Tag: Piscataway

Cutoff Weekend Playoff Analysis: North Group 5

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

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

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

With that, here’s a look at the North Group 5 supersection, with all scores and playoff standings based on Gridiron New Jersey’s official calculations as of Sunday, October 15, 2023. Click on the heading to see the standings at Gridiron New Jersey:


2. Phillipsburg (6-1, 2.4 UPR): This is an easy one; the Stateliners should finish either second or third. We think win this Friday at Maloney against East Brunswick (0-8) will clinch second, regardless what anyone else does. And that’s our projection. If they don’t beat the Bears – besides it being an upset of monumental proportions – they would need a loss by Union City (3rd, 6-1, 2.6 UPR) to hold on to second place, and a top-seed in what should be North 2, with Passaic Tech (1st, 8-0, 1 UPR) locked into the top spot thanks in large part to their 21.13 power point average, which is astounding since they are not artificially inflated by a multiplier.

4. Watchung Hills (6-2, 4 UPR): Should Watchung Hills beat Elizabeth (1-7), we think the Warriors end up fourth, assuming that Phillipsburg beats East Brunswick, and that the rest of the top five all win as well. It doesn’t appear they have a shot at a three seed.That would include Union City beating (3-5), Plainfield beating Franklin (2-6), both very likely scenarios. A loss by the Warriors could move them as far down as seventh, but that would assume wins by Ridgewood and Union, who won’t be favored in their matchups with Ramapo (7-0) and Ridge (6-1), respectively. In that case, they still hold on to a four-seed.

5. Plainfield (5-2, 6.2 UPR): The Cardinals are having a fantastic season, and can really close it out strong with a win over Franklin (2-6) on Saturday at Hub Stine Field. We think Plainfield has a range of anywhere from 5-11 in the overall standings, if everything broke the wrong way, but again, that would assume some major upsets. We’re going to say the most likely scenario is the Cards beat Franklin, Watchung Hills wins, Union and Ridgewood loses. In that scenario, we peg Plainfield in fifth with a loss by Montclair (5-3) to Columbia (4-3), and sixth if the Mounties win. Either spot gets them a three-seed, and avoids the top-seed until the sectional finals. The only difference is which section they’ll be in. With snaking of brakcets, a six puts them in with likely top-seed Phillipsburg, a five puts them with Passaic Tech.

6. Union (4-4, 6.6 UPR): We think the Farmers’ most likely range is a 5-7 finish, which could mean a world of difference in the seeding. A win should put them fifth based on what we think everyone else near the top of that section will do. A loss, and they should end up sixth or seventh factoring in our other projections of Saturday’s results. A sixth-place finish puts them in the same bracket as Phillipsburg, but avoiding them until a potential sectional final. Ending up in seventh makes them a four-seed in the other section with Passaic Tech, and could lead to a meeting with them in the semifinals instead.

13. Westfield (3-4, 12.8 UPR): The Blue Devils won’t be favored in their road game at Hillsborough (7-1) Friday night, but a win could vault them all the way into the top eight, not pending any other results. If Morristown, Clifton, Columbia and West Orange all win, that ceiling drops to tenth. A loss by Westfield along with wins by teams below them could knock them as low as 16, but a lot would have to break wrong. We don’t think they could get bounced from the playoffs, so we’ll call them in, and we think likely a 13th or 14th place finish.

16. Bridgewater-Raritan (2-6, 15.6 UPR): The Panthers became “playoff eligible” – the minimum requirement being two wins – last week, with a 23-19 win over Elizabeth. That got them into the top 16 and on the right side of the bubble. Now, they have a chance – win a win at 3-5 Old Bridge, to finish as high as 14th at 3-6 on the season. That’s if Westfield and a bunch of bottom-tier teams in the top 16 also lose, like Eastside (Paterson), Morristown and Hackensack. With a lot of variables here, we’re going to split the difference, and think the Panthers will end up at 15, with an opening round road game at Phillipsburg. That would be intriguing, as the Panthers were close with the ‘Liners into the third quarter less than two weeks ago at Basilone field before P’burg pulled away in the end. But this one would be at Maloney.

