Tag: Phillipsburg

Raiders sweep Big Central rankings with No. 1 pick by league media

In the final Big Central Media Poll of the season, the Hillsborough Raiders – not the least bit unexpectedly – finished the season atop the rankings, after going undefeated, winning a Somerset County record 13 games, taking the Central Jersey Group 5 crown, and winning the South 5 regional championship.

All six media members – including two from Central Jersey Sports Radio – picked Hillsborough, after splitting their vote among various teams much of the year, including the Raiders, Somerville and Union for the last three weeks of the season.

The Farmers – whose season was cut short by COVID in the second round of the playoffs – finished second, with a mark of 9-2. They were division 5A champions and widely considered a favorite to win North 2 Group 5.

Cranford – which won a sectional title for the third time in eleven years when it cruised past Sparta in the North 2 Group 3 final – came in third, finishing 11-1.

Somerville, the Division 3 champion which finished 8-3, was voted fourth, while Ridge (7-3) came in fifth and Sayrevile – 8-3 and Division 5D champions – came in sixth.

The top six places in the media poll mirrored the Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings.

In seventh was North Brunswick (8-4), followed by Woodbridge (7-3) and St. Thomas Aquinas (9-1), while Phillipsburg finished tenth.

Six teams also received votes.

See the full poll below:

Hillsborough finishes No. 1 in Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings, named Team of the Year

The Hillsborough Raiders’ first-ever perfect season – with a 13-0 mark, the Division 5B title, Central Jersey Group 5 title, and South Group 5 regional championship – has earned them the honor of being Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Team of the Year for 2021.

Hillsborough’s stellar season left them all alone atop the final CJSR rankings, moving up from the Number Two position they held from Week 5 through Week 8. (There were no rankings during the playoffs.)

The Raiders were followed by Union, the Division 5A champion whose season was unfortunately cut short when Superintendent Sr. Scott Taylor withdrew the team from the second round of the NJSIAA playoffs after a handful of players tested positive for COVID-19. The Farmers – who finished 9-2 with a forfeit loss in the playoffs and a regular season-opening loss to Millville, which won the South 4 regional title – were the top seed in North 2, Group 5, and widely considered a favorite for a state title, and to reach the North 5 regional championship game.

Cranford, which dominated Sparta in the North 2, Group 3, title game to win the crown, finished third in the final rankings. At 11-1 on the year, their lone loss came in the North Group 3 regional championship game to West Essex. They were the Division 4 champions.

Somerville (8-3) checked in at No. 4, with the Division 3 title to its credit. The Pioneers only had one regular season loss – to Northern Highlands in game two – and a forfeit loss to Phillipsburg due to a COVID issue. They were knocked out of the playoffs in the sectional semifinals by Cedar Creek, which finished 13-0 to win a state title. Their two on-field losses were to teams with a combined 25-1 record.

Ridge (7-3) checked in at No. 5, the second-place team in Division 5B behind Hillsborough. The Red Devils had a tough regular season loss to Phillipsburg, and an impressive playoff win over Woodbridge, 38-0, before falling at Ramapo in the sectional semifinals.

Sayreville (8-3) finished sixth. The Division 5D champions were perfect in their division, and went on an 8-0 tear after dropping their first two games at home to Bridgewater-Raritan and Woodbridge. The first of those wins was a 35-22 slugfest against North Brunswick, which went to the sectional finals.

Phillipsburg (7-5) finished 7th, followed by North Brunswick (8-4) in 8th and Woodbridge (7-3) in 9th.

Bernards – the Division 2A champions – finished tenth. The Mountaineers were sectional semfinalists, losing at home to Haddonfield, which hung on to beat Point Pleasant Boro for the South 2 regional championship at Rutgers Saturday, when Point missed what would have been a game-tying PAT with just a few seconds remaining on the clock.

