Tag: Bernards

Mid-Season Playoff Analysis: A look at the small schools heading into Week 5

We’ve reached the middle of the high school football season in New Jersey, and it’s time to start thinking about the playoff races.

Presented by sponsor My Family Appliances on Route One South in the Wick Plaza in Edison, here’s our look at where the smaller schools stand – Groups 1 and 2 – in the chase for the postseason heading into Week Five.

But first….

Playoff Qualification Primer

The NJSIAA uses the United Power Ranking (UPR) to determine where teams are seeded. Without getting into all the behind the scenes calculations and caveats, each team’s UPR is based on two factors: their rank in the supersection based on power points and on OSI.

Power points are an average and based on the traditional formula that’s been used – albeit altered from time-to-time – over the years. Teams get six points for every win, group points based on the group of the opponent, and residuals – 3 for every win by a team you beat, 1 for every win by a team you lost to.

OSI is the Opponent Strength Index, and average of all the opponents played. Teams get the full value of a team’s Strength Index for a win, half for a loss. A win over an opponent with an SI of 80 gets and 80, a loss gets you 40 points. SI varies based on results throughout the year.

Teams are ranked in each category. OSI values are worth 60 percent of the formula, power points 40 percent. That added number makes the UPR, with lower numbers better. The best UPR a team can have is a 1, which is first in both power points and OSI.

The UPR is calculated for the NJSIAA by the website Gridiron New Jersey. Central Jersey Sports Radio also does its own unofficial calculations throughout the season, and will unveil its playoff projections in our annual special broadcast, this year on Saturday, October 21 from 5-7 pm, presented by My Family Appliances in Edison.

North Group 2

The only Big Central Conference school in the North Group 2 supersection in Bernards, and the Mountaineers are in really good shape. They’re in second place overall, which means if the playoffs started today, they would be the top seed in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2.

Westwood is the overall No. 1 team at the moment, and they’d be the top seed in North 1, Group 1. Both teams are 5-0.

Caldwell (4-0) – which is on the state’s longest active winning streak, currently at 32 games – is not far behind Bernards, just 6/10 of a UPR point in back of them, while Hanover Park (4-0) in fourth is just one full point off the mark.

The Mounties’ schedule is about average for the last four games, with North Plainfield, Bound Brook, New Providence and Governor Livingston. Sure, they might have to win out to retain a top seed, but with that schedule, they should.

South Group 2

Currently, Pt. Pleasant Boro (4-0) and Rumson-Fair Haven (2-2) sit in the top two spots, with the highest-standing BCC team being New Providence checking in at No. 6. The Pioneers are 3-2 with a 6.4 UPR, and if they keep playing how they’ve been, have a really good shot at a first round home game in the playoffs. Their schedule is good, with three of the last four teams already having three or more wins (Johnson and Middlesex have three wins each, Bernards is 5-0).

Then, it’s down to 11th place for Spotswood, despite the fact the Chargers are 5-0. That’s partly a product of their schedule, which isn’t great throughout.

They already toughened up their schedule by dropping Bishop Eustace for their opener and adding Bordentown, but having Highland Park on the schedule hurt them, as does having JP Stevens on Cutoff Weekend.

Last year’s Chargers were 6-3 at the cutoff – missed the playoffs – and finished 7-3. Their losses were to Roselle Park, Johnson and Brearley. They’ve already beaten the Bears. The Panthers are this weekend and the Crusaders in two more weeks.

Win the games they should and Spotswood will be in the playoffs. Any loss along the road could make things dicey.

Delaware Valley (3-2) is right behind the Chargers, and is also a good bet to make the playoffs, though with their schedule, they should have a little more margin for error.

Can Johnson make the playoffs? Sure, why not. ALJ is 3-1, and out of the picture right now in 20th place, but they have three solid opponents the next few weeks before closing with winless South River. New Providence is this week and a road game at Spotswood comes in two weeks. Both are teams ahead of them in the standings at the moment, and even a split would do wonders for the Crusaders’ chances.

And even a loss to Hillside – which comes in the middle of those two games – would not be the end of the world. Johnson’s OSI is 36.43, and a loss to the Comets (76.25 SI) would get them 38.13 points. Inotherwords, a loss to Hillside is worth more than a win over South River.

North Group 1

Last year, Brearley held on to their standing enough to pick up a first-round home game, then hosted another thanks to a first-round upset by Kinnelon.

This year, it’s a different story for Brearley, which is 2-2, but finds itself in 15th place. There are a lot of .500 teams ahead of them, with the highest being in ninth. Again, we’re seeing the lack of small schools with quality records hurt the small schools that have playoff aspirations.

Their wins have come over Roselle Park and Dayton, a combined 2-6. The Bears might just need wins over two of their three strongest opponents remaining: South Hunterdon (4-1) this week, Middlesex and Dunellen (both 3-1) the last two weeks.

Roselle Park (2-2) is in an even worse situation than Brearley. They’re also .500, but stand in 21st place with a 21.2 UPR, 4.6 UPR points (not insurmountable) out of 16th place. Keep an eye on the Panthers here, who have an opportunity still with a huge game Friday night at home against unbeaten Spotswood (5-0), then go to Middlesex next week, and host Dunellen the week after.

