Tag: North Plainfield

Teammates go down, Bird steps up; North Plainfield senior wins CJSR’s “Leadership Award”

The North Plainfield football team entered the 2021 season with three captains. But it wasn’t long before two of them were down for the count: Keiahn Grenald, and Khan-Yae Stevens.

Stevens was Central Jersey Sports Radio’s “Jack-of-All-Trades” last year – and an honorable mention for Two-Way Player of the Year – meaning he does a little of everything, and now that was missing. And Grenald is one of the more electrifying players in the league as well.

In stepped senior linebacker/H-back Jordan Bird, who may helped keep the team together after a 1-3 start to go 5-1 the rest of the way, finishing 6-4, to go 13-5 the past two seasons. It helped the Canucks go .500 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2007-08.

Click below to listen to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino talk with Jordan Bird:

Honorable mentions in the “Leadership Award” category include Connor Tracy of Governor Livingston and Josh Oluremi of Colonia.

Tracy is the son of GL offensive coordinator Bill Tracy, the former Ridge coach. As the starting quarterback the last two years, he’s thrown for 1,129 yards and 10 TDs. But more importantly, he was a “consummate leader” all year, and came in early before practice to work with a young ballclub in a rebuilding year. His coaches call him “a great role model and leader for our program regardless of circumstance,” referring to the Highlandeers winning just one game this year.

Oluremi, a QB/CB for the Patriots, rushed for 1,594 yards and 20 TDs this year, while throwing for 954 yards, but more notably led by example. A two-year captain, he has a 3.9 GPA and is a member of two honor societies. He also participates in the “Heroes and Cool Kids” mentorship program in the district middle schools.

You – the fans – get to pick again! It’s the Jersey Central Sports Radio “Highlight Reel Play of the Year.” Watch the video, and vote!

Central Jersey Sports Radio is giving YOU the chance to weigh in on your favorite play of the 2021 high school football season!

We received a lot of entries from high school football coaches all across the Big Central. We spent days, even hours, until we finally narrowed it down to six.

Watch the video below, then scroll down to vote for your favorite!!
Voting ends at 11:59 pm on Monday, Dec. 13.
Remember: Vote early, vote often!

North Group 3 Week 9 Breakdown: Cougars are locked in as overall top seed, do Summit and North Plainfield have must-wins?

There’s a lot people don’t know about the playoff formula New Jersey uses for high school football – even though it’s completely available to the general public. But what we do know is that Cranford – with a 7-0 record – appears to be the only Big Central team locked into its playoff position. Here’s a team-by-team unofficial breakdown of Big Central teams in playoff contention in North Group 3:

Cranford: We believe Cranford is locked in as the overall Number One seed. And though top versus second overall seed matters little – since the regional champiosnhips will be at a neutral site at MetLife Stadium – the Cougars can take that bragging right. By our math, even if Cranford should lost at Montgomery (3-4) Friday night in Skillman – and even if River Dell, West Morris, Sparta, and West Essex behind them all win – Cranford should still be the number one seed. Go ahead. Move along. Nothing else to see here. Believe it or not, they could end up with an all-Big Central first round game at Memorial Field next Friday night. Read on…

MORE CUTOFF WEEKEND COVERAGE: A team-by-team breakdown of every Big Central team’s postseason standing and chances heading into Week 9

Summit: The Hilltoppers (5-3) are in 15th place, with a tough opponent this weekend in Somerville (6-2). The Pioneers have won five straight on the field (with a forfeit loss to Phillipsburg sandwiched in the middle) and are really hitting their stride, with Ethan MacNair steamrolling opponents since moving from tight end to runningback; he’s rushed for 544 yards and six touchdowns in just the last two games, against St. Joseph-Metuchen and Warren Hills. But enough about the Pioneers. Should Summit pull off an upset – though they’re a team that always gives the ‘Ville fits, the only team to beat them in the 2019 regular season – they could end up anywhere from 12th to 14th depending on who else wins, like Nutley, Vernon, Warren Hills or Wayne Valley (the more of them that win, the lower Summit finishes). Could the unthinkable happen, and Summit get knocked out of the playoffs with a loss? Somerville is a strong opponent with a solid OSI and worth a good deal of power points, so on its own, the defeat leaves them in 15th place. We believe if Demarest, Morris Hills and North Plainfield all win this weekend, it would knock Summit out. There may be other combinations, too, but those are the three directly behind the Hilltoppers, if they lose to Somerville. Bottom line: Summit has a lot to play for Friday night at Brooks Field, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland. Game time is 7:00, pregame is at 6:45. Click here to listen.

North Plainfield: The Canucks (5-3) are less cut and dry, currently sitting in 16th place. And a win or loss at South River (5-3) Saturday afternoon, will bring about the same result; they’re going to need help in the form of all three teams currently behind them losing. That’s Morris Hills, Roxbury and Demarest. Should any of them win, regardless of what happens at Denny Stadium Saturday afternoon, the Canucks can bring their axes home.

Undefeated Cranford still holds top spot in North 3; North Plainfield win puts them inside the bubble

There was little surprise at the top of the North Group 3 standings after Friday night’s games, as Cranford – now 7-0 after a 42-13 win over Linden – held on to the top spot, according to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s exclusive unofficial UPR calculations.

The Cougars – who maintain a 1 UPR, tops in both power point average and OSI, with their regular season finale at Montgomery next week – remained firmly in place, with West Morris in second at 2.4 UPR, but with a Saturday game at Morris Knolls this week still pending. Both teams are 5-2, but a West Morris win shouldn’t bump them up enough to overtake the Cougars, and third place River Dell remains there, even with a Friday night win.

Summit dropped a spot on the bye wee, jumped by Wayne Valley, which won Friday night.

At the bottom, North Plainfield’s 35-13 win over Johnson – coupled with Demarest’s 49-28 home loss to Westwood – climbed into the 16th spot in the standings with a UPR of 17. But the lead over Morris Hills is narrow. Still, they already played this weekend, losing big Friday night to Sparta, so it’ll likely come down to next week.

The Canucks are at 3-4 South River next Saturday afternoon. Morris Hills (3-5, 17th) is at Randolph (5-2) next Saturday. Demarest (3-5, 18th) is at Bergenfield next week, not a huge pickup for the Norsemen, should they win.

But let’s put it plainly: we believe the Canucks will clinch a postseason berth with a win at Bill Denny Stadium next Saturday afternoon.

Week 8 Analysis: Cranford’s win over Woodbridge keeps Cougars atop North 3; Summit falls, Warren Hills gains

The battle of unbeaten teams in Week Seven at Priscoe Field lived entirely up to its billing.

For tension, entertainment, big plays, and yes, even for playoff implications.

While the loss looks like it dropped Woodbridge out of playoff contention, it kept Cranford as the leader of the pack in the North Group 3 supersection.

It didn’t actually put any distance between them and the teams behind them, even though their power point average jumped about two-and-a-half points. In fact, one of the the teams behind them crept even closer. Cranford had a UPR of 1 – the best you can get last week – and it kept that ranking this week. But West Morris (5-2, 2nd place) rose from a 2.8 to a 2.4 UPR, moving up one place in power point rank from fourth to third.

The third place team, though, moved a bit further back. Actually, West Essex (6-1) dropped despite a win; they were a 3.2 UPR last week. They were overtaken by River Dell (5-2) which has a 2 UPR, two-tenths closer than last week’s third place team.

Still, if Cranford can take care of business with road wins at Linden and Montgomery this week an next, they’ll finish as a top seed, and likely the top overall seed.

Winning takes care of everything else, we like to say.

The other two likely playoff teams here – who played each other last week – went opposite directions in Week Seven, and met in the middle

Summit took its second loss of the season, falling to Warren Hills, and fell from 9th to 12th in the standings, while the Blue Streaks climbed from the wrong side of the bubble at 17th to 13th. Both are 5-2, with Summit having an 11.29 power point average, and Warren Hills at 11.86. UPR is close, too: 11.8 for the Hilltoppers, 12.6 for Warren Hills.

