Tag: Piscataway

All chalk, except for 8/9 game, in boys’ GMCT first-round; Elite 8 is set

Just like on the girls’ side Tuesday night, all the higher seeds on the boys’ side but one – in the 8 vs. 9 game – have moved on the the quarterfinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, to be played Sunday at Middlesex County College in Edison.

The only upset Wednesday night was a mild one: 9th-seed Piscataway knocking out 8th-seed Timothy Christian in an intra-township Red vs. Gold Division matchup, 81-50. The Chiefs now move on to play top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas, which cruised past 17th-seed Perth Amboy 94-47.

The other half of that bracket saw 5th-seed South Brunswick defeat 12-seed JP Stevens at home 57-47, sending the Vikings into an Elite 8 round matchup with fourth-seed Monroe, which beat 13-seed Old Bridge 64-54.

The other side of the bracket saw third-seeded Colonia beat 14-seed Sayreville 86-53, while 6th-seed Edison edged past 11-seed East Brunswick 57-52.

The other quarterfinal will feature 2nd-seed St. Joseph of Metuchen and 7-seed South Plainfield. The Falcons beat 15-seed Spotswood 104-49, while the Tigers got by 10-seed South River 77-68.

Below are Sunday’s quarterfinal matchups at Middlesex County College in Edison:

11 am – 3-Colonia vs. 6-Edison
1 pm – 2-St. Joseph-Metuchen vs. 7-South Plainfield
3 pm – 4-Monroe vs. 5-South Brunswick
5 pm – 1-St. Thomas Aquinas vs. 9-Piscataway

The 11 am game should be a good one to start the day. It’s an all-White Division battle between Colonia (18-3) and Edison (16-6), which has quietly put together a good season. The Patriots swept the season series, but the games were close. They won the first game on the road, 59-57 on December 21st, holding off a late rally from the Eagles, who were down 44-35 after three quarters. On January 20th, the Patriots won by eight, after trailing by five at the half.

St. Joseph (17-5) hasn’t played South Plainfield (19-4)in at least a decade. They did, however, face off in the GMC Tournament final in 2005, with the Tigers winning 66-65. Jeff Lubreski (now at Rahway) was the coach of the Tigers, while Mark Taylor (now at St. Benedict’s) was the coach at St. Joe’s. South hasn’t lost a GMC game since January 4th, but has lost three: to South Brunswick (by 14), Edison (by 26) and South River in their own Blue Division (by seven). The Falcons’ only losses have come to St. Thomas Aquinas (by 7) and Monroe, on the road, at the buzzer (by three).

Monroe (20-3) and South Brunswick (15-7) is also an interesting one, since the Vikings have won four of the last five meetings, and the teams split this year. The Falcons beat South Brunswick at home on January 22nd, 51-49, but lost to them on the road just nine days later, 45-43.

In the “nightcap” at 5 pm, it’s top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas (23-1) and 9th-seed Piscataway (11-9). Despite the Trojans’ only loss coming a couple of weeks ago to George (PA), they are still flying high, up to No. 3 in the statewide rankings after beating then No. 4 Gill St. Bernard’s in the Hearts 2 Hands Invitational at Roselle Catholic last weekend. The George loss was a wake up call, and a speed bump. Jaquan Harris – who took a test-drive of his surgically-repaired knee against Sayreville recently – missed the Gill game, and is expected back for the tournament. He didn’t play against the Panthers Thursday night, and may not need to against the Chiefs either. Head coach Bob Turco isn’t going to rush the Seton Hall commit back if he doesn’t have to. Terrell Pitts – perhaps the team’s best defenders – probably won’t be back until next week, but could even be out until the states. He was out for the Gill game, too, and Aquinas got along just fine.

