Tag: Cranford

Week 3 Friday night hot takes: No. 1 upended, Cougars and Mustangs and more start hot

The big news of the night of course was the No. 1 North Brunswick Raiders, who surely won’t hold that position next week.

That takes nothing away from the Sayreville Bombers, who upended the Raiders 35-22 on their home field Friday night to pick up their first win of the season against two losses, albeit to teams who are both in the top ten in the Big Central Media Poll (and maybe at least one of those teams warrant another look in the CJSR rankings).

But that was the big story line Friday night, along with a host of others.

Sayreville has had a couple of down years since winning the inaugural South 5 “bowl championship” in 2018, beating Williamstown in their very own of the Miracle at the Meadowlands.

But the program has persevered under alum Chris Beagan, now in his seventh season at the helm.

HEAR MORE: Sayreville topples No. 1 Raiders, wins it with defense as much as offense

Consider the fact that the Bombers first four opponents all are or have been in the Top Ten this year, in one or both polls.

Bridgewater-Raritan from Week One is in the Media Poll, Woodbridge is in both and got a first place vote each of the last two weeks in the Media Poll, North Brunswick was Number One the last two weeks in the Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings, and this week as well in the Media Poll, and Edison – next week’s Bombers’ opponent – was in the lower half of the top ten before getting bounced last week after a loss to Colonia.

Sayreville is what they call a tough out. After Edison, the Bombers have St. Joe’s, Pisctaway (both 0-2), and South Brunswick (1-2) before finishing with New Brunswick (2-1) and Old Bridge (2-1).

Time to turn those tough outs into hits.

Manville pouring on the points…

No one wants to hear about any more water in Manville, but the Mustangs are making it rain.

After their season opener was cancelled and declared a “no contest” after Ida’s remnants devastated the majority of the town and drew a visit from President Biden, Manville has gone out and won two straight, by a combined score of 89-6 over Dunellen and Montclair-Kimberley Academy. Shaun Purcell had another great game with a rushing and receiving touchdown, while QB Danny Wildgoose and runningback Brandon Flores also got into the scoring column.

They could be on the opening chapters of writing a great book this season. Manville last made the playoffs in 2017, only their third playoff berth, and has never won a playoff game. That’s a long way away, but maybe they can dream…

Cranford is hot out of the gate, too…

Maybe things would have gone differently in Week Three had the Cougars not come out on the right side of last week’s 33-27 overtime decision at home against North Hunterdon.

Then again, as solid a program as Cranford has built – with a lot of multi-sport athletes who head coach Erik Rosenmeier says are not just allowed to, but encouraged to play other sports – it might not have made a difference.

No matter, the Cougars are off to a 2-0 start, with senior QB Shane VanDam leading an offense that has put up 88 points in two games.

HEAR MORE: Cranford wins a battle of top Union County QBs, Cougars off to 2-0 start

The big difference Friday night was that it was nowhere near as close as the opener; the defense held Summit to just eight measley points.

Things are looking good in the tiny Union County town.

Monroe back down to Earth, but are still hot…

Speaking of teams that have put up a lot of points, Monroe outscored its first two opponents 121-26, but cooled off a bit Friday night when they edged out Hamilton out of the West Jersey Football League 18-13.

Still, the Falcons are off to a 3-0 start, their best record out of the gate since winning five-in-a-row to start 2013 under Chris Beagan. They dropped four of their last five that year to finish 6-4, with the last two losses coming in the regular season finale and the opening round of the playoffs, both to Sayreville.

In their 11-1 state title season, they started 1-1 before winning ten straight to take the Central Jersey Group 3 title over Middletown South 30-10 in the snow at the College of New Jersey.

Cranford wins a battle of top Union County QBs, Cougars off to 2-0 start

Cranford head coach Erik Rosenmeier believes football is a fall sport. He believes summer is for vacation, and that’s why his team didn’t play in Week One.

It had nothing to do with the remnants of Ida that caused major damage in some parts of town along the Rahway River.

Either way, his team is off to a 2-0 start, following up on a 43-37 OT win over North Hunterdon in the opener with a 45-8 home win at Memorial Field over Summit.

