Tag: Montgomery

INSTANT REPLAY: Hillsborough 64, Montgomery 43 (Boys)

Hillsborough used an onslaught of nine three pointers – six in the first quarter – to power past Montgomery for the first time in nearly six years with a 64-43 home win in Skyland Conference Raritan Division play, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Zion harrison led the assault with three triples in the first quarter, four overall, and led all scorers in the game with 22 points. Four other players hit from beyond the arc as the Raiders matched a season-high from downtown.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the play-by-play on January 3, 2023:

Hillsborough three barrage buries Montgomery boys early in Skyland Raritan win

Only once in his career had Junior Zion Harrison hit more than twice from beyond the arc in a single game. And through the first five games this year, he only hit once.

But Tuesday night he did it four times as part of a nine-triple onslaught, as Hillsborough put Montgomery behind the eight ball early, and beat the Cougars 64-43 in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Harrison had three treys in the first quarter alone, as the Raiders (5-1, 2-1 in the Skyland Raritan Division) hit seven of their nine from beyond the arc in the first half, pushing out to a 21-6 first quarter lead, and a 34-19 lead at half.

Montgomery (3-5, 0-2) wouldn’t go away though. Three times, Hillsborough had a 20-point lead, only to see the Cougars climb back to within 14 or 15, thanks mostly in part to freshman guard Ethan Lin, who had 17 points and scored in all four quarters.

Harrison finished with a game-high 22 points, while fellow junior Jayden Green added 15.

The Raiders – who started last season 3-11, enduring COVID absenteeism along the way – have now won 11 of their last 14 regular season games, and are looking like a team to contend with in their division, if not the county, with their only loss coming to Ridge on Opening Night.


They’ve yet to play unbeaten division-leader Immaculata, however, but will get their first chance next Tuesday night at home. First, this Thursday night, they’ll visit Watchung Hills, which is 5-1 after suffering its first loss of the season Tuesday evening, 62-55 at home to the Spartans, who are now 6-0.

The win also snapped a six-game skid for Hillsborough against Montgomery, the Raiders’ first win in the series since February 7, 2017.

Click below for postgame reaction presented by SportsPlex at Metuchen, as Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Justin Sontupe catches up with Hillsborough head coach Tim Palek and junior guard Zion Harrison:

Follow Sportsplex at Metuchen on Instagram for the latest on open gym sessions on their courts and turf!
Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Justin Sontupe talks with Hillsborough junior guard Zion Harrison (left) and head coach Tim Palek (middle) after a 64-43 win over Montgomery on January 3, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Balanced Montgomery attack looking for good start to New Year at Hillsborough tonight

As the calendar turns from 2022 to 2023, Montgomery boys basketball finds itself in an unfamiliar position: below .500. It has been six years since the Cougars (3-4) last finished with a losing record, and almost a decade-and-a-half since they finished December in such an unenviable position.

With a Skyland Conference road game against 4-1 Hillsborough up next tonight, the road does not get any easier.

But pay no attention to the record for now, urges head coach Kris Grundy, in his 18th season. The Cougars have held fourth quarter leads in six of their first seven games, including narrow losses to still unbeaten Immaculata and Watchung Hills, and are still overcoming the preseason injury to junior guard Steve Donahue. Freshman Ethan Lin was forced into action earlier than anticipated, and seniors Luke Smith, Matt Levy, and JT Simborski are adjusting to shouldering a heavier load.

The Cougars have absorbed their fair share of punches during the first few weeks of the season, but that should only make them stronger as they enter the meat of the schedule ahead of February’s postseason. Four players — Lin, Levy, Smith, and junior point guard Josh Moore — average at least nine points per game. As a team, Montgomery, which often spreads the floor with five guards, makes more than eight three-pointers per game.

Montgomery’s last loss to Hillsborough came in 2017, and the Cougars will look to get back on track against the familiar foe Tuesday night. Led by second-year head coach Tim Palek, Hillsborough has started 4-1 after finishing last season by winning 8-of-13 and are looking to keep it rolling. 


You can hear Tuesday night’s game live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with pregame set for 6:40 pm and tip-off at 7 in Hillsborough. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will have the call; click here to listen to the broadcast.

Click below to listen to Justin Sontupe talk with Montgomery head coach Kris Grundy ahead of Tuesday’s game.

Hillsborough boys basketball picking up right where it left off in Palek’s first season

The end of calendar year 2022 for the Hillsborough boys’ basketball team ended perhaps even better than the 2022 portion of last season ended.

A year ago, in Tim Palek’s first season after coming over from Bernards, the Raiders started the season 2-10, but went 8-5 the rest of the way after finding their groove.

This year, there’s been less groove to find. Sure, they graduated some key players, but seven who were in the rotation a year ago are back, including their top two scorers: senior Ben Spitzer (12.8 ppg) and junior Zion Harrison (11.6 ppg). And Spitzer can shoot from long range, with 15 on the season, including four in a season-opening 55-53 loss to Ridge, their only defeat of the season so far.

Tuesday night, the Raiders (4-1) will entertain Montgomery (3-4) in a key game for both teams – for Hillsborough to keep its early-season momentum going, for Montgomery to get the ship righted before passing the point of no return.


The Cougars are led freshman Ethan Lin’s 13.1 points per game, and can go bombs away from beyond the arc. As a team, they’ve already hit 59 triples in seven games this season – a whopping 8.4 per game – and are led by senior Luke Smith with 20 threes, while Lin has 13, and senior J.T. Simborski has 10.

You can hear Tuesday night’s game live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with pregame set for 6:45 pm and tip-off at 7 in Hillsborough. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will have the call; click here to listen to the broadcast.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko talk with Hillsborough head coach Tim Palek ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Cougars:

Aquinas boys lead preseason Bellamy & Son Paving boys’ basketball rankings

With a good chunk of its 27-2 team coming back from a season ago, St. Thomas Aquinas has been named the preseason No. 1 team in the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten.

The two-time defending GMC Tournament champion Trojans – who finished third in the final rankings last year – graduate the “heart and soul” of last year’s squad in Adam Silas – now at Wofford – but bring back a senior-laden group including Sherief Guinyard, Kamal Lee, Jalen Pichardo and Terrell Pitts.

At No. 2 is Rutgers Prep, which also has a lot of key pieces back, but graduates about 20 points a game in the losses of Ryan Pettit and Ryan Zan. Pettit also led the scrappy Argonauts in steams with 130 in 30 games, as the Argonauts (26-4 last year) made it to the finals of the Somerset County Tournament, and won the Non-Public South A title over Red Bank Catholic, finishing just a win shy of the final Tournament of Champions.

Gill St. Bernard’s – with major turnover heading into this season including the loss of star Denver Anglin to graduation and four transfers – comes off a 20-7 season in which they won the SCT, and made it to the Non-Public North B finals.

Colonia begins the season at No. 4, coming off a very successful 25-5 campaign which saw them fall in the GMC Tournament final, but win the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 championship, the only public school in the CJSR coverage area to win a sectional title.

St. Joseph of Metuchen checks in at Number Five.

The high school basketball season in New Jersey opens tonight.

Below is the full preseason Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten:

Central Jersey Sports Radio announces “Specialty Awards” for 2022

So many great players, so few awards. When you’ve got multiple deserving players for a single award, it’s time to get creative to honor those who truly deserve to be honored.

So without any further ado, here are Central Jersey Sports Radio’s postseason Specialty Awards for 2022!

Best Rushing QB” Award: Jaeden Jones, Colonia

The top two rushers in the Big Central Conference this season were quarterbacks. Matt Sims of Brearley was No. 2, and topping the list was Colonia junior Jaeden Jones, who succeeded a pretty good runner himself: last year’s “Mr. Dynamic” Award to the most explosive player in the league by far, fellow quarterback Josh Oluremi.

Colonia’s Jaeden Jones (Source: @Jaeden_Jones2 on Twitter)

In fact, Oluremi and Jones share a unique piece of history. So far as we could tell, at least back to the mid-90s – since stats from those years aren’t as readily available as they are now – Oluremi was the first quarterback since then to lead Middlesex County in rushing. (He was second in the Big Central Conference last year to state rushing leader Colin Murray of Cranford, in Union County.)