Also receiving votes were St. Thomas Aquinas (9-0) – the Division 2B champions – and division runner-up Delaware Valley, which finished 7-3. Aquinas had one of Middlesex County’s best-ever defensive seasons, winning its first seven games on the field (one of their first eight wins was a forfeit) by shutout. They beat DelVal in a highly-anticipated Week 9 game 12-9 in a mudbath in North Edison.

Below are the final CJSR rankings.

Here’s where you can find links to all our Week 2 Playoff previews, and more

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s coverage of the Big Central Conference in the NJSIAA state playoffs continues with previews of a number of games this weekend.

Check back after this weekend’s games for postgame reaction on cjsportsradio.com.

Listen to Episode 12 of “This Week in the Big Central” driven by Autoland by clicking below:

Game Preview Links:

Playoff Notes and Observations: Opening round is in the books

Bernards hoping Leanza is back for sectional semis, but still confident

Haddonfield’s Hahn gets more touches than the typical Bulldawgs back

Phillipsburg sticks to the script in reaching sectional semis, looks to ride the tide right into the finals

BREAKOUT STORY: Phillipsburg’s only win against Clifton was a loss

MacNair to return for Somerville as Pioneers face unbeaten Cedar Creek in sectional semis

Trojans will face another test when they open the playoffs against a South Jersey parochial power

The Schedule (Big Central teams in bold):


(3) North Brunswick at (2) Cherokee, 6p (CJ5)
(6) Ridge at (2) Ramapo, 6:30p (N1-4)
(1) Hillsborough vs. (5) Williamstown, 7p (CJ5)
(7) Edison at (3) Toms River, 7p (SJ5)
(3) Phillipsburg at (2) Clifton, 7p (N2-5)
(5) Colonia at (1) Irvington, 7p (N2-4)
(3) Sayreville at (2) Middletown South, 7p (N2-4)
(1) Cranford vs. (4) Pascack Valley, 7p (N2-3)
(5) New Providence at (1) Pt. Pleasant Boro, 7p (SJ2)
(2) Bernards vs. (3) Haddonfield, 7p (CJ2) (CJSR)
(4) Hillside at (1) Raritan, 7p (CJ2)


(4) Somerville at (1) Cedar Creek, 12p (SJ3)
(6) St. Thomas Aquinas at (3) St. Joseph-Hammonton, 1p (NP-B)

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 12: The Semifinals 2021

On Episode 11 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland, it’s the most in-depth look you’ll find anywhere on the 14 conference teams still alive in the state playoffs

Mike Pavlichko is joined by Dom Savino for quick look back at the first round, then a team by team breakdown of every Big Central school’s sectional semifinal matchups, plus St. Thomas Aquinas’ opening round Non-Public B game against St. Joe’s of Hammonton.

Coaches and players are featured throughout, including a detailed breakdown of Friday night’s Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland, featuring second-seed Bernards and third-seed Haddonfield in the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals.

Phillipsburg’s only win against Clifton was a loss

When is a win a loss?

Apparently, when your quarterback is almost of legal drinking age.

Phillipsburg’s only meeting with Clifton prior to Friday night’s North 2, Group 5 semifinal game against the Mustangs came in 1934, a 39-0 home win at what – at that time – was a brand new Maloney Field (though an archived newspaper account says it was at Hillcrest Stadium – perhaps this was an old name for it at the time, as Maloney had opened in 1932).

The Stateliners entered the game on a 17-game winning streak, which reached 25 with the win over Clifton.

Article from the Passaic Herald-News from November 12, 1934, recapping Phillipsburg’s only meeting with Clifton, which later was forfeited for using an ineligible player. (Newspapers.com)

Runningback Paul Opdyke scored three touchdowns and a pair of extra points in the game, “and made himself generally useful otherwise,” according to a newspaper account in The Herald-News of Passaic from November 12, 1934.

The ‘Liners would win one more game – bringing the streak to 26 – before all hell broke loose: arch-rival Easton found out P’burg’s quarterback was too old to be playing.

