Tag: Ridge

Rutgers Prep girls, Gill St. Bernards boys should be “top seeds” in Skyland’s “postseason”

Barring the unthinkable happening for either team, the Rutgers Prep Girls and Gill St. Bernard’s boys are likely to be the top seeds in their respective Skyland Conference “postseasons,” where eight-team pods will be formed to play down to champions.

On the girls’ side, Rutgers Prep – No. 1 in the Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings – showed their dominance against the No. 2 team in the rankings, Franklin, handing the Warriors their second Skyland Conference defeat this week (they lost to Hillsborough Tuesday). That hasn’t happened since January 2017. The Argos led 35-6 at halftime and won 65-33.

Gill, meanwhile, sits atop the Delaware Division, with a rematch with second-place Hunterdon Central not coming until Thursday, the day after the Skyland seeds the tournament Wednesday morning. Seeding committee chair Jason Miller says all games up to and including Tuesday, February 23rd will be considered.

The committee will include Miller, the athletic director at South Hunterdon, as well as six other ADs: Montgomery’s Chris Penna, Phillipsburg’s Tom Fisher, Bound Brook’s Jeff Steele, Immaculata’s Mike Gambino, Bridgewater-Raritan’s John Maggio, and Rutgers Prep’s Mary Coyle-Klinger. Jack Baum – the Sykland’s assignor of officials – also is on the committee.

Girls’ play begins Monday, and will continue Wednesday and Friday, while the boys will start Tuesday, and continue Thursday and Saturday, the final day of play allowed this season by the NJSIAA, which is not holding the state tournament this year due to the COVID-shortened season.

While the top picks on the girls’ and boys’ side seem easy, who will be right behind them? Who else will be in the upper pod of eight on the girls’ side? What other teams will be in the boys’ top pod of seven? (The boys’ side has one less team than the girls.)

Here’s a look at Central Jersey Sports Radio’s projections, based on results through Saturday, February 20th.

Oh, and one last request: please be kind? This is my first basketball tournament projection – ever! I don’t like to do projections unless there’s math involved – even if it is the Born Power Index.

Skyland Boys’ Top 7 Pod:

  1. Gill St. Bernard’s (4-2) – The Knights are the easy top pick from the league’s top division, despite their two losses, which have both come out of conference – to Bergen Catholic and Patrick School. They have legit D1 talent, are ranked No. 6 statewide, and pass the eye test. They’re the best team in the league until someone knocks them off. In the seven-team format, Gill would get a bye from Monday’s first-round.
  2. Hunterdon Central (6-2) – The Red Devils are right behind the Knights, and gave them a run in a 77-64 road loss on Feb. 4 (click here for our postgame coverage). Too bad they won’t get another crack at Gill – at home – before the seeding is done.
  3. Montgomery (7-1) – How much will Monday night’s result against St. Joseph-Metuchen (6 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio – click here to listen) weigh in? Tough to say. A win against one of the top few teams in the GMC and a state power program may boost the Cougars’ standing here more than a loss to a solid non-conference opponent. Their only loss came this week, to Shore Conference opponent Middletown North.
  4. Bound Brook (7-0) – Sure, the Crusaders are a small-school program, but undefeated has to count for something. And Bound Brook has been playing well, and deserves a home game (in a 4-5 matchup). The only problem is, only two of their seven opponents (Warren Hills and Bernards) have winning records at the moment. They’ve been mostly scoring points in bunches.
  5. Watchung Hills (6-2) – Led by dual-sport star Chad Martini – the football QB who just scored his 1,000th point – the Warriors are quietly having a good season, overshadowed in the big-boy Delaware Division by Gill and Hunterdon Central. Making the top seven would put three teams from the Delaware in the upper pod, but they deserve it. Hills lost by five to the Red Devils on February 5th, and rematch Tuesday, the day before the committee seeds this thing. That game could disrupt the apple cart. Stay tuned…
  6. Rutgers Prep (2-3) – The Argonauts were first hit by the late preseason news that Villanova signee Trey Patterson would be leaving the Somerset school to enroll early down on the Main Line. Then, they had not one, but two COVID stoppages, and are still trying to find their sea legs. They’re a tricky team to figure; they deserve to be in the top seven given the talent they have, but have three losses – yet they’re undefeated in league play at 2-0, with wins over Phillipsburg (2-6) and Franklin (2-3). Out of conference losses have come to state No. 1 Camden, Elizabeth and Hudson Catholic. The Argos are a tricky one, for sure; it’s hard to seed any tournament when a team has only played two games against their peers. They have one more game this week before the cutoff, Immaculata (5-3) on Tuesday.
  7. Ridge (6-2) – The Red Devils dropped out of the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten last week, but they’re the next best option down the list in the Skyland Conference. They should edge out Immaculata for the final spot, though the two have similar records. But Ridge has beaten them twice, including Saturday afternoon. However, should the Spartans beat Rutgers Prep on Tuesday, look for some movement here in the bottom two.