Now, Jones has made it two years in a row for a QB to lead Middlesex County in rushing, both from the same school. And as for making his own piece of history, he’s also the first quarterback to lead the BCC in rushing in its short three-year history. (Someone remember it when we go digging for that fact in another 20 years, please?

Like Oluremi, Jones’ rushing to passing totals were about a 3:2 ratio in favor of the ground game. Jones threw 86 of 150 for 1,059 yards, but amassed 248 carries of his own on the ground for 1,661 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Jones led Colonia to an 8-2 record this year, and the Liberty Gold Division title. And the best part is, he’ll be back next year.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk with Jaeden Jones of Colonia:

“Best Backfield Duo”: Kente Edwards and Alex Uryniak, North Hunterdon

While head coach Kevin Kley has called runningback Kente Edwards “the most feared runner” in the Big Central, he’s been blessed enough to have a “backup” – yes, we put that in quotes – who he says “could be the starter on any team in the league.”

And he’s not fibbing.

Edwards got banged up against Colonia in Week Five and missed the better part of the next four games, and if you closed your eyes and ears and just looked at the stat line, you wouldn’t know it was Alex Uryniak taking the bulk of the carries.

North Hunterdon’s Kente Edwards (#3, left) and Alex Uryniak (#22, second from left) at midfield for the coin toss before the North 2, Group 4 title game against Randolph in Annandale on November 12, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Edwards had been averaging 160 yards a game, and even had 161 against Colonia. But in the first two playoff games, Uryniak ran for 433 yards and five touchdowns, while QB Luke Martini started throwing like a beast (more on him later) in the games Uryniak didn’t top 100. Uryniak ended up with 1,012 yards on the season and 13 scores, giving the Lions two thousand-yard rushers, as Edwards finished with 1,442 and 15 touchdowns.

Go ahead, pick your poison.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with the two-headed monster runningback combo of Kente Edwards and Luke Martini:

“Rising Star” Award: Jett Genovese, Phillipsburg

On a team with so many standouts, and a ton of balance among key players, Jett Genovese was able to run it all with precision for Phillipsburg.

Four runningbacks carried for over 300 yards, with none more than Xavier Moore’s 851. And through the air, Genovese found four different targets for more than 150 yards, with none more than Michael Scerbo Jr.,’s 476. That connection should be hooking up a lot again next year, as both players are sophomores.

But it was Genovese who was able to find his way through it for the Stateliners,

Phillipsburg quarterback Jett Genovese (Photo courtesy @HanisakPhoto)

And though Phillipsburg was knocked off by West Orange in the North 2, Group 5 final, Genovese came up big when it really counted – against Easton. He threw for 86 yards and three touchdown passes, while distributing the ball to five different runningbacks, led by Moore’s 114 yards, and Caleb Rivera’s two rushing touchdowns.

We have a feeling we’ll be talking about Jett a lot over the next couple of years.

Click below to Genovese talk about his first year as a starting QB for P’burg with Justin Sontupe:

Best Returning QB-WR Tandem: Michael Schmelzer, Jr. and Matt D’Avino, Montgomery

Montgomery had a very good season in 2022, starting 5-0 for the first time in school history.

And though the finished 7-3, with a first-round playoff loss to Northern Highlands – the North 1, Group 4 Champions and Group 4 finalist – they are the only team that can make this claim: they will have the top returning quarterback and the top returning receiver in the Big Central Conference when they come back to the field in 2023.

Montgomery QB Michael Schmelzer, Jr. (left) and WR Matt D’Avino are interviewed after a 27-20 home win over Somerville on September 16, 2022 heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio (Photos: Mike Pavlichko)

Quarterback Michael Schmelzer, Jr., threw for 1,658 yards and 21 touchdowns, good for fourth in the conference, but Luke Martini of North Hunterdon, Matt Yascko of Edison and Frankie Garbolino of North Brunswick are all graduating.

Wide receiver Matt D’Avino was second in the conference with 1,053 yards and 14 touchdowns, just one yard behind – and one TD ahead of – Derek Vaddis of North Hunterdon, who’s also graduating.

These two have been playing catch for many years now, and will get one more year together with the Cougars. We’re looking forward to watching.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Michael Schmelzer, Jr. and Matt D’Avino of Montgomery:

“Nobody Scores” Award: Bernards Defense (represented by Enzo Britez)

They may not have been St. Thomas Aquinas from a year ago, which tied a playoff-era Middlesex County record with seven shutouts, but they came pretty damn close.

In an 8-2 season with just one regular season loss, the Bernards Mountaineers played locked down D for the majority of 2022, shutting out six opponents en route to a clean 4-0 division sweep to the Big Central’s Patriot Gold title.

Bernards senior Enzo Britez (Source: @enzobritez on Twitter)

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk with Bernards defensive back Enzo Britez:

“Walk Off Defender” Award: Zamir Hawk, Hillside

Walkoff is a term most commonly used in baseball, but Barris Grant uses it to talk about Zamir Hawk, his senior nosetackle. Specifically, his efforts in Hillside’s two playoff wins this season, that got them to the North 1 Group 3 title game.

Hawk, a senior, had 67 tackles this year, and 15 for a loss, along with four sacks and a pick-six.

But he came up the biggest on the biggest of stages.

In the playoff opener against Parsippany Hills, the Comets scored 19 unanswered points to win and advance. But even after taking the lead in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t for good until Hawk’s pass breakup on a last-ditch effort by Par Hills effectively gave Hillside the win.

Zamir Hawk of Hillside (Source: @Hawk_973 on Twitter)

And if that wasn’t big enough, following an even bigger comeback by the Comets against River Dell, his interception sealed yet another win, propelling Hillside into the sectional semifinals.

Don’t challenge this kid!

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Hillside senior Zamir Hawk:

“Playoff Beast”: Luke Martini, North Hunterdon

North 2, Group 4 Champion North Hunterdon had all kinds of players put up all kinds of great numbers this year.

But when push came to shove, and the season was in crunch time, senior quarterback Luke Martini stepped it up a notch.

It started with the Milk Can Game against Voorhees, their big rival, when – with top runningback Kente Edwards nursing a lower body injury – Martini threw for 166 yards and three touchdowns against the Vikings in a 35-7 win.

But it didn’t stop there. He continued his hot streak into the playoffs, all the way to the sectional finals. First came 253 yards and four touchdowns against Middletown North in the opening round. Then 231 yards and two TDs in the second round against Morris Knolls. And finally, in the sectional title game, with everything on the line, in a wild ballgame that saw a combined 84 points, he threw for 411 yards and five scores against Randolph.

North Hunterdon QB Luke Martini (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Summing up, out of his 2,306 passing yards – best in the Big Central by about 400 yards – and 22 touchdowns on the season, that four-game stretch generated 1,061 yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns.

That’s what we call a playoff beast.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk to Luke Martini about his incredible playoff run:

“Injury-Be-Damned” Award”: Adam Bowles, South Plainfield

It’s one thing to play great defense on a team that went from 2-8 to an undefeated regular season like Adam Bowles did in South Plainfield, but it’s another to do it with your arm in a cast.

Yet that’s exactly what he did for the latter half of the 2022 season.

The senior linebacker tallied 129 tackles – 77 solo – while also notching 7 1/2 tackles for loss, a sack, three quarterback hurries, and three interceptions. And he played the last five games of the season in a cast!

South Plainfield linebacker Adam Bowles (Source: @datboiadamd1 on Twitter)

Click below to hear Bowles talk with Justin Sontupe about toughing it out this season for the Tigers:

“Full 48”: Robert Orzol, Old Bridge

One of the oldest cliches in sport is they saying: “We’ve got to play the whole ___ minutes.”

But in no circumstance was it ever more true that for Old Bridge defensive lineman Robert Orzol.

We documented this game with Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue here, but the gist is this: after a missed field goal that would have given the Knights the lead in a Week Two game at South Brunswick, the Vikings needed to gain a first down to take a couple of knees and run out the clock. But a fumble on the second snap caught the eye of Orzol, who dove on it, giving the ball back to Old Bridge. They won the game on a touchdown.

Old Bridge DL and playoff-clinching here Robert Orzol (Source: @OrzolRobert on Twitter)

That’s an amazing enough story on its own. Fast forward to Cutoff Weekend, and Old Bridge finished 17th in the South 5 standings, oh-so-close to a playoff spot. But not so fast.

The NJSIAA playoff seeding rules conduct a top-down head-to-head tiebreaker throughout the entire bracket, meaning if the team in third, for example, beat the team in second, they flip-flop. And down the list they go until they get to number 17.

That was Old Bridge. South Brunswick was 16th. But not for long.

Yes, Old Bridge won the head-to-head. Orzol was the hero again, weeks later, as the Knights made the playoffs, all thanks to Orzol’s fumble recovery.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Robert Orzol – whose never-give-up attitude almost singlehandedly got Old Bridge into the playoffs:

“MVP” Awards: Matt Sims of Brearley and Shawn Purcell of Manville

For the first time, Central Jersey Sports Radio is giving out an “MVP” award, to the players who are, well, most valuable to their team.

While there were so many great players this season, and many with an abundance of talent, two players stood out as perhaps the most critical to their success. And it might not surprise you to see that they’re both from small Group 1 schools: Brearley and Manville

Brearly QB Matt Sims with head coach Scott Miller (left). (Source: @mattsimss6 on Twitter)

Brearley’s Matt Sims finished just behind Jaeden Jones in the Big Central in rushing, with 1,523 yards and 26 touchdowns, the sixth highest total in the state of New Jersey. (That also makes it two quarterbacks leading the Big Central on the ground this season.) He also threw for 1,063 yards and ten touchdowns, an astounding number when you consider he not only didn’t complete anywhere near a hundred passes, but he didn’t even attempt 100 passes, going 67-of-99.

But the most astounding number was this: Sims accounted for 75% of his team’s yards from scrimmage this year.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Brearley senior QB Matt Sims:

Meanwhile, Manville’s Shawn Purcell really could have received this award for a two-year body of work.

Last year, he carried 117 times for 1,176 yards and 15 touchdowns, while this year accounting for 1,238 yards on the ground on just 106 carries, hitting paydirt 22 times. He also excelled on kick returns, and has five career interceptions at cornerback. (He’d probably have more if anyone dared throw at him.)

Manville’s Shawn Purcell (Source: Twitter)

Manville should have made unprecedented back-to-back playoff appearances, amazingly missing out last year at 6-2 at the cutoff, but that’s neither here nor there. In the end, Manville was 14-5 the last two seasons with Purcell as the focal point of the offense. And that’s the best two-year record for the program since a 14-4 run in 1968 – when the Mustangs went 9-0) and 1969 (when they went 5-4). Arguably, it’s even better with better win totals in both seasons.

These seasons don’t come along every year in a small town like Manville, but Purcell was a big reason why they did.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Manville senior RB/CB/KR Shawn Purcell:

North Hunterdon edges out Phillipsburg for top spot in final Big Central Media Poll

In a split vote, North Hunterdon earned top honors in the final Big Central Media Poll of the 2022 high school football season over Phillipsburg, with the Lions getting three of the five first-place votes. The Stateliners got the other two.

The final media poll of the season mirrored the final Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten with one exception: Watchung Hills got in the media poll at No. 9, while Westfield took that spot in the CJSR poll. Both teams were 7-3 on the season.

North Hunterdon got the top spot on the strength of its North 2, Group 4 championship, though the Lions were knocked out in the first-ever group semifinals by Northern Highlands back on Saturday.

Phillipsburg was upset in the North 2, Group 5 finals by West Orange, but beat North Hunterdon early on in the regular season.

Edison came in third, despite four losses, after making a huge run as the sixth-seed in Central Jersey Group 5 to win a sectional title. Along with West Orange, they were the lowest seeds in the state among public schools to reach sectional finals, and both wound up winning titles.

St. Thomas Aquinas, which beat Edison in the regular season, but got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, checks in at No. 4. Aquinas holds the Big Central Conference’s longest league winning streak going into next year at 17 games, with Phillipsburg and Brearley behind them at eleven straight regular season league wins.

North Brunswick checks in fifth, having been knocked out of the playoffs in the Central Group 5 semifinals by Edison.

Ridge came in sixth, followed by North 2 Group 3 finalist Hillside in seventh.

Cranford was No. 8, Watchung Hills rated ninth, and Montgomery finished in tenth, while Westfield, Bernards, and North 1 Group 1 finalist Brearley (10-1) also received votes.

Below is the complete final Big Central Media Poll for 2022:

North Hunterdon rises to No. 1 in final Top Ten rankings; Lions are CJSR 2022 Team of the Year

CORRECTION: Our initial version of this poll inadvertently omitted Watchung Hills, which tied for third in the poll for 9th place with Westfield and Montgomery. The rest of this story has been updated to correct that omission.

In the final Central Jersey Sports Radio high school football rankings of 2022, North Hunterdon is Number One, and the CJSR Team of the Year.

With just one regular season loss – to Phillipsburg, which finished at No. 2 – the North 2, Group 4 Champion Lions finished the season 11-2, after a loss to Northern Highlands in the Group 4 semifinals this past Saturday, 21-20 in OT at Franklin High School.

Led by the backfield tandem of Kente Edwards and Alex Uryniak, quarterback Luke Martini, and top receivers Derek Vaddis and Danny Delusant – with several of those players also playing critical roles on defense – North Hunterdon won its first state title since 2017, beating Randolph in a finals for the ages, 49-35, a contest which saw the teams explode for a combined 49 points in the final quarter.

The Lions also won the Liberty Silver Division of the Big Central Conference.

Phillipsburg, which was undefeated going into the North 2 Group 4 final, was shocked in the title game by West Orange, 28-7. The American Silver Division champs are 10-1, heading into their Thanksgiving Day battle with Easton.

In third was Edison, the Central Jersey Group 5 champion, which beat Lenape in the title game 28-14 a week ago down in Medford. It was the Eagles’ first title in 31 years, and they finished the season 9-4 with a group of seniors that included several four-year starters, including QB Matt Yascko, wide receiver Malcolm Stansbury, offensive lineman Matthew Bueno, and and kicker/linebacker Selbin Sabio.

Tied for fourth was St. Thomas Aquinas and North Brunswick. The Trojans beat Edison in the regular season, but got knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round by Holy Spirit. Aquinas won the United Gold Division title, and will take a 17-game conference winning streak into the 2023 season, the best in the league. (Phillipsburg and Brearley both have won 11 straight regular season BCC games, the closest teams to Aquinas.

The Raiders finished 8-2, National Silver Division champions. Their lone regular season loss came out-of-division to Cranford, but they lost in the Central 5 semifinals to Edison, after the Eagles scored the game’s final 16 points in a furious comeback in the final five minutes of the game, recovering two on-side kicks and winning on a field goal with :04 left on the clock.

Ridge finished the year 7-3 and came in sixth.

In seventh was Hillside, which finished the season 9-2, tied with Cranford. The Comets were the Patriot Silver Division champions, and their only regular-season loss came to St. Thomas Aquinas in a divisional crossover. They made the North 2, Group 3 finals, but lost to Old Tappan 28-14; the Golden Knights are in the first-ever statewide Group 3 final at Rutgers in two weeks.

Cranford was 7-3, and won the American Gold Division title.

Westfield, Watchung Hills and Montgomery all tied for tenth. The Warriors and Cougars both finished 7-3, while Westfield also is 7-3, but still has to play its Thanksgiving game against Plainfield.

Below are the complete final 2022 Central Jersey Sports Radio High School Football rankings:

Montgomery’s D’Avino “catches” Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week honors

It wasn’t the fact that Matt D’Avino finished Friday night’s game at Scotch Plains-Fanwood with a near-program record 211 yards receiving, just three yards from owning the record himself.

It also wasn’t the fact that he had nine catches, and that if you do the math it equates to 23 yards per reception.

Well, OK, it was partly those facts. But also the fact that D’Avino scored the first two touchdowns for the Cougars where were down 14-0 and staring down the barrel of a third straight loss after going 5-0 to start the season for the first time ever in Montgomery history.

All that is what contributed to Matt D’Avino winning Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Honors for Week 8 in the Big Central.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Montogomery junior reciever Matt D’Avino:

Like all winners, D’Avino will receive a custom football at the end of the year, and one of the weekly winners will receive a $500 scholarship from Bellamy & Son Paving and Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Honorable Mentions

  • Alex Uryniak, North Hunterdon – In a 35-7 win over Woodbridge Friday, the junior rushed 23 times for 264 yards and three touchdowns, while also recording 12 tackles from his linebacker position on defense, as he continues to take the load off a banged up Kente Edwards.
  • Evan Richardson, JFK – The senior runningback scored all three touchdowns in a 21-7 win Friday over Voorhees. He had three carries for 40 yards and a TD, adding nine catches out of the backfield for 83 yards and two scores (of 19 and 40 yards). At linebacker, he also had 12 1/2 total tackles, and a TFL.
  • Ala-meen Watkins, Plainfield – The Cardinals’ sophomore signal-caller went 16-of-30 for 284 passing yards and two touchdown passes, also rushing eight times for 106 yards and three TDs in a 58-24 win over Monroe Saturday afternoon in the Queen City.
  • Jaeden Jones, Colonia – The junior QB/safety could win this award most weeks, but we’d like to make sure everyone gets a fair chance. He put up another monster game in a 28-23 win over Summit at Tatlock Field Saturday, helping snap the Hilltoppers’ three-game win streak: 36 carries for 241 yard and all for Patriots’ touchdowns, plus 12-for-17 passing for 138 yards, responsible for 379 yards of total offense. On defense, he racked up 11 tackles.

Other Nominations

  • Riley McCann, Watchung Hills – the Senior kicker/punter/wide receiver/d-back had a 24-yard interception return on defense, a 65-yard receiving touchdown, went 3-for-4 on field goals – kicking 32-, 42, and 50-yarders. He also was 3-of-3 on PATs, had a punt inside the 20, and made three tackles on defense, all in a 30-7 win at St. Joseph-Metuchen Saturday afternoon.
  • Matt Sims, Brearley – The senior QB had 20 carries for 206 yard and five touchdowns, while completing 5 of 9 passes for 60 yards. He also had a pick on defense in Thursday night’s 44-6 win against Middlesex.
  • Jalen Barnes, Rahway – In a 20-9 win over Carteret, the senior defensive end had 5 solo tackles, 12 overall, 2 TFLs and 2 sacks for 15 yards.
  • Frankie Garbolino, North Brunswick – After a scoreless first half in which East Brunswick sat on the ball, he helped lead the offense to 26 second-half points in a 26-0 road win. Garbolino was 8-of-14 passing for 184 yards and two touchdowns, adding another on the ground, part of a five-carry, 37 yard rushing night.
  • Malcolm Stansbury, Edison – In a 42-21 home win over South Brunswick, the senior had seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, while adding eight tackles and a pass breakup from his safety position on defense.
  • Jonas Gonzalez, Bernards – The Mountaineer sophomore kicker booted a 44-yard field goal – his third of more than 40 yards this season, and sent five of his six kickoffs for touchbacks – the other pinned New Providence inside their ten yard line – in a 31-0 home whitewash of the Pioneers Friday night at Olcott Field.
  • Jayden Young, St. Thomas Aquinas – The senior QB, in a 56-7 win Friday night at North Plainfield, threw four touchdown passes to reach – and pass – the 50 TD milestone. He’s now got 52 in his career after going 70-fo-8 for 127 yards, while Young also added a rushing touchdown, all in just one half of play.

North Group 4 Playoff Analysis: North Hunterdon appears locked into a No. 1 seed

With Cutoff Weekend coming up Friday and Saturday this week, Central Jersey Sports Radio is taking a look at every team in the Big Central to see where we think they’ll land in the playoffs.

We’re not looking at tiebreakers just yet, and even adding the few residuals to be had can make for infinitely more possibilities – although there are none up for grabs from any Big Central opponents at this point – so we’re not doing those either. But we are looking at where we think teams will fall in the top 16. Tune in to our Playoff Projection show Saturday at 6 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio for all our unofficial pairings.

Below is our analysis, with each team’s current ranking in the UPR standings noted.

(Click here for official standings on Gridiron New Jersey)

#1 North Hunterdon: Even if the Lions (7-1) were to lose Voorhees (3-4) at home Friday night, it still wouldn’t matter what Irvington, Ramapo, Randolph, and Morris Knolls do behind the, We think North is set as the top overall team, meaning they would be the North 2, Group 4 top seed. Who gets the other No. 1 seed is still very much up in the air; Irvington’s not a lock with a tough game against West Orange.

#7 Ridge: The Red Devils (5-2) – contrary to our initial take – can’t quite grab the second overall position and the other No. 1 seed. We thought if they’d won at Union (2-5) and had a ton go right, including losses by six other teams around them, they could do it. But two of those teams – Randolph and Morris Knolls – play each other. So unless both decide to use an ineligible player and are granted losses (yes it could happen!) a No. 1 seed is out of the realm of possibility, we now believe, for Ridge. A top four finish is possible, though, if the Red Devils win. Undefeated Wayne Valley should beat winless Mount OIive, so beyond that huge upset, Ridge would need Ramapo (5-2) to lose to Ridgewood (5-2), and Randolph (6-1) to lose to Morris Knolls (6-1). On paper, those games could go either way. So, if Ridge wins, we call that a 50-50 shot. A loss, and Ridge could drop as low as nine, going on the road for the first round if everything breaks the wrong way around them.

#8 Colonia: The Patriots and the next few teams have so many possible scenarios and combos of winning and losing and other teams’ results, so we’ll just give their range. They could legitimately go as high as No. 7 overall, guaranteed at least a first-round home game, or drop as low as 13 in a worst-case scenario.

#11 Rahway: With Colonia being a strong team with just one loss, should they beat the Patriots, they could finish as high as an eight or nine overall, meaning a first-round home game is still in play. But we believe they’re in regardless of what happens; it looks like the lowest they can drop is 14 with a loss.

#12 Montgomery: Even with a loss to Linden, it looks like the Cougars are in, but destined to be on the road in the first round, as we peg them for a range of No. 10 to No. 15 overall.

#14 Sayreville: Similar to Montgomery, we think Sayreville is in whether they beat Woodbridge or not Friday night, and in the same 10-15 overall range.

#16 Woodbridge: Here’s where things start to get tricky. We thing the Barrons aren’t guaranteed of anything, even if they beat Sayreville Friday night, and the reason is the tiebreaker. If somehow, the Barrons end up a spot ahead of Linden, the Tigers have the tiebreaker by virtue of winning their regular season matchup. That’s even the case if Woodbridge finishes 16 and Linden finishes 17, regardless of power points, OSI or UPR. So, the Barrons need to finish two spots ahead of Linden if they end up at No. 16. Win, and it’s easier: they just need a loss by Linden and nothing else, and they’ll be the last team in. With a loss, they would not only need Linden to lose, but also Barringer to win Friday night against Nutley and Bergenfield to beat Pascack Valley on Saturday. Those have to happen to bump Linden to 18 so that Woodbridge avoids the tiebreaker. *We think.

#17 Linden: The Tigers, even though they’re behind Woodbridge, have it easier. With a win, even if everything else breaks wrong – including the Barrons winning – we have them at 17, with Woodbridge in 16th, and Linden getting the tiebreaker over the Barrons. We’ll see how it shakes out. And, as stated above, they could still get in with a loss, if things break right regarding Barringer and Bergenfield losing.