Tag: Cranford

Mid-Season Playoff Analysis: Summit, Cranford, Carteret may have chance at top seeds in Group 3

It’s our first week of playoff analysis here at Central Jersey Sports Radio – this year, presented by our friends at My Family Appliances in Edison – and it seems like more teams have a legitimate shot at earning top seeds.

That may just be anecdotal evidence, and there’s still a lot of football to be played, but as of now, at least three Group 3 schools may have a chance.

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 3

While Old Tappan (4-0, 10-game win streak, second longest active in the state) sits at the top, Summit (3-1) is No. 2 overall at the moment in the section, with a 2.2 UPR, right behind Old Tappan (1.4) and ahead of Warren Hills (4-1, 2.4 UPR) by a smidge. Cranford (2-2) is just behind the, but it’s a wider gap, as they have a 6.4 UPR, which is decent ground to make up.

The Hilltoppers have a good schedule coming up after winless Scotch Plains-Fanwood at home this weekend, with strong teams like Linden at home next week, then two road games to closer it out at Colonia and St. Joseph-Metuchen. Old Tappan’s schedule may be slightly lower in quality the rest of the way out, and Warren Hills is fairly similar, too. Summit may have to win out to earn a top seed, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Cranford has a tough schedule, too, including closing with Group 5 North Brunswick. The Cougars may need some help, but it’t not out of the question for them either if things break right.

The next area team in the standings is Hillside at No. 12. The Comets are 3-1, and should fairly safely be in the playoffs if they continue to play at the level they have been; their lone loss is to Ridge.

Governor Livingston is an interesting study. The Highlanders are 4-1, having won four straight after losing their opener. It”s their best start since going 8-1 to start 2006, a season they finished 8-3. It’s their first four-game win streak since 2008, when the Highlanders went 7-5 and lost to Caldwell in the North 2, Group 2 title game.

All that and GL is only in 16th place.

It’s mainly due to their schedule: three of their four wins have come against teams that are a combined 0-14 in North Plainfield, JFK and JP Stevens. The schedule gets tougher though, with Carteret and Bernards – teams with top-seed playoff aspirations – among their final four games. Both are at home, the Ramblers next week, and Bernards on the Saturday of Cutoff Weekend.

A win against one of those might be needed in order to combat the weak schedule. Stay tuned, they could be this year’s cause celebre in the Big Central, a la Spotswood last year and Manville two years ago. They finished with seven and six wins, respectively, at the cutoff, and didn’t make the postseason, and scheduling had a lot to do with it.

South Group 3

It might be a bit of a longshot, and playing winless JP Stevens won’t help them this week, no matter how close they keep it, but Carteret sits in sixth with a 7.4 UPR, 4.8 points behind second-place Holmdel.

Then again, after the Hawks this Friday night (7 pm on CJSR) the schedule gets tougher. There’s 4-1 Governor Livingston, then Rahway and Hillside.

A lot may depend on what others do.

Somerville (3-2) sits in eighth at the moment, so they’re right on the bubble of a first round home game. They could go either way at this still-early date.

South Plainfield, like Governor Livingston, is another plus-.500 team in rough shape. At 3-2, the Tigers sit in 24th place, a full nine UPR points out of the playoff window. Worse yet, their remaining schedule is not good. Other than GL this week, they have Voorhees, at Perth Amboy, and home to Monroe the last three weeks; those three teams are a combined 6-9. It’s not awful, but there’s no “big win” either, to give them a big boost.

Solid defensive effort notches third shutout for St. Thomas Aquinas, 34-0 over Cranford

Two years ago, St. Thomas Aquinas pitched seven shutouts in a season, tying a playoff era Middlesex County record held by Piscataway’s 2004 team, one which had three future NFL players on its roster.

Some said the schedule wasn’t challenging, and the following year the Trojans were in a tougher division.

Fast forward one more year, and the 2023 Trojans may be on the same trajectory.

They beat Cranford 34-0 in North Edison Friday night to improve to 5-0, and in the process logged their third shutout of the season, having already blanked New Providence and Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

The Cougars fell to 2-2 with the loss.

Click below to hear St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Tarig Holman talk about Friday night’s win over Cranford, and the keys to his team’s stellar defense:

Another sweep at No. 1 for Phillipsburg in Week Two Big Central Media Poll

Once again this week, Phillipsburg got all five first-place votes from the media members surveyed in the Big Central Media Poll, as the Stateliners opened their season with a dominant win over Sayreville Friday night, 42-7 at Maloney Stadium.

If the Stateliners can remain No. 1 next week, it’ll be the first time in the history of the poll – now in its fourth season – that the same team that was No. 1 in the preseason or Week Zero was still ranked first after Week Two.

The Bombers were the only team that stayed in the poll to move more than one spot this week, dropping from fifth to seventh after the loss. Previous No. 8 Westfield dropped out after losing to Watchung Hills, which had been tied with the Blue Devils for eighth.

Hunterdon Central joined the Media Poll for the first time since its inception three years ago.

Below is the full Big Central Media Poll for Week Two:

Idle Phillipsburg remains atop Big Central Media Poll, as Watchung Hills and Montgomery make inroads

Three teams who don’t open their season until this Friday night hold the top three spots in the Big Central Media Poll for Week One, while two new teams made their debut.

Watchung Hills and Montgomery made the cut in Week One after receiving votes in the preseason rankings. The Warriors are tied for eighth with Westfield, while Montgomery takes the tenth spot.

Three teams dropped out from last week (there were 11 overall in the rankings, with two teams having been tied for tenth): Colonia, Edison and North Hunterdon, all of whom lost their opening games in Week Zero.

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

Cranford seniors who saw a championship as sophomores now forging their own way

Ryan Carracino, Andrew Wozniak, Sean Riley, and Ben Fossella were the four seniors Cranford head coach Erik Rosenmeier brought to Big Central Media Days last week.

One thing they all have in common is that they all saw the varsity team win a championship in 2021, beating a high-flying Sparta team at home on a cold November night.

Now, they must forge their own path, with all the most significant pieces of that title team off at other places, many playing football – or other sports – in college.

And Rosenmeier – now the longest-tenured coach in Union County, in his 19th season and with a 125-60 record with the Cougars – knows how to push all the right buttons. You don’t get to coach for two decades at a school without winning a few games, and Rosenmeier’s program has won plenty.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Cranford head coach Erik Rosenmeier and senior linebacker/halfback Ryan Caraccino:

2023 Big Central Preview: United Gold Division

Coming off a year in which Cranford won a state title, their move to a new division put them in with the behemoth that has become St. Thomas Aquinas, which won the United Gold Division in its inaugural season in 2022.

But both teams have lost significant talent, but should be right back in the mix, while their three other divisional foes will look to make a push.

That includes Rahway, which won four games last year, but had to deal with the death of a beloved teammate, Ali Muhammad.

MORE ’22 COVERAGE: Hall stands tall after teammate’s tragic passing to win Week 2 Bellamy & Son Player of the Week Honors

There’s also Summit, which finished 6-5 after starting the year 0-3, and has more experience back this season. And then Scotch Plains-Fanwood, nearly a playoff team two years ago, but coming off a two-win season that is likely more an exception to the rule for Austin Holman’s program.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko’s preview of the United Gold Division from the Big Central Conference’s inaugural Media Days:

It’s February signing day, as more Big Central players sign on the dotted line.

The “early” National Letter of Intent Signing Day for football is in December, and while it’s morphed into the main day, when most players sign, not all do.

The extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA has also affected student-athletes coming out of high school, but that’s another story altogether.

Still, many – whether it’s because they’re looking for more offers, whatever the case may be – wait until the February signing day, as a number of Big Central players have signed today.

Here’s a look at Big Central signees. Please check back as this list will be added to as we hear about additional signings.

Warriors send Seubert, McCann to Rutgers as PWOs…

Watchung Hills head coach Rich Seubert – the ex-Giant and Super Bowl champion – is sending two seniors off to play for Greg Schiano in the fall. One is his own son, two-way lineman Hunter Seubert. The other is Riley McCann, who is expected to kick and/or punt for the Scarlet Knights.

Both are preferred walk-ons.

“I’m a proud father and coach,” Seubert told Central Jersey Sports Radio. “Having two student-athletes continuing their academics and football careers at Rutgers is special. To have two home-grown young men stay and play for us here at The Hills is special, as they both proved it doesn’t matter where you go to school but how you perform on the field and in the classroom.”

McCann was the No. 2 receiver for the Warriors this past fall, with 13 catches for 261 yards and a touchdown, in addition to being a kicker, where he hit all of his 32 PATs in 2022. He was also 12-of-16 on field goals, with four over 40 yards and a long of 50 at St. Joseph-Metuchen in October.

“Riley has been a leader both in the classroom and on the field for some time,” said Seubert. “He has worked hard for this opportunity and is excited to go earn it the fun way.”

“Coach Schiano is getting two great young men to compete on the field and in the classroom.

Edison’s Malcolm Stansbury chooses Delaware State…

Edison’s Malcolm Stansbury (second from right) after signing to play football at Delaware State. From l. to r.: Edison head coach Matt Fulham, Principal Charlie Ross, mother Kiyanna, Malcolm, and Athletic Director Dave Sandaal. (submitted photo)

A four-year starter for the Eagles – who won their first state sectional title in 31 years this past fall – Stansbury with 146 catches for 1,886 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was also a great cornerback, registering five interceptions in the defensive backfield over the course of his career, but is projected to play wide receiver for the Hornets.

