Tag: Sayreville

Ridge remains No. 1 in Week 5 Bellamy Top Ten after red-hot 5-0 week

On the strength of a five-win week, Ridge – winners of 13 straight – is the No. 1 team again this week in the Bellamy & Son Paving Week Five rankings.

The Red Devils are 16-2 and travel to Seton Hall Prep Monday ahead of Tuesday’s Somerset County Tournament Final against 12-seed Rutgers Prep, which you can hear right here on Central Jersey Sports Radio at 7 pm. Ridge is going for its second straight title.

Old Bridge (13-6) holds at No. 2 after going 2-1 last week, and opens play in the GMC Tournament second round tomorrow at 4 pm against 15th-seed Carteret.

Bridgewater-Raritan (13-3) went 2-0 last week, with wins over Hunterdon Central and Immaculata, the latter a 19-4 slugfest.

North Brunswick (11-5) moves up to No. 4 after a 3-1 week. The Raiders earned the top-seed in the GMC Tournament, finishing just ahead of Old Bridge, despite being swept two games by them in the regular season.

Checking in at No. 5 is Monroe (8-6), which went 2-2 in the past week, splitting a two-game set with Old Bridge, losing at Woodbridge, but beating Sayreville (12-5) – which drops to sixth – by an 11-1 score.

In seventh is Woodbridge (13-4), which went 4-0 last week, right ahead of Spotswood (13-4), which had a 2-2 week. The Chargers visit the Barrons Monday night in a GMC Tournament second round game, the opener for both schools.

Moving up one place to No. 9 is Rutgers Prep (8-9), which was 2-2 in the week gone by, including a win in the Preb B Tournament quarterfinals over Princeton Day, 13-2. The Argonauts take on 6-seed Doane Academy on Wendesday in the semifinals, but before that have that date with Ridge in the SCT Finals Tuesday night.

Rejoining the rankings this week is Bernards (10-5) in the ten spot, following a 3-1 week.

Edison dropped out after going 0-4 in the week gone by, with losses to Woodbridge, Old Bridge, East Brunswick and North Brunswick.

Below are the full Week 5 Bellamy & Son Paving Week 5 Rankings:

Sayreville – strong and consistent all year – hopes to make noise in first trip to GMC Championship Tourney since 2019

It’s been four years and three seasons since the Sayreville baseball team has made the GMC Championship Tournament, and coming off last season’s 8-16 campaign, losing a ton of pitching, veteran coach Mike Novak wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

Let’s just say he’s been pleasantly surprised. The Bombers should at least be one of the top five seeds when the field is picked.

This year’s squad will be the GMC White Division champion, regardless of what happens Thursday against JP Stevens in the Bombers’ final game before Friday’s GMCT seeding meeting. And that’s a huge accomplishment.

Sayreville had won five straight before an 11-1 loss to Red Division opponent Monroe Wednesday night. In that stretch, they scored no fewer than six runs in any of the five games, scoring in double figures three times, and pitching one shutout.

The bats have done what Novak expected: hitting a bit over .300 and scoring seven runs a game, led by Jake Romanello and his .524 batting average, with eleven runs batted in.

It’s the pitching has been the difference, an X-factor for a team that graduated 92 innings pitched from a year ago, with just two hurlers – A.J. Zapoticzny and Aayush Mehta – who’d thrown more than ten innings during the year. Zapoticzny hasn’t thrown much, but Mehta has thrown 23 1/3 innings to a 0.60 ERA, while Thomas Schlaline has impressed, throwing 28 1/3 innings, with a 1.98 earned run average.

All that has helped the Bombers to an 11-4 record, 9-2 in the GMC White, good for at least a share of the division, though they have the tiebreaker with second-place Woodbridge, having swept the Barrons.

And that’s good enough to put them squarely in the GMC Championship bracket. The only question is how high they’ll get seeded after the parity-riddled Red Division gets its top few teams in.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Sayreville coach Mike Novak about the Bombers’ 2023 season:

There’s a new, old team atop the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten in Week Four

The Ridge Red Devils were ranked No. 1 in the preseason Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, and lasted two weeks there until they became one of two high profile victims of Bridgewater-Raritan, whose takeover of the top spot also was aided by a big win over Hunterdon Central.

