Tag: HS Football

Jason Goerge, son of legendary coach Joe, takes the reins at JP Stevens

Hoping to draw on his experiences working with his father in rebuilding the Dayton football program from scratch in 2006, Jason Goerge is now the new football coach at JP Stevens High School.

It’s the first head coaching job for Jason, who will turn 37 this summer, and has learned all about the “right way” to build a program from his father, legendary coach Joe Goerge, who was won numerous championships at Franklin and South Brunswick, where he remains along with his other son, Michael, who will remain as the Vikings’ defensive coordinator.

The Edison Board of Education approved the hire at its meeting Tuesday night.

Jason started calling the offense for his dad at South Brunswick in 2014, returning after Joe Goerge stepped away for a few years, and will have to assemble a staff on his own, bringing no South Brunswick assistants with him.

“I didn’t want to make it weird at Thanksgiving if I started bringing some of those guys with me,” Goerge told Central Jersey Sports Radio Wednesday.

The task is tall at JP Stevens, which currently owns the second longest losing streak in New Jersey at 31 games, behind only Highland Park, which has lost 42 straight. The Hawks’ last win came on October 26, 2018, a 29-14 victory over Monroe under Joe Riggi.

In the last 16 seasons since the departure of Frank Zarro – who was the last coach to have a winning record at JP, going 5-5 in his final season in 2016 – Stevens has gone 29-120 under five different coaches since then, including two separate stints by Riggi.

Goerge will also teach in the district, saying he’s never been a teacher where he’s coached before, and he thinks it’ll be a big plus to be “in the building” when it comes to installing a culture at JP Stevens.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with new JP Stevens head coach Jason George:

Manville football, wrestling coach Pat Gorbatuk promoted to Athletic Director

The good news is, Manville’s Pat Gorbatuk is staying in town.

But it’s bittersweet for him to leave his posts as football and wrestling coach, posts he has held for the last 12 and 16 years, respectively, to become the next Athletic Director, replacing Stephen Venuto.

On the football field, his teams went 40-72 with three playoff berths, but that came after 1-9 records the first five seasons. Since 2016, the Mustangs have been .500 or better all but two seasons, one of them the very difficult COVID year, going 35-27 in that span

In wrestling, his teams amassed 230 wins, including a 23-3 campaign this past year, as well as four division titles, three sectional finals appearance, and two state place-winners, both in the last nine years: Brian Kuhlman in 2015 and Michael Tyle in 2018.

Gorbatuk also had two stints coaching boys’ and girls’ track and field for nine seasons between 2009 and 2020.

The draw for Gorbatuk has always been the sense of community in Manville, a small town, and one of the smallest high schools in Central Jersey.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talked with Gorbatuk about his new job, and the ones he leaves behind; click below to hear the interview:

Historic Bill Denny Stadium in South River to face wrecking ball, but football team expected to play a home schedule in 2023

So many great players have come through South River – Joe Theisman, Drew Pearson, Kenny Jackson, Alex Wojciechowicz, to name just a few – and one of the threads that holds them all together is that they all played in front of crowds at Bill Denny Stadium.

But sometime soon, though it’s not clear exactly when, Bill Denny Stadium will be no more, and its future even more murky.

Longtime Rams’ football coach Rich Marchesi confirmed to Central Jersey Sports Radio Monday afternoon that Denny Stadium was recently condemned by the Board of Education, and the bleachers cordoned off sometime last month, due to safety concerns.

Marchesi says though no date is set, it will eventually be demolished..

The South River School District sent Central Jersey Sports Radio a statement Tuesday saying, “This Spring, it was determined through two independent professional evaluations that the bleachers are no longer structurally sound or safe for use. Accordingly, the stadium bleachers have been fenced off, and they are not accessible to the public,”

However, the field and track at Denny stadium remain open and in “full use,” according to the statement, which added, “Spring track operated as usual, and we will hold high school graduation on the field. The district is in the process of investigating options to address the needs of the stadium.”

Rich Marchesi and his players on the sideline in an August 28, 2021 game against South Plainfield. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

However, when Deb Napolitano, Confidential Secretary to the Superintendent, who phoned to confirm receipt of the statement, was asked when Bill Denny Stadium would be demolished, she referred us to the statement issued by the district, which made no specific mention of any demolition plans.

“The home bleachers at Denny Stadium were built before 1945,” the statement says, “and despite ongoing maintenance over the past 80 years, they have unfortunately reached the end of their useful and safe life.”