Playoff update: Boys’ Basketball Public Sections

Continuing with a look at state playoff seeding projections, we’re taking a look at boys’ basketball public sections in Central and North 2. Remember that unlike most years when the first 16 games on a team’s schedule are counted, only the top 13 power point values are added this year. So, teams playing past their 16th game can still accumulate power points, but not full games’ worth. If a game makes the top 13, the lowest score is dropped, and all that is gained is the difference between the lowest of the 13, and the new score.

(Example: a team’s lowest among it’s top 13 scores is a 15. If it wins a game worth 20 points, the 15 is dropped, and the 20 added, for a net gain of 5.)

The analysis below is based on official NJSIAA calculations as available on NJ.com as of 9 am Tuesday:

Central Jersey Group 4: The top team here is Marlboro (17-2) with 454 points, and Monroe (18-3) is behind in second them at 413. They’re unlikely to get the top seed, but also unlikely to get caught from behind by Jackson Memorial (12-5, 361, 3rd) and definitely not by South Brunswick (12-6, 329, 4th). Both teams could gain since their 13th power point value is a loss, but not enough to overtake the Falcons. Next up from the CJSR area is No. 10 Montgomery (10-8, 244), then East Brunswick (8-8, 242) at 12. Both could move in a tight pack either up or down. Speaking of which, teams 15 through 17 are all from the GMC, and could be make or break this week. Old Bridge is 15th at 7-12 with 208 points, followed by Sayreville (8-10, 184) and North Brunswick (7-14, 176). It’s probably the Bombers and Raiders battling it out for that last playoff spot. North Brunswick has Edison Wednesday, and Sayreville is at St. Thomas Aquinas Tuesday and hosts Colts Neck Friday. Either team could add games before Saturday’s cutoff to get in. This could get interesting.

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 4: You’ve got Watchung Hills (14-3, 361) in the catbird’s seat here, led by Elijah Lewis, who just committed to Adelphi this week. Westfield is 16 points behind, and it may be tough for them to catch up with 13 wins already. How about Franklin (11-6, 341) making a push, though? The Warriors have room for two more wins here, and might be able to make up the 20 point disparity, so look out; they currently sit in third. Ridge is right behind them wrapping up the top four at 13-5 with 326 points, but with 13 wins, they’re less likely to make a move than Franklin. Toward the middle of the pack, JP Stevens (9-7, 275) is tied with Elizabeth (8-5, 275) for 7th, but both have room for improvement this week. Edison (12-6, 260) is right behind, but already has 12 wins, so it’s doubtful the Eagles can crack the top eight. Bridgewater-Raritan (8-11, 250) is 12th, followed by resurgent Piscataway (8-7, 246), which has won four in a row and six of its last eight after a rough 2-5 start.

Central Jersey Group 3: The only area team in contention here is Somerville (5-12, 161 points) in the bottom half of the pack in 12th place, solidly in that bottom half, but solidly in the field of 16. Manasquan is the current top team at 13-4, followed by 14-4 Robbinsville.

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 3: Here’s some intrigue: South Plainfield out of the GMC Blue is in first at 17-3, with 351 power points, while Colonia from the GMC White at 14-3 with 332 points is in second. It’ll be tough for the Patriots to make up that ground having 14 wins already; getting one of the pair against St. Thomas Aquinas sure would have helped. They’re the only area teams in contention in this section.

Central Jersey Group 2: With 13 wins already, a loss to Immaculata may not have hurt Bound Brook all that much, but it didn’t help either. The Crusaders (13-1, 357) have a slim shot at No. 1 Rumson-Fair Haven (13-2), which is only ahead by six points, with 363. For example, their lowest value is a 15, a win over North Plainfield. A win over Hunterdon Central (which has 7 wins) Tuesday would be worth 6 quality points, 4 group points, and 15 residual points, for a total of 25. Drop the 15, add 25 and the net gain is 10. They’d jump ahead of the Bulldogs, but now it depends what they do. Bottom line: the Crusaders are still in play in the critical final week for a top seed. South River (13-4, 312) checks in 5th here, with Middlesex (9-10) at ten, and Roselle (11-15, 251) and Spotswood (13-5, 248) not far behind them. Metuchen (7-10, 165) appears to be sitting comfortably in 16; don’t expect anyone behind the Bulldogs to challenge them.

Central Jersey Group 1: It looks like Perth Amboy Tech (11-4, 214) is a lock for the four- or five-seed. They currently sit in fifth, and the only real difference as a potential extra home game if things go to chalk. Further down the standings, Highland Park (4-12, 141) checks in at 12, followed immediately by Manville (7-9, 135, 13th) and South Amboy (5-9, 122, 14th). Somerset Tech (3-15, 105) is 14th. Burlington City is the top team here at 12-4

Aquinas on the verge of tying the modern era Middlesex County shutout record

Forty-eight more minutes.

If the St. Thomas Aquinas football team can blank Governor Livingston over that time period, they will tie a modern era Middlesex County record of seven shutouts in a season, which a number of teams have done.

Shutouts are not easy to come by. Ask any football coach.

One false move, and the second-string runningback is off to the races. It takes focus, skill, and sometimes luck.

All that has been on St. Thomas Aquinas’ side this season.

They are 6-0 on the season, and have won their first six games by shutout.

A win over the Highlanders would give them seven, a mark last reached by Piscataway in 2004. That team went 12-0 and won the Central Jersey Group 4 title, led by future NFL first round draft picks Kyle Wilson, Malcolm Jenkins and Anthony Davis.

When the Cheifs did it, it had been even longer since the last time.

According to an exhaustive search of team records in the Dr. Roger Saylor Collection at Penn State University Libraries – which has every New Jersey football team’s results up until 2010 – the last Middlesex County team to reach seven shutouts in a season before the 2004 Chiefs was South River in 1978.

The Rams turned the trick en route to a state title and an 11-0 season, while JP Stevens did the same in their state title season the year prior, going 10-0-1 in 1977.

Those three schools – maybe to soon be joined by Aquinas – are the only ones from Middlesex County to shutout seven teams in a season in the playoff era.

Seven other Middlesex County teams collected seven shutouts in a season:

  • New Brunswick, during a 7-1-1 season in 1964
  • Highland Park, during an 8-1 season in 1960
  • Highland Park, during an 8-0-1 season in 1958
  • New Brunswick, during an 8-1-0 season in 1943
  • Carteret, during an 8-0-1 season in 1940
  • St. Peter’s-New Brunswick, during a 7-1-1 season in 1939
  • Carteret, during a 9-1 season in 1934

Notable about the two Highland Park seven-shutout seasons is that they came during an unprecedented and still-unmatched stretch of nine years in which the Owls went a combined 71-7-3, with a total of 43 shutouts from 1957 to 1965. A whopping three out of every five wins was a shutout over that span, and they they won 7 state titles, in 1958 and then six straight from 1960-65.

And yet, seven is not the all-time Middlesex County record.

The 1936 New Brunswick team went 7-2-1 officially, but had eight shutouts that year, according to the Saylor records (the tie was 0-0 against Columbia in Maplewood). Those included a 34-0 win over Mexico City, Mexico. There’s also a 14-0 win over Edison High out of Miami with an unknown “B” designation next to it. According to newspaper reports at the time, it was a big to-do. It was the first-ever game between high schools from New Jersey and Florida; the “Edison Eleven” came to New Jersey on a liner ship from Miami. They were greeted in New Brunswick, shown around Rutgers, and toured New York City with the New Brunswick team, all on the dime of the publisher of the Daily Home News, Elmer Boyd.

And that still isn’t the record.

Sitting at the top of the list is St. Peter’s. The now-closed Catholic school in New Brunswick holds the all-time Middlesex County record of nine shutouts in a season, going 10-0 in 1938. However, three of the schools were from out-of-state, including St. Jerome’s of Tamaqua and Mauch Chunk Catholic in Pennsylvania, a powerhouse that only began football in 1935 and was known as “the little Notre Damers,” winning 21 games in their first three seasons. St. Peter’s also played St. Agnes of Sparkskill and St. Catherine’s in New York. In fact, only one public school was on the schedule that year; they blanked Harrison 6-0.

We’ll find out if St. Thomas Aquinas can join such elite company late Friday night.

A look at some of the best defensive seasons in Middlesex County over the last two decades

St. Thomas Aquinas is on an unprecedented shutout streak, still not having allowed a point all season through six games, following a 41-0 win at Middlesex Thursday night.

That’s 26 full quarters of football without anyone scoring on the Trojans.

Colonia quarterback Josh Oluremi was the last person to score on Aquinas, coming in the second quarter of a 16-14 Trojans win in the second round of last year’s postseason pod play.

It’s the most shutouts a Middlesex County school has pitched since Piscataway’s dominant 2004 season, one of the program’s – and the area’s – best ever. That year, Dan Higgins’ second as head coach of the Chiefs, led them to their third straight state championship, and a 12-0 record, logging seven shutouts along the way.

They blanked JP Stevens, South Brunswick, Edison, North Brunswick, Union, Linden and Franklin (on Thanksgiving) by a combined 274-0. Perhaps what was most impressive is that the whitewashes against Union and Linden came in the first and second rounds of the playoffs.

No, that’s not even it. The most impressive part of that team was that if featured three – yes, three! – future NFL first round draft picks: Anthony Davis, Kyle Wilson and Malcolm Jenkins.

The Chiefs in 2012 allowed ten or more points just three times, including 26 in an epic overtime win over Phillipsburg in the North 2, Group 4 title game. Piscataway won 27-26 when they stopped a Stateliners’ two-point conversion to win the game on their possession.

They outscored opponents that year by a combined total of 405-66.

In fact, Piscataway has had the most seasons with the most shutouts in recent times under Dan Higgins. To wit, they logged six in 2008 when they went 11-1 and beat Hunterdon Central for the North 2, Group 4 title.

And they logged five 2018, when they won the first-ever North 5 regional championship and became the first Middlesex County team to win 13 games in a season, going 13-0.

They also shutout five opponents each in 2014 and 2011. The only one of those years they did not win a title was 2014, falling in the North 2 Group 5 semis 16-6 to Elizabeth,

Among other Middlesex County schools, Sayreville shut out five in 2003 when they went 10-1, but lost in the sectional semifinals to Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

Dunellen had a dominant defense in 2010, though its ball-control offense was its best defense, known to sometimes hold the ball nearly an entire quarter. They had five shutouts that year – over Cardinal McCarrick, Keansburg, Mater Dei, South River and New Egypt. The Destroyers lost to Shore in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game at Rutgers that year.

And New Brunswick, in its heyday under John Quinn, logged five shutouts once, but in 2004, a year they didn’t win a title. The 2003 championship team with Dwayne Jarrett blanked four opponents.

Most Shutouts in a Season since 2000 by Middlesex County schools:

  • Piscataway, 2004 – 7
  • Piscataway, 2008 – 6
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, 2021 – 6 (all consecutive)
  • Piscataway, 2018 – 5
  • Piscataway, 2014 – 5
  • Piscataway, 2011 – 5
  • Dunellen, 2010 – 5
  • New Brunswick, 2004 – 5
  • Sayreville, 2003 – 5

St. Thomas Aquinas will have a chance to tie that mark by Piscataway next week when the Trojans host Governor Livingston, which has been shutout itself in two straight games heading into Saturday’s home contest against North Plainfield.

Should they pick up their seventh then, they’ll face a stiff challenge to make it eight in a row, as they face currently-undefeated and 10th-ranked Delaware Valley on the road in their regular season finale.

Week 6 North 5 Playoff Analysis: Union holds one of the top seeds… for now

A look at the Week 6 UPR standings has Union currently occupying one of the top two positions, meaning if they season ended today, they would get the top seed in either the North 1 or North 2 section.

But it remains to be seen if they’ll hold on to it, and it may be out of their control.

While the Farmers sit second overall in the supersection, the teams right above and below them – East Orange and Clifton, respectively – both have yet to play multipliers, while Union has already played theirs, St. Joseph.

Should all three teams win out – factoring in no other games – Union could very well end up with the overall number one seed. But there could be a scenario where they fall to third, depending on what other teams do.

Right now East Orange – which plays at Pope John Saturday – is ranked first in power points. Union is ranked second. Clifton is fifth, with Delbarton at home next weekend. Wins against those multipliers would give those teams 42 power points, a huge boost to their current power point averages (19.4 for East Orange, 16.83 for Clifton).

The fourth and fifth teams in the power point standings – Passaic Tech and West Orange – also have already played their multipliers.

The point is: there are still three more weeks to play, and nothing is set in stone necessarily, even if Union keeps winning.

The rest…

Bridgewater-Raritan currently sits in 7th in the UPR standings, good enough for at least a first-round home game. But with a UPR of 8.2, they have Union City and Westfield right behind them, both at 8.8. Any jump in OSI rank sheds 0.6 UPR points, and could catch Bridgewater.

But here’s the real “catch.” Westfield is ahead of the Panthers by three places in power point rank, behind them by three in OSI rank. But the Blue Devils don’t have to catch them in OSI to get closer. Bridgewater is 5th, Westfield is 8th, but they only have to pass the 7th team to move up, and that’s only from 48.72 to 49.80, which isn’t much.

Likewise, even though Westfield (13.4 avg.) is ahead of Bridgewater in power points already, ranking 10th while B-R is 13th, they just have to pass the 9th place team (Ridgewood, 13.6) and 8th place team (Phillipsburg, 14) to shed 0.8 UPR points and move ahead of Bridgewater.

Confusing? You betcha.

Phillipsburg sits in 12th place currently, and even though there’s three weeks to play, they probably have four games to count, including a forfeit win against Somerville. But they have a tough way, with a road game at Ridge Friday, a home game against out-of-state Capitol Harbor Prep in Connecticut next weekend, and Westfield at home for their finale.

While Gridiron New Jersey has Plainfield at 2-3 in 17th, just 0.2 UPR points out of a playoff spot, we have them 18th. The reason is Morristown, which is in 21st place.

Why would they affect it?

Well, the Colonials are ranked 21 in OSI, in my book. I used the updated Week 5 SI for out of state teams published by Gridiron. For some reason, they haven’t used those yet. They’ll get updated again at the end of the season, so it still may change, but right now I have Morristown 21; Gridiron has them 18. That affects everyone else’s rank, too.

We’re going with what we’ve got for now.

Finally, does Piscataway have a shot? The Chiefs are 0-5. From the way they’ve been playing, probably not. If they could reel off three wins, it’s possible, especially since they have Edison, Sayreville and Hillsborough on the schedule. But the likelihood of a 3-0 finish for a program that’s had a year away from the field and weight room isn’t good.

St. Joseph ends three-game skid with 31-7 victory at Piscataway

The Falcons have hung tough in three games this year, but have been unable to get over the hump.

Friday night, they learned how to finish.

St. Joseph of Metuchen has a young and inexperienced team, heavy in the sophomore class, but their experience of the first three games of their season – to Union, at Westfield and to Edison – paid off, as they beat Piscataway (0-3) Friday night 31-7 at Dominic Ciardi Stadium.

Now 1-3, the Falcons ended a skid that was their first over oh-for-their-first three in program history, while handing the Chiefs a historic setback; it’s their first 0-3 start since 1989 when they went 1-8, their lone win coming on Thanksgiving in their finale against South Plainfield.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with victorious head coach Rich Hilliard:

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 2: The Sitkowskis

Week Zero is in the books, and the bulk of the Big Central opens up this weekend on Week One, unless Ida’s aftermath has anything to say about it.

Either way, it’s time for Episode 2 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

This Week on TWiBC, Mike Pavlichko talks to former Rutgers and Old Bridge quarterback Art Sitkowski, who came off the bench to rally Illinois to a season-opening win over Nebraska.

Then, he’s joined by NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire to talk about her first year at the helm as we head into 2021-22.

Finally, it’s a look at the official NJSIAA football classifications, released Wednesday, and a peek ahead at the weekend’s games.

Rocco Bellamy brings rare 2020 football experience to Chiefs

When the Piscataway School District cancelled its fall sports season in 2020 – along with Carteret, one of just two Big Central Conference districts to do so – Rocco Bellamy still wanted to play football.

So, he transferred to St. Joseph-Metuchen for the fall of his junior year.

But once a Chief, always a Chief, and now he’s “Back in Black,” as this year’s Piscataway football t-shirts say on the back.

And he’s loving every minute of it.

Bellamy, a senior runningback, will be one of the most experienced players this season for Dan Higgins’ squad when Piscataway takes on Phillipsburg Friday night in the season opener for both schools, on the “Big Central Game of the Week” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

Pregame starts at 5:45 pm with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling all the action. Click here to listen to all the live play-by-play on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Rocco Bellamy about the upcoming Piscataway football season:

No. 6 Phillipsburg confident heading into opener despite losing several key parts

It’s a refrain you hear every single year from almost every single high school football coach, unless that coach happens to be in the lucky position of having every single one of his starters back (think Ridge, 2013).

Team X loses a bunch of players to graduation and will have to find new blood to replace all the production from Players A, B and sometimes C.

Phillipsburg is in that boat, too, like just about everyone else in the Big Central Conference – to varying degrees – but head coach Frank Duffy is confident.

Gone are quarterback Matt Garatty (1,050 passing yards, 214 TD, 2 INT), runningback Matt Quetel (749 rushing yds, 12 TD, plus three more and 138 more yards receiving), and the Stateliners’ top four receivers: Jalil Terrel (352 yds, 6 TD), Declan Marron (212 yds, 1 TD), Quetel and Michael Wambold (171 yds, 1 TD).

The names may change, but in Phillipsburg, the stats – they hope – will largely remain the same.

And their strong suit will be running the football. “We want to make sure we control the clock,” Duffy says

Young runningbacks Xavier Moore (junior) and Caleb Rivera (sophomore) will figure primarily into that plan, while Duffy says QB Tristen Canzano can run the ball, too.

P’burg willl put all that to the test Friday night at 6 pm in the “Big Central Game of the Week” driven by Mark Montanero and his team at the world-famous Autoland, when the Stateliners travel to Piscataway for the 2021 season opener for both teams.

You can hear the game live on Central Jersey Sports Radio by clicking here, with pregame set for approximately 5:45 pm.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Phillipsburg head coach Frank Duffy about his team, and the season opener against Piscataway:

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 1: The Introductions

With the season opener just over 24 hours away, it’s time for the debut of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

Every week, TWiBC – as we’re affectionately calling it for short – will be hosted by Mike Pavlichko with contributions by Dom Savino and our team of reporters.

On this week’s show, Mike and Dom welcome you to the 2021 season, complete with a full slate, no fan restrictions, and playoffs.

We check in on some of the top teams like including Piscataway, North Brunswick, Union, Somerville, New Providence, and South Brunswick, and players such as Jai Patel, Davison Igbinosun, Jaimen Bryant, Mike Miller, Frankie Garbolino and Charlie Barth, plus coaches Dan Higgins and Mike Cipot.

Then, it’s Central Jersey Sports Radio’s preseason Top Ten, as well as the media poll, and a look at some of the Week 0 games coming up, with ten of the Big Central’s 60 teams getting an early jump on their season.