Tag: high school football

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:

Return specialist Shawn Martin hopes to write next chapter at Southern Connecticut, but not before taking the diamond one last time

Shawn Martin returned four kickoffs for touchdowns last football season for Scotch Plains-Fanwood, amassing 414 yards on just six returns.

Sure, he only returned six, but that’s because no coach in his right mind would dare tell his players to kick the ball to the young man who would be the Central Jersey Sports Radio Special Teams Player of the Year.

But ask him now what his favorite return is? It’ll have nothing to do with football.

The 2019 football season was normal, of course, and 2020 was affected by COVID – but at least it happened.

Martin missed the entire baseball season last year when it got wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, only getting in a handful of games in the Last Dance Baseball Tournament.

So, right now, his favorite return is the one he just made this week back to the baseball field with his Scotch Plains teammates. (They just played their first game this week after a COVID-related pause.)

Martin is headed to Southern Connecticut State University, to play wherever he can get on the field for the owls, after a tumultuous recruiting season that tended to be the norm for high school athletes around the country, unless you’re a four- or five-star kid.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko caught up with Martin this week before his Raiders’ baseball team left for an afternoon game at A.L. Johnson.

Click below to listen:

Scotch Plains-Fanwood kick return specialist Shawn Martin

It was a big year for Barth, and he’s looking for an encore – and then some

Not many people came close to what Somerville’s Cookie Desiderio – the Central Jersey Sports Radio Offensive Player of the Year – did on the football field in 2020.

Of the few who did, Charlie Barth was one of them. And as CJSR’s Two-Way Player of the Year, the New Providence standout showed he could excel on both sides of the football.

READ MORE: When does he rest? Charlie Barth of New Providence is Two-Way Player of the Year

Plenty of football players come onto the field for offense and defense, but usually excel at one side more than the other. Not so with Barth, who led the Big Central, and was 4th in the state in rushing with 1,702 yards in a shortened seven-game regular season that included two weeks of “postseason.” He notched a touchdown every 7.4 carries, second in the league to Desiderio, and reached the goal line 25 times. On defense, he led the Big Central with 115 tackles, the tenth best total in the Garden State.

We caught up with Barth as we presented him a commemorative football for his efforts, while his former lacrosse teammates practiced behind him. Barth played lacrosse as a freshman, and didn’t have a season last year due to the COVID-19 shutdown, but is sitting out this year to spend more time in the weight room getting ready for what hen hopes will be a big senior season on the gridiron.

New Providence standout Charlie Barth and his head coach Chet Parlavecchio talk about Barth’s excellent 2020 season, and look ahead to 2021.

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

One is taking a prep year more than 200 miles from the field where he wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

Not to be outdone, the other will travel about a thousand miles from the Gus Vanderbeek Athletic Complex to train with some of the best future college stars in the nation.

But both are looking toward big college futures beyond that.

The coronavirus pandemic left a lot of uncertainty in college football recruiting circles, unless you were being recruited by a big FCS school that played in the fall. Sure, schools like Rutgers had their share of question marks with the transfer portal, but an extra year of NCAA eligibility left a lot of FBS schools that played this spring with more questions than answers, and that trickled down all the way to high school, affecting guys like Somerville’s star running back Cookie Desiderio, and disruptive defensive end A.J. Pena.

Desiderio was named Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2020, averaging a touchdown every 5.8 carries, the best such ratio in the state. He’s going to the IMG Academy in Florida.

LOOK BACK: Cookie Monster! Somerville’s Desiderio named Big Central Offensive Player of the Year

Pena was named CJSR’s Defensive Player of the Year, with 44 tackles and 12 sacks in just seven games. He’ll be prepping at the Milford Academy in upstate New York.

LOOK BACK: A disruptive force, Somerville’s Pena named Defensive Player of the Year

We caught up with the pair recently, as we presented them with commemorative footballs marking their honors, as well as head coach Dallas Whitaker, who accepted the CJSR Team of the Year ball. The Pioneers finished 7-0, the only undefeated team in the Big Central Conference.

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

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talking with Somerville’s Cookie Desiderio, A.J. Pena, and head coach Dallas Whitaker:

Rick Mantz talks facilities, academics, and his plans for Pingry

He says his golf game isn’t going so well, and he misses coaching football.

But really, anyone who knows Rick Mantz couldn’t have expected him to be gone from the sidelines for very long.

Mantz – who had perhaps his greatest success as the head coach of Hillsborough, but also turned around South Brunswick’s program and coached for a spell at Passaic – will be back on the sidelines after spending three years at Rutgers as high school relations coordinator, hired earlier this week as the new head coach at Pingry.

The Big Blue have been playing a mostly prep school schedule since 2017, when it left the now-defunct football version of the Skyland Conference.

And while Mantz says there’s no immediate plans to change that, he also believes there’s no reason Pingry – with what he says are top notch facilities and academics – can’t compete with schools like Morris Catholic, St. Joseph-Metuchen, Bishop Ahr and Immaculata, its nearest non-public competitors, geographically-speaking.

Click below to hear Rick Mantz talk about his plans for the Big Blue with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

SPONSORED: Fundraising University helps HS sports teams adapt to COVID, and still raise money

It’s not easy to ask for money in this day and age, with COVID leaving people out of work and hurting them economically.

But high school sports teams are still playing, and their costs have gone up. That makes fundraising more important than ever.

That’s where Fundraising University comes in. Click here to learn more!

Their goal is to help sports teams raise the most amount of money in the least amount of time. It could be cookie dough, popcorn, or local discount cards for your favorite restaurants around town.

Whatever it is, John Tuohy, the New Jersey representative for Fundraising University is the man to call.

And now is the perfect time to set up a fundraiser for the Spring, or even football or any other Fall sport. It’s never too early.

Plus, Fundraising University now has a special for Central Jersey Sports Radio listeners! Mention you heard about Fundraising University here, and they will give you an extra $100 incentive for your best fundraising student-athlete, on top of their other, typical incentives.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko and John Tuohy talk about how Fundraising University can help your school raise the most amount of money in the least amount of time!

Reach John Tuohy of Fundraising University at 732-772-3354. You can also find them online by clicking here. Fundraising University also can be found on Twitter.

Central Jersey Sports Radio announces “Fundraising University Unsung Hero Scholarship Award”

Central Jersey Sports Radio is happy to announce its first scholarship: the Fundraising University Unsung Hero Scholarship Award, which will be given to the high school football player in the Big Central Conference who was most valuable to his team off the field and behind the scenes in 2020.

The award will be $500 and given to a player who doesn’t score the most touchdowns, have the flashiest highlights, or get the most press. A nomination form will be emailed to coaches in the Big Central Conference, and a winner will be chosen by Central Jersey Sports Radio in conjunction with John Tuohy of Fundraising University in New Jersey. The winner will be announced by the end of April.

Click below to learn more about the award:

Big Central back to “traditional” divisions, releases full football schedule for 2021

by Mike Pavlichko

Nobody knows what things will look like in September.

But if things with the COVID-19 pandemic improve enough that a full high school football season can be played, the Big Central Conference is ready with its league schedule.

The Big Central was formed in 2017, named in 2018, and was set to begin playing its full schedule in 2020. But the global pandemic forced the NJSIAA to shorten the season schedule, and the Big Central shifted some teams around to form divisions that more closely resembled geography than talent level or school size.

Group 1 Bound Brook, for example – which would have been in a division with Brearley, New Providence, Middlesex and Roselle Park – wound up playing Group 2 Delaware Valley and Group 3 Voorhees. They lost to Del Val, but beat the Vikings. It was the Crusaders’ first win over a Group 3 school in the playoff era.

One can’t really call anything with a one-year-old league “traditional,” but for 2020, the Big Central will go back to its “original” divisional formations.

Click below to hear Big Central Conference President Scott Miller talk about the 2021 football schedule:

Returning to the slate are the two schools that had their districts cancel all fall sports in 2020: Piscataway and Carteret. The Chiefs are coming off a 6-4 season and a first round exit at the hands of West Orange in 2019, while the Ramblers are in a more tenuous situation.

Carteret is coming off a 2-8 campaign in 2019, and in a bit of a state of flux.

They’re seeking a new coach following the departure of Matt Yascko after 14 seasons, two state titles, and an 82-67 overall mark (.550 winning percentage). Yascko left to become the offensive coordinator at Edison, his alma mater, so that he could coach his son – a quarterback also named Matt – who just finished his sophomore season.

Once again, Immaculata does not plan to play in the Big Central. Last February, before COVID-19, the Spartans backed out of the league slate, unhappy with the division they were assigned and their opponents, opting instead to play as a member of the North jersey Super Football Conference’s United Blue Division.

READ MORE: Hackensack’s Wimberly reflects on historic NJSIAA vote, and the value of HS sports during COVID-19

They wound up playing three Big Central schools anyhow, losing to New Brunswick and Montgomery in the regular season, and Bernards on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

For now, at least, Highland Park returns to Division 1B. The Owls – historically one of the most storied programs in Middlesex County – did not play a varsity schedule last year due to a lack of players in the program.

In fact, the 2021 schedule is virtually the exact same slate the Big Central adopted for 2020, before COVID restrictions forced it to be scaled back.

In the entire Division 5D, for example, every matchup is the same in 2021 as it would have been in 2020, except for Sayreville getting a Week One crossover home game against Bridgewater-Raritan, and North Brunswick’s picking up a Week Two crossover at Old Bridge. The Bombers and Raiders had byes in those weeks in the original pre-COVID 2020 schedule.

READ MORE: Profit in a pandemic? Maguire says NJSIAA pulled through the fall in the black

Many schools have open dates, but it remains to be seen whether they will schedule opponents, or keep them as bye weeks.

The Big Central Divisions for 2020 are as follows.

  • 5D: Edison, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Piscataway, St. Joseph, Sayreville
  • 5C: East Brunswick, JP Stevens, Monroe, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, South Brunswick
  • 5B: Bridgewater-Raritan, Franklin, Hillsborough, Hunterdon Central, Phillipsburg, Ridge
  • 5A: Elizabeth, Plainfield, Union, Watchung Hills, Westfield
  • 4: Colonia, Cranford, JFK, Linden, Montgomery, North Hunterdon, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Woodbridge
  • 3: Carteret, Rahway, Somerville, South Plainfield, Summit, Warren Hills
  • 2B: A.L. Johnson, Metuchen, Roselle, St. Thomas Aquinas, South River, Spotswood
  • 2A: Bernards, Delaware Valley, Governor Livingston, Hillside, North Plainfield, Voorhees
  • 1B: Belvidere, Dayton, Dunellen, Highland Park, Manville, South Hunterdon
  • 1A: Bound Brook, Brearley, Middlesex, New Providence, Roselle Park

As we’ve all come to learn, much can change – and quickly – in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic. But as it looks in January of 2021, on paper, click below to see the full Big Central master schedule.

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:

NJSIAA holds “vote” on allowing football state champs, results to be known next week (AUDIO)

by Mike Pavlichko

The NJSIAA had one order of business for it’s annual meeting held virtually today: to vote on eliminating language from its own constitution that says “no state championships, however, shall be declared in football.”

But the results of that vote won’t be known or released until next week’s Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 13th.

With the meeting held virtually today, ballots normally marked and collected in person were mailed out previously, according to NJSIAA Counsel Steve Goodell.

Scroll down to the bottom of this story hear the key parts of today’s virtual meeting.

David Frazier, Rutherford Athletic Director, past NJSIAA President and current Sports Advisory Task Force Chair, says ballots will be faxed, emailed or physically mailed to the NJSIAA, and must be postmarked or time-stamped no later than Friday.

Many of the NJSIAA member schools already appear to have made up their mind. When prompted by Central Jersey Sports Radio, Executive Director Colleen Maguire said on today’s call that 280 ballots already have been received.

There are 435 NJSIAA member schools.

In addition, the meeting gave three opportunities to member schools to speak or ask questions. The first was for clarification questions on the proposal, and none were asked.

Those opposed to the measure to eliminate the language from the NJSIAA constitution were allowed to speak, and none did. The same happened when those in favor of the measure were allowed to speak; none did.

Now all that remains is to wait and see what the vote is when it’s announced next Wednesday.

If the proposal is approved, the language “no state championships, however, shall be declared in football” will be removed from the NJSIAA constitution, paving the way for group championships to be played among public schools in football for the first time ever in 2022.

Currently, New Jersey and New York are the only schools in the country that do not play all the way to group champions.

Listen below to the portion of the meeting where the proposal was outlined and considered. Portions containing long pauses in audio were omitted. No content of any consequence was omitted from this portion of the meeting.