South Group 1

The highest team in the standings heading into Week 5 is South Hunterdon (4-1). The Eagles are in good shape for making the playoffs, but not quite a lock for a first round home game yet.

They’ve only got three games left that count before the cutoff, with big rival New Hope-Solebury (PA) on the schedule for Cutoff Weekend. Out-of-state games don’t count for playoff calculations in either power points or OSI, so they will need to solidify their position.

One slip up the next three weeks could find the Eagles on the road in the first round of the postseason. Right behind them in eighth place is Middlesex (3-1). Their schedule is good after a home game with Belvidere this weekend, but they still will likely need to win out to clinch a top eight position and a first-round home game.

Go down to 13th place and you’ll find Manville, which is 2-3. Hard to believe that a couple of seasons ago, with six wins at the cutoff, they missed the playoffs. Here they are sub-.500 and well into the field.

We’d still consider them a bubble team for now, but at least they’re on the right side of it, with a 15.8 UPR, and 1.8 UPR points ahead of 17th place Pennsville.

A little further down is Dunellen (3-1). The Destroyers are having a nice season, and if they can stay healthy, could be a nudge in the playoffs – even more than they are to opponents in the regular season. And their schedule is strong enough that if they keep winning, they will do more than just tread water in the standings. A loss or two and they could be doing some scoreboard watching.

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 5: Upsets, Near Upsets and Unbeatens

We’re now officially at the mid-point of the high school football season, and things are heating up – from Hillsborough’s big upset of Phillipsburg at Rutgers to this week’s cash of titans between Watchung Hills and Montgomery, both of whom are 5-0.

CJSR veteran reporter Mike Pavlichko takes a closer look at all that and much more – on this week’s edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes!”

Click below to listen to the Week Five edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes”:

North Brunswick, St. Thomas Aquinas take first place votes after Phillipsburg upset, but Ridge gets No. 1 spot in Media Poll

This one was all about the math.

After previously-undefeated No. 1 Phillipsburg was knocked off by No. 8 Hillsborough, and No. 2 North Brunswick survived No. 7 Sayreville in Sunday’s Rumble on the Raritan, the 4-0 Raiders picked up three first-place votes.

St. Thomas Aquinas, which is 5-0, got the two other first place votes.

But the disagreement on who should be No. 1 left neither team with the top spot. It went to Ridge, which got all three second-place votes and two third-place votes, earning them 43 points, two more than the Raiders, who picked up 41 points.

Just like the standard AP Polls in college football and basketball – which give 25 points for a first-place Top 25 vote, 24 for second, 23 for third and so on, the Big Central Media poll awards 10 points for a first-place vote, nine for second, and so on down the line.

Below are the full Big Central Media Poll Week 5 rankings:

Phillipsburg loss, North Brunswick win put Raiders at top of Central Jersey Sports Radio Week 5 Top Ten

Phillipsburg was the No. 1 team in the preseason Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten, and held that spot definitively through its first three games.

But a loss in Game Four, 14-13 to No. 8 Hillsborough Sunday at Rutgers in the Rumble on the Raritan, left the door open for a new No. 1 team.

But who would be that team?

We got our answer just a few hours later, when No. 2 North Brunswick picked off a two-point try pass to seal a 21-20 win over No. 8 and upset-minded Sayreville.

North Brunswick has achieved the No. 1 ranking in each of the last three seasons of the CJSR rankings. The Raiders were No. 1 last year after Week One, and were first in the Week One and Week Two rankings in 2021.

Ridge moved up three placed to second after a big win at No. 9 Hunterdon Central, while the Stateliners fell to third. Hillsborough – which had been No. 8 before the upset win, climbed four spots to fourth, but didn’t overtake P’burg.

Three teams tied for ninth this week, with no teams dropping out, Union making its debut, and all eleven teams that got votes ended up in the rankings thanks to the three-way tie for ninth.

Below are the full Week 5 Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings:

Who’s got the best defense in the Big Central Conference? A closer look through Week Three

There are a half-dozen teams in the Big Central Conference with 4-0 records through Week 3 – go ask the NJSIAA about the math – and all of them reside in among the top 15 out of the 59 teams in the league in terms of scoring defense.

Through four games, the Spotswood Chargers have allowed the fewest points, averaging 5.5 per game allowed, just under the 6.8 St. Thomas Aquinas has given up. Both teams are 4-0, and each has pitched two shutouts. Put another way, they’ve each blanked half their opponents so far.

Spotswood shut out Bordentown in Week Zero and Highland Park last week. Aquinas has blanked New Providence in Week One and Scotch Plains-Fanwood the following week.

Also at 4-0 is Bernards, which checks in at third on the list at 7.8 points per game, although the Mountaineers haven’t shut out anyone yet. The most they’ve allowed this year in a game is 12 to Hillside, while allowing seven to South River and six each to Jefferson and Voorhees.

The only top ten teams to have logged a shutout on the year are St. Thomas (2) and Sayreville (1).

Seven teams are allowing fewer than 10 points a game at the moment, with North Brunswick next on the list at eight, Governor Livingston at 8.8, Phillipsburg at 9.3 and Union at 9.8 points per game.

Ridge has the highest defensive scoring average among teams in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten. But that doesn’t mean the Red Devils are giving up a lot of points: just 11.4 through three games, with 21 of the total 35 points they’ve allowed being scored in their lone loss, by Phillipsburg.

Big Central Scoring Defense thru Week Three

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 4: Rumbling on the Raritan, Top Defenses

It’s Week Four – yes we’re almost halfway through the regular season for most teams – and time for another episode of “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” as veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko shares notes, stats, and observations on area high school football.

This week, we look at Sunday’s Rumble on the Raritan, Big Play Ray, the Phillipsburg/Montgomery game with almost four dozen penalties, top defenses, and a nearly 100-year-old rivalry played under the lights for the very first time.

Click below to listen to the Week Four edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes”:

Phillipsburg holds at No. 1, Bernards debuts in Week 4 Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten

Another week, another top finish for Phillipsburg in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Week 4 rankings. The Stateliners are 3-0 after a 54-7 win over North Hunterdon Friday in their first road game of the season.

P’burg is back in action Sunday at noon in the Rumble on the Raritan at Rutgers Univeristy’s SHI Stadium in Piscataway, part of a Big Central doubleheader that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. The Liners play Hillsborough at noon, while North Brunswick and Sayreville will follow at 3:30 pm.

Mewanwhile, previous No. 9 Colonia (2-2) was knocked out of the top ten with a loss this week, as was previous No. 10 Somerville (3-1).

Bernards (4-0) made its debut in the poll this season, after a 30-6 win over Voorhees on Thursday night.

Below are the full Week 4 Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings:

Bernards football coach Jon Simoneau honored as Coach of the Week by the New York Jets

Bernards is already 4-0, but after its 3-0 start to the 2023 high school football season, head coach Jon Simoneau was named Coach of the Week in the tri-state-area by the New York Jets of the NFL.

The program by the Jets and Gatorade is to recognize each week “a coach in the tri-state area who serves the best interests of the game through the teaching of sound football fundamentals, the motivation of young players to achieve, and the promotion of youth football by way of dedication to his community, his school and his student-athletes.”

Bernards is now off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2014, when the Mountaineers started 7-0 and finished at 8-2, with an opening round playoff loss to Lincoln. Quarterback Connor Laverty – a four-year starter who also trains with Matt Bastardi at CJSR sponsor Elite QB Football Training Academy – has thrown for 536 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions, while Bernards has three players each with at last 100 receiving yards, while three others have at least 100 rushing yards, including Laverty himself, who has rushed for 178 yards and five scores.

Bernards opened with a pair of road wins, 47-6 over Jefferson and 28-12 over Hillside. They are in the midst of a three-game homestand, winning the first two 42-7 over South River, and Thursday night 3-06 over Voorhees.

The Mounties have outscored their opponents 147-31 in their first four games.

They’ll close out the homestand next Friday night at home against Delaware Valley with the Big Central Conference’s Patriot Gold Division title on the line.

READ MORE: Click here for the story on Simoneau’s honor on the Jets website.

According to the Jets website, each winner gets a $2,000 check for their football program. A coach of the Year also is chosen at the end of the season, getting $4,000 and a Gatorade cooler cart from the Jets and Gatorade.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Jets High School Coach of the Week Jon Simoneau of Bernards:

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 3: So many teams, no place to put ’em

We’re back with our Week Three episode of “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” as veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko shares notes, stats, and observations on area high school football.

This week, a look at all 15 unbeatean teams in the league, Carteret’s historic start to the season, Highland Park’s scoring outburst, and lightning ends a Saturday game.

Click below to listen to the Week Three edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes”:

Bernards erases first half deficit, pulls away from Hillside for 28-12 road win

Until Jonas Gonzalez got Bernards on the board late in the first quarter at Conant Street Park Saturday afternoon, things weren’t going well for the Mountaineers.

But in the end, Bernards took control of the game, picking up a 28-12 victory to start the season 2-0.

Hillside (0-1) opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run by Talibi Kaba, then Bernards fumbled in the red zone on the ensuing possession. Talk about inauspicious starts.

But they hung in there, and after another TD by the Comets – a five-yard run by Chibugo Chigoze-Nwosu early in the second quarter – slowly, but surely, climbed back into the game and eventually took the lead.

There was a four-yard touchdown run by QB Connor Laverty to cut it to 12-9, then a 24-yard field goal by Gonzalez to know the game at 12 heading into the locker room.

Click below for postgame reaction from Marcus Borden with Bernards senior quarterback Connor Laverty and head coach Jon Simoneau, sponsored by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

And Bernards continued in the third quarter. Laverty hit Jack Morra with a ten-yard TD strike to make it 18-12, with the PAT blocked – their second of the day, while Hillside also had one blocked in the first half. Another field goal and touchdown – while holding the Comets scoreless in the second half – made the final 28-12.