Summit had a bye this week, and we think should be in, even with a loss to Somerville next week (CJSR, 7 pm). But should they win, depending what other teams do this week, they could jump up to the top eight and earn a first-round home game. Right now it looks like a stretch, with only one team ahead of the – Old Tappan – having two losses. (Old Tappan, interestingly, only has a 9.71 power point average, one of only four single digit power point teams in the top 20 of the section. But their OSI ranks 11th, which is how they’re in.)

As for Warren Hills, they have Somerville this week, and could make a big jump. Not helping them is the fact that their regular season finale next Friday night is against longtime rival Hackettstown, which is 0-7, and only has an SI value of about 45, which is a tick above the Blue Streaks’ average. So they’re probably relegated to a bottom eight seed.

North Plainfield sits in 18th, a not-so-insurmountable 1.4 UPR points behind the No. 16 team in the standings, Demarest. The question is: Can wins at Johnson this week (2-5) and South River next week (3-3) help their cause? Johnson is worth 14 power points (their average is 8.71) but only 36.41 in OSI value (their average is 41.74). And the Rams are worth 17 power points, but will be about a 47 in SI value. It might wash out, but it that enough to pick up a couple of places in power points and move into 16th? Absent anything else, they could jump to about a 10.22 in power point average, which would vault them over four teams (not considering anything they might do the next two weeks) and gain 1.6 UPR points; remember, they’re 1.4 out now. Is it enough to more than offset losses in OSI?

We’ll have to see.

Benitez runs and catches, kicks and picks his way to Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Award

Throwing a pass was about the only thing Alex Benitez didn’t do Friday night for Montgomery. And he’s even done a little of that this season.

But everything else he did helped him pick up Week Seven Bellamy and Son Paving Player of the Week Honors, while helping the Cougars to their second straight victory.

What didn’t Benitz do? He had 16 carries and a rushing touchdown, as well as five catches on offense. He also kicked three PATs. On defense he had not one, but two pick-6s, and he also had a pair of 55-yard punts on special teams.

His two interception returns for touchdowns came on back-to-back possessions defensively, and were part of a four-minute spurt that saw Benitz score three times – the first of the TDs coming on offense – to put the nail in the coffin on Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

And the win has Montgomery – now just 2-4, but winners of two straight – on the cusp of a playoff berth. They moved from 20th to 19th with the win, and have a chance to get to .500 if they can pick up a win this week against JFK, and next week against Cranford. That’s a tall order – even at home – but even a loss might still get them in due to Cranford’s high SI value, currently at 79.51. Montgomery’s OSI is 39.61, meaning even if they lose and get just half of Cranford’s value, that would keep them even.

Click below to hear Alex Benitez talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his Week 7 performance:

Honor Roll…

Sayreville’s Zaimer Wright – who won the award in Week Three – gets some “also ran” recognition in Week Seven. He was a workhorse going for 270 yards on 33 carries, scoring four touchdowns and adding a two-point conversion in a critical 29-16 win against South Brunswick that was the Bombers’ fourth straight victory.

Nasir McGlone of North Plainfield ran for even more yards on fewer touches Friday night. He averaged a whopping 21.5 yards per carry in a 42-26 win at Governor Livingston, the Canucks’ third straight win following a three-game skid.

Of his five touchdown runs, only one went for less than 40 yards – a ten-yard spring in the second quarter. The others were 70, 61, 48 and 44 yards. That’s a total of 233 yards on touchdown runs alone.

That’s a game for most good runningbacks.

Continuing the runningback theme, the final honorable mention goes to Ethan MacNair of Somerville, who had 300 rushing yards on 30 carries and three touchdowns in the Saturday Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland, a 47-26 win over St. Joseph in Metuchen.

Week 6 Group 3 playoff analysis: Cranford in the drivers’ seat for a top seed in the North; Somerville may end up on the road in the South

There they are, right at the top: Cranford – undefeated at 5-0 with a huge game at Woodbridge Friday night (7 pm, CJSR) – leads the entire North Group 3 supersection, the only team from the Big Central Conference to hold such a lofty position in the Week 6 playoff standings.

The Cougars are 1.7 UPR points ahead of West Morris (2.8), while West Essex (3.2) and River Dell (3.8) are not far behind. But there’s no real advantage to being first or second overall, other than the first-place team gets the 16th overall team in the opening round, while the second-place team gets the 15th overall team. And in the playoffs, it’s always more about matchups anyway.

For just this one more season, home field will end at the sectional finals, and the “regional championships” will be held at Met Life Stadium. But next year, when football plays down to overall group champions – finally! – those games will be at neutral sites, and it remains to be seen if the “regional championships” – soon to be “group semifinals” – will be held at neutral sites as well, or at the higher seeded team’s home field.

Nonetheless, it’s stating the obvious that a win against Woodbridge would be huge. But, practically-speaking, it’s an opportunity to shore up a top-two spot for Cranford. A loss, and they still might get it. That may depend, in part, what happens the rest of the way with West Morris (4-2) and West Essex (5-1), and to some extent, possibly River Dell (4-2).

The next team down in North 3 is Summit, where the Hilltoppers are in the 9th spot with a UPR of 8.4. They’re more likely to move up than down, in our estimation. There are two teams ahead of them within two UPR points, Lincoln (8.2) and Montville (7.6). But the teams behind them are at least 2.4 UPR points away. Pascack Valley is a 10.8 and Vernon has an 11.6 UPR.

The only other team from the BCC with a remote possibility here here is North Plainfield. The Canucks are 3-3 but have won two straight. And they may win out, with three road games coming up to finish the regular year at Governor Livingston and South River; those opponents have a combined four wins, and the best of them is South River. The Rams are 3-2 with a 48.25 SI. That Strength Index will help North Plainfield, as will the 15 power points they’ll get. But whether it’s enough to offset the drop they’ll possibly see even if they beat their previous two opponents may not be enough to overcome.

The next two weeks will bring that into clearer focus for cutoff weekend.

South Group 3:

Rumson-Fair Haven, which has one of the toughest schedules in the state among public schools – and also has benefitted from a mutliplier win over Donovan Catholic – leads the pack here, followed by undefeated Cedar Creek, the only seven-win team in the state at the moment.

This is one of the sections where we will differ from Gridiron New Jersey, which did not use the Week 5 Strength Index update for Out of State teams as it outlined in a post last Friday. Those SI numbers are to be updated at mid-season, then again after Week 8 when all the other SI values are fixed heading into the final weekend.

This affects Somerville, which is also one of the teams whose OSI is off because of the discrepancy. The Pioneers played Olney Prep of Philly in Week Zero. Holmdel is off, too, as they played St. Joe’s by the Sea (NY) on Week One.

By CJSR’s calculations, Somerville is in 6th at the moment (Gridiron has them 8th) but there’s also the matter of the Pioneers’ forfeit against Phillipsburg, which will go down as a loss after week eight if it’s not made up, but has not been added to the mix yet. If it were factored in now, the Pioneers move to tenth, and would be two places out of at least a first round home game.

That’s rare territory for Somerville, which is used to battling for a top seed. But that’s what two losses will do, no matter how they come.

In any event, it’s critical for the Pioneers to win out, and a victory at St. Joseph of Metuchen Saturday (2 pm, CJSR) would be a big help, since they’re a multiplier that would get them 42 points for a win. Warren Hills (4-2) is next, and then Summit on Cutuoff Weekend (5-1).

They can win out, and need to if they want a shot at a home game at least in the first round of the playoffs, although they still might get it with a loss to the Falcons and wins over the Blue Streaks and Hilltoppers, as St. Joe’s is worth 28 points for a loss.

The only other Big Central team in this race is Rahway, which has won two straight after dropping their first three, and stands in 15th place. A tall task for the Indians comes this weekend in a road game at Donovan Catholic, but they’re a multiplier, so even a loss will give them a boost. That’s a 42/28 multiplier, so even the 28 for a loss would jump their power point average from 8.8 to 12. That would jump them from 16th to 11th in power point rank (assuming no one else moves), which is good for 2 full UPR points, and would likely move them to a more comfortable 12th or 13th place. They close at South Plainfield and Hillside, which both could be must-wins. We’ll have to see how this week shakes out.