According to a November 28 article in the Bergen Record – a day before their annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game with the Rovers – “Intense research work by officials of Easton High, Easton, Pa., arch-rival of Phillipsburg, brought to light the ineligibility of Quarterback John Dornich. The signal-caller was found to be past his twentieth birthday.”

The article goes on to say that Easton checked carefully the record of every Phillipsburg player that year. His age had been established through a “baptismal paper” in Passaic dated June 3, 1915. Easton officials were “not content with this,” according to the article, ad delved further into it, finding a record in “the Garfield register” stating it was June 3, 1914.

Article from the Bergen Record on November 28, 1934 (Newspapers.com)

Confronted, Dornich “admitted his true age,” after which the Phillipsburg principal notified all their opponents that year that the Stateliners would forfeit all of their games.

Another player reportedly had reached his 20th birthday in the middle of the season, a lineman, who immediately came off the team.

Phillipsburg was the favorite to be named Group 4 state champions that year (champions were named before the playoffs began in 1974) but ultimately did not take the crown. In their nine games leading up to the Easton affair, they had allowed just one score, a touchdown, in a 14-7 win over Asbury Park. That game, along with the other eight, were forfeited.

Phillipsburg still got the last laugh: They beat Easton on Thanksgiving 13-0 for their fourth straight victory against their friends from across the Delaware.

Not counting the seasons before 1905 where the first four campaigns only included one, two or three games in a “season,” it’s the only one-win season in school history.

But they beat Easton. And that’s all that has ever mattered.

So what happened to John Dornich?

John passed away on Febraury 24, 1993 at age 78. And yes, the math works out that he would have been born in 1914, and 20-years-old at the time of the age controversy.

He had run Dornich’s Tavern in Brainards, NJ – an outpost on the Delaware River a short ride North of Phillipsburg, for 56 years, according to his obituary in the Allentown Morning Call. His wife, Ethel, continued to run the place until 2004, when she retired.

The tavern has since closed, and is now a private home on Broad Street, right by the railroad tracks.

Just as you’d imagine any tavern that opened in the 1930s would be.

Phillipsburg sticks to the script in reaching sectional semis, looks to ride the tide right into the finals

There’s nothing special about the 2021 version of Phillipsburg football.

That’s not to say they don’t have special players, or can have a special season when all is said and done.

But as the third-seeded Stateliners (7-3) get set to visit No. 2 seed Clifton (8-2) Friday night in the North 2, Group 5 semifinals, don’t expect anything different from Phillipsburg than what they’ve ever given on the football field.

This is a ground-and-pound, run the ball football team. And just like more often than not, it’s lead to great success for the ‘Liners.

A hard-nosed offense and hard-nosed defense have led Phillipsburg to wins in five of its last six games on the field – the Somerville forfeit notwithstanding. And its losses have been to quality teams.

They started the year 0-2, but it wasn’t expected. After Piscataway cancelled its opening game with the ‘Liners after Ida’s remnants caused havoc in town, they quickly scheduled St. Joseph of Montvale, one of the top teams in the state, and lost 28-6. They then dropped a 21-14 overtime decision at Hillsborough, which is now undefeated at 10-0.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy:

Another split vote – but Hillsborough stays at the top of the heap – in the Big Central Media Poll

In the final Big Central Media Poll of the season before the playoffs wrap up, Hillsborough remains No. 1, but again split the six first place votes with Somerville and Union.

The Raiders capped a 9-0 season with a 41-0 win over North Brunswick at home last Friday night, and earned the top-seed in Central Group 5 in the process.

North Brunswick – on its third loss of the season – dropped out of the rankings, while Phillipsburg worked its way back in with a 13-0 win over Westfield.

Below are the Week 9 rankings:

Somerville closes regular season atop Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings

In the final Top Ten before the playoffs begin – and until the season is over – Somerville once again reigns supreme.

The Pioneers are Number One in the Week 9 Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings, with little change below them.

In fact, the only real change was Old Bridge bouncing out, although the Knights also received votes, along with St. Thomas Aquinas.

Below are the Week 9 rankings:

North Group 5 Week 9 Breakdown: Four teams in, one on the bubble, and is Union a top seed?

In the North Group 5 supersection, Central Jersey Sports Radio projects five Big Central teams already have qualified for the playoffs. Here’s a breakdown of their scenarios heading into the weekend:

Union: The Farmers are sitting at Number One overall in the section heading into Week Nine. They are almost assuredly going to get the overall Number One seed. While we never like to pick one team we cover over another, Union (7-1) travels to Flemington Friday night to play Hunterdon Central (1-7), and should the Farmers lose that game, it would be the upset of the year to date in the Big Central. Our guess – if you want to call it that – is Union wins, officially locking up the No. 1 seed. Should they get upset, and things break the wrong way, there’s a chance Union ends up third overall. Beating the Red Devils would make that a moot point.

Phillipsburg: The Stateliners (5-3) sit in 5th heading into their Week 9 home game against Westfield, no gimme by any stretch of the imagination. The Blue Devils (3-4) are solid defensively, the only team to hold Union this year to under 20 points. Even Millville – which beat the Farmers in Week Zero – allowed 28 to Union. Westfield lost to Union 14-3 on October 1 at Kehler Stadium. They appear to be in play for a top four seed, which would guarantee home field through the sectional finals, with a win over Westfield, and either a Ridgewood or East Orange loss. Should the Stateliners lose, they could drop out of the top eight, if both Bridgewater-Raritan and Montclair are winners this weekend.

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

Bridgewater-Raritan: The Panthers (5-4) currently sit in 8th. The top eight teams get at least a first-round home game. Win or lose at South Brunswick (4-4) Friday, on their own, they appear to stay there. But with a win, they jump up in UPR enough that it appears no one would be able to catch them from behind. If they lose to the Vikings, it appears Westfield would be the only team that could catch them, if the Blue Devils are able to beat Phillipsburg at Maloney Stadium.

Westfield: You’ve got the Blue Devils’ story now. (If not, see Bridgewater-Raritan and Phillipsburg above.) Should Westfield win at P’burg, and Bridgwater-Raritan lose to South Brunswick, that’s Westfield’s path to a top eight seed. Otherwise, it looks like they’ll begin the postseason away from home.

Elizabeth: It appears Elizabeth is in the playoffs, and will finish in one of the final two spots, but where they end up will depend on last-minute jockeying by the teams at the bottom of the pack. The Minutemen (3-5) are looking like they’re in the 13-15 range, depending on what the teams around them do this weekend.

Plainfield: The Cardinals (3-4) host 3-5 Perth Amboy at Hub Stine Field Saturday afternoon. If the Cardinals win, there’s a chance they could sneak into the playoffs, but they would need a lot of help. North Bergen, Bayonne, Livingston and Watchung Hills would all have to lose for Plainfield to qualify. Even if they beat the Panthers, if any one of those four win this weekend, Plainfield would be out. All play Friday night, so it would appear the Cardinals would know well before kickoff Saturday, whether they’re out of the race, or still have a fighting chance.

Undefeated Hillsborough holds top spot in Big Central Media Poll for second straight week

Though it split the six first-place votes in the Big Central Media Poll evenly with Union and Somerville, Hillsborough held on to the top spot in the Week 8 Big Central Media Poll.

The Raiders got 53 points in the poll, edging our the Pioneers and Farmers, who had 53 apiece, and tied for second. Cranford held in fourth.

After some movement in the middle of the poll, Ridge re-entered the rankings at No. 8 after a 27-6 win at Westfield Saturday, while Bridgewater-Raritan made it back in at No. 9 following a 31-14 road win over Elizabeth.

Previous No. 7 Old Bridge, which blew out JP Stevens on the road Friday night, dropped out, but also received votes. Similarly, previously No. 9 Phillipsburg fell out, but picked up the same number of votes as the Knights, after a 42-0 home win over Connecticut’s Capital Prep Harbor.

Below is the Week 8 poll: