Tag: Rahway

Somerville win edges Pioneers into top 4 in South 3; Rahway drops one spot despite win

The state’s UPR playoff formula has not been kind to Somerville, a consistently dominating and talented team, but one which has struggled to get higher seeds or top seeds in the South 3 supersection, now in its third season.

But with the Pioneers’ win at Warren Hills Friday night, they’ve edged into the top four, tied with Delsea with a 4.8 UPR. The move is significant because a top four seed guarantees home field advantage through at least the sectional semifinals.

Now 6-1, Somerville is knotted up with 8-0 Delsea, which thumped Mainland last night down the Shore, 42-14.

Not far behind is Wall (4-3, UPR 5), which got above .500 Friday night with a 42-14 home win over Middletown North.

That will be a fun battle to watch next week, to see if the Pioneers can keep the fourth spot, or perhaps edge higher to catch Woodrow Wilson (4-2) in thee third spot. That would be significant since being No. 3, when the brackets are snaked, would leave them in the bracket with the overall 2nd seed as opposed to the overall No. 1 seed, which is Rumson-Fair Haven. The Pioneers are 1-2 against Rumson in the Vanderbeek/Whitaker era, splitting two sectional finals – winning in 2017, losing in 2018 – and losing once in the 2016 sectional semis.

Somerville has Summit (5-2) next week at home (live at 7pm on CJSR). Delsea (8-0) hosts Steinert (1-5), a likely win, but it may not move the needle forward. And Wall (4-3) – which consistently plays one of the most challenging schedules in the state – has its third multiplier of the season in St. John Vianney (3-5), though only one can count per season. They’ve already lost to Red Bank Catholic and Donovan Catholic, and will get the best combination of power points.

Stay tuned!

As for Rahway, the Indians slippped from 12th to 13th despite a 35-28 win over South Plainfield. They don’t really have a chance at the top eight, 4.4 UPR points away, so at this point they’re just jockeying for position.

Week 8 Analysis: Somerville holds steady despite multiplier win over St. Joe’s, Rahway looks solidly in South 3

The South Group 3 playoff race only has two Big Central teams in it, and both are easily in the playoffs.

We’ll start with Somerville, which looks pretty well assured of a top eight finish, and at least a first-round home game.

The Pioneers are in 6th in the standings, with a 5-1 mark, after a 47-26 win over St. Joseph of Metuchen Saturday in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland. Though the multiplier points they picked up – 42! – moved them from 8th to 4th in power point rank, they dropped a little more than two OSI points to 6th from 5th.

The only team above them to lose was No. 1 Rumson-Fair Haven, to powerhouse and undefeated Red Bank Catholic, which is 7-0. The Bulldogs were so far ahead, they still held on to the top spot, despite losing about three OSI points.

Running the numbers for a forfeit loss to Phillipsburg – which will come into play next week when all the season’s COVID forfeits are added back into team numbers – even that only drops them to seventh. Could they finish out of the top eight? Well, it ‘s a big drop.

Right now, the Pioneers have a 6.2 UPR, followed by Manasquan at 6.4 in seventh and Wall in 8th at a 6.4 UPR. But the drop to Triton in ninth is to a UPR of 10, and Delran is a 10.2 UPR. We don’t think they have enough of a quality schedule to catch Somerville, even if the Pioneers were to split their last two games against a pair of 5-2 teams, at Warren Hills this week, and next week at home against Summit (7 pm on CJSR).

Rahway, meanwhile, is also a good bet for the playoffs. The Indians are 2-3, and their most likely course is to split the next two games, at least on paper. They visit South Plainfield this weekend and Hillside next. Even should they lose to Hillside – which has not lost since the Rumble on the Raritan when they faced Bernards at Rutgers – the Comets are a strong enough opponent it won’t hurt too much.

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.

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 8: The Big Trio

Episode 8 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland, is highlighted by a trio of top ten games, as the regular season enters its final three weeks.

Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino talk about two breaking stories out Wednesday: the NJSIAA warning teams not to “mutually cancel” games that would benefit a team’s playoff standings, and the Shore Conference killing its plan for “playoff pods” in the final two weeks of the regular season, assigning set matchups instead. They debate whether one is just like the other, and if anything is really wrong with scheduling a better opponent to help a team’s playoff push, while letting a lesser team find a more competitive game, which would seem to benefit both schools.

We debut a new feature with founding sponsor Elite QB, the “Elite Performers of the Week” with quarterbacks coach Matt Bastardi.

Then, it’s a look at the Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week, Rahway’s Zaon Laney, who contirbuted in all three phases in the Indians’ win over 4-1 Warren Hills.

Mike and Dom Savino wrap it up with a look at the Week 7 slate.

Rahway’s Laney excels in all three phases, wins Week 6 Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Award

When your team scores four touchdowns, wins the game, and you had three of them, that’s not a bad resume for a Player of the Week award.

Rushing for 255 yards, with a long of 87, plus another two catches for 11 yards shows some versatility.

But then add to it ten tackles on defense, six solo, plus an interception.

Then, pile on with a 24-yard punt return, and you have the makings of a definitive Bellamy & Son Paving Big Central Player of the Week Award. And that’s just what Rahway senior Zaon Laney got.

In a Week Six win over previously 4-1 Warren Hills, Laney helped the Indians to their second straight win, a 27-7 victory over the Blue Streaks.

READ MORE: Rahway wins second straight, knocking off 4-1 Warren Hills 27-7 with strong second half

Laney says he and his teammates were jacked up for Senior Night, the last home game of their high school careers, as the Indians finish with three straight on the road, including this wekeend against Donovan Catholic.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Rahway’s Zaon Laney:

Honor Roll…

Another Big Central player had a versatile performance last week, Montgomery’s Alex Benitez, who has played a both quarterback and runningback for the Cougars, and can help the Cougars wherever he is on the field.

He helped lead Monty to its first win of the year, a 28-13 decision over Franklin. Though his numbers weren’t gaudy, he did it with his arm, feet and hands.

On offense: 22 rushes for 71 yards, five catches for another 71, a 16-yard touchdown. Defensively, he had ten tackles – eight solo – and two TFLs. He also kicked all four of his team’s extra points.

To add to it, Benitez’ ground game put him past the 2,000-yard milestone for his career. Congrats!

South Brunswick’s Brian Rawls also had a nice night in a 47-6 win over JP Stevens. He had 105 yards from scrimmage – 58 rushing, 47 receiving – and also had a pick six on defense. Not a bad night!

And then there’s East Brunswick’s Ben Solimini. The quarterback only threw three times – completing two passes for 14 yards – but he carried ten times for 168 yards and two touchdowns. We love a QB who likes to run the ball.

Solimini has been instrumental in the Bears’ 5-1 start, their best since 2004, when they went 9-1 before a 21-0 Thanksgiving loss to Old Bridge. East Brunswick rebounded with a 17-14 win against Jackson at Rutgers for the Central Jersey Group 4 championship.

Rahway wins second straight, knocking off 4-1 Warren Hills 27-7 with strong second half

One team came in with one loss, the other came in with one win.

That didn’t matter much to the Rahway Indians.

They were the team with one win, which came after three straight losses to start the season.

But on a strong second half – scoring 20 unanswered points – and with a gutsy defensive effort, Rahway finds itself 2-3 on the season.

A young team with just one returning starter and five seniors – after a slew were lost to graduation, then the injury bug and transfers took a toll, head coach Brian Russo is looking for improvement and progress.

And he’s seen both in the past couple of weeks.

Things get a bit tougher, however, with their next three games on the road, starting with Donovan Catholic next week.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Rahway head coach Brian Russo about their win over the Blue Streaks, and the 2021 season so far:

Edison’s Maurath “blitzes” competition to run away with Highlight Reel Play of the Year

It was a matter of perfect timing.

And although they say lightning never strikes twice, Danny Maurath struck three times.

In a Halloween Eve 20-17 home win over Summit, Maurath was scary good.

As Eagles head coach Matt Fulham explains it, Maurath charged the line of scrimmage from his safety position three times, and all three times timed it perfectly to sack the quarterback.

In one instance, he also caused a fumble. And though ultimately it was recovered by the Hilltoppers, the play was good enough to easily cruise to a blowout win in a field of five Highlight Reel Play of the Year finalists voted on by Central Jersey Sports Radio readers.

Maurath’s safety blitz garnered 254 of 531 votes tallied in the reader poll, the sole determining factor in the contest.

Watch all of the finalists for Highlight Reel Play of the Year below:

This play was the overwhelming winner, Edison’s Danny Maurath and his safety blitz against Summit on November 30.

In second place, with 95 votes, was Nasir Arribas of Rahway, with a one-handed interception against St. Joseph-of Metuchen on November 25.

Checking in 3rd with 81 votes: Jelani Devonish-Wynter of North Brunswick, whose INT in the end zone – stripping it away from Edison’s Malcolm Stansbury – sealed a 21-20 road win (heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio) on October 23.

Fourth in the race with 69 votes was this hook-and-ladder play by Ridge, where Nolan Murphy makes the catch, but pitches it over to Harry Hagerman who scores the touchdown against Hillsborough in a 35-21 home win heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Checking in 5th with 33 votes was a Kyle DeGraw of Monroe’s “Mossed” catch down the sideline for a touchdown in a 35-10 win over South Brunswick on November 13.

Arribas, Bradford guided Rahway to prominence in record-setting season

As the saying goes, “Respect is hard to earn but easy to lose.”

Well, it wasn’t easy, but Rahway earned the Big Central’s respect in 2020.

Despite a midseason shutdown, the eighth-ranked Indians (5-1) compiled one of their best seasons ever, defeating multiple Group 5 teams for the first time in program history and earning a second-place finish in Division 3.

Rahway finished on a blazing four-game winning streak. Consecutive victories over a trio of Group 5s— Plainfield, Sayreville, and top-10 Watchung Hills — lifted the Group 3 school to prominence.

Though the COVID stoppage wiped out the Indians’ final regular-season and first postseason games, the team recovered in time to schedule a Thanksgiving Eve battle against St. Joseph-Metuchen. Rahway rallied late for yet another quality win.

The team’s only loss came to No. 1 Somerville, the conference’s only undefeated team at 7-0 and Central Jersey Sports Radio Team of the Year.

QB Nasir Arribas and RB Rashon Bradford, both seniors, powered an offense that averaged 29 points-per-game. Arribas, who emerged a dual threat, passed for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns while adding 143 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Bradford nearly matched his rushing numbers from 2019 and finished with 773 yards and eight touchdowns.

Arribas and Bradford spoke to Central Jersey Sports Radio about the season. Click below to hear their comments:

Nasir Arribas

Rashon Bradford

You – the fans – get to pick 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 year!

We received a lot of entries from high school football coaches all across the Big Central. We spent days on a never-ending Zoom call, occasionally breaking for power naps, until we finally narrowed it down to five.

(Ok, that’s a lie. Well, the never-ending part. The five plays part is true.)

Watch the video below, then scroll down to vote for your favorite!!
Voting ends at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, Dec. 16.
Remember: Vote early, vote often!

Somerville is Central Jersey Sports Radio’s first “Team of the Year”

Finishing the COVID-shortened 2020 high school football season with a perfect 7-0 mark, the Somerville Pioneers accomplished what they set out to do: beat the best, and finish undefeated.

It was the closest anyone could come to a championship.

Their final game turned out to be a 39-26 road win over then-No. 1 and undefeated Woodbridge, a victory that propelled then No. 2 Somerville into the top spot in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten.

They held onto that spot in the final rankings, to earn the first-ever “Team of the Year” award given out by Central Jersey Sports Radio, and also finished No. 1 in the inaugural Big Central Media Poll.

Somerville was the only undefeated team in the Big Central. North Plainfield – with a remarkable turnaround off a 4-6 2019 season and a 7-24 mark over the past three years – had been undefeated until a 30-14 road loss to Linden in Week 8.

The undefeated season is the Pioneers’ fifth overall and first since 1983, when they went 11-0 and won the Central Jersey Group 2 title. They also went 11-0 an route to a state title in 1979. Their first of 11 state titles overall came in a 1953 season that saw the Pioneers go 9-0. They also finished 7-0-1 in 1929, and won the only game they played in 1909, defeating Bound Brook 16-5.

Following are the final Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten and Big Central Media Poll. A trophy will be presented to Somerville for the honor at a later date.