Tag: Edison

As you count down to the New Year, here are the Top Ten stories of 2021 on Central Jersey Sports Radio

Top Ten lists are king. Ever since the first David Letterman Top Ten on the original “Late Night” on NBC, they’ve been funny, entertaining, and – when it comes to sports – a great source for debate.

There’s not much debate to be had here, though. We’ve compiled the Top Ten stories of 2021 – our first full calendar year of operation on Central Jersey Sports Radio – with the most read and listened to stories on our website. Read by you, the fans!

All these stories are about the teams, schools, student-athletes, and great plays that made 2021 special. Some are combined when written about the same subject. Click on each heading to read and listen to the original stories. Enjoy!

10) No. 5 Old Bridge routs South Brunswick as Hunter, Haughney star

Old Bridge players take the field for pre-game warmups at South Brunswick on September 17, 2021.

Sometimes, it’s not a game-winning hit, touchdown or basket that makes a good story. Sometimes, it’s just a old-fashioned football game. For whatever reason, that was the case with our tenth-most read story of 2021, a win for Old Bridge football over South Brunswick from early this season. Lawrence Hunter III was the Autoland Player of the Game, and Owen Haughney figured prominently in the win as well. Listen to postgame reaction from Hunter and head coach Anthony Lanzafama with CJSR’s Tim Catalfamo.

9) Old Bridge finally wins a close one, in a big spot

Seniors on the Old Bridge baseball team pose before their 2021 Senior Night.

Another Old Bridge story, this time baseball. The Knights were having a rough season, but still in the state tournament. With a 7-17 mark, they had lost ten games by three runs or less, and four by one or two runs. That is, until the opening round of the playoffs, where 12th-seeded Old Bridge knocked off 5th-seed South Brunswick, behind solid performances from two sophomores: Justin Herbstman and Thomas Papeo.

8) “Walk ’em off Spotswood!” Lewandowski’s double off the wall lets Chargers keep Commanders’ Cup trophy another year

Spotswood holds the Bill Thompson Memorial Commander’s Cup Trophy after a 6-5 walk-off win over East Brunswick on May 19, 2021. It was the Chargers’ fourth straight win in the series.

Spotswood High School – my alma mater, for full disclosure, Class of 1996 – has always had that underdog mentality. Baseball coach Glenny Fredricks just brings it to another level, and he has a bunch of scrappy guys to prove it. There’s no fear in this small Group 2 school going up against a Group 4 like East Brunswick year after year after year, for what they call the “Commanders’ Cup.” In 2021, Spotswood won their fourth straight in the series, thanks to a walk-off off the wall by Tyler Lewandowski.

7) National recruit Davison Igbinosun of Union says Farmers are “heartbroken” over playoff cancellation, vows to keep fighting

Union senior CB Davison Igbinosun (source: Twitter)

COVID didn’t nearly have the effect on the 2021 high school football season that it did in 2020. Sure, games were cancelled, but not in an amount even closely approaching what happened the season prior. That did nothing to comfort Union, which had one of its most talented teams in school history, and was the odds-on favorite to win North 2 Group 5, and maybe even go all the way to win the North 5 regional championship. Then, COVID hit a few members of the team, the Superintendent shut down the season, and four-star national recruit Davison Igbinosun and his teammates became vocal to try and save their season. It didn’t work, but we helped give him and his teammates a voice, and Igbinosun represented them with class and dignity.

Click here for additional coverage with Union head coach Lou Grasso, Jr.

6) Loaded North Brunswick aiming high behind Garbolino and Co.

North Brunswick junior QB Frankie Garbolino

Coming off a 7-1 season, with an experienced junior quarterback and a talented ensemble cast returning, North Brunswick entered the 2021 football season with high hopes. They might have been achieved if not for a once-in-a-lifetime-talented Hillsborough squad, which they met twice – once in the regular season finale and once in the playoffs. Hear Frankie Garbolino and head coach Mike Cipot talk about the 2021 team, in our most-listened to preview story of ’21.

5) Somerville’s dynamic duo – Cookie and AJ – taking divergent paths after H.S., with big hopes for the future

From left to right, Somerville RB Cookie Desiderio, head coach Dallas Whitaker, and DE A.J. Pena pose with their commemorative footballs honoring their CJSR Player of the Year picks, and Somerville’s Team of the Year award for 2020.

They were two of the most dominant football players in the Big Central – maybe even the state – in the COVID-shortened 2020 season: runningback Cookie Desiderio and defensive end A.J. Pena of Somerville. The “Cookie Monster” scored almost every time he touched the ball (every 5.8 carries, in reality, but who’s counting) and A.J. loved “making quarterbacks cry,” which he did 12 times in seven games. They were named CJSR’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, but in the strange world of extra college eligibility and the FCS season being moved to the Spring – neither got the D1 offers they deserved.

