

Each week for the rest of the 2021 campaign, Matt will highlight the key stats for players under his tutelage.

Click below to listen to the Elite QB “Elite Performers of the Week” for Week 8:

Click here to visit Elite QB’s website and find out more about how to train with Matt Bastardi at Elite QB.

Gridiron NJ repairing glitch that will change more than two dozen teams’ OSIs, 14 of them in the Big Central

Central Jersey Sports Radio has encountered some kind of glitch in the math. And Gridiron New Jersey is working on it.

Attempting to reconcile our numbers with Gridiron – the NJSIAA’s official power points, OSI and UPR calculator – in order to produce projections for this weekend, a number of errors were encountered in North Jersey that saw different OSI values for several teams.

More teams were later found in the Big Central that had discrepancies, bringing the total number to 25.

UPDATE: As of 10:30 Wednesday morning, Gridiron is aware of the issue and working on correcting the numbers.

Discrepancies of 0.01 to 0.03 points are not considered, as they may be due to coding differences in rounding or truncating of numbers between CJSR and Gridiron at any point of the mathematical process. Which is to say, all the errors we counted are significant, and many may impact playoff seeding.

The CJSR calculation of OSI following Week 8 play for the schools affected had checked out with Gridiron NJ until yesterday, when COVID-related forfeits were added back to team schedules yesterday, after it was determined they would not be made up.

It appeared – and has since been confirmed by Gridiron – that the errors are in some way related to either Newark West Side or Brearley. All teams whose OSI calculated by Central Jersey Sports Radio did not match those calculated by Gridiron New Jersey had either a direct connection to West Side or Brearley (i.e., they played them) or played a team that played them.

The link between West Side and Brearley is that they are the only two teams in New Jersey to have picked up more than one COVID-related forfeit yesterday. Each had two.

Brearley picked up forfeit wins for its September 17 game against Roselle Park and its October 21 game against Dunellen.

West Side took forfeit wins over Montclair-Kimberley and North Bergen.

As a result, OSI values are off for 14 Big Central teams. OSI for Bernards, New Providence, Spotswood, Roselle Park, and Dunellen should be higher than what Gridiron has, by varying amounts. Those for Bound Brook, Johnson, Belvidere, Brearley, Dayton, Highland Park, Manville, Middlesex and South Hunterdon should be lower. The differences range from a few tenths of a point to almost two-and-a-half points for NewProvidence.

Manville’s drop, according to CJSR calculations, will put them back at 16th place instead of 13th, though it’s more likely than not the Mustangs should make the playoffs, particularly if they beat Metuchen this weekend. 17th place Glassboro is unlikely to catch Manville.

Among other teams in the state, Irvington, Orange, Bayonne, North Bergen, Passaic Tech should have higher OSIs, according to CJSR’s calculations. Millburn, Lincoln, West Side, Bloomfield, Kearny, Union City should be lower.

Sayreville, Manville among big gainers as COVID forfeits are added back into schedules, affecting power points, UPR and playoff standings heading into Cutoff Weekend

Gridiron New Jersey – which calculates power points, OSI and UPR for playoff qualification in high school football for the NJSIAA – has added 24 more games back onto team schedules, COVID-related forfeits that won’t be played.

The NJSIAA ruled earlier this season that COVID-related cancellations would be ruled forfeits, but not until after Week 8 of the season, once it was certain the games would not be made up on either bye weeks or in the event of additional cancellations.

The team that had to cancel the game would be awarded a loss, and the team cancelled upon would be awarded a win. Power points would be accorded in the traditional fashion as if the game had been played.

Only one case involved a multiplier: St. Joseph of Metuchen cancelled on Sayreville on October 1. That means the Falcons get natural power points for a loss, and Sayreville gets multiplier points – 42 – for a win.

Five Big Central games were added back as forfeits, two of them involving Brearley, which got forfeit wins over Roselle Park (Sept. 17) and Dunellen (Oct.21). Phillipsburg picked up a forfeit win over Somerville (Oct. 8), and St. Thomas Aquinas got a forfeit win over South River (Oct. 1).