Published reports over the last couple of years have documented problems with the bleachers, which are entirely made of wood, except for some metal benches that were put in as part of what Marchesi says was part of many “patch jobs” over the years.”

“It’s life is over. You can only patch it so much,” Marchesi told Central Jersey Sports Radio.

According to a New Jersey 101.5 news story last August, a July 2022 engineers’ report for the school district said the stadium “is at the end of its life cycle” and said it shouldn’t be used after the 2023-24 school year. The report said the stadium was structurally sound, but needed a number of repairs to ensure public safety.

Now it appears officials decided to close the stadium a year ahead of the recommendation by engineers.

“It’s time has passed. As much as I would like to keep the grass and the field and the stadium, because it is pretty cool and historic, it’s time. You know, it’s not 1977 anymore.”

A replacement for the stadium complete with stands, press box, concession stands, and ADA-compliant facilities was included in a referendum that also asked residents to approve a new pre-K school to accommodate growing enrollment in town, but that was defeated soundly in January, 882-334. A separate question seeking just the turf field also was defeated by a similar margin.

South River cheerleaders perform for the home fans at Bill Denny Stadium in South River on August 28, 2021. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The tax impact would have been nearly $150 per year on the average homeowner in South River.

As for the future, Marchesi says school officials are working on it.

“The Board [of Education] is doing a good job, trying to figure something out, what’s good for us,” Marchesi said. The last I heard is we’ll be able to play home games on the field.”

Marchesi says the subject came up about playing all road games, but that’s not something he wants to do, saying he’d rather play home games without bleachers than travel all season, particularly with a more veteran group he hopes will improve on last season’s 2-7 record.

The stadium is named after William C. Denny, who coached the Rams for 25 years from 1927 through 1961, and died in 1984. He also founded the local Bill Denny/Rutgers Letterwinners Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame

New Brunswick hires Steve Gluchowski as new football coach; will embrace challenges as he looks to grow the program

The New Brunswick football program had not won a state title in decades before it won a pair in 2003 and 2006 under John Quinn, and now it’s been almost two decades since those championships.

That will be the long range task at hand for Steve Gluchowski, who was recently hired as the Zebras’ new football coach, taking over for Nate Harris.

It’s the first head coaching job for Gluchowski, who comes to the Hub City after two seasons as defensive coordinator for Chris Meagher at Spotswood, who turned around a struggling program last season to go 7-3.

The 46-year-old Gluchowski is a 1994 graduate of Sayreville, where he played for Sal Mistretta, further extending the legendary mentor’s coaching tree, which lost two of its most prominent names to retirement this past season in Edison’s Matt Fulham and Sayreville’s Chris Beagan. Both won championships recently; Fulham this past season, and Beagan in 2016 and 2018.

While the goal is always to win a championship, Gluchowski will have other goals to reach first, most notably bringing New Brunswick football back to some level of prominence. And to do that, he will have to grow the program, with many student-athletes moving out of town or playing other sports in recent years.

In the past five years under Harris, the Zebras went 10-34, with their best season a 4-6 campaign in 2021.

Click below to hear new New Brunswick football coach Steve Gluchowski talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

Welcome back, again: Yascko takes the reins at alma mater Edison after three seasons as OC

The Edison High School football team has a new head coach who is anything but new to the program.

After spending three seasons as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, working with a unit that featured his son as the quarterback, Matt Yascko has been elevated to head coach.

No surprise, if we’re being brutally honest.

The Edison Board of Education Tuesday night approved the appointment of Yascko to the post, where he takes over for Matt Fulham, who retired in January after 20 seasons at the helm. He left with an 80-100-1 record, and handing off a program that has made the playoffs four straight postseasons dating back to 2018, capped off with a Central Jersey Group 5 championship, the school’s first sectional title in 31 years, this past fall.


With the senior Yascko heading the offense, and the younger Yascko in charge of it on the field, the combo went 20-10 over the past three seasons.

Edison’s Matt Yascko (the QB/son, left) and Matt Yascko (the offensive coordinator/father, right) helped lead Edison to its first sectional title since 1991. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

READ MORE: Yascko & Yascko: How the father-son QB-OC tandem united to help bring Edison its first title in 31 years

The hiring is a natural fit for the Eagles, whose staff has many local ties to the community. Yascko is an Edison alum, and was on the 1991 championship team in his junior season, so the move keeps the position in the family, while also promoting from within, allowing for a sense of continuity with a “new” head coach.

Of course, Yascko has significant chops as a head coach. Following a run as an assistant under Bob Molarz at Carteret, Yascko took the reins of the Ramblers for 14 seasons, going 82-67 and reaching three state finals, winning titles in 2007 and 2012.


But he left in July of 2020 – coincidentally around the time Carteret dropped fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic – in order to spend more time around his son. In 2019, the younger Yascko was as a freshman for Edison, and got called upon to start the last six games of the year when Lucas Loffredo went down to injury, then moved and transferred out of the district.

That summer, when the offensive coordinator position opened up, Fulham offered Yascko the job, and the rest was history.

Yascko is the tenth head coach in Edison history, but only the second alum to lead the program. Mike Wojick is the other, and he was Yascko’s head coach when the team won the 1991 Central Jersey Group 4 crown.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Matt Yascko about being named Edison’s new head football coach. Scroll further down for additional comments about Yascko’s hiring.

Reaction from Edison:

Edison Athletic Director David Sandaal: “I couldn’t be happier. Matt has been a winner all of his life. As a player, he was a junior on the 1991 Central Jersey Group 4 sectional championship team, won two sectional crowns as the Head Coach for Carteret, and was the offensive coordinator this past fall for our 2022 state sectional championship team.”

Edison Wide Receivers Coach Brian Calantoni: “This day is a culmination of what we all worked for, for many years. We have the best coach and the best coaching staff in the state. We have six alumni on the staff. Coach Yascko is the epitome of Edison High School football, all about the team the town and the school. He’s humble, and he’s a hard worker and his teams are the same. Today is one of the best days in Edison High School football history.”

Basilone Bowl taking year off to regroup, reorganize, stay true to initial purpose

When the very first John Basilone Bowl was played in 2013, with the major involvement of the Marine Corps, the goal was to raise money to donate to wounded soldiers. It was perhaps the noblest of causes.

But financial times have become more difficult. Even before COVID, but especially since.

Two years removed from the pandemic, Montgomery football coach Zoran Milich – who took the lead on organizing the game last year for the first time – says the Basilone Bowl didn’t turn a profit last year and couldn’t make a donation.

On Wednesday, Milich announced on Twitter that the Basilone Bowl – which features top graduating seniors from Somerset County, and a handful from Hunterdon – would not be played in 2023, but hopes to return to the summer all-star game landscape in 2024.

Milich says last year’s game finished $1,000 in the red, despite all participants selling their allotment of tickets, great weather for the game, and solid walk-up ticket sales at the game’s namesake Basilone Memorial Stadium at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.

Photo Gallery: Images from the 9th annual Basilone Bowl – June, 2022

Typically, the Marines make a large donation to the game, which then goes to charitable organizations like those that support wounded soldiers. But Milich says after taking the game over last year, he learned the event has not been able to make a donation in the past five seasons.

Click below to hear Zoran Milich talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about this year’s hiatus for the Basilone Bowl, as well as the game’s future:

JP Stevens in the market for new football coach amid long skid

JP Stevens is looking for a new head football coach, as the program and Joe Rovito have parted ways after three seasons.

The job was posted Monday by the Edison Board of Education on its district jobs portal.

Rovito’s Hawks were 0-21 under his tenure from 2020 to 2022, but Stevens is mired in a much longer stretch of defeats. They have lost 31 straight games – the second longest active losing streak in the state – dating back to 2018.

Only Highland Park has lost more games in a row, 42 straight, with its last win coming against Metuchen on Thanksgiving 2016.

The last JP Stevens football win came on October 26, 2018, a 29-14 victory over Monroe. That was its final win of the season in a 4-6 campaign under Joe Riggi, whose final season came in 2019, going 0-8. The Hawks’ last .500 season was in 2006 under Frank Zarro, when the team went 5-5, and haven’t had a winning season since Zarro’s 2003 team went 6-4.

His 2001 squad went 12-0, winning the Central Jersey Group 4 title 14-7 over Old Bridge.

Both high schools in the district are in the market for head coaches, as Edison head coach Matt Fulham announced his retirement earlier this year after his veteran Eagles squad won the Central Jersey Group 5 title, its first sectional championship since 1991.

Former Montgomery standout, Somerville assistant DJ Catalano takes over the reins at Bridgewater-Raritan, after a year under Rick Mantz

When Rick Mantz over the Bridgewater-Raritan football program for the 2022 season, he had his kids doing things they’d never done before, or even just the same things in ways they’d never been done before. DJ Catalano, who joined his staff from neighboring Somerville, took notice of all the little things.

Now, he’s fully in charge of the program.

Catalano, who was left in charge in the interim after the sudden departure of Mantz shortly after his first season due mainly to health issues, was approved to take over full-time back on Tuesday by the Board of Education. And in a wide-ranging interview with Central Jersey Sports Radio, was effusive in his praise for so many of the people he has worked with and under over the years, all of whom are great influences on the coach he’s become today, and hopes to continue to become.

There’s Mantz, who also was at Rutgers while Catalano was there as a defensive quality control coach. There’s Dallas Whitaker, whom he coached under at Somerville, along with a number of other Rutgers products. And Zoran Milich, Montgomery’s first and only football coach, who was instrumental to Catalano’s formative years as a player.

Catalano takes over a Panthers program with a new Athletic Director, Bill Deniz – who came over from Delaware Valley after the retirement of longtime AD John Maggio, and with a tremendous amount of resources and excitement among the student body. Bridgewater went 4-6 last year, but isn’t all that far removed from three straight appearances it made in the North 2, Group 5 Finals from 2015 to 2017.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s interview with new Bridgewater-Raritan head coach DJ Catalano:

Don Sofilkanch talks “great opportunity” and “tremendous culture” at Sayreville

Coming to New Brunswick with John Quinn, Don Soflikanich was a part of two of the Zebras’ great all-time teams, which won championships in 2003 and 2006 – and should have won three were it not for a questionable penalty in the ’02 title game.

He later won a championship at Asbury Park, turning around a program that could barely win the year before he arrived.

But that won’t be the job in front of him as he takes the reins at Sayreville.

In the last eight seasons, Chris Beagan rebuilt a winning program that had been shuttered early in the 2014 season, rocked by a hazing scandal. His first year was 2015, and by the next year, he brought the Bombers a championship, adding another two years later in 2018. His teams were 51-31 in that span.

For the last of those seasons, 2022, Don Sofilkanich was a full-time volunteer assistant. SO he got to see the inner workings of the culture Beagan built at his alma mater.

Now, the South Amboy resident and East Brunswick native – a GMC guy through and through – will get the chance to helm one of Middlesex County’s marquee programs of the last two decades.

We got a chance to talk with him the day after his hiring was approved by the Sayreville Board of Education.

Click below to listen:

Watchung Hills gets a big QB transfer as Aleks Sitkowski moves from Piscataway

Every year, dozens of high school kids move to a new town for one reason or another, but one of the biggest in Big Central high school football in the off-season is the move of Aleks Sitkowski to the Watchung Hills Regional School District.

The younger brother of Art Sitkowski – the former Old Bridge star who played for a couple of seasons for Rutgers before transferring to Illinois – Aleks played the last two seasons for Piscataway, but transferred out just before Christmas, Central Jersey Sports Radio has learned.

An Internet search shows an address for the Sitkowski family in Watchung.

The Twitter bio for Aleks Sitkowski says he’s now a member of the Watchung Hills football team. (Source: Twitter screenshot)

Watchung Hills head coach Rich Seubert says Sitkowski would have been eligible to play basketball, but decided not to play this winter. That apparently means Sitkowski would not have to sit out 30 days per NJSIAA rules since he would have a bonafide change of address. The NJSIAA is considering updated transfer rules in the near future, but they have not won final approval yet.

As a junior last year for the Chiefs, Sitkowski was 57-of-117 passing for 752 yards and six touchdowns and six interceptions on a team that primarily ran the ball, rushing for over 1,600 yards.


Two years ago – as a sophomore – playing all eight games in an 0-8 season following a full fall athletic department COVID shutdown in 2020, Sitkowski went 31-75 for 294 yards, two touchdowns and three picks.

Assuming he remains at Watchung – Sitkowski’s Twitter bio says he is a “Quarterback Class of 2024 at Watching Hills Regional High School” – he would figure to compete for a starting job after the graduation of senior Dylan Kelley and his 1,117 passing yards and seven TDs. The Warriors’ lone returning QB is Brendan Fenton, a full-time varsity player who only attempted one pass last year as a junior.

That means, at the moment, Sitkowski is the only varsity QB on the roster with any meaningful action under his belt.