Tag: football

Remembering Ron Mazzola, Mr. Old Bridge

The high school sports world – especially the Old Bridge community – is heartbroken over the loss of the man who always wore a smile, whether he was calling the PA at home Knights’ football games, organizing the wrestling tournament, gymnastics, or printing t-shirts, or minting trophies.

Ron Mazzola died Monday at the age of 61. A lifelong Old Bridge resident, he rooted for everyone to have success, and always had a positive word to say about everyone and anyone.

Tributes have poured in all over social media for Mazzola, and we caught up with some of them to pay their respects to – and share some memories of – the man who will forever be known as Mr. Old Bridge.

Click below to listen:

Tip: To download the tribute, right click on the player above, and choose “Save Sound As.”

Central Jersey Sports Radio caught up with Ron Mazzola for a “Sunday conversation” this past fall, talking to him about all manner of things he’s done in the high school sports realm.

Click here to read that story and hear our conversation with him.

“Mr. Old Bridge,” Ron Mazzola, does a little bit of everything for Knights, Chargers, GMC

He’s been at it a while, seen a lot, and does a little of everything.

Ron Mazzola is most well-known to the average fan as being the PA voice of Old Bridge football. His first game was by accident, a rescheduled game due to rain that ended up being played at Edison, and the main announcer, Gus Persch, was unavailable.

The Knights beat No. 2 Hillsborough that day 49-0. The rest, as they say, is history.

But even before that, Mazzola was busy behind the scenes, not long after he graduated Madison Central High School in 1978, having played baseball and basketball for coaches Walt Peto and John Somogyi.

He was involved in many youth sports and did PA on frequent Madison and Cedar Ridge night soccer games.

He’s done video for Old Bridge teams, helped run the GMC wrestling tournament and gymnastics championships.

He even helped run the first “unofficial” Big East wrestling tournament in 1996 at the behest of then-Rutgers coach John Sacchi.

In the midst of it all, after having worked at various now-gone sporting goods stores like Herman’s, Gervin’s and Route 18 Sports, he opened his own business – Prestige Imaging – which still thrives to this day, despite a downturn during the pandemic, and provides the Greater Middlesex Conference with all its postseason awards.

They even helped create the new Old Bridge uniforms after the Madison-Cedar Ridge merger. (He’s still got the rejected color combo jerseys -“retro” jersey day, anyone?)

I sat down recently with Ron to talk about his involvement with local sports.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s interview with “Mr. Old Bridge,” Ron Mazzola:

NJSIAA Important Dates and more for Football season

High school football season in New Jersey will be here before you know it, and – of course – that means practice is coming even sooner.

Practices can start as soon as Monday, August 9th regardless of when a team’s season-opener is scheduled, and scrimmages can begin a week later, August 16th.

Week Zero games can be held as early as Friday, August 27th, with Week 1 openers available as early as Thursday, September 2nd, and Week 2 a week later on September 9th.

This will be the last season with a Week Zero, in anticipation of next year’s big schedule change to accommodate Group Championships. You can read more about the vote that made it possible by clicking here.

The regular season will run from Week Zero to Week Nine.

Continue reading “NJSIAA Important Dates and more for Football season”

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

Now that the NJSIAA has released its official starting Strength Index numbers for the 2021 high school football season, who’s the strongest team in the Big Central?

Well, to be honest, not much changed since the end of the 2021 season.

At least at the top, Phillipsburg has the highest 2021 preseason Strength Index in the league, followed by Somerville.

Continue reading “Who’s the “strongest” team in the Big Central? Here are the league’s SI ratings heading into 2021″

SPONSORED: Now is the time to start planning fall fundraisers; John Tuohy of Fundraising U. explains how to raise the most money in the least amount of time

As the world keeps working to get back to a “pre-pandemic normal,” high school sports teams hopefully will be getting back to normal this fall, too.

But that also means they’re going to have to raise as much cash as they did before – if not more – to keep things going.

That’s why John Tuohy of Fundraising University – one of Central Jersey Sports Radio’s founding sponsors – says now is the time to start thinking about fundraisers.

What’s your fundraising goal? What would you like to sell? Who can be involved? Who are you selling to? How can you do it in the least amount of time, while raising the most amount of money?

All questions John Tuohy can answer.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with John Tuohy about the type of money-raising events Fundraising University can offer:

Marcus Borden – winner of two titles – says group champs won’t cheapen sectional crowns

Five years after East Brunswick beat Jackson to win its first state sectional title under Marcus Borden, the Bears were at it again.

In the snow at the College of New Jersey, they took home another Central Jersey Group IV title, beating Brick Memorial 9-0.

For a coach who remembers just about every play of every game he’s ever coached in (spend some time with him and you’ll see what I mean) that game especially sticks out.

With the NJSIAA membership voting Wednesday to allow public group championships by a large margin – 318-12, with six abstentions – some have worried it could make sectional titles less relevant.

Just don’t put Borden in that category. Listen below to his conversation with Central Jersey Sports Radio about the NJSIAA’s historic vote, and his own past efforts to get New Jersey to play to group titles:

Hillsborough’s Carty hopes momentum carries over from historic NJSIAA vote

Wednesday’s announcement that the NJSIAA membership voted by an unprecedented 318-12 to allow high school football to play to state champions was greeted with cheers across the state, but especially by Kevin Carty, Jr.

The Hillsborough head coach sits on the NJSIAA’s Executive Committee and was a co-sponsor of the measure that came out of a Leagues and Conferences working group, along with Executive Director Colleen Maguire.

Carty spoke to Central Jersey Sports Radio shortly after the vote. You can hear his comments below:

“Veteran” sophomore Yascko helped Edison take steps forward

There was no sophomore slump for Matt Yascko.

The freshman quarterback who stepped in midway through 2019 when Lucas Loffredo went down to injury, then eventually transferred to Piscataway, might have done it a little more under-the-radar than when he took the GMC by storm a year ago, but he led Edison to a 5-2 mark in a seven-game COVID-shortened season.

Yascko started the year with a 53-yard passing effort in a 7-6 loss to Franklin, a game he’d like to have back, but which he says he built upon for the rest of the season.

All he did from there was pass for 1,076 more yards in the remaining six games – with another one-point loss sandwiched in, against North Brunswick – culminating with a 383-yard, four touchdown performance against Hillsborough in the season finale, a 50-49 victory he sealed with a touchdown and game-winning two-point conversion.

Head Coach Matt Fulham is excited for the future, with two more years to work around Yascko, following a campaign in which the QB’s dad joined the staff as offensive coordinator.

Hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s season-ending conversations with the younger Yascko and Fulham by clicking below:

Sophomore QB Matt Yascko

Head Coach Matt Fulham

Maguire recaps football, looks ahead to Spring, and weighs in on NJSIAA finances heading into 2021

by Mike Pavlichko

In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Central Jersey Sports Radio, NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire says “every game played was a major success” this football season, a year that was unlike any other, played in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

She also looks ahead to the winter season for boys’ and girls’ basketball – which start in January – as well as wrestling, which won’t begin until March.

Maguire’s expertise is in the financial arena, and she says “we’re a bare bones operation” in characterizing the NJSIAA heading into 2021. She says she’s grateful for the one-time stipend from the state, which will help offset some of this year’s losses.

Hear NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire’s full interview below:

South River Board of Ed OKs fall sports; Rams will play on

by Mike Pavlichko

Fall sports are on in South River.

The local Board of Education Thursday night approved the playing of fall sports – including football – after parents, students and alumni grew concerned this week that the Rams might join the handful of other schools around New Jersey – including Piscataway and Carteret in Middlesex County – who have cancelled their fall sports season.

“It is the Board’s position, and it was unanimously agreed by all board members, to move forward and allow the fall sports season,” announced Board of Ed President Cynthia Urbanik during a virtual Zoom meeting.

But the good news for student-athletes didn’t come without a little sweating it out. The Board met in closed session for more than an hour before the announcement was made.

“As you know this board spent quite a bit of time in closed session, not only tonight, but since July,” Urbanik told the meeting, “not only discussing return to school, but among other things, fall athletics.

Urbanik said the Board has been doing extensive research on the return of athletics since July.

The only sport that will not be played this fall at South River will be volleyball, which will take place during later in the school year during what the NJSIAA is calling season three. Indoor sports such as volleyball are considered higher risk for athletes, coaches and fans to catch to coronavirus.

South River Booster Club President Tammy Torok, whose son Joseph Lepore plays on the football team, helped organize a “Rams Speak” rally Thursday morning outside the Board of Education offices on Montgomery Street.

South River football player Marcus Granadiero – a junior, left – and Austin Soares – a senior who also plays baseball – talk about why they want to play fall sports at a rally Thursday morning in support of their cause, in front of the Board of Education offices on Montgomery Street, on Thursday, August 27, 2020.

She told Central Jersey Sports Radio Wednesday there had been rumors after Monday night’s agenda meeting that the Board wanted to cancel fall sports, and she thought students should explain why they want to play.

Watch Central Jersey Sports Radio’s coverage of Thursday’s “Rams Speak” rally here.

Torok was one of many watching the virtual school board meeting Thursday night. Some couldn’t even get in, as the meeting was capped at 100 participants.

“My family was here. My nieces and my son were here,” said Torok shortly after the announcement. Her nieces also are involved in cheerleading.

“I think we had just a mixed bag of feelings, to be honest,” Torok said about the moment the board went into closed session. One resident – before the closed session – told the board during a public comment session that he felt the panel should have been more clear after Monday night’s meeting about what its intentions were.

Hear South River Booster Club President Tammy Torok’s interview with Mike Pavlichko here.

Torok says she had a good conversation Thursday morning with South River Schools Superintendent Sylvia Zircher, telling her, “If you take football out of this town, you take everything away. It’s just not the same.” She encouraged Zircher and the board to listen to what residents have to say and take their opinions into account.

The Rams have one of the most storied football programs in the state, sending several players on to the NFL, including Joe Theisman, Drew Pearson, Kenny Jackson, and Alex Wojciechowicz. Head coach Rich Marchesi is heading into his 34th season at the helm of the program, and has won over 200 games in that time, making him the winningest coach in South River history.