Other forfeits around the state included:

  • Hopewell Valley def. Allentown (Oct. 15)
  • Willingboro def. Buena (Oct. 8)
  • Triton def. Cherry Hill West (Sept. 10)
  • East Orange def. Newark East Side (Oct. 9)
  • Florence def. Pennsville (Oct. 8)
  • Lenape Valley def. High Point (Oct. 8)
  • Millville def. Highland Regional (Sept. 17)
  • Hightstown def. Robbinsville (Sept. 17)
  • Immaculata def. Hoboken (Sept. 10)
  • Hudson Catholic def. Morris Catholic (Oct. 9)
  • Lakewood def. Manchester Twp. (Oct. 16)
  • Morristown-Beard def. Montclair-Kimberley (Oct. 9)
  • Newark West Side def, Orange (Sept. 10)
  • Newark West Side def. North Bergen (Oct. 23)
  • Bishop Eustace def. Schalick (Aug. 27)
  • Whippany Park def. Wallkill Valley (Oct. 15)
  • Dickinson def. Weehawken (Sept. 3)
  • Boonton def. Weequahic (Sept. 3)

(Note: The Sterling-Paulsboro game was removed from the forfeit list after the teams agreed to schedule the game this weekend.)

Sayreville was one of the big beneficiaries of the changes that came down Tuesday afternoon, jumping from 10th place – with a first-round road game – all the way to 6th in the North Group 4 standings, shifting the Bombers home. And with a strong opponent in Old Bridge this weekend, it remains to be seen if even a loss could bring them back outside the top eight.

Somerville dropped from 4th to 7th in the South Group 3 standings, meaning the Pioneers could be in danger of losing a first-round home game unless they beat Summit Friday night at Brooks Field. That game can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio starting at 6:45 for the pregame, with kickoff at 7:00 for the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland.

The changes also boosted Manville. The Mustangs were in 18th in South Group 1 before Week 8, with a 5-1 record. Beating Bound Brook Friday night helped them climb to 16th place, and now they have moved up to 13th, according to the latest Gridiron New Jersey standings.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will be breaking down all the moves over the next day or so, and the various scenarios for Big Central teams as we head into Cutoff Weekend. Join us for a LIVE projection show at 5 pm this Saturday, hosted by Mike Pavlichko at He’ll be joined by longtime Somerset County sports scribe Harry Frezza, as well as Korbid Thomspon of the King James Radio Network.

Undefeated Hillsborough holds top spot in Big Central Media Poll for second straight week

Though it split the six first-place votes in the Big Central Media Poll evenly with Union and Somerville, Hillsborough held on to the top spot in the Week 8 Big Central Media Poll.

The Raiders got 53 points in the poll, edging our the Pioneers and Farmers, who had 53 apiece, and tied for second. Cranford held in fourth.

After some movement in the middle of the poll, Ridge re-entered the rankings at No. 8 after a 27-6 win at Westfield Saturday, while Bridgewater-Raritan made it back in at No. 9 following a 31-14 road win over Elizabeth.

Previous No. 7 Old Bridge, which blew out JP Stevens on the road Friday night, dropped out, but also received votes. Similarly, previously No. 9 Phillipsburg fell out, but picked up the same number of votes as the Knights, after a 42-0 home win over Connecticut’s Capital Prep Harbor.

Below is the Week 8 poll:

Playoff Chase: 12 Big Central schools’ fates yet to be decided come Cutoff Weekend; Who will make it?

While Central Jersey Sports Radio won’t have full analysis of the playoff standings until a number of changes are made on Tuesday – including forfeits added back to the schedule and out-of-state SI updates – we wanted to take a cursory look at who’s on the bubble, who’s on the right side of the bubble, and who still has a chance to make the playoffs as they sit outside of the top 16, longshot or not.

READ MORE: Updates to UPR this week likely to cause some big changes; LIVE playoff projection show set for Saturday on Central Jersey Sports Radio

Here’s a brief look at the chances for each of the 12 public schools we deem “on the bubble” – inside or out – heading into Week 9:

North 5

With a win, we believe 15th-place Elizabeth (3-5) is in with a win Friday night at Ridge, a good opponent power points- and OSI-wise. Before anyone gets up in arms, the best team below them, record-wise, is North Bergen at 3-3, so the Minutemen wouldn’t be keeping any 6-1 teams out of the playoffs.