Elizabeth (1-7, 20.6 UPR): The Minutemen might actually have a chance here, but they would need some help. A win against 6-2 Watchung Hills Friday would get them close enough that they might be able to get in over Bridgewater-Raritan, if the Panthers lose at Old Bridge Friday night. We don’t think any other losses would necessarily benefit Elizabeth, and since Bridgewater beat them, they own the head-to-head. That means if Elizabeth somehow ends up 16, and the Panthers 17, Bridgewater-Raritan would get in on the head-to-head rule.

OUT: Looking at all different kind of scenarios, we don’t think the Piscataway a chance to crack the top 16 after falling to Sayreville at home last week.

INSTANT REPLAY: No. 9 Sayreville 24, Piscataway 16

Ninth-ranked Sayreville got three touchdowns from senior Zaimer Wright – and a goal line stand on defense – to win 24-16 at Piscataway in a Big Central Conference crossover game on Friday, October 13, 2023.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Dylan Allen call all the play-by-play live from Kenny Armwood Stadium in Piscataway:

1st Half
2nd Half

Week 7 Friday night Playoff Analysis: Group 5

Note: This article contains an update to the North 5 standings and analysis due to a technical glitch on our part which didn’t include quality or group points for any of the teams. The below reflects the updated standings.

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

Here’s a look at unofficial standings after games of Friday, October 13th in Group 5. Results are calculated using scores on Gridiron New Jersey as of 9:30 am on October 14th:

A quick look shows the Stateliners held steady with their win over Union, though their lead over third-place Union City has shrunk from 0.8 UPR points to 0.2 points. The question is: can they hang on with a win over winless East Brunswick next week, or will it hurt them? And will they get some help from Union City or others behind them? The Soaring Eagles play at 3-5 Clifton next week.

Watchung Hills holds in fourth, their UPR from from 3.4 to 4, while Union drops from fifth to seventh with their loss last night to the Stateliners, and Plainfield holds in sixth with a 6.2 UPR. Bottom line is all those teams should be pretty safe for first round home games if they close with wins next week.

Westfield dropped to 11th place; the Blue Devils host Ridge Saturday afternoon.

As expected, Bridgewater-Raritan went from the wrong side of the playoff bubble to the good side – 17th to 16th – with a huge home win over Elizabeth Friday night. The Minutemen dropped to 20 and should be out; they’ll guarantee that if they lose next week, having only one win, where the NJSIAA minimum is two.

Piscataway dropped to 18th place with its loss to Sayreville at home Friday night. The Chiefs visit New Brunswick next week, and even a win may not help them; the Zebras are winless, and without any other results entered, a win there would drop them from 18th to 21. It doesn’t look good for the Chiefs.

Hillsborough’s win last night, coupled with a Marlboro loss, puts the Raiders up a spot into third, while North Brunswick – which defeated winless East Brunswick Friday night – drops from No. 5 to sixth place. They will try and recoup those points when they play a solid Cranford team at home next Friday night.

Hunterdon Central holds in ninth as the Red Devils snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Franklin, while South Brunswick’s win over Edison gave them a big boost, moving the Vikings from 12th into eighth place.

Old Bridge’s win at New Brunswick didn’t move the needle, as expected, keeping the Knights in 18th place. Franklin and Edison would have a lot of ground to make up. The Warriors are in 21st place, with Edison behind them at No. 22.

Then again, there are three teams in front of them who may not qualify for the playoffs. Williamstown (17th, 0-8) definitely won’t, since they have one game remaining and won’t meet the two-win threshold by the NJSIAA for playoff qualification. That might also be the case for Vineland (19th, 1-5) and Eastern (20th, 1-6), except they both still have two games left: one today, one next week. But even if they don’t, they still play into the UPR formula, so Franklin is 6.2 UPR points out of a playoff spot; Edison is 6.6 points out. That’s a lot of ground to make up. The one caveat here is that Edison plays St. Thomas Aquinas next Friday night and will be guaranteed at least 24 power points if they lose (way more if they win). That would up them from a 7.63 power point average to 9.45, a jump of five spaces (as of today) in power point rank, shedding 2 points off their UPR number.