Senior Shane Van Dam and the Cranford offense got the better of Summit and QB Charlie Schaffer, whose attack managed just a single touchdown on the road against the Cougars.

Van Dam threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers, and ran for another.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk about the win – and expectations for the season – with Cranford head coach Erik Rosenmeier:

North Brunswick claims top spot in Big Central Media Poll, edging out Union in Week Two

A week ago, North Brunswick had three first place votes in the Big Central Week One Media Poll, while Union had just one.

But the voters that didn’t pick Union first had the Farmers higher than those who didn’t have the Raiders in the top spot, so Union took Number One.

In Week Two, the first place votes went the same way – with Somerville and Woodbridge each getting a nod – but a win over ranked Old Bridge on the road boosted the Raiders in the minds of voters, and this week, they earned the top spot with 52 points, two more than Union.

There was little other change in the poll. Hillsborough jumped over Phillipsburg following a 21-14 overtime home win over the Stateliners, while Edison and Watchung Hills both dropped out. Three teams – Bernards, Cranford and Linden – tied for tenth, with five other teams getting votes.

Below is the Week Two Big Central Media Poll:

North Brunswick win over No. 4 Old Bridge keeps Raiders at No. 1 in CJSR Week Two Top Ten

Going on the road is never easy. Going to Vince Lombardi Field in Old Bridge is even tougher, where the Knights’ student section is loud. Coming out of there with a victory is even tougher.

But that’s what No. 1 North Brunswick did on Friday, pulling out a 34-27 victory at then No. 4 Old Bridge. And so, the Raiders remain No. 1 this week in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten, picking up both first place votes.

Woodbridge and Summit made their season debuts in the rankings, while Edison and New Providence dropped out, though the Pioneers were more of a mathematical casualty, having still received a vote in the poll.

The Media Poll will be out later Monday afternoon.

Below are the Week Two CJSR Rankings:

North Brunswick takes over top spot in CJSR Week 1 Top Ten

Locked in a 21-all tie Friday night against their old Thanksgiving Day rivals, North Brunswick used a balanced attack to score four touchdowns in about five minutes of game action and 35 unanswered points to pick up a season-opening 56-21 win over South Brunswick.

That win, coupled with Somerville’s loss to Northern Highlands – albeit a very good Highlander team, the defending North 1 Group 4 champ from 2019 – flipped the top two spots in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Week One Top Ten.

Somerville finished atop CJSR’s first-ever final rankings in 2019, after beating Woodbridge in the first round of postseason games. The Barrons had been a unanimous No. 1 most of the year. And the Pioneers led the preseason CJSR rankings this year.

But after Week One, North Brunswick has taken the top spot, gaining both first-place votes.

Hillside was the only team to drop out of the rankings, doing so after a 14-7 loss to unranked Bernards – their first loss to the Mountaineers since 2016 – which jumped into the Comets’ spot in the Top Ten. Bernards was the only Big Central team to beat a ranked opponent in Week One

Here’s the Week One Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten:

Johnson and large ensemble cast carried Cranford to another winning season

Back in the summer, Cranford resumed in-person workouts under the NJSIAA’s strict COVID-19 guidelines. With no more than 10 participants allowed in a group and six feet of space required between all participants, the proceedings looked nothing like a typical football practice.

Every person on the roster — about 75 players in total — had to get involved so that each group could conduct drills or walk through plays properly.

But as the Cougars’ coaching staff soon discovered, the Phase 1 activities were even more insightful than a normal 11-on-11 practice.

An unprecedented level of offensive depth, developed during those socially distanced summer workouts, led Cranford (6-2) to its 11th straight winning season and a second-place finish in Big Central Division 5A.

“Because of [the summer practices], everybody was able to learn plays,” head coach Erik Rosenmeier said. “We took a look at guys slightly differently than we may have if we just were focused on the guys that we had back or we thought were going to be good.”

Cranford featured two starting quarterbacks — senior Dennis DeMarino and junior Shane VanDam — who often alternated drives leading the offense. During the four-game stretch from Week 2 to Week 5, DeMarino and VanDam even alternated 100-yard passing games, with VanDam’s 111-yard performance against Colonia coming the week after DeMarino threw for 111 yards against Woodbridge. They each finished the season with five passing touchdowns and two interceptions.

Surrounding the twin signal-callers was a constantly rotating cast of skill-position players. In the Cougars’ abbreviated eight-game season, nine players recorded at least 100 rushing or receiving yards. Senior RB Marcus Johnson, who helped lead the school’s baseball team to the Last Dance World Series championship last summer, paced the group with 408 rushing yards and six total touchdowns.

“As we got closer to the season, [the coaching staff] said, ‘Hey, these guys can all play. Let’s find a way to get them on the field. Let’s use it to our advantage. Let’s play up tempo, run guys in and out and try to wear other teams out,’” Rosenmeier said. “I think it was a mental edge for us.”

Cranford’s quick-pace offense averaged 30 points-per-game and posted three 40-point performances.

In the Big Central’s first week of postseason play, that depth led the Cougars to their biggest win of the season, a 43-19 victory over previously unbeaten North Brunswick. DeMarino threw for 74 yards and two scores. Of course, two different receivers — Johnson and junior Will Gallagher — caught the touchdown throws. Junior RB Lucca Limeira ran for a game-high 112 yards and two touchdowns. VanDam and Johnson each added a rushing touchdown, too.

The win was the capstone on another winning season at Cranford, a streak that is now the longest active in the Big Central.

“It felt really good coming together as a team because, when everyone gets the ball, [opponents] couldn’t focus on one player,” Johnson said. “Everybody stepped up and did what they had to do this year.”

Johnson and Rosenmeier spoke to Central Jersey Sports Radio about the season. Click below to hear their comments:

RB Marcus Johnson

Head Coach Erik Rosenmeier

Somerville is Central Jersey Sports Radio’s first “Team of the Year”

Finishing the COVID-shortened 2020 high school football season with a perfect 7-0 mark, the Somerville Pioneers accomplished what they set out to do: beat the best, and finish undefeated.

It was the closest anyone could come to a championship.

Their final game turned out to be a 39-26 road win over then-No. 1 and undefeated Woodbridge, a victory that propelled then No. 2 Somerville into the top spot in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten.

They held onto that spot in the final rankings, to earn the first-ever “Team of the Year” award given out by Central Jersey Sports Radio, and also finished No. 1 in the inaugural Big Central Media Poll.

Somerville was the only undefeated team in the Big Central. North Plainfield – with a remarkable turnaround off a 4-6 2019 season and a 7-24 mark over the past three years – had been undefeated until a 30-14 road loss to Linden in Week 8.

The undefeated season is the Pioneers’ fifth overall and first since 1983, when they went 11-0 and won the Central Jersey Group 2 title. They also went 11-0 an route to a state title in 1979. Their first of 11 state titles overall came in a 1953 season that saw the Pioneers go 9-0. They also finished 7-0-1 in 1929, and won the only game they played in 1909, defeating Bound Brook 16-5.

Following are the final Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten and Big Central Media Poll. A trophy will be presented to Somerville for the honor at a later date.

Week 3 Media Poll finds Barrons in the top spot again

A week two win kept Woodbridge atop the Big Central Media Poll this week, although the Barrons still were not a unanimous selection. They got four first-place votes for the second week in a row, while Phillipsburg – just like last week – got the other two. The Barrons are 2-0, while the Stateliners are 3-0.

The top four positions in the survey were unchanged, with Somerville and St. Joseph-Metuchen holding in third and fourth, respectively.

Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan joined the rankings this week, replacing Union and Hillsborough, both of which suffered their second losses of the season in Week 3.

Woodbridge holds on to top spot in CJ Sports Radio Top Ten

A 2-0 start has kept the Woodbridge Barrons atop the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten for Week 3 of the high school football season.

Woodbridge cruised to a 41-19 win over Scotch Plains-Fanwood in their Week 3 game.

It was a week of stability, as the top six teams all held their ground while North Brunswick and Old Bridge each moved up a spot.

Two teams dropped out after suffering their second loss of the season: Hillsborough and Union. Ridge and undefeated Cranford took their places.