Tag: Carteret

Central Jersey Sports Radio announces “Specialty Awards” for 2021

Last year, we decided our inaugural awards show had too few awards to recognize all the truly great student-athletes in the Big Central Conference, on or off the field. So besides Players and Coach of the Year, we decided to give out “Specialty Awards.”

And we’re back with more for 2021, so get ready for some fantastic stories!

Offensive Line of the Year: Cranford

They literally paved the way for Cranford’s third state championship in eleven seasons. The five guys up front kept quarterback Shane VanDam on his feet, and cleared a path for Colin Murray, who had a career-best 334 yards in the North 2 Group 3 championship game against Sparta.

Cranford offensive lineman Kevin Shriner holds up the NJSIAA trophy as he and his teammates celebrate a state championship. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Geoff Gretta, Kevin Shriner, Kyle Fay, Ryan Heesters, and Matt Fries – who signed his National Letter of Intent this week to attend the University of Illinois – were all instrumental in Cranford’s success. Four of the five – with the exception being center Kyle Fay – are at least 6-2 and 280 pounds.

“It helps we have a bunch of large humans,” head coach Erik Rosenmeier told us earlier this season.

It also helps they can all flat out play.

Listen below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with all five Cranford offensive linemen:

The “Nobody Scores” Award:

It took eight games for someone to score on St. Thomas Aquinas, and nobody threw a touchdown pass against them all year.

Those were the kind of dominant defensive numbers the Trojans put up on 2021, not an easy task considering they led most of their games pretty big this year, and a bunch of 16- and 17-year-olds could easily have lost their focus.

They didn’t, only allowing nine points the entire regular season, all of them coming in their finale against Delaware Valley, on a mud-soaked field in North Edison.

Villanova-bound senior Jon Wyatt has been an integral part of the Trojans’ success on both sides of the ball. (Mike Pavlichko)

Senior Jon Wyatt, who’s going to Villanova, was a lock-down corner. Barely anyone threw toward him – and if they did, they couldn’t complete a single pass. If they did manage to get a ball caught, it was in the hands of Wyatt.

Click below to hear Wyatt talk about how it all worked out for St. Thomas Aquinas:

“Rising Star” Award

Last season, sophomore quarterbacks were making an impact, whether it be Franklie Garbolino, Matt Yasko, or a host of others around the league.

In 2021, sophomore Zaimer Wright of Sayreville is one who had a big impact for his team, leaving a bright future for the Bombers.

Sayreville sophomore Zaimer Wright helped his team knock off No. 1 North Brunswick on September 17, 2021. (Source: Twitter)

Wright was a Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week earlier this year, and finished the season with 1,401 yards rushing, 25 touchdowns, and five two-point conversions, scoring 160 total points. He also starts at safety, contributing on defense, and returns punts and kickoffs, as well as runs down on the kick coverage team.

He’s been under the weather recently, so we didn’t get a chance to speak to him, but we think we’ll have plenty of opportunities the next couple of years. Feel better, Zaimer!

Mr. Versatility

There’s no doubt this award goes to Alex Benitez, a senior from Montgomery. He has played runningback, moved back to quarterback, then back to runningback while also playing outside linebacker on defense.

Montgomery senior QB Alex Benitez gets ready to throw a pass in preseason camp on Friday, August 27, 2021 at Cougar Stadium.

A four-year starter, Benitez didn’t miss a single game, and only fumbled four times in his career – three of them coming in his freshman year!

He also punts, kicks off, kicks PATs, long snaps and return kickoffs. He’d probably drive the team bus if it wasn’t an insurance issue.

Coach Zoran Milich calls him “the best all-around player in New Jersey.”

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with jack-of-all-trades Alex Benitez:

“Mentorship Award”:

With a strong influence in his own family, Jehu Andrews realizes that not every boy in Carteret is as lucky as he is.

So that’s why, in addition to being a leader on his own Carteret Rambler football team, and being a great asset to first-year head coach Kevin Freeman, he’s involved with youth football.

Jehu Andrews of Carteret (source: Twitter)

Sure, he helped pave the way up front on offense and defense to a three-win season after not playing at all in 202 because Carteret cancelled fall sports due to COVID

But he laid some of that knowledge on the 14-and-under Bulldogs in town, becoming a father figure to, perhaps, a bunch of future Jehu Andrews.

Click below to hear Andrews talk with Mike Pavlichko talk about his season, community involvement, and influences:

Perseverance Award

Sure, a lot of football players face obstacles in their seasons. Maybe it’s a nagging injury, a tough defeat, or just some bad luck.

How many have a fire destroy everything they own, save only their football jersey, and show up to play that night?

Matthew Ihemsie of Hillside (Source: Twitter)

Matthew Ihemsie of Hillside does, and to be honest, there are no words that can do it justice, except for his. So give a listen:

“Mr. Dynamic” (Most Electrifying Player):

He can run, he can throw, but his ability to inspire his teammates to great heights, quickly shift the momentum of a game, make Josh Oluremi of Colonia the obvoious choice for most electrifying player in the Big Central Conference.

Mr. Dynamic, Oluremi rushed for 1,594 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, while throwing for 954 and 6 touchdown passes. He also had 32 tackles and a pair of picks from his cornerback spot on defense.

Josh Oluremi of Colonia (Source: Twitter)

He almost single-handedly got Colonia past Edison on September 10th, rushing for four and throwing another touchdown in the game, a 38-7 victory over the Eagles.

For his career, he finishes with 2,000+ rushing yards, and nearly 1,800 passing yards, responsible for a total of 36 overall touchdowns.

Click below to hear Josh Oluremi talk about his season, career, and style of play:

Red-Hot Recruit of the Year:

Picking these awards aren’t always easy. Which means sometimes it is. In this case, it was a no-brainer.

Davison Igbinsoun of Union holds 30-plus Division I scholarship offers, and is still deciding where he’ll attend college, getting a lot of attention in the past week from Rutgers’ Greg Schiano – who arrived in a chopper for the second time this season – and Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin, who took him for a ride in a Porsche.

He originally committed to Rutgers, but withdrew that commitment after his recruiting ranting picked up a fourth star, though the Scarlet Knights remain in contention for him.

Union’s Davison Igbinosun (Source: Twitter)

One of the most dominant players in the area in recent memory, his numbers weren’t off the charts in 2021, but that’s because he’s an incredibly unselfish player, and the Farmers had a lot of athletes to go around.

This year, he had 18 total touchdowns, 76 carries for 903 yards and 12 touchdown, 20 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns. On defense, he recorded 74 tackles, 4 picks, and two tackles for a loss.

He’ll be special wherever he goes.

Week Zero is in the books; Big Central goes 1-3 in Battle at the Beach, while Carteret begins new era with a big win

Only ten of the 60 teams in the Big Central opened their seasons on Week Zero, and only one of the four that played in Ocean City this weekend came home a winner.

But perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise was Carteret, which shutout JP Stevens in its first game since November of 2019.

The Ramblers got three first-quarter touchdowns from senior Kanya Groover, who carried five times in the game for 112 yards, en route to a 37-0 shutout win over JP Stevens at “The Pit” Friday night.

It was a night of firsts for the Ramblers:

It was the Ramblers’ first win since October 25th, 2019, and the first victory for new coach Kevin Freeman.

It was their largest margin of victory in almost five years, since a 40-0 win over North Brunswick on September 23, 2016. That was also their most recent shutout win before Friday night.

Down at the Battle of the Beach in Ocean City, a showcase put on by the West Jersey Football League Coaches Association, Woodbridge was the only one of four league teams to earn a win, beating Winslow Township 26-14 Sunday.

Scotch Plains-Fanwood dropped its opener Sunday 52-0 to Cedar Creek, while on Saturday, Union battled Millville to a tough 38-21 loss – in which both teams reeled off a number of big plays – and Bernards got doubled up 40-20 by Penns Grove.

In other area action…

Somerville blanked Olney Charter of PA Friday night 25-0 down in Philly.

And on Saturday, new South Plainfield head coach – and Tiger alum – Bill Hamilton picked up the first win of his tenure, a 35-14 win over South River at Denny Stadium.

READ MORE: Smith, South Plainfield ground game tame South River, 35-14

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s coverage of Big Central Conference football kicks into high gear Friday night, with the season debut of “The Big Central Game of the Week driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland,” as Piscataway comes off its one-year COVID hiatus, hosting #6 Phillipsburg, with game time at 6:00, air-time at 5:45 with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling all the action.

And don’t forget to catch our podcast, “This Week in the Big Central driven bu Autoland,” which drops on Thursday. We’ll have a look at the week gone by, a preview of Week One games, interviews and analysis, hosted by Mike Pavlichko.

Click here to subscribe at any one of your favorite podcast sites, including Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

New Carteret head coach will bring back old-style Carteret football

Run the ball, and stop the run.

It was a recipe for success for many years for successful Carteret coaches like Jeff Weiner, Bob Molarz and Matt Yascko.

So, while new Rambler head coach Kevin Freeman looks to the future, he’s also looking to the past, as part of an effort to keep things simple for a 2021 squad that will be his first as a head coach, and the first varsity season for virtually the entire team.

Click below to hear new Carteret head coach Kevin Freeman talk about how he got the job, and his plans for the Ramblers in 2021 and beyond:

Freeman’s hire was approved last week by the Board of Education.

No stranger to the Carteret program, Freeman was an all-state linebacker for Weiner in the 1990s, then played defensive end at West Virginia for Don Nehlen. He’s shown here in his playing days for the Mountaineers.

He was hired in 2019 by then-Carteret head coach Matt Yascko to coach the offensive line and linebackers.

Freeman will have a unique challenge, in that Carteret shut down all fall sports last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, any senior on the team would have only played in the Rambler program as a sophomore.

For now, Freeman’s emphasis is on the weight room, which he believes will be the great equalizer for Carteret in 2021. He’ll keep the game plan simple: run it, and stop the run on defense.

Freeman returns only two players with varsity experience.

Click below to hear Freeman talk about those two players: OL/DE Jehu Andrews and LB/FB Mark Gonzalez:

Perth Amboy is second Middlesex County school to bow out of Winter Sports

by Mike Pavlichko

On the heels of Carteret’s decision last week to cancel all early Winter season sports – with the exception of wrestling, slated to start practicing in March – Perth Amboy has become the second Middlesex County district in less than a week to do so, cancelling all sports in the NJSIAA’s “Season 2.”

In a letter to the community posted on the Perth Amboy district website Monday, Superintendent David Roman announced that due to an increase in COVID cases in the community, the district would extend is remote learning until the end of the third marking period, which ends on Tuesday, April 20th.

As part of that announcement, Roman wrote that “due to the uncertainty of this pandemic, and the health risk it may case to our students and staff at this time, all winter sports will be cancelled.”

He added, “We will re-assess the status of spring sports as we get closer to that time.”

Carteret and Piscataway had cancelled fall sports this school year, but while Carteret will remain on the sidelines in the winter – with the exception, so far, of wrestling – Piscataway is set to play.

Perth Amboy played sports in the fall.

Some districts, like Old Bridge and North Brunswick, have been holding outdoor basketball practices to lessen time spend indoors and attempt to mitigate the risks of COVID transmission in such settings.

Middlesex has delayed practice by a week to January 19th, meaning their basketball programs would miss the first week of the season, which starts January 26th, in order to continue their preseasons.

COVID takes some lustre off Big Central’s inaugural season

by Mike Pavlichko

There were supposed to be some highly intriguing matchups in 2020.

That was the promise of the Big Central Football Conference, the long awaited merger that follows the trend around the rest of the Garden State: large superconferences swallowing up smaller ones and encompassing large swaths of New Jersey.

The Big Central gives us 60 teams that used to be in the Greater Middlesex and Mid State Conferences.

The names had a nice ring to them. The GMC will survive in all sports besides football. The Mid-State also was a football-only league, as Hunterdon, Warren and Union Counties make up the Skyland Conference in other sports.

Continue reading “COVID takes some lustre off Big Central’s inaugural season”