Bottom line: Old Bridge has a chance, Edison may be a longshot. Vineland and Eastern are the games to watch today. Franklin should be out.

Wright’s 3 TDs lead No. 10 Sayreville, Bombers hold off Chiefs at the goal line for 24-16 win

Sayreville senior runningback Zaimer Wright carried the ball 28 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Exactly the way head coach Don Sofilkanich would have drawn it up.

Except the first quarter went anything but the way he would have drawn it up.

Quarterback Nick Nunez threw interceptions to end the 10th-ranked Bombers’ first two possessions at rival Piscataway Friday night – in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, and as they were about to get the ball back for a third time, Zaimer Wright fumbled a punt, giving the Chiefs the ball back at the eight yard line.

Yet, after all three turnovers, the Chiefs only led 3-0. They missed a field goal their first time with the ball, punted on the second, and finally converted a 26-yard field goal via the foot of Vincent Novak.

But Sayreville got a 33-yard TD run from Wright with 5:07 to go in the half, and added an Aaron Losada 24 yard field goal with three seconds left to go into the locker room with a 10-3 lead.

The defense bailed out the Bombers in the first half, limiting Piscataway to fewer than ten yards of offense through the first 24 minutes of play, and no first downs.

In the second half, the Chief offense started to wake up. They got a 31-yard touchdown catch from Jahai Johnson to knot the game at ten with the extra point. Wright put the Bombers ahead 17-10 with a two-yard touchdown run, but again Piscataway got what looked to be the equalizer, on a 20-yard pass play to DeShaun Stephens. But on a bad snap, the Chiefs missed the PAT, and trailed by one with exactly four minutes to go.

That’s when Wright scored for the third time on the night, from 66-yards out, capping a five-play, 80-yard drive, to go up by eight.

And it still wasn’t over. The Chiefs marched down the field, spiking the ball on first downs since they were out of time outs. They got a pass interference call on a toss into the end zone – yes, it was on Wright, but it may have saved the game – and were given the ball at the 14, but after a first down play went for a loss of four, an incomplete pass into the end zone as time expired ended the game.

The loss is a hit to the playoff chances of Piscataway (4-4), which was in 15th place in the North Group 5 supersection coming into the night. Sayreville – 12th in South Group 4 – may move up with the win, now 6-2 on the season, with a chance to move up even further if they can win their regular season finale at home against Woodbridge next week.

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

No. 10 Sayreville travels to rival Piscataway with playoff implications on the line

They’re heating up at the right time, but all bets are off in longtime rivalries.

While five of the last six meetings between Sayreville and Piscataway have gone to the Chiefs, they’ve split the last two seasons, with the Bombers winning 34-6 two years ago, and P’way taking a 14-8 decision last year; each was won on their opponents’ home turf.

All bets are off.

Yet, tenth-ranked Sayreville is on a two-game win streak and has outscored its opponents 76-15 in that span, beating Franklin 35-6 a week ago and East Brunswick 41-9 a couple of weeks ago.

This Sayreville team is 5-2 on the year and 3-1 in Big Central play. Their two losses have to come Phillipsburg and North Brunswick who have a combined record of 11-1. Phillipsburg won 42-7, but this isn’t the same Bombers team we saw back in early September. Sayreville lost to North Brunswick, who’s 6-0, 21-20 in the Rumble on the Raritan Showcase at Rutgers University.

A win against Piscataway would be a huge statement win for Don Sofilkanich in his first year as head coach and would put Sayreville in a great spot in the standings with the playoffs looming. They currently sit 12th in North Group 4, and a win could help lock off a playoff spot, which isn’t assured yet for the Bombers.

But if they play their cards right, it could be by the time Friday night is over.

The 37th meeting between the Bombers and Piscataway takes place Friday night at Kenny Armwood Stadium, at 6 pm, and you can hear it on the Big Central Game of the Week on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Mike Pavlichko and Dylan Allen will call all the action, with postgame and highlights during the game from Marcus Borden on Twitter. Pregame starts at 5:45. Click here to listen to the live broadcast.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dylan Allen catch up with Sayreville head coach Don Sofilkanich about the big rivalry game:

Playoff chase continues for Piscataway with matchup against longtime rival Sayreville

The first meeting was in 1966, won by Piscataway. Their last meeting was last year, also won by Piscataway.

But in between there have been some instant classics between the Chiefs and Sayreville – including two overtime wins – in a series that has been almost as even as you can get over the years: 19-18, Piscataway leads.

The 37th meeting between the schools (the Chiefs got a forfeit win in 2014) takes place Friday night at Kenny Armwood Stadium, at 6 pm, and you can hear it on the Big Central Game of the Week on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Mike Pavlichko and Dylan Allen will call all the action, with postgame and highlights during the game from Marcus Borden on Twitter. Pregame starts at 5:45. Click here to listen to the live broadcast.

The Chiefs are in a situation where they may need to win out their final two games to get in the playoffs. Currently in 15th place, after the 10th-ranked Bombers Friday night, they visit Memorial Stadium to take on winless New Brunswick. So a win Friday is paramount due to P’way’s precarious bubble situation.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Piscataway head coach Dan Higgins about the matchup:

Week 7 Playoff Analysis: Group 5

With just two weeks of play left before the state playoffs are seeded, things are heating up in the playoff chase. Here’s our look at the Big Central Conference teams in playoff contention in Group 5 as we head into Week 7 of high school football around the state.

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

All our analysis is based on Gridiron New Jersey’s official playoff calculations performed for the NJSIAA and listed on their website as of 9:30 am on October 10. For full standings, click on each supersection’s header below:


2. Phillipsburg (5-1, 2.4 UPR): The Stateliners remain in the second spot this week, but their lead has slimmed a bit over the third place team, which now is Union City, just 0.8 UPR points behind. Watchung Hills is just one point back. A win at Union this weekend would help bolster their cause, but it remains to be seen if a win over East Brunswick at home on Cutoff Weekend would hurt them. The Bears – at the moment – are the second winless team on P’burg’s schedule, which otherwise has three ranked teams – Sayreville, Ridge, Hillsborough – and two others (Hunterdon Central and Union) that had been ranked in the past couple of weeks.

4. Watchung Hills (6-1, 3.4 UPR): The Warriors rebounded off their first loss of the season to Montgomery with a road win against a very good Plainfield team. Things get no easier the next two weeks, with St. Joseph-Metuchen at home, then a road game at Elizabeth – which just stunned Elizabeth for its first win – on Cutoff Weekend. There’s a slim chance that if the Warriors could win out, they could get a top two finish and a top seed, but a lot of scenarios would have to break right. We’ll have a much better idea after this weekend.

5. Union (4-3, 5.8 UPR): The Farmers held steady this week in fifth, despite the loss to previously-winless Elizabeth, but they fell one spot in OSI standing and dropped in their UPR by 0.6 points. If things go right, they could end up with a top four finish, but they would also have to pull off two huge upsets, topping No. 4 Phillipsburg at home then No. 2 Ridge on the road in successive weeks.

6. Plainfield (4-2, 6.2 UPR): The Cardinals are a good example of what playing a strong schedule does. Despite their loss to Watchung Hills last Saturday, they gained 0.4 UPR points and moved from seventh place to sixth in the standings. Two teams (5-2 Montclair and 3-4 Clifton) are right behind them, within one UPR point, so there could be some movement there, but it looks like the Cardinals won’t finish in the top four, which only guarantees them a first-round home game.

10. Westfield (3-3, 11.4 UPR): The Blue Devils had a big win over Somerville Saturday, and climbed up five points in the standings in the process. We called them a bubble team last week, but no more. And with two challenging games remaining, we’re not even sure going 0-2 the rest of the way – with a loss to Ridge at home this week and Hillsborough on the road next week – can keep them from the postseason. We’re calling Westfield in, clinching a berth with their win against the Pioneers.

15. Piscataway (4-3, 15.2): Another example of how your schedule affects your standing, PIscataway dropped in UPR to 15.2 (by 0.2 points) and fell a spot from 14 to 15 this week with a victory over winless East Brunswick. The last two weeks, the news is a mixed bag. The Chiefs host a huge game this weekend with old GMC rival Sayreville (Friday night at 6 on CJSR – click here to listen) that they very well may need to make the playoffs, because their season finale against currently winless New Brunswick isn’t going to help them either. That would make it two winless teams and two two-win teams (Franklin and Monroe) killing their schedule. So it makes this Friday night uber-important.

17. Bridgewater-Raritan (1-6, 16.6 UPR): The Panthers are a win shy of the minimum wins required by the NJSIAA (2) to make the playoffs, but if they get one at this point, it will give them a huge jump against the six losses they have, even if it does come against one-win Elizabeth and/or two-win Old Bridge. They might need to win both, they might need to win just one, depending on what the teams around them do. We’ll have a better idea after next week.


4. Hillsborough (6-1, 3.8 UPR): Thanks to No. 1 Cherokee and No. 2 Toms River North continuing to win – and even Marlboro, which has won its first division title since 1994 – it doesn’t look like the Raiders have a shot at a top four seed. The likely scenario is they finish fourth – giving them a two seed in whatever section they land – assuming they can close out the season with two wins over Somerville and Westfield. And both of them are at home.

5. North Brunswick (6-0, 5.2 UPR): Ah, the schedule. A road trip to winless East Brunswick this weekend may not hurt their cause much, but won’t help them either. The Raiders already dropped a spot from fifth last week to sixth this week, but with a win over the Bears – and another next week at home to Cranford – North Brunswick may be able to keep from dropping further, depending what everyone else does. As long as the Raiders don’t lose to East Brunswick, we’ll assume they start the playoffs at Steve Libro Field.

9. Hunterdon Central (4-3, 10 UPR): Here’s the benefit of a good schedule: despite a third straight loss, the Red Devils didn’t drop this week in the standings, though their UPR did go from a 9.6 to a 10, showing a fall of one ranking spot in power points. They are 0.8 UPR points behind eighth-place Atlantic City (6-1, 9.2 UPR). Can they finish in the top eight and get a first round home game? It might be doubtful, considering they visit Franklin this week and host Perth Amboy the next, a significant drop in their schedule from the likes of Ridge, Phillipsburg and Hillsborough the past three weeks.

12. South Brunswick (4-3, 10.8): If you figured this out and looked at the math, yes, the Vikings are just 0.8 UPR points behind Hunterdon Central, but three places back. IN fact, there are five teams within 1.6 UPR points of each other, from Atlantic City to Hunterdon Central, Kingsway, Freehold Township and South Brunswick. It just means anything can happen in the middle of the pack here, but we still think the Vikes end up in the bottom eight and playing on the road in the first round.

18. Old Bridge (2-5, 19.8): For the Knights, 32. UPR points is a tough hill to climb. They’ve won two of their last three – albeit against East Brunswick and Monroe – and visit New Brunswick this week (0-7) and host Bridgewater-Raritan next week (currently 1-6). We don’t think it’s enough to move the needle, unless the Knights get a lot of help, but it’s tough to tell if it’s possible until the Strength Index numbers lock next week and we know for sure how much each game is ultimately worth.