Skyland Girls’ Top 8 Pod:

  1. Rutgers Prep (7-0) – You know Rutgers Prep is good. Really good. No. 23 in the nation good. (How have they gone unbeaten and dropped seven spots since the preseason? Whatever!) But have you seen them play? Did you see them put on a defensive, ball pressure clinic against No. 2 Franklin Saturday afternoon. (Click here for our postgame coverage.) Probably not, thanks to COVID, but man they were impressive. They’re the odds on favorite to win the whole damned thing, let alone get the top seed.
  2. Gill St. Bernard’s (6-0) – Unfortunately, Franklin gets Gill on Tuesday – at least it’s at home – the day before the seeding committee puts this whole thing together. But Gill has been solid, too. Too bad we don’t get to see them play Rutgers Prep this year. Then again, maybe we will. Barring any more snow or COVID cancellations, the Knights should roll into the postseason at 9-0 or better.
  3. Mount St. Mary (8-0) – I’m still not sure if these are projections, or my version of the seeding. The Skyland postseason has never been done before, although much of the same seeding principles remain. But I’m a big believer in undefeated teams being rewarded. Regardless of school size or division, to maintain the focus says a lot. That said, I go with Mary’s here, with a perfect record. You play the schedule you’re handed, and when you beat them all, you deserve the credit.
  4. Bound Brook (6-1) – The Crusaders have one blemish, a loss to undefeated Mount St. Mary’s, which is why the Lions are ahead of them here. You can’t argue with that. But you also can’t argue with how good Bound Brook is. They should be winning their sixth straight sectional championship this year, but they won’t get a crack at it. Though they’re tied in the division behind Belvidere, they did dismantle the County Seaters in what will have been their only matchup this year, 78-34 on Feb. 6th.
  5. Ridge (5-4) – The Red Devils sandwiched between Rutgers Prep and Phillipsburg in the Division. They split with the Stateliners (but the win was more recent) and have losses to the Argonauts, plus Watchung Hills, Gill St. Bernard’s and Rutgers Prep, all “quality losses.”
  6. Voorhees (6-2) – The Vikings are red hot at the right time, having won four in a row after splitting their first four. The Voos have done it with defense, holding four teams under 40 points this year, allowing 37, 30, 30 and 27 on their recent streak. They’re deserving of being in the top eight.
  7. Franklin (3-2) – The Warriors should be in the top eight, as they’re one of the better teams in the county; they just don’t look elite this year. Part of that is being hampered by COVID, sure; they played one game before having to pause all team-related activities. They did not look good against Rutgers Prep, and the Hillsborough loss was a head-scratcher, no disrespect to the Raiders. Franklin – at least the Franklin on the last four seasons, with two TOC titles to their credit – doesn’t lose those types of games. They could make a big statement Tuesday against Gill, though, as mentioned earlier.
  8. Hunterdon Central (6-2) – Their only losses are to Gill St. Bernard’s and Franklin, and the jury is still out on Franklin. Still, the Warriors get the nod over the Red Devils due to their head-to-head: Audrey Taylor’s squad beat them by six – just last Wednesday. They’re the last team in, for now. Central has Watchung Hills, a team they beat by eight earlier this season – on Tuesday, but I’m not sure a win there moves the needle much.

Split week still enough to keep Gill at No. 1; Montgomery launches into rankings

It’s difficult to tell a teams body of work three games into a high school basketball season when they’ve only played three games.

