Tag: Linden

FRIDAY Cutoff Weekend Playoff Analysis: Group 4

It’s Cutoff Weekend, and we’re the place to get all the updated playoff standings all week long, with our coverage brought to you by My Family Appliances on Route 1 South in the Wick Plaza, Edison.

We’ll have more analysis throughout the day Saturday as scores roll in. And don’t forget to join us for our “Playoff Projection Show” on Saturday at 6:00 pm as Mike Pavlichko brings you all the playoff projections, with analysis and commentary by Marcus Borden, live in studio!

Here’s an updated look at the Group 4 supersections based on Friday night results as reported to Gridiron New Jersey.


Ridge beat Union Friday night to stay in 4th place, and they should stay there, giving them a two-seed in the section where Ramapo will be the top-seed. They’re No. 1 overall, having flip-flopped with Roxbury, now in second. Northern Highlands jumped 5th to 3rd place, while Mount Olive fell below Ridge to fifth place.

Montgomery and Linden played an instant classic – a 42-42 triple overtime tie – and neither dropped as a result. The Cougars hold in 6th and Linden in 9th. We think that top nine is pretty locked in, as the only teams to play Saturday in this section are Middletown North (at Marlboro) and Orange (at Lincoln). North can’t get higher than ten with a win, but that would knock Sayreville down one spot from 10th to 11th place. Woodbridge could be affected if Middletown North loses.

Interestingly, the way things shook out, we originally thought Colonia‘s win over Rahway Friday night may not have gotten them in. They fell to 17th even though their UPR went up, as other teams around them won. Rahway holds in 15th with the loss and we think they’re in. So, we figured the Patriots would be watching Orange-Lincoln Very closely. We figured they needed an Orange to loss to get in. Otherwise, they finish in 17th. But here’s the kick. With an Orange win Colonia would fall to 17th, but right behind Rahway. And when the NJSIAA does a top-down tiebreaker, Colonia would get the 16 seed because they won head-to-head Friday night. A loss would get Colonia in 16th, but Rahway 15th. And Colonia would flip-flop, again on the head to head tiebreaker.

So, upon further review, the call in the earlier post has been overturned: We think Colonia is in!!

Key Saturday Games to Watch:

  • #11 Middletown North at Marlboro
  • #16 Orange at Lincoln


There are no Big Central Conference teams in this section, but Millville took the top spot with a win Friday night, while Winslow moved from 4th to 2nd, while Brick Memorial held in third and Mainland – despite a win to finish 9-0 – fell from the top spot to 4th place.

Cutoff Weekend Playoff Analysis: Group 4

It’s down to the final weekend of the regular season in high school football, and Cutoff Weekend is just days away. This week, Central Jersey Sports Radio will bring you exclusive, team-by-team analysis of all the playoff scenarios for the 57 public schools in the Big Central Conference.

It’s all brought to you by My Family Appliances on Route 1 South in the Wick Plaza, Edison.

And don’t forget to join us for our “Playoff Projection Show” on Saturday at 6 pm (moved to an hour later) as Mike Pavlichko brings you all the playoff projections, with analysis and commentary by Marcus Borden, live in studio!

With that, here’s a look at Group 4, with all scores and playoff standings based on Gridiron New Jersey’s official calculations as of Sunday, October 15, 2023. Click on the heading to see the standings at Gridiron New Jersey:


4. Ridge (6-1, 4.2 UPR): We think the Red Devils already are at their ceiling. The top six at least should be favored over their respective opponents this weekend, at least based on records. So, assuming no upsets, we peg Ridge are the overall fourth-place team. If all win, it’ll be Roxbury, Ramapo, Mount Olive and Ridge, putting the Red Devils in with the overall top-seed Roxbury. If they’re the only one to lose, they could fall to six, but they’re still safe for a first round home game. The top of this supersection is really good, so it’s a pick-your-poison scenario as to which No. 1 team you want to potentially face in a title game.

6. Montgomery (8-0, 5.2 UPR): It appears that the Cougars have a mathematical shot at a top four appearance, which would guarantee first round home games through at least the semifinals of the sectionals. They first need a road win over Linden (6-2) Friday night, but also need losses by Ridge to Union (4-4) and Northern Highlands (6-2) against Wayne Hills (1-7). The latter isn’t likely, but that is why they play the games, right? Or we’d just declare a champion, right? So, the most likely scenario is a fifth-place finish for the Cougars, right behind Ridge. But since Linden is a strong opponent, we don’t think a loss hurts Montgomery a lot. We’d project them at six, if everything else goes the way we think it will.