4) Who’s the strongest team in the Big Central? Here are the league’s SI ratings heading into 2021

Phillipsburg was the “strongest” team in the Big Central heading into 2021, according to the NJSIAA’s Strength Index.

Yes, sometimes even true numbers, purely mathematical, can stir debate. And such has been the case since the NJSIAA revamped its playoff formula in 2018, initially using the Born Bower Index, and since 2019 using its own formula, loosely based on the BPI. It uses the OSI, or Opponent Strength Index, but needs the strength value of each individual team to calculate. So, we simply compiled the numbers for all the Big Central and published them. Not everyone may be a fan of our extensive knowledge of the system – it can be a dull read at times – but we do have many fans of this kind of thing, apparently. And we’re sure a good number of them are coaches, too, from both inside and outside the conference, as we’ll frequently get calls and texts asking “Where do you see us ending up?”

3) Listen to Bobby Ulmer talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his walk-off grand-slam

Bobby Ulmer, Jr., live on the CJSR postgame, talking about his dramatic walk-off grand slam.

Kids dream of this kind of stuff, acting it out in their backyards. Bases loaded, two outs, last inning, two strikes, grand slam to win the game. Bobby Ulmer, Jr., of Middlesex lived it. His walk-off grand slam in the Group 1 semifinals sent Middlesex to the state title game, where they would win again in walk-off fashion, albeit in 13 innings on a seeing-eye single by Mark Geist. Ulmer’s moonshot in the team’s last home game of the year was as dramatic as they come.

Bonus coverage: Middlesex gains Group 1 final on Ulmer’s dramatic, walk-off grand slam

2) Big Central releases All-Division Teams

It doesn’t always have to be a Top Ten list that inspires debate, or at least inspires people to go to your website. Simply honoring student-athletes is a big draw. So a list recognizing all the outstanding football players in the Big Central Conference in 2021 – all-division teams chosen by the league’s head coaches featuring 384 players in toto – brought readers out in droves.

1) He brings the water bottles, and the excitement. And he wants to help bring Greg Schiano and Rutgers a national championship

Edison senior Raymond Taub wants to be a team manager for Greg Schiano at Rutgers.

This may be one of our most favorite stories – if not, favorite interviews – ever. I can’t really tell you how we first came to know about Raymond Taub – that’s an entertaining story just for a few of us to know – but suffice it to say, he’s an awesome kid. He’s the autistic, well-loved-by-everyone manager of the football team, keeps meticulous pitch counts for the baseball team, and is the Eagles’ biggest fan. He also may be the biggest Rutgers fan out there, and his Senior Night “goal” was to become a manager with the Scarlet Knight football team and “help Greg Schiano win a national championship.” He’s a little busy right now, but someone bookmark this story for him when he gets back from Jacksonville in 2022, will ya?

You – the fans – get to pick again! It’s the Jersey Central Sports Radio “Highlight Reel Play of the Year.” Watch the video, and vote!

Central Jersey Sports Radio is giving YOU the chance to weigh in on your favorite play of the 2021 high school football season!

We received a lot of entries from high school football coaches all across the Big Central. We spent days, even hours, until we finally narrowed it down to six.

Watch the video below, then scroll down to vote for your favorite!!
Voting ends at 11:59 pm on Monday, Dec. 13.
Remember: Vote early, vote often!

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 12: The Semifinals 2021

On Episode 11 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland, it’s the most in-depth look you’ll find anywhere on the 14 conference teams still alive in the state playoffs

Mike Pavlichko is joined by Dom Savino for quick look back at the first round, then a team by team breakdown of every Big Central school’s sectional semifinal matchups, plus St. Thomas Aquinas’ opening round Non-Public B game against St. Joe’s of Hammonton.

Coaches and players are featured throughout, including a detailed breakdown of Friday night’s Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland, featuring second-seed Bernards and third-seed Haddonfield in the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals.

Edison wins wild one, an OT victory over Manalapan decided by the kickers

In one of a number of upsets on the opening night of the NJSIAA high school football playoffs, 7th-seed Edison knocked off 2nd-seed Manalapan 23-20 in a thrilling overtime win, that came down to who had the better foot.

In this case, it was the Eagles’ Selbin Sabio, who booted a 26-yard field goal in overtime to lift Edison (7-3) to the upset victory over the Braves (6-3).

For Manalapan, junior kicker Michael Calton kicked two field goals in the first half, but missed two key ones later. The first came with 52 seconds remaining in regulation, when he couldn’t convert on a 42-yard attempt, leaving the score tied at 20.

Then, in overtime, after a big defensive stop, the Braves lined up for a 40-yard attempt, which also failed.

Edison – aided by a Manalapan penalty – sent out Sabio to try a 26-yard attempt, which sailed through the uprights.

The Eagles now play at 3rd-seed Toms River North next Friday night. The Mariners (6-3) beat 6th-seed East Brunswick at home Friday night 28-14.

Click below to hear Edison head coach Matt Fulham talk about the Eagles’ wild win:

South Group 5 Week 9 Breakdown: Hillsborough plays North Brunswick with top-seed on the line, three others appear “in”

In the South Group 5 supersection, four teams appear to be in the playoffs, with one more on the bubble. Here’s the team-by-team breakdown of scenarios heading into Week 9:

Hillsborough: The undefeated Raiders (8-0) have one more obstacle to claim one of the two top seeds here. A win at home Friday night over North Brunswick (6-2) would give them the overall top seed if Washington Twp. (6-2) loses to St. Joseph of Hammonton (7-2). If the Minutemen beat Joe’s, they get the overall No. 1 and Hillsborough would be No. 2, but still get a top seed in their respective supersection. Should the Raiders lose, however, what Washington Twp. does is likely irrelevant. But it could bump the Raiders all the way out of the top four, depending on what Manalapan does at Central Friday night. A win for the Braves would bump the Raiders to fifth, but a loss would keep them at least in the top four, but move them into the South Jersey section with Washington Twp. Bottom line: Hillsborough has a lot more to lose than in this game that to gain. This is as close to a must-win as it gets if they want a top seed.

MORE CUTOFF WEEKEND COVERAGE: A team-by-team breakdown of every Big Central team’s postseason standing and chances heading into Week 9

North Brunswick: We ran the numbers a few different ways, and it doesn’t appear there’s a scenario where North Brunswick could get one of the top two seeds – and thus a top seed in the sectionals – even with a win over Hillsborough. It certainly had looked like the two were heading for that collision course a couple of weeks ago with this matchup looming at Noonan Field in Week 9. But any way you slice it, we think the best North Brunswick can do is finish third. The issue is they’re already first in power points, so there’s nowhere to gain there in UPR. They don’t catch Cherokee in OSI with a win, but Cherokee is done playing, with no game this week, so there’s no way for them to drop. But should North Brunswick lose to Hillsborough, they could drop out of the top four. Their only way back in would appear to be with a Manalapan (5-2) loss to Central (6-2).

Old Bridge: The Knights (6-2) sit in 8th in the playoff standings, but it’s going to be a bit precarious unless they beat Sayreville (6-2) in the Battle of Route 9. If they do that, it doesn’t look like anyone can knock them from the top eight and prevent them from getting a first-round home game. A loss, and yes, the Knights can get caught from behind.

East Brunswick: The Bears (7-1) are having a great year; their only loss was to the Knights by a field goal in Week One. They’re in 11th, and it appears they won’t be able to make up enough ground this week to get into the top eight, as they host Franklin (1-7) at Jay Doyle Field.

Edison: The Eagles (5-3) are in the same boat as East Brunswick, albeit a bit further back in the standings. They’re in the playoffs, no doubt, but have Watchung Hills (1-7) at the Eagles’ Nest Friday night, so they won’t make a jump even with a victory.

New Brunswick: The Zebras (3-5) still have a shot at this thing, seeking their first playoff berth since 2016. How do they get in? It starts with a 4-4 win at Monroe Friday night, which may be a toss-up. That alone gets them from 18th to 17th, so that’s going to require some help. They need at least a loss by Marlboro (5-3) at home against Jackson (2-6) Saturday, and we’ll see what else. So, it could come down to some scoreboard watching for the Zebras, provided they beat the Falcons first.

North Brunswick gets big multiplier boost in South 5; Old Bridge falls, Hillsborough stands pat at the top

There was no change in the position of Hillsborough in the unofficial Week 8 UPR standings calculated after Friday night’s games by Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The Raiders – who won at Piscataway 36- Friday night – maintained a 2 UPR, and now have a wide lead over the third place team, but the teams have changed places.

Previous No. 3 Washington Twp. – which plays tomorrow at “C” multiplier St. Joe’s-Hammonton – moved up to second place, while Manalapan – which was second – dropped to fourth with a loss. North Brunswick jumped up four places from seventh to third with a win over multiplier St. Joe’s of Metuchen.

Old Bridge – which had been in sixth – dropped to ninth after a 43-6 win over a weak J.P. Stevens team.

Idle East Brunswick – which plays South Brunswick Saturday – stayed the course in 11th place, while Edison broke its 13th place tie with Egg Harbor, which is behind the, now by 0.8 UPR points. Edison crushed Hunterdon Central Friday night in Flemington 42-7; Egg Harbor won as well.

Outside the bubble, a win by New Brunswick would have done wonders for their playoff hopes. A loss to Sayreville, though, actually moved them up from 18th to 17th, and got them to within 0.8 UPR of 16th place Marlboro, which fell a spot.

South Brunswick got a wee bit closer, and can gain a lot more if they beat East Brunswick (6-1) Saturday afternoon.

Week 8 Analysis: Hillsborough surges to No. 1 in South Group 5; three others look safe

There were three football games in Week 7 that were matchups of two teams ranked in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Big Central Top Ten.

Only one panned out to be a competitive game – Cranford beating Woodbridge by ten – while Hillsborough and Union steamrolled their way to shutouts.

For the Raiders, it propelled them to No.1 in the South Jersey Group 5 playoff standings.

Now 7-0, Hillsborough was boosted by beating a strong opponent, North Brunswick, and jumped from fourth last week to the top spot this week. That’s a good example of strength of schedule, and how it can play in a team’s favor. Previous No. 1 Manalapan won, as did Washington Township (which was second, now third) and Cherokee (which was third, now fourth).

However, the race is tighter at the top than before. Following Week Seven, Manalapan led Washington Township by a full UPR point, and Cherokee by 1.2 UPR points. This week, Hillsborough is just 0.2 UPR points ahead of second-place Manalapan, and 0.6 ahead of Washington Township.

Remember, the top seed versus the two seed means little in the state playoffs, at least for now. The top two teams get the number one seeds in separate sections of eight once they break off and snake the brackets, meaning they get guaranteed home field advantage through all three rounds of the sectionals. The regional championships will be at a neutral site. (That could change next year, though, when football plays to a group champion for the first time ever.)

Of course, the Raiders need to keep on winning. The question is not whether, but how much, the Piscataway game next week will hurt them – the Chiefs have an SI value of 48.83, while ‘Boro’s OSI is a 63.65. A win over North Brunswick, which should be around 67 by next week, will help them. And then it comes down to how the teams behind them do. Manalapan has Red Bank Catholic (7-0) this week, after the Shore conference abandoned its pod idea in favor of set matchups. It’s their second multiplier this season, but they can only take one anyway. And, of course, it’s a game the Braves could lose. Washington Twp. has only one game left, against St. Joe’s of Hammonton (6-2). And while Kingsway (3-3) this week won’t drop Cherokee much even if they win, Seneca the next week (OSI likely to be in the 40s) will.

We say if Hillsborough keeps winning, they’ll end up with home field throughout the sectionals.

Further down the list are Old Bridge and North Brunswick in sixth and seventh, respectively. Each dropped just one spot despite the big losses; Old Bridge 44-0 at Hillsborough without injured Owen Haughney, and North Brunswick 42-0 at home to Union. The drops weren’t as bad because both the Raiders and Farmers have high SI values (now 89.78 and 88.99, respectively) and are still worth some power points because they have a lot of wins (Hillsborough 7, Union 6).

The Knights have a road game at JP Stevens which does them no favors this week and a home game against Sayreville on the Cutoff. The Raiders have St. Joseph-Metuchen at home this week and Hillsborough away on Week Nine. Old Bridge likely would clinch a top 8 finish and a guaranteed first round home game if they can win out, and still may if they split (beating JP and losing to the Bombers).

North Brunswick almost has the easier path despite the more difficult games. St. Joseph is a multiplier, so even a loss means they would gain a lot in power points, 28 to be exact, more than any of their other wins so far this season. Beat them (worth 42 points), and they could even end up in the top 4 and get first round through the semis, especially if they win out. Even a loss against Hillsborough might not be the end of the world, given their strong rating, and thanks to the Joe’s multiplier.

After Williamstown at 8 and Southern at 9, things get a little murkier.

Donovan Catholic was forced to take several forfeits earlier this season after using an ineligible player. The NJSIAA ruled that since they’re a multiplier, it wouldn’t be fair for public schools who lost to them to get multiplier points for a win, so they awarded multiplier points for a loss.

In an October 8th post, Gridiron New Jersey wrote: “the NJSIAA has determined that Toms River North and Colts Neck will NOT receive the 42 points for defeating Donovan Catholic, but rather the 28 for a loss.” However, according to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s calculations, Gridiron continues to have 42 points in the power points calculation for Toms River North.