Summers makes the most of his opportunities on both sides of the ball to nab Week 5 Bellamy & Son Player of the Week honors

He didn’t have a dozen catches and a dozen tackles, or even a dozen of one or the other.

In fact, South Brunswick’s Khiri (pronounced like Kyrie, as in Irving) Summers only had five catches and five tackles in a 40-25 win over Monroe last Friday night.

But he made the most of what he got.

On offense, three of those catches went for touchdowns.

On defense, in addition to those five tackles, he had two interceptions, as part of what head coach John Viotto called the best performance his Vikings have turned in to date this season.

All that earned Summers Bellamy & Son Paving Big Central Player of the Week honors for Week Six.

Summers will receive a custom football to mark the accomplishment, and one Player of the Week will be awarded a $500 scholarship.

Click below to listen to Khiri Summers talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his performance against Monroe:

Honor Roll:

New Providence’s Charlie Barth was back playing defense again after sitting out that side of the ball in a 40-8 home win over Bound Brook heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio two Fridays ago.

And the senior RB/LB didn’t disappoint, with an outstanding two-way performance in a 42-14 win over Brearley: 16 carries for 176 yards and three touchdowns, while recording 12 tackles, a TFL and a QB pressure. Those numbers are what put him at the top of the Big Central leaderboard in tackles last fall, and made him one of the most active defenders in the league.

Few players record four touchdowns in a game; that’s reserved for the elite. But senior Logan Blake turned the trick for Delaware Valley Friday night, recording all four of the Terrier’s touchdowns in a solid 28-14 home win over Bernards. He had 11 catches in the game for 172 yards, with hauls of 13, 4, 26 and 16 yards.

North Plainfield’s Taeshaun Mallard a sophomore wide receiver had a nice four catches for 32 yards and two scores, but it was a trick play that boosted the prominence of his offensive game. It was a pass completion for a 39-yard touchdown to Jordan Bird in the fourth quarter. That have the Canucks enough cushion to hold on for a 28-19 win over Voorhees to move their record to 2-3 on the season and move them up one spot in the latest North 3 UPR rankings; the Canucks are two spots out of the top 16 at the midway point of the season.

And what would an honor roll be without Hillsborough’s Thomas Amankwaa. The senior – who won the award in Week 2 – is running the ball now in addition to catching it. He went for 103 yard and three touchdowns on five rushes while also catching three passes for 68 yards in a 42-14 win at No. 5 Ridge last Friday night.

Instant Replay: Delaware Valley 35, North Plainfield 6

Click below to listen on-demand to the “Big Central Game of the Week” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland from Friday, September 10, 2021.

Delaware Valley won its fourth straight over North Plainfield, picking up a 36-5 road win at Krausche Field behind two passing and one rushing touchdown from junior quarterback Jack Bill.

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call the action.

1st Half

2nd Half

Del Val wins fourth straight against North Plainfield

Statistically, Delaware Valley and North Plainfield were fairly even at halftime, but even though the Terriers were up just two scores, you got the young men from Frenchtown were in control.

Del Val (2-0) scored three more times in the second half to pull away for what would be a 35-6 road victory over the Canucks, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland on Central Jersey Sports Radio Friday night.

It was Del Val’s fourth straight win over North Plainfield.

Junior quarterback Jack Bill threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for a 14-yard touchdown. Bill was named the Autoland Big Central Player of the Game, and will receive a custom game ball at the end of the season.

The two TD passes came in the first half, 12 yards to senior Logan Blake, and 21 yards to junior Patrick Garlinghouse out of the backfield.

North Plainfield (1-1) moved the ball with ease on its first possession, but the drive sputtered out after a false start penalty and bad snap forced them into punting territory. And the Del Val defense got stronger as the game went on.

Blake scored two touchdowns on the game, his second coming on a 48-yard pick-six early in the third quarter.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Delaware Valley’s win Friday night over North Plainfield:

Junior quarterback Jack Bill

Head coach Mike Haughey

The 2021 season driven by Autoland continues next Friday night when #4 Old Bridge visits South Brunswick. Kickoff is 6:00, coverage begins at 5:45 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Listen live at cjsportsradio.com!

Click here for the full broadcast schedule.