8. Linden (6-2, 9.0 UPR): With a win over Montgomery, we think the Tigers keep pace and hold in eighth. With a loss, a lot can happen. They may not drop much if the teams around them lose, but if those behind them win, they could drop as low as 12th. The problem is this: at least two teams behind them are guaranteed to win. Ninth place Morris Knolls (4-3) and 10th place Randolph (5-3) play each other this weekend, as do 11th place Sayreville (6-2) and 13th place Woodbridge (6-2). So, the Tigers need to hand Montgomery their first loss of the year if they want a home playoff game in the first round.

11. Sayreville (6-2, 10.4 UPR): We believe the Bombers still have a shot at a first-round home game. The first step is a win at Woodbridge (6-2) this Friday night. That should be a fantastic game, and it’s why Marcus Borden will be there covering it for Central Jersey Sports Radio. (Follow him here for live updates, and we’ll have postgame reaction presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen on our site after the game.) With a win, Sayreville could end up as the eight or seven overall seed, depending on how other teams do. We think they need at least a loss by Morris Knolls to Randolph and Middletown North to get as high as seven. A Randolph loss in that combo may limit them to the eighth spot. A Bomber loss to Woodbridge, and they could be looking at as low as a 13th seed, but we don’t think that’s the most likely scenario. Bottom line is there’s still a lot to play out here.

13. Woodbridge (6-2, 12.4): The ceiling for the Barrons appears to be the eighth spot, but like Sayreville, it starts with winning their matchup on Friday night at Priscoe Field. (Have we mentioned a lot is on the line there? I think we have.) Again, they’ll need help. A Morris Knolls loss is better than a Randolph loss, and Middletown North should be watched on the scoreboard as well. A loss, and if all breaks wrong elsewhere for the Barrons – like a Rahway win over Colonia and an Orange (6-1) win over Lincoln (5-2), they could end up at 15. We don’t see the Barrons falling out of the top 16, but keep an eye on that Orange game for the next couple of teams we talk about. That will be a factor in the bottom of these standings, and it’s a 4:00 start at Caven Point Saturday afternoon.

15. Rahway (3-5, 15 UPR) and 16. Colonia (4-4, 17.4 UPR): We’re going to put these two together since they’re next to each other in the standings (as well as neighbors geographically) and are playing each other Friday night in what we consider a “play-in” type of game, which we’ll be airing live on Central Jersey Sports Radio at 6 pm, pregame 5:45 – click here to listen. A Colonia win and they still might need some help with a loss by Chatham (2-6) at Montville (5-3), which is highly likely. There could even be a scenario where the Patriots get no higher than 17th, but with Rahway 16th. And a Colonia win means they would jump the Indians based on beating them head-to-head. Rahway may be able to get in with a loss. On the other hand, a Rahway win would be more definitive, in that Colonia probably can’t get in with help, and Rahway could go as high as 13, though we think more of a 14, maybe a 15, depending how things shake out. Again, Orange-Lincoln could be a big factor here, and we’re going to get that result late in the day Saturday with it being a 4:00 kickoff in Jersey City.


There are no area teams here from the Big Central, but it looks like as far as top seeds go, if both No. 1 Mainland (8-0) and No. 2 Millville win this weekend, it looks like they will flip, as Millville has a stronger in opponent in Cherokee (6-1) while Mainland has Egg Harbor Township (1-7).

Week 7 Friday night Playoff Analysis: Group 4

Through the end of the season, Central Jersey Sports Radio will be updating unofficial playoff standings following Friday night’s games. Full analysis after the weekend will come during the week as the official standings are released by Gridiron New Jersey.

Here’s a look at unofficial standings after games of Friday, October 13th in Group 4. Results are calculated using scores on Gridiron New Jersey as of 9:30 am on October 14th:

Ridge hods in fourth as the highest-standing Big Central Conference team, and while their UPR stays at 4.2, they are a) no longer tied with Mount Olive, which despite a win, dropped behind them and to a 4.8 UPR, and b) now closer to third place, as the new team in that spot – Northern highlands – has a 3.8 UPR. So, Ridge is now within striking distance with an improvement of just one spot in either rank, power points or OSI.

Assuming a win today by Ridge at Westfield, the Red Devils would move to third, not counting any other fringe games or residuals that could occur. And they would be just 0.4 UPR points from a top two finish and a No. 1 seed. A loss and a Ramapo win could drop them as low as six. Huge game today in Union County for the Red Devils.

As expected, Montgomery’s win over Scotch Plains-Fanwood dropped them a bit, falling from fifth to sixth, the only difference being a three-seed in a different section with the overall top seed.

In the middle of the pack, Linden’s win over Cranford keeps the Tigers in ninth, while Sayreville’s win over Piscataway pushes them up one spot to No. 11, but Woodbridge drops from tenth to 13 after a victory over winless North Hunterdon.

Rahway’s loss to a highly-regarded Carteret team didn’t hurt them in the standings, keeping them in 15th, but Colonia’s loss to Summit – also highly-regarded – gave them a boost from 18 to 16, while Orange – which had been 16th entering the weekend – dropped with a forfeit win over lowly-regarded Dickinson, which had to cancel the game due to a lack of players and safety concerns, according to a message on the Orange athletics website.

South 4 is presented here with no analysis, with no Big Central teams placed in this supersection.

Week 7 Playoff Analysis: Group 4

With just two weeks of play left before the state playoffs are seeded, things are heating up in the playoff chase. Here’s our look at the Big Central Conference teams in playoff contention in Group 4 as we head into Week 7 of high school football around the state.

And, of course, don’t miss our “Playoff Projection Show,” scheduled for 5 pm on Saturday, October 21st, when we’ll reveal our predicted matchups and seeds for the postseason. It’s all presented by My Family Appliances of Edison, which will be giving away three $100 gift cards during the show to lucky listeners!

All our analysis is based on Gridiron New Jersey’s official playoff calculations performed for the NJSIAA and listed on their website as of 8 pm on October 10. For full standings, click on each supersection’s header below:


4. Ridge (5-1, 4.2): The Red Devils are the highest-ranked Big Central team here. We think the Red Devils still have a shot at a top seed if they can win both their remaining games – at Westfield this Saturday and against Union Friday night next week. Those are both winnable, but they could also drop both, and finish outside the top four. It’s a tightly-packed bunch at the top, including Roxbury, Northern Highlands, and Mount Olive above them, as well as Montgomery and Ramapo behind them.

5. Montgomery (7-0, 4.4): The Cougars are just 0.2 UPR points behind Montgomery, and Ramapo is 0.4 points behind them. The Cougars should win Friday night against Scotch Plains-Fanwood, but have a tough finale next Friday night at Linden. A sweep could get them a top four seed – and a two-seed in the sectionals, meaning home games at least through the semis – if things break right. With two losses – highly unlikely – they should at the very least be in the top eight and get a first round home game out of the deal.

9. Linden (5-2, 10.6): The Tigers are one of three Big Central teams in the 9-12 spots in the supersection, and are just 0.2 UPR points ahead of Woodbridge, 0.4 ahead of Randolph, and 1.6 ahead of Sayreville. Linden has two very tough games to close out the season – at Cranford Friday and home to Montgomery next Friday. A sweep could clinch them a first round home game, but we’re not sure if one win would do it. Check back with us next week!

10. Woodbridge (5-2, 10.8): The Barrons – even with a sweep of their final two games – may not be able to reach the top eight, at least not without a little help. Having winless North Hunterdon at home this Friday doesn’t help, but a win next week at Sayreville would. The safe call here is that Woodbridge opens the playoffs on the road.

12. Sayreville (5-2, 12.4): Do the Bombers have a shot at a home game? They sure do, if they win out. First, it’s an old-fashioned GMC tussle in one of the area’s best rivalries when they visit Piscataway Friday night (6 pm on CJSR). Then, they get Woodbridge next week at home. Two big opportunities for the Bombers. A split, and they should be on a bus to their first round destination.

15. Rahway (3-4, 13.8): We think it’s pretty simple for the Indians. The 17th place team is pretty far behind; that’s Chatham at 18. And it’s doubtful Colonia behind them can catch them at 18.6. But nor do they have a chance at a top eight seed, where 8th place Irvington has a 7.6 UPR. The Indians will start on the road. The question is, can they move up at least one notch from 15 to 14, and avoid having to visit the top-seed? Not that facing Ridge in the opening round – one of the largest Group 4 teams – would be an easy task either.

18. Colonia (4-3, 18.6): The Patriots are in dire need of wins. They have their last two games at home, against Summit and Rahway. The Hilltoppers (5-1) are having a fantastic season, but even the Indians (3-4) are no pushover. Even a weep may not get them in; they may need some help, but we don’t think they’re in at all if they drop one of their final two.


There are no teams from the Big Central in South Group 4, but since the state plays to overall group champions now, we’ll just mention that the top four right now include Millville (5-1), Mainland (7-0), Brick Memorial (7-0), and Winslow (5-2).

Summit gains big Saturday win vs. Linden, bolsters chances for top-seed in playoffs

Despite a penalty-filled game on both sides, Summit pulled away from Linden Saturday afternoon at Tatlock Field for a 30-20 win that should increase their chances at earning a top seed in the playoffs.

The Hilltoppers entered the day in second place in the North Group 3 supersection by 0.6 UPR points over Warren Hills, which had already won Friday night. The victory won’t move them up to first in the standings, as they’re already first in power points and second in OSI, but it will give them a little distance between themselves and the team nipping at their heels, Warren Hills.

Jake Procaccini hauled in two touchdown passes for Summit, which was held below 40 points in a victory for the first time this season. They had scored 46 against Woodbridge and Cranford, 41 against Rahway and 42 in a victory over Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

Those two scores helped the Hilltoppers build a 20-6 halftime lead, that Linden would chip into after the break. But not before a 70-yard TD run by Henrique Guicardi would make it 27-6 Summit.

Then came the run by the Tigers, literally and figuratively.

Devon Chavis would score on a 12-yard touchdown run in the third, and a four-yard run in the fourth to cut it to a touchdown at 27-20. But Summit would salt it away on a late 35-yard field goal by Seamus Browne.

Summit improves to 5-1 on the season, while Linden falls to 5-2.

Click below for postgame reaction from Marcus Borden, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Week 6 Playoff Analysis: Group 4

Cutoff Weekend is rapidly approaching – October 21st – and there’s still a lot of football to be played before the NJSIAA seeds the state playoff.

Here at Central Jersey Sports Radio, we’ll be breaking down playoff scenarios for every Big Central Conference team’s that’s in the running.

The NJSIAA’s uses its UPR system – which factors Opponent Strength Index as 60 percent of the formula and traditional power points for the other 40 percent – to determine playoff seeding, but things can change a lot from week to week, until Cutoff Weekend, when Strength Index numbers are locked in.

Here’s our team-by-team look at Group 4. Official standings on Gridiron New Jersey can be found by clicking the links below.


3. Montgomery (6-0): The Cougars just keep on winning, and we think have a legit at finishing in the top two and getting a No. 1 seed. That’s because they’re only 0.4 UPR points out of second behind Ramapo. That’s probably the best they can do, as Roxbury (6-0) is in first by 2.4 UPR points over Ramapo, and 2.8 over Monty. There are also three teams bunched very close behind them: Mount Olive and Northern Highlands with 4.4 UPRs, and Ridge in sixth at 4.8 UPR. Montgomery has passed, and should go into their Cutoff Weekend game at Linden 8-0 with games at North Hunterdon (0-6) and Scotch Plains-Fanwood (1-5) the next two weeks. They’ll need to win all three to have a shot at that second seed. For the record, Ramapo has River Dell (1-4), Old Tappan (5-0) and Ridgewood (2-3) the rest of the way. It’s a bit of a stronger schedule, but to compare the best teams on their slates, it could come down to Monty and Linden on that last weekend after Ramapo-Old Tappan next week; both of those games could very well be toss-ups and decide the race.

6. Ridge (4-1): As one of those three teams bunched behind Montgomery, can the Red Devils make a run? IF they can win all three, their challenging schedule just could do it, especially if they get some help from above (no, not that above). They get South Brunswick at home Friday night, then visit Westfield next Saturday before a Friday night Cutoff Weekend clash with Union in Basking Ridge. A challenge, yes. But if they can win ’em all, call it a blessing in disguise. They’ll have earned it.

8. Woodbridge (4-2): We’ll call the Barrons a “bubble top eight” team. With an 8.2 UPR, they’re a little far back from the rest of the teams above them; Morris Knolls in 7th has a 6.6 UPR, then Ridge at 4.8 is a long way away, for now. What may not help them maintain that position is the fact they have in-town rival JFK this week, and North Hunterdon next week. Both are winless, so even a win in the regular season finale at Sayreville might not get them there. But the Barrons should at least go 2-1 the rest of the way, and we consider them in the playoffs.

9. Linden (5-1): The Tigers have a 9.2 UPR, just one full point behind Woodbridge. They have a tougher schedule than the Barrons, and all things being equal, if both teams sweep the next three weeks, Linden should jump the Barrons, at the very least. It’s road games the next two weeks for the Tigers – at Summit and Cranford – before finishing out at Montgomery. Let’s say if they want a top eight finish and a first round playoff game, they control their own fate; they probably need to win out to do so.

12. Sayreville (4-2): We wouldn’t say the Bombers have clinched a playoff berth yet, but we do think they’re going to end up on the right side of things. They have a pure 12 UPR (i.e., they’re in 12th across the board in power points, OSI and UPR), and the 17th place team is at 17.6 UPR; 5.6 points is a lot of ground to make up. Assuming the Bombers win at least one of the next three, we think they should be in. After 2-4 Franklin this week, they have their rivalry game with Piscataway (currently 3-3) next week at Kenny Armwood Stadium, then host Woodbridge on Cutoff Weekend, Friday night. A second win should make it a lock.

13. Rahway (3-3): The Indians – right behind Sayreville – are a pure 13 UPR. Like Sayreville, we think they should be in, if they can continue at their current level of play. It’s a tough slate, though: St. Thomas Aquinas comes to Rahway River Park this weekend, then they close with two on the road: at Carteret and at Colonia. Won’t have a shot at a first round home game; should be in the top 16.

18. Scotch Plans-Fanwood (1-5): Despite their record, the Raiders are in 18th place, and at this point, any win should give them a boost. They have Cranford home Friday, then go to Montgomery, then close out back at home against JFK. But they’ll probably need a win over one of the first two to even have a shot.

19. Colonia (3-3): This one is the puzzler. Scotch Plains with one win is ahead of the Patriots, as are four other two-win teams. Their losses have been to some good teams: Sayreville, Linden and Woodbridge. The good news is, they can atone with wins over good teams coming up. After 2-4 Perth Amboy this Friday night at Waters Stadium, they will host Summit (5-1) then Rahway (3-3) to close it out. Colonia is 2.8 UPR points out of a playoff spot. If they can win all three, they might have a shot. They should beat Amboy, Rahway is a toss-up, Summit is a tough one. Stay tuned!


There are no Big Central teams in South Group 4, but we’ll take a quick peek at the top of the standings, which have Millville (4-1) and Mainland (6-0) holding the top two spots, followed by Winslow (5-1) and Brick Memorial (6-0) with Jackson Memorial and Hammonton not far behind.

Mid-Season Playoff Analysis: More than half-dozen BCC “big boys” have legitimate shot at top seeds

At the mid-way point of the high school season, with four more weeks of football until the playoffs are seeded, there are seven large – Group 5 or 4 schools – with a realistic shot at earning a top seed when the sectional playoffs begin the weekend of October 27th.

This is our first week of playoff projection analysis on cjsportsradio.com, presented by My Family Appliances in Edison, and we begin with a look at North and South Group 5 and 4 supersections..

With still a lot of football to be played, the analysis will be a bit more general in nature this week, but will get increasingly detailed with each passing week as the numbers come into better focus.

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 5

There are three area teams in the top five at the moment. After Passaic Tech in first, there’s Watchung Hills second, Union third, then Union City, and Phillipsburg in fourth.

The Warriors (5-0) have a big clash at home Saturday night with Montgomery (5-0) so that could boost their power point average. Union also has a huge game at Cooke Field with Hillsborough, which just knocked off previously-undefeated P’burg Sunday in the Rumble on the Raritan at Rutgers. The Stateliners try to get back on the horse Friday against Hunterdon Central, which just took its first loss of the season Friday to Ridge.

After that, there’s a chance for a home game for Plainfield, which is 3-1 at the moment and sitting in seventh. They go out of conference Friday night with a trip to North Bergen (2-2), and have a big one with Watchung Hills next week at home before closing at Monroe and home to Franklin, two very winnable games. The Cards look like the have a shot here.

Next, you have to go down to 12th to find Westfield, whose victory over winless Scotch Plains-Fanwood Friday probably did them no favors. The good news is, they Blue Devils are 2-2 after an 0-2 start, so they’re trending in the right direction. Westfield is at St. Joseph-Metuchen Saturday afternoon.

Though they’re on the right side of it at this point, we’ll call Piscataway and Bridgewater-Raritan bubble teams for now. The Chiefs (2-3) are in 14th, while the Panthers (1-4) are in 15th. This is a danger zone, because any team with one or two wins will make big jumps if they win a third or fourth game. So, they’ll have to watch teams behind them.

Of course, winning themselves will help.

The last four games for the Chiefs are winnable, starting with Old Bridge on the road this week, then East Brunswick home on Friday, October 6th – a game you can hear on CJSR at 6 pm from Kenny Armwood Stadium. Sayreville and New Brunswick close out their schedule.

Bridgewater-Raritan has a much more difficult schedule. They’re at Ridge this week, and home to Phillipsburg the next, before Elizabeth and a road game at Old Bridge round out the slate.

South Group 5

Two area teams are in the top six here, and you need to finish in the top two to get a top seed in one of the sections, South or Central 5. North Brunswick (4-0) currently sits in fourth, with a 3.4 UPR, just one UPR point behind second-place Toms River North (4-1).

The problem for the Raiders is their schedule is not conducive to climbing up the rankings. Of the four teams remaining, two are winless (New Brunswick and East Brunswick) and Franklin (this week) and Cranford (Cutoff Weekend) each have just two wins at the moment. As far as a top-seed is concerned, there’s zero margin for error here.

Hillsborough sits in sixth at 4-1, and got a big boost with its upset win over previously-unbeaten Phillipsburg. That was 20 power points for the win, as opposed to four for a loss. They’ll have similar opportunities the next two weeks – both on the road – against Union and Hunterdon Central. And their last two home games against Somerville and Westfield won’t hurt them either. Running the table could give them a really good shot.

Hunterdon Central currently sits in eighth, and should be able to get a first round home game. Their remaining four games are a mixed bag. They should beat both Franklin and Perth Amboy to end the regular season, so a first-round playoff game (top 8 finish in the supersection) could ride on getting at least one win in the next two weeks, which includes a trip to Phillipsburg this Friday night, and a home game against Hillsborough next weekend.

South Brunswick sits in 11th, well enough inside the bubble, but also fairly likely a bottom eight finish.

On the bubble are Edison and Franklin. The Eagles are the defending Central Jersey Group 5 champs, and 2-3 at the moment. There are some winnable games on the schedule for the Eagles, including a home game with New Brunswick this Friday night.

The Warriors, however, are another story. While 2-3, their wins have come against East Brunswick and New Brunswick, opponents who are a combined 0-10. Their next three opponents – North Brunswick on the road this week and Sayreville and Hunterdon Central are a combined 11-3. So, we’ll not only see how much Franklin has improved this year, but whether a must-have win against at least one of those teams can get them in the playoffs.

North Group 4

In the top four are two Big Central teams from very competitive divisions, which explains why they’re there. Montgomery sits in third at 5-0, with a 4 UPR, two points behind second place Mount Olive. Then Ridge is right behind them – literally – with a 4.2 UPR. Northern Highlands is right behind the Red Devils with a 4.4 UPR.

This is very bunched up right now, and with a lot of football to be played, too close to call. Bottom line: Montgomery and Ridge will need to keep on winning. A loss by either team might make too high a mountain to climb to get into the top two.

Linden (4-1) has looked very good this year, and the Tigers claim seventh place this week in the UPR standings. They’ve got a reasonable schedule the rest of the way with JFK at home this week, then at Summit and Cranford before finishing at Montgomery in what could be a critical game to clinch at least a first-round home game.

Woodbridge looks like a pretty good playoff bet. The Barrons are tenth and 3-2 on the season, and Rahway – also 3-2 on the year – is right behind them. Woodbridge could have a legit shot at a top eight finish and a first round home game, Rahway a little less so, but they still have a chance with four weeks left and a good enough schedule that could give them a boost. They may have to go 3-1 the rest of the way to do it, though.

Sayreville sits in 13th, and while I wouldn’t call them a bubble team yet, the 3-2 Bombers can’t get complacent. Granted, their losses have come to Phillipsburg and North Brunswick, the only two teams that have occupied the top spot in the CJSR rankings. If Sayreville is as good as their preseason hype, they should do no worse than 3-1 the rest of the way.

Outside the bubble and a longshot to make the field is Scotch Plains-Fanwood, which is 1-4 and in 19th place. But more interesting is Colonia. The Patriots are 2-3, but all the way down in 21st place. They have a 20.2 UPR, 4.8 points out of a playoff spot. The schedule is favorable with winless North Hunterdon coming to the blue turf this week, and then a visit to 2-3 Perth Amboy next week. It could come down to the last two weeks – with home games against Summit and Rahway, two teams in the playoff field – to decide Colonia’s playoff fate.

South Group 4

While there are no Big Central teams in this section, it’s worth mentioning briefly since New Jersey now plays all the way to group champs. For now, we’ll just point out that the top two teams are Mainland (5-0) and Millville (3-1), followed by WInslow (4-1) and Brick Memorial (5-0).

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 2: Ramblers winning big, Red Devils’ debut”

We’re back with another episode of “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” as veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko shares notes, stats, and observations on area high school football.

This week, a look at Hunterdon Central’s first-ever appearance in our polls, Big Central win streaks, and the early dominance of Carteret.

Click below to listen to the Week Two edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes”:

Two long TD runs from Thomas help Linden to 28-20 win over Rahway

In Linden’s season opening win against Elizabeth at Kean University exactly one week ago, Te’quan Thomas sensed his team needed a big play, and he ran one in from more than 20 yards out to give his team the win.

This Friday night against Rahway after his team jumped out to a 14-0 lead and then gave it away in the second quarter, Thomas – the reigning Bellamy & Son Paving Big Central Player of the Week – scored a 50-yard touchdown to give his team a 21-14 lead at the break.

Then after a Rahway field goal to open the second half, Thomas responded with a 69-yard score to make it 28-17.

The Tigers (2-0) held Rahway (1-1) to a field goal the rest of the way for a 28-20 victory.

Click below to see postgame reaction from Linden senior Te’quan Thomas and head coach Al Chiola, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Who’s got the longest win streak in the Big Central? In New Jersey? A closer look

The longest active winning streak in the Big Central doesn’t belong to a traditional football power in Central Jersey like a Piscataway or a Phillipsburg.

It doesn’t belong to either of the teams who won sectional titles last year in Edison or North Hunterdon.

In fact, with the state playing to group champions for the first time last year, that’s five fewer teams that will end their season on a high note coming into the following year.

Yes, the Big Central team with the longest active winning streak at the moment – after nearly three dozen teams opened up in Week Zero – is Roselle.

The Rams got off to an inauspicious start last season, losing their first four games, but rattled off eight straight wins to finish the season and finish 8-4. That included two “consolation” wins at Bordentown and Haddon Heights, and then a victory in their annual Thankgiving rivalry game against Roselle Park.

The stars aligned, and Roselle finished red hot. Junior quarterback Nazir Baker returns, but head coach Ibrahim Halsey will be looking for someone else to make up for graduated runningback Emmanuel Lyles’ 1,272 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.

Elsewhere in the league, no one else has a streak better than three games. Three teams have won three straight: Spotswood won its last two last season and is 0-1 this year. Same for Linden. Summit won its final three games last year, but hasn’t opened yet this season.

The Hilltoppers host Woodbridge Saturday, while Linden hosts Rahway Friday, and Spotswood is at Belvidere Friday.

The longest active winning streak in the state currently belongs to Caldwell, which has won 28 straight games.

The Chiefs haven’t opened this season yet, but after winning their final three games in 2020, went 12-0 in 2021 and won the North 2 Regional Championship. Then, last year, they went a step further, 13-0, winning the state Group 2 title. They open Friday night at home against Morris Catholic.

A good distance behind them is Toms River North, which won its opener last week 14-7 over Millville in the Battle at the Beach in Ocean City. Micah Ford and company have now won 15 in a row, including 14-0 last season with a state Group 5 championship. Their last loss was in the 2021 playoffs to Kingsway in the South 5 sectional semifinals. The Mariners are back in action Friday against Toms River East.