Couple that with only one of those games coming against one of the peers they’re compared against in the Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings makes it doubly difficult.

Still, despite an 11-point loss to the Patrick School Saturday afternoon, 78-67, Gill St. Bernard’s remains the Number One team in the CJSR Boys’ Top Ten.

St. Joseph of Metuchen gained on the strength of a three-win week, while Rutgers Prep dropped two spots after a two-loss week against non-conference opponents, and ahead of a second COVID-related stoppage.

But the biggest gain belonged to Montgomery, which jumped from being an unranked team to No. 7 after a three-win week that doubled their perfect record to 6-0. The Cougars have held three opponents under 40 points this season: Bordentown, Bridgewater-Raritan, and previously-ranked Ridge, which dropped out of the rankings from its No. 9 spot this week after the loss to the Cougars.

Look out for a special story on Montgomery’s hot start tomorrow on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Below are the full Week 3 Central Jersey Sports Radio Week 3 rankings:

1-0 week enough to keep Lady Argos at the top of Week 2 rankings

Mother Nature only allowed Rutgers Prep to get one game in this week.

The Lady Argonauts made the most of it, downing Phillipsburg 61-28 in Somerset Saturday afternoon, keeping them undefeated at 3-0, and at the top of the Central Jersey Sports Radio girls’ basketball rankings.

There were few changes again in week two, with few games being played due to snow wiping Monday and Tuesday games off the slate. Six undefeated teams are sprinkled throughout the rankings, including Franklin, Monroe, Gill St. Bernard’s, and Mount St. Mary, which is an area best 5-0.

Edison pulled into the rankings with a 4-1 record, despite a 1-1 week, while Watchung Hills dropped out after falling to 1-2.

The full Week 2 rankings are below:

Gill splits a pair, but keeps top spot in Week 2 boys’ rankings

A loss to Bergen Catholic – an out-of-area team ranked No. 3 statewide – wasn’t enough to knock Gill St. Bernard’s from its perch atop the Central Jersey Sports Radio boys’ basketball rankings.

The Knights went 1-1 in their opening week of play – with Week One cancelled due to COVID protocols – beating Hunterdon Central in their opener 77-64 as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

The Knights weren’t the only Top Ten team to open the season this past week, as Rutgers Prep – also out due to COVID contact tracing – went 1-1 just like Gill, and held on to the third spot.

New this week, hear Mike Pavlichko’s audio version of the Week 2 Top Ten by clicking below:

The only two teams that moved this week were St. Joseph-Metuchen and South Brunswick, which flip-flopped the 5th and 7th positions after the Falcons – previously ranked 7th – knocked off the Vikings Saturday afternoon 69-64.

READ MORE: Cocozziello breaks down St. Joe’s win over state-ranked South Brunswick

View the full Week 2 Central Jersey Sports Radio Boys’ Basketball Rankings below:

Rutgers Prep’s 2-0 start keeps them No. 1

Rutgers Prep was widely expected to be the team to beat heading into the 2021 season.

So far, so good.

The Lady Argonauts opened the season with a 2-0 Week One, and remain the No. 1 team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Girls Basketball Top Ten.

Below are the full Week One rankings:

How the Top Ten fared…

Rutgers Prep’s two wins were in typical fashion: scoring a lot of points and playing good defense. They won 73-39 at North Hunterdon, and won 83-19 at Montgomery.

No. 2 Franklin won its only game of the week, a 52-41 victory at Hillsborough.

Monroe moved up to No. 3 on the strength of a 2-0 week fueled by solid defense, winning 55-32 at Piscataway and 53-18 at Spotswood. That’s an average 25 points surrendered in two games.

No. 4 Gill St. Bernards didn’t play during the week, in a COVID contact tracing pause.

St. Thomas Aquinas dropped to No. 5 after splitting a pair of road games in Week One, dropping its opener on the road to Life Center Academy (Burlington County) 58-33, but holding Piscataway to under 30, in a 69-29 win.

Bound Brook held at No. 6 after a one-game week; they won their 16th straight game against Manville, putting the pedal to the medal to cruise past the Mustangs 70-36, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

MORE: Trio of Bound Brook standouts talk No. 6 Crusaders’ big season-opening win over Manville

Mount St. Mary moved up two places to No. 7 after a 3-0 week, holding two of their opponents to scoring in the teens. They beat Warren Hills at home 57-37, then won 56-13 at Bernards and 57-18 at Delaware Valley.

No. 8 Watchung Hills won 68-52 at Bridgewater-Raritan in its only game of the Week.

North Brunswick checks in at No. 9 after a 3-0 Week One. The Lady Raiders won a pair of road games – at Woodbridge 58-35 and at JFK 52-51, sandwiched around a home win against Colonia 47-41.

No. 10 Middlesex stayed put, powered by a 2-0 week. They won their opener at home 74-44 and then won at Spotswood 72-40.

Edison also received consideration for the rankings. The Eagles are 2-0, win win at East Brunswick (44-42) and at home against Piscataway (60-59).

Ridge – previously No. 7 – dropped out. They beat Immaculata 44-41, but lost at Phillipsburg 42-30.

Gill St. Bernard’s remains No. 1, but has yet to play

Despite having all three games cancelled in Week One of the high school basketball season, Gill St. Bernard’s holds on to the top spot in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Boys’ Basketball Top Ten.

Gill was in contact tracing quarantine last week, with basketball activities paused, much like Rutgers Prep, which also remained in place, staying at No. 3.

In fact, the Top 8 all stayed the same, with only one of those teams dropping a game, as St. Joseph of Metuchen dropped a 101-75 decision in its Thursday opener at Roselle Catholic. The Falcons’ original opening game was to be Tuesday against Monroe on Central Jersey Sports Radio, but Monroe shut its program down due to COVID in the program.

Below is the full Week 1 Top Ten.

How the Top Ten fared…

Of the teams that played, No. 3 St. Thomas Aquinas won its opener, rolling past JFK 90-39.

No. 4 Watchung Hills – which had a game against Gill cancelled – blew by Sinai Christian of Linden 92-46.

South Brunswick – the defending Central Jersey Group 4 champions – had a 2-0 opening week and remain in the No. 5 spot – beating JP Stevens 64-44 and winning at East Brunswick 55-53. The Vikings have won six straight overall dating back to the start of last season’s state tournament. They’ve also won eight straight regular season games going back to last year.

No. 6 Colonia is the only squad to play three games in the opening week. The Patriots won at Eastside (Paterson) 63-44, beat North Brunswick at home 66-49, and won at in-town rival Woodbridge 75-45.

No. 7 St. Joseph-Metuchen – after dropping its opener on the road – rebounded to beat Piscataway in its first home game of the season, 92-69.

Bound Brook – which checks in at No. 8 – had a two-win week, beating rival Somerville at home 64-37, and winning 61-51 at Warren Hills.

New to the Top Ten this week are Ridge (No. 9) and South Plainfield (No. 10).

The Red Devils are 2-0 after a 48-37 win at Immaculata and a 44-30 victory against Phillipsburg.

South Plainfield won a pair of road games: 55-47 at JP Stevens and 54-49 at Dunellen, which dropped out of the Top Ten (previously ranked No. 10) after a two-loss week, that also included a defeat in their opener 69-56, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

MORE: Postgame reaction as Barnes’ 29 powers Edison boys past No. 10 Dunellen

Also dropping out of the Top Ten was previously-No. 9 Somerville, which finished the opening week at 1-2. In addition to losing to Bound Brook, the Pioneers beat Voorhees 55-39, but lost to Immaculata 67-63.

Montgomery also received consideration for the rankings after a 2-0 Week One. the Cougars beat Phillipsburg at home 68-43, while winning a non-league game at Bordentown, 64-36.

Rutgers Prep is team to beat in first-ever CJSR Top Ten

The inaugural Central Jersey Sports Radio girls’ basketball rankings find Rutgers Prep at the top of the list. Mary Coyle-Klinger’s squad has a ton of returning talent, including Villanova commit Christina Dalce.

Below are the complete preseason rankings, followed by last year’s record and postseason accomplishments:

  1. Rutgers Prep (25-5, SCT champions, Non-Public South B runner-up)
  2. Franklin (24-5, North 2-Group 4 champions)
  3. St. Thomas Aquinas (25-5, GMC Tournament champions)
  4. Gill St. Bernard’s (15-11)
  5. Monroe (23-5, GMC Tournament runner-up)
  6. Bound Brook (26-3, Central-Group 1 champion)
  7. Ridge (22-8, North 2-Group 4 runner-up)
  8. Watchung Hills (22-6, SCT runner-up)
  9. Mount St. Mary (21-7)
  10. Middlesex (24-3, Central-Group 1 runner-up)

Also receiving consideration: Somerville (20-8)

22 Big Central football players named to NJFCA Super 100 Team

by Mike Pavlichko

The Big Central Conference – in its first year of existence – was responsible for nearly a quarter of the players selected to New Jersey Football Coaches Association’s Super 100 Team, which is chosen annually in December.

The selections for 2020 were announced on Twitter Monday night.

Nominations are made by coaches who are members of the NJFCA, and comittees of coaches make the final selections based on NJSIAA playoff sections. For this season, with no playoffs, the NJFCS simply divided the state into quadrants based on geographical Northing numbers.

Only seniors can be named to the Super 100 Team, and those getting full scholarships to play football collegiately are automatically selected, according to NJFCA Commissioner John Jacob.

Cookie Desiderio and A.J. Pena of Somerville – Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Big Central Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively – were among the 12 players selected in the Central section.

CJSR’s Mr. Versatility Ali Lee Jr. of Woodbridge also was selected, along with teammate Jordan Harris.

Rounding out the Central section were Austin Scott (South Plainfield), Majid Howard-Baker (South Brunswick), Omar Shehabeldin (North Brunswick), Dylan McFadden (Montgomery), Kyle DeGraw (Monroe, Keyshawn Dixon (JFK), Longevity Award winner Sean Levonaitis (Hillsborough) and Zach Zebro (East Brunswick).

There were ten players selected in the North 2 section, headlined by Rutgers-bound Desmond Igbinosun of Union, along with his teammate Diante Wilson.

Others included Shawn Martin (Scotch Plains-Fanwood), Andrew Taddeo (Ridge), Matt Quetel (Phillipsburg), Chad Martini and James Coslet (Watchung Hills), Omakus Langley II (Hillside) and Bruce Myers (Bridgewater-Raritan).

Each year, the Super 100 Team is honored with a dinner in the Spring, but whether that will happen in person or virtually – due to COVID-19 protocols – has not yet been determined.

Many happy returns for Shawn Martin: Scotch Plains-Fanwood kick returner named Special Teams Player of the Year

The great program builder/re-builder Milt Theodosatos once said about kicking the ball to a great returner, “We kick the ball to him, that’s a human tragedy.”

Imagine four human tragedies in one season?

That’s what happened this year when opponents kicked the ball to Scotch Plains-Fanwood senior Shawn Martin. Not that they did it often.

The 5-11, 170-pound lightning bolt returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in 2020. He only had six returns all year.

Good job by the opponents, just not good enough.

Martin returned two kicks for touchdowns in a 42-38 loss to Cedar Grove in the Raiders’ first-ever home game under the lights at Perry Field. The returns were 95 and 92 yards.

A week later, he returned a kick 90 yards to paydirt in a 27-22 win over Linden, and he followed it up with an 82-yard kick return for a score against Princeton in a 61-20 victory over the Little Tigers.

Click below to hear Shawn Martin talk about his four kick returns for touchdowns this year, including which was his favorite:

Honorable Mentions for Special Teams Player of the Year went to senior kicker Jake Beckman of Ridge and junior kicker Jai Patel of South Brunswick.

Beckman is a three-year starter who went 12-for-16 on field goals in his career, and 89-of-102 on PATs. He kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat Bridgewater-Raritan in 2018.

Patel is on the radar of several Power 5 schools with another year yet to be played scholastically. He was 7-of-8 of field goals in 2020, with a long of 42 yards, and perfect on 22 PATs. He also handled kickoffs, booting 19 of 32 for touchbacks, and averaged 41 yards per punt, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, according to head coach John Viotto.

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.