Click here to read the full story on Edison’s Malcolm Stansbury signing with Delaware State University.

Cranford’s Kanterman, Godwin and Lynskey headed to New England…

Shane Kanterman was the Cougars’ leading tackler at the middle linebacker spot the last two years, including on the state championship team in 2021, and signed with Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven Wednesday. QB Liam Godwin will be playing just down the road, as he inked with the University of New Haven, and Ryan Lynskey signed with Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

This year, he was also the top runningback on the team with 787 yards on 120 carries and nine touchdowns, finishing No. 2 in rushing behind dual-threat quarterback Liam Godwin, who rushed for 930 yards and 15 touchdowns, while throwing for 887 and another ten TDs. On the state title team two seasons ago, Godwin was on the receiving end of star QB Shane Van Dam, grabbing 11 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

Runningback Ryan Lynskey is also a dual-threat. He had the third-most rushing yards on the team in 2022, carrying 101 times for 636 yards and 7 touchdowns, while also hauling in 9 catches for 195 yards and 3 TDs. He also had 64 tackles and 3 interceptions playing defensive back this past season, and projects to play safety there, as well as Godwin, who registered 86 tackles and six interceptions in the past two years at the position.

Woodbridge’s Barahona headed to the Poconos…

Defensive end Kaelyb Barahona is heading to Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania. He logged 51 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks his senior season for the Barrons, including two in a narrow 14-13 loss at in-town rival Colonia in late September.

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 4 championship, though the Lions were knocked out in the first-ever group semifinals by Northern Highlands back on Saturday.

Phillipsburg was upset in the North 2, Group 5 finals by West Orange, but beat North Hunterdon early on in the regular season.

Edison came in third, despite four losses, after making a huge run as the sixth-seed in Central Jersey Group 5 to win a sectional title. Along with West Orange, they were the lowest seeds in the state among public schools to reach sectional finals, and both wound up winning titles.

St. Thomas Aquinas, which beat Edison in the regular season, but got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, checks in at No. 4. Aquinas holds the Big Central Conference’s longest league winning streak going into next year at 17 games, with Phillipsburg and Brearley behind them at eleven straight regular season league wins.

North Brunswick checks in fifth, having been knocked out of the playoffs in the Central Group 5 semifinals by Edison.

Ridge came in sixth, followed by North 2 Group 3 finalist Hillside in seventh.

Cranford was No. 8, Watchung Hills rated ninth, and Montgomery finished in tenth, while Westfield, Bernards, and North 1 Group 1 finalist Brearley (10-1) also received votes.

Below is the complete final Big Central Media Poll for 2022:

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 past Saturday, 21-20 in OT at Franklin High School.

Led by the backfield tandem of Kente Edwards and Alex Uryniak, quarterback Luke Martini, and top receivers Derek Vaddis and Danny Delusant – with several of those players also playing critical roles on defense – North Hunterdon won its first state title since 2017, beating Randolph in a finals for the ages, 49-35, a contest which saw the teams explode for a combined 49 points in the final quarter.

The Lions also won the Liberty Silver Division of the Big Central Conference.

Phillipsburg, which was undefeated going into the North 2 Group 4 final, was shocked in the title game by West Orange, 28-7. The American Silver Division champs are 10-1, heading into their Thanksgiving Day battle with Easton.

In third was Edison, the Central Jersey Group 5 champion, which beat Lenape in the title game 28-14 a week ago down in Medford. It was the Eagles’ first title in 31 years, and they finished the season 9-4 with a group of seniors that included several four-year starters, including QB Matt Yascko, wide receiver Malcolm Stansbury, offensive lineman Matthew Bueno, and and kicker/linebacker Selbin Sabio.

Tied for fourth was St. Thomas Aquinas and North Brunswick. The Trojans beat Edison in the regular season, but got knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round by Holy Spirit. Aquinas won the United Gold Division title, and will take a 17-game conference winning streak into the 2023 season, the best in the league. (Phillipsburg and Brearley both have won 11 straight regular season BCC games, the closest teams to Aquinas.

The Raiders finished 8-2, National Silver Division champions. Their lone regular season loss came out-of-division to Cranford, but they lost in the Central 5 semifinals to Edison, after the Eagles scored the game’s final 16 points in a furious comeback in the final five minutes of the game, recovering two on-side kicks and winning on a field goal with :04 left on the clock.

Ridge finished the year 7-3 and came in sixth.

In seventh was Hillside, which finished the season 9-2, tied with Cranford. The Comets were the Patriot Silver Division champions, and their only regular-season loss came to St. Thomas Aquinas in a divisional crossover. They made the North 2, Group 3 finals, but lost to Old Tappan 28-14; the Golden Knights are in the first-ever statewide Group 3 final at Rutgers in two weeks.

Cranford was 7-3, and won the American Gold Division title.

Westfield, Watchung Hills and Montgomery all tied for tenth. The Warriors and Cougars both finished 7-3, while Westfield also is 7-3, but still has to play its Thanksgiving game against Plainfield.

Below are the complete final 2022 Central Jersey Sports Radio High School Football rankings:

Four Big Central teams punch their tickets to sectional title games, Hillside has a Saturday semi

Top-seeds Phillipsburg and North Hunterdon, along with Brearley and Edison, will play for sectional championships next weekend in the NJSIAA state high school football playoffs, after winning semifinal games Friday night.

Hillside, the ninth team that advanced int he first round, still has to play a semifinal game in North 1, Group 3, as the second-seeded Comets host third-seed River Dell at Conant Street Park at 1:00 Saturday afternoon.

In North 2, Group 5 action, Phillipsburg remained undefeated with a 30-7 win over fourth-seed Paterson Eastside at Maloney Stadium. Click here for a recap and audio from the Phillipsburg game.

In North 1, Group 5, third-seed Westfield saw its season come to an end with a 20-14 loss at second-seed Union City.

In Central, Group 5, sixth-seed Edison stunned second-seed North Brunswick, 33-31 on two touchdowns and a field goal, all in the final four minutes, aided by two onside kick recoveries. Click here to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with reporter Chris Tsakonas, who was at the game, and had postgame reaction.

In North 2, Group 4 – in a game heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, North Hunterdon fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter to visiting 5th-seed Morris Knolls, but came back to win 25-14. Click here for a full recap and postgame reaction with Mike Pavlichko.

Meanwhile, in North 1, Group 4, third-seed Ridge was eliminated with a 34-27 loss at second-seed Ramapo.

In North 2, Group 3, Cranford was knocked out, as the 2nd-seeded Cougars lost 14-7 at third-seed West Essex.

And in North 1, Group 1, Brearley made it to its first final since 2015 as the fourth-seeded Bears ran past 8th-seed Kinnelon, 45-14 in Kenilworth. Click here for postgame reaction form head coach Scott Miller and quarterback Matt Sims.

Here are Friday’s results in the sections with teams remaining:

North 2, Group 5:
#1 Phillipsburg def. #4 Eastside (Paterson), 37-0
#6 West Orange def. #2 Ridgewood, 34-31 (2OT)
Final: #6 West Orange at #1 Phillipsburg, Friday at 7 pm

North 1, Group 5:
#1 Passaic Tech def. #4 Clifton, 21-14
#2 Union City def. #3 Westfield, 20-14
Final: #2 Union City at #1 Passaic Tech, Friday at 7 pm

Central Group 5:
#1 Lenape def. #5 Atlantic City, 21-20
#6 Edison def. #2 North Brunswick, 33-31
Final: #6 Edison at #1 Lenape, Friday at 7 pm

South Group 5:
#1 Toms River North def. #5 Marlboro, 42-6
#2 Kingsway def. #3 Cherokee, 41-14
Final: #2 Kingsway at #1 Toms River North, Friday at 7 pm

North 2, Group 4:
#1 North Hunterdon def. #5 Morris Knolls, 25-14
#2 Randolph def. #3 Wayne Valley, 31-28
Final: #2 Randolph at #1 North Hunterdon, Friday at 7 pm

North 1, Group 4:
#4 Northern Highlands def. #1 Irvington, 17-14
#2 Ramapo def. #3 Ridge, 17-13
Final: #4 Northern Highlands at #2 Ramapo

North 2, Group 3:
#1 West Morris def. #5 Warren Hills, 49-15
#3 West Essex def. #2 Cranford, 14-7
Final: #3 West Essex at #1 West Morris

North 1, Group 3:
#1 Old Tappan def. #4 Sparta, 37-14
#3 River Dell at #2 Hillside, Saturday at 1 pm

North 2, Group 1:
#4 Brearley def. #8 Kinnelon, 45-14
#2 Mountain Lakes def. #3 Waldwick, 27-21
Final: #4 Brearley at #2 Mountain Lakes, Friday at 7 pm

North 1, Group 1:
#4 Cedar Grove def. #1 Wood-Ridge, 17-10
#2 Weequahic def. #3 Butler, 45-28
Final: #4 Cedar Grove at #2 Weequahic, Friday at 7 pm