This has affected the standings, as CJSR puts Eastern in 10th, followed by East Brunswick 11th, Toms River North 12th, and Egg Harbor and Edison tied for 13th, with the edge to Egg Harbor due to a stronger OSI. Gridiron has TR North 10th, followed by Eastern, East Brunswick, Edison and Egg Harbor. Gridiron has East Brunswick one spot lower than it should be and Edison one spot higher than it should be.

An email to Gridiron New Jersey sent late Monday afternoon was not returned, and the standings were not corrected as of early Tuesday evening. We’ll keep you posted.

Nonetheless, neither team should have a crack at a home game here, but while East Brunswick (6-1) should be in, and can solidify the math with a home win over South Brunswick Friday night, the Eagles can’t afford a trip-up against Hunterdon Central or Watchung Hills, a pair of one-win teams.

What will be intriguing is whether New Brunswick (3-4) or South Brunswick (4-3) can make a push. The Zebras are 18th and have two decent games left: Sayreville and Monroe. South Brunswick is in 20th and has East Brunswick – the Bears’ 6-1 record means a lot of power points – and Bridgewater-Raritan in Week Nine, also a good game.

The good news for them is the teams ahead of them – all the way up to 16th – are not winning teams. Vineland is in 19th and just 1-6. Lenape at 16th is 2-5. The only .500 team ahead of them is Atlantic City (17th, 3-3).

We’ll paraphrase Lloyd Christmas here: “So you’re saying they have a shot!”

He brings the water bottles, and the excitement. And he wants to help bring Greg Schiano and Rutgers a national championship

You can find “Big Play Ray” running up and down the sidelines, exhorting the Eagles’ nest faithful to get on their feet and scream so loud the other quarterback can’t be heard by his teammates.

You can find him cheering on the baseball team – including his brother Charlie, a catcher – while keeping meticulous track of pitch counts to help his manager adhere to the “if this, then that, or else this” rules they must comply with on a weekly basis.

And he wants you to find him at SHI Stadium in Piscataway working for Greg Schiano next fall.


Raymond Taub, an Edison senior, who has autism, is the Eagles’ biggest supporter, and somewhat of a miracle. His mother, Anne, says doctors told her when he was a child that he may not even be able to speak.

Well, that turned out to be bull.

He’s the loudest, most vocal supporter of his school and his team.


On Senior Night against Sayreville, all the Edison seniors were asked for the game program “What do you want to do next?”

Taub said he wanted to go to Rutgers, and “help Coach Schiano win a National Championship.”

We’ll make sure he gets that message.

Less than 24 hours after his Eagles lost to North Brunswick Friday night, he was the next town over in Piscatway, cheering on his beloved Scarlet Knights, of whom he’s been a big fan for years.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s conversation with Raymond Taub, on the field before Friday night’s North Brunswick game (but after he made sure there was plenty of water out for the team):

Instant Replay: No. 5 North Brunswick 21, Edison 0

Click below to listen to the “Big Central Game of the Week” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland from Friday, October 8, 2021.

No. 5 North Brunswick won its third straight game – and fourth in a row over Edison – a 21-0 win over the Eagles (3-3)

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call the action from Matthew Drwal Stadium in Edison.

1st Half

2nd Half

Perry’s two touchdowns propel No. 5 North Brunswick to 3rd straight win, blanking Edison 21-0

It was hard to tell what was more impressive: the shutout No. 5 North Brunswick pitched against Edison on the road, or the David Copperfield-esque escape by Marquis Perry that sprung him for a 68-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

What’s certain was that both were critical in a 21-0 shutout of the Eagles, on the Friday night Big Central Game of the Week, driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland, and heard on Central Jersey Spots Radio.

Perry’s run opened the scoring for the Raiders (5-1), who have now won three in a row since a 35-22 loss to Sayreville.

He also had a nine-yard touchdown catch with 23-seconds to go in the first half. His efforts earned him the Autoland Player of the Game award. He’ll receive a custom football at the end of the season.

Edison dropped to 3-3.


The North Brunswick defense was stifling, constantly in the face of Edison junior quarterback Matt Yascko, who had at least a half-dozen incompletions that were really just trying to get rid of the ball with defenders quickly approaching.

And that defense turned up a big play in the fourth quarter, when Willie Wilson picked off a Yascko pass, setting up a scoring drive that would determine the final margin.

North Brunswick has now won four straight against Edison, and leads the all-time series 11-7.

Click below to hear postgame reaction down on the field from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

North Brunswick WR/S/K Marquis Perry

North Brunswick head coach Mike Cipot