19. Edison (3-4, 20.2 UPR): Despite being a spot below the Knights, the Eagles have an extra win, and have a better shot at making the postseason a year after winning their first sectional title since 1991. Now, they might have to beat St. Thomas Aquinas to get in, but we’ll see. Assuming they beat South Brunswick this weekend, Edison would be a very good playoff candidate with a victory over the Trojans. A loss – even with the multiplier – might leave them in 17th, and then it depends what teams like Howell, Southern, Williamstown and even Old Bridge might do. Some of that help could come this week, so again, the picture will be clearer after this weekend.

INSTANT REPLAY: Piscataway 54, East Brunswick 14

In a dominant performance, Piscataway got a punt return and a kick return for a touchdown from Deshaun Stephens and two touchdowns from Kiandre Dato-Snead in a 54-14 home win over East Brunswick on the Chiefs’ Senior Night.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko and Alec Crouthamel call all the play-by-play from Kenny Armwood Stadium on October 6, 2023:

You Choose! What will be our Big Central Game of the Week for Week 7??

We have two weeks left in the high school football season, and now we’re letting you tell us what you want to hear! That’s right. We want to know: What should be the Big Central Game of the Week for Week 7 this Friday night?

We’re giving you five options of games to choose from:

  • Phillipsburg at Union: Some high level football here; the Stateliners were Number One in the polls for the first several weeks of the season, and Union has improved from a year ago
  • Somerville at Hillsborough: The Raiders are in contention for a top-seed in South 5, while the Pioneers are much improved
  • Piscataway at Sayreville: A classic GMC matchup between longtime rivals, and the game our listeners picked last year
  • Edison at South Brunswick: Another classic GMC game, this one with two teams looking to improve their playoff standing
  • Manville at Highland Park: Two small schools, with the Mustangs trying to stay in the playoff chase, and the Owls looking for their first win since 2016

So here are the basic rules!

  • Vote as early and often as you would like!
  • Share the poll on social media with your friends on Facebook and your followers on Twitter.
  • The matchup with the most votes will be the game we broadcast Friday night on Central Jersey Sports Radio, complete with pregame coverage with the coaches from each team, a live broadcast, and postgame recap on the site with reaction from the winning team’s coach and a standout player.
  • Voting will close at 5 pm Monday, with the winner being announced Tuesday on Twitter. (Follow us at @CJSportsRadio on Twitter if you don’t already!)

Good luck to your favorite team – vote early and often!

Note: In the event a game turns out to be unavailable for broadcast or for other any reason, Central Jersey Sports Radio reserves the right to choose an alternate game, if necessary, regardless of the final vote.

East Brunswick looks to turn around winless start with a trip to Piscataway Friday night

After going 8-2 in the 2021 season, things have not gone to plan for East Brunswick and fifth-year head coach Andy Steinfeld.

Following a 1-8 campaign in 2022, the Bears are off to an 0-6 start with time running out to get back in the win column, with two of the final three games coming against teams in Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Top Ten, as they close out the season with matchups against top-ranked North Brunswick and fourth-ranked Phillipsburg.

Before that gauntlet is a matchup with the Piscataway Chiefs, a team looking to gain some consistent footing in their own right.

It’s a game that kicks off Friday night at 6:00, and can be heard here on Central Jersey Sports Radio, starting with the pregame at 5:45. Mike Pavlichko and Alec Crouthamel will call all the action; click here to listen.

Vito Tropeano joined the team this season at quarterback after spending his first three seasons at Elizabeth. He has helped lead a new offensive gameplan leaning more pass-heavy after relying on the run game in years past, but it has yet to translate to wins on the scoreboard.

Led on offense and defense by seniors Derrick Christie and Ryan Bennett, as well as Faruq Tajudeen on the ground, the Bears are looking to take it one game at a time as the season begins to hit its back nine.

With many of the starters being seniors, the veteran-laden East Brunswick squad is looking to end their high school careers on a high note.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Alec Crouthamel talk with East Brunswick head coach Andy Steinfeld about the Bears’ season and Friday night’s matchup with Piscataway: