High School Football

Edison head coach Matt Fulham hoists the Central Jersey Group 5 trophy with his team in the end zone at Lenape High School in Medford on November 11, 2022. (Photo credit: Ken Barnes)

This year’s state playoffs were great; here are 5 suggestions to make them even better

For the first time ever, New Jersey has just seven state champions – five public and two public – and by all accounts, it was a blast. The new thing, of course, were the public school group championships, held for the first time at Rutgers. And Toms River North, Old Tappan, Caldwell, Millville, and Woodbury all left Piscataway with hardware. The group championships didn’t cheapen the sectional championships at all, something a few coaches feared. There was plenty of glee in Edison and Annandale when the Eagles and Lions won sectional titles that will be celebrated for decades to come.…

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Ridge leads Big Central in final 2022 Strength Index rankings

With the 2022 high school football season now complete, the numbers are in: five state sectional finalists and two champions. And who knows what 2023 will bring. But according to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s unofficial Strength Index calculations, Ridge came in with the highest rating of all 59 teams at the end of the year. Strength Index doesn’t so much take into account wins and losses. Rather it looks at how a team performed against another team relative to their ratings. A team consistently ranked 30 points lower than its opponents that loses all its games by just a field…

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Big Central Conference announces All-Division football teams

With the 2022 football season in the rear view mirror for the Big Central Conference, in its third season of existence, the league has announced its All-Division teams, as chosen by the coaches. Each Division picked a First and Second Team. Below are the Big Central’s honorees, by division, and by team: AMERICAN GOLD First Team Second Team AMERICAN SILVER First Team Second Team NATIONAL GOLD First Team Second Team NATIONAL SILVER First Team Second Team LIBERTY GOLD First Team Second Team LIBERTY SILVER First Team Second Team UNITED GOLD First Team Second Team UNITED SILVER First Team Second Team…

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The scoreboard at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, tells the story: Phillipsburg over the Red Rovers for the first time since 2014. (Photo submitted by Raymond C. Patt)

Phillipsburg rebounds from title game loss to go out on a high note, with first win over Easton since 2014

Out of the 12 games it ultimately played in 2022, none – not even the North 2, Group 5 finals against West Orange – were more important than the one Phillipsburg won today. On its Twitter profile, there are two hashtags: #DIG and #BEATEASTON. There’s no mention of a state championship, just Easton, it’s biggest rival. The Stateliners beat the Red Rovers 35-14 in their annual Thanksgiving Day game at Lafayette College Thursday, getting three touchdowns from Caleb Rivera, who had touchdown runs of five- and 40- yards, as well as a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jett Genovese, who threw…

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North Hunterdon players celebrate after winning the North 2, Group 4 championship at Singley Field in Annandale on Novmmber 12, 2022. (Source: @AlexanderUryni1 on Twitter)

North Hunterdon edges out Phillipsburg for top spot in final Big Central Media Poll

In a split vote, North Hunterdon earned top honors in the final Big Central Media Poll of the 2022 high school football season over Phillipsburg, with the Lions getting three of the five first-place votes. The Stateliners got the other two. The final media poll of the season mirrored the final Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten with one exception: Watchung Hills got in the media poll at No. 9, while Westfield took that spot in the CJSR poll. Both teams were 7-3 on the season. North Hunterdon got the top spot on the strength of its North 2, Group…

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North Hunterdon players hoist their North 2, Group 4 trophy after beating Randolph 49-35 in Annadale on November 12, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

North Hunterdon rises to No. 1 in final Top Ten rankings; Lions are CJSR 2022 Team of the Year

CORRECTION: Our initial version of this poll inadvertently omitted Watchung Hills, which tied for third in the poll for 9th place with Westfield and Montgomery. The rest of this story has been updated to correct that omission. In the final Central Jersey Sports Radio high school football rankings of 2022, North Hunterdon is Number One, and the CJSR Team of the Year. With just one regular season loss – to Phillipsburg, which finished at No. 2 – the North 2, Group 4 Champion Lions finished the season 11-2, after a loss to Northern Highlands in the Group 4 semifinals this…

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North Hunterdon (left) and Edison both won sectional championships in 2022 which will never be forgotten, even with expanded playoffs going all the way to Group Champions. (Photos submitted)

OPINION: Do sectional titles still matter? Hell yeah!

When the extra point was tipped, and the Group 4 semifinal game between North Hunterdon and Northern Highlands was over – mercifully for those sitting on cold, metal bleachers in temperatures that clocked in at 27 degrees by the time it was all over, no matter which side of the field you sat on – it marked the end of my 23rd season covering high school football. That is to say, I have seen a lot of championship games. There’s been a lot of joyousness, coaches on shoulders, Gatorade (or Tang) baths, pride, thanking of higher beings, et cetera. There’s…

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Edison and Toms River North play in the South Group 5 semifinals at Cherokee High School in Medford on November 19, 2022. (Photo: Chris Tsakonas)

Edison’s championship season comes to an end against Toms River North

Coming off its first sectional title in over three decades, Edison had earned a date with the top public school in the state, Toms River North. And on Saturday evening down at Cherokee High School, just 15 minutes from last Friday’s great night of hundred-yard glory, they met the same fate as every other team to play Toms River North this season, and very likely they next one, too. The Eagles’ postseason run came to an end just one game shy of New Jersey’s first-ever public school state finals, losing 42-14 to the Mariners in the Group 4 semifinals. And…

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North Hunterdon head coach Kevin Kley (right) and senior Derek Vaddis embrace after the North Group 4 semifinal game at Franklin High School on November 19, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

North Hunterdon’s run falls one PAT short in overtime

It was a great run for the North Hunterdon football team in 2022. But the Lions fell one point shy of making the state’s first-ever Group Finals at Rutgers University. Plagued by miscues – high snaps, INTs, a missed field goal, and in the end, a tipped PAT – North Hunterdon fell to Northern Highlands Saturday night in the North Group 4 semifinals, 21-20 in overtime, in the nightcap at Franklin High School, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. The Lions never led in the game, coming back twice from deficits of 7-0 and 14-7, and missed a chance…

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Edison head coach Matt Fulham hoists the Central Jersey Group 5 trophy with his team in the end zone at Lenape High School in Medford on November 11, 2022. (Photo credit: Ken Barnes)

South Group 5 Semifinal Preview: Edison vs. Toms River North

A lot has changed since Edison last won a sectional title in 1991. There were only four-team fields in each playoff section at the time – you know, in the days before everyone got a participation trophy – and you could fill up your gas tank at one of the discount stations along Route One between Old Post Road and Wick Plaza for just over a dollar a gallon. Ah, good times. Of course, that long stretch has gone by the boards, after the 6th-seeded Eagles won 28-14 at top-seed Lenape Friday night to claim the Central Jersey Group 5…

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