Does 18th-place Plainfield (3-4) have a shot? With a win against Perth Amboy Saturday afternoon, it’s possible they have a shot, but may need some help.

Believe it or not, Watchung Hills may have a better shot despite being 1-7 and in 19th place. That’s because they have a better opponent. The Warriors visit Edison Friday night.

South 5

We say 17th-ranked New Brunswick is a maybe to make the playoffs if they win Friday night at Monroe. That looked like a better game when the Falcons started the season 3-0, but they then lost 4 straight before beating Perth Amboy last week.

South Brunswick is 4-4 but in 21st place, and even with a win against a good Bridgewater-Raritan team, they’re a longshot. With some help, who knows? We might after the Tuesday changes take place.

North 4

Three teams from the Big Central hold places 15 through 17: North Hunterdon (4-4), Linden (3-4) and Montgomery (3-4), with all having a shot. Bergenfield (3-5, 18th) is the team to watch though, coming off a huge upset win over then 6-1 Nutley on Saturday, that put them in the conversation, too.

The Lions may have the easiest path as they play at Voorhees Friday night. The Tigers visit Woodbridge – although the Barrons have lost two straight now – and Montgomery is at Cranford, perhaps the tallest order.

North 3

Both 5-3, 15th-place Summit and 16th-place North Plainfield should be in with wins. The Hilltoppers visit Somerville in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland Friday night at 7 on Central Jersey Sports Radio. The Canucks have a road game against South River Saturday afternoon.

South 2

It’s likely Roselle (17th, 4-3) gets in the playoffs with a win at Bound Brook, likely enjoying the same kind of bounce Manville did with a win over the Crusaders Friday night. Speaking of which…

South 1

Will a wrong be righted with Manville now in the top 16 of South 1 with a 6-1 record? The Mustangs can’t afford to lose this weekend against Metuchen and find out. A win likely has them in. But another 6-1 team is staring at consolation play: New Egypt is 6-1, in 18th place, and likely out.

Few changes in Week 8 Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten, with Somerville still leading the pack

Another Somerville rout – this one 43-13 at Warren Hills, and without their starting quarterback – keeps the Pioneers on top of the pack in the Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings for Week 8.

In fact, few teams moved at all in the latest Top Ten, with Woodbridge dropping just one spot from 5th to 6th after a loss to unranked Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Sayreville moved up one spot to fifth.

The Barrons are tied with Bridgewater-Raritan for sixth; the Panthers were previously No. 7. Phillipsburg – previously No. 9, are tied for eighth with North Brunswick.

Though St. Thomas Aquinas – previously in a three-way tie for tenth with Old Bridge and Ridge – dropped out, it was really just a math quirk, as the Trojans (7-0) still received a Top Ten vote this week; others who were tenth simply were ranked higher.

Delaware Valley (7-1) also received a vote.

Below is the full Week 8 Top Ten:

Updates to UPR this week likely to cause some big changes; LIVE playoff projection show set for Saturday on Central Jersey Sports Radio

This week is the week things settle down, but they also get a little bit crazy.

We’re about to embark upon Cutoff Weekend in Central Jersey, and a lot can happen in the playoff races, both on and off the field.

First up chronologically, Tuesday will most assuredly bring plenty of changes – large and small – to the playoff standings. That’s the day Gridiron New Jersey – which calculates power points, OSI and UPR for the NJSIAA – will update its standings to reflect all of the COVID forfeits taken in New Jersey.

An official number on how many games has not been made public yet by Gridiron. But the NJSIAA announced mid-season how it planned to deal with such forfeits. Any game cancelled due to COVID or the inability to field a team would be considered “postponed” in case bye weeks and other cancellations allowed for a make-up game.

Continue reading “Updates to UPR this week likely to cause some big changes; LIVE playoff projection show set for Saturday on Central Jersey Sports Radio”

Instant Replay: Manville 51, Bound Brook 27

Click below to listen to the “Big Central Game of the Week” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland from Friday, October 22, 2021.

Manville set a program record for points scored against Bound Brook, defeating the Crusaders 51-27 to improve to 6-1 on the season. Bound Brook drops to 3-5.

Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino call the action from LaMonte Field in Bound Brook.

1st Half

2nd Half