But a win by Ridge this weekend in the rematch – and the Panthers’ upset loss to Rutgers Prep in the Somerset County Tournament semifinals (Bridgewater was the top seed) – has put them back at No. 1, With a 4-0 week, Ridge is now 11-2 on the season.

Old Bridge also move sup to third, despite a 2-2 week, now 11-5 on the season, picking up wins over South Brunswick and South Plainfield; they split with the Tigers. Last Sunday, the Knights knocked off statewide No. 1 Red Bank Catholic in their Autism Awareness Challenge game.

Bridgewater-Raritan (11-3) drops to third after a 2-2 week. In addition to the loss to the Argonauts in the county tournament and Ridge in regular season play, they had wins over Immaculata in the SCT, as well as West Morris.

Teams four through eight saw no movement this week.

In fourth is Sayreville (10-3) after a 2-0 week that saw wins over Colonia and Metuchen, while North Brunswick (8-4) also went 2-0, with victories over JFK and East Brunswick.

Woodbridge (9-4) is in sixth after a 2-1 week that saw a win at South Plainfield and a home win over Rahway, as well as a loss to Edison, with the second of the home-and-home at the Eagles’ home field Monday afternoon. Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast the Barrons’ Tuesday evening home game against Perth Amboy at 7:00. Click here to listen.

Monroe (6-4) only had one game this week, a 4-3 win over South Plainfield, and remains in seventh.

Spotswood (11-2) won both its games this week, sweeping a home-and-home with arch-rival South River, 6-1 and 1-0.

New to the poll this week are Edison (11-3) and Rutgers Prep (6-7).

The Eagles had a 3-0 week, with wins over Middlesex at home, and against Piscataway and Woodbridge on the road; again, they finish their series in Edison Monday.

The Argonauts won both their games this week, both in the Somerset County Tournament. They topped Somerville 3-2 on Tuesday, then knocked off top-seed and statewide No. 5 Bridgewater-Raritan 4-3 in the semifinals on Thursday.

Dropping out were No. 9 East Brunswick (5-8) and #10 Pingry (6-5).

Below are the full Week 4 Bellamy & Son Paving High School Baseball rankings:

Week 2 turmoil has settled, but two new teams join Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten in Week 3, while Bridgewater remains No. 1

There are two new teams in the Week 3 Bellamy & Son Paving Baseball Rankings – as Pingry and Monroe join the group – but otherwise, no real major changes of shakeups in the Top Ten this week.

The top two teams went unbeaten in Week 3 of the season, with Bridgewater-Raritan (9-2) holding on to the top spot, while Ridge (7-2) moves up one place to second, dropping Old Bridge (9-3) to third after a 3-2 week that saw the Vikings lose twice in the division, once to Old Bridge and once to East Brunswick.

Sayreville (8-3) holds in fourth, coming off a 2-1 week with wins over Perth Amboy and Colonia.

North Brunswick (6-4) moved up three spots to fifth, had the other unbeaten week among ranked teams. The Raiders swept a two-game home-and-home against St. Joseph-Metuchen – which dropped out at 4-5 off a 1-4 week, along with Franklin (4-6). They also won 10-7 at Woodbridge (7-3), which dropped on place to sixth.

Monroe (5-4) is back in the rankings after a week out; the Falcons are sixth after a 3-0 week with a home-and-home two-game sweep of South Brunswick and a win over South Plainfield.

Spotswood (9-2) is up two places to eight after a 2-2 week, with both losses coming out of conference.

East Brunswick (5-6) holds in ninth, despite a 1-3 week, while Pingry (5-3) also rejoins the rankings, on a 2-0 week that included a win over red-hot Manville in the second round of the Somerset County Tournament on Saturday.

Below are the full Week Three Bellamy & Son Paving baseball rankings:

Don Sofilkanch talks “great opportunity” and “tremendous culture” at Sayreville

Coming to New Brunswick with John Quinn, Don Soflikanich was a part of two of the Zebras’ great all-time teams, which won championships in 2003 and 2006 – and should have won three were it not for a questionable penalty in the ’02 title game.

He later won a championship at Asbury Park, turning around a program that could barely win the year before he arrived.

But that won’t be the job in front of him as he takes the reins at Sayreville.

In the last eight seasons, Chris Beagan rebuilt a winning program that had been shuttered early in the 2014 season, rocked by a hazing scandal. His first year was 2015, and by the next year, he brought the Bombers a championship, adding another two years later in 2018. His teams were 51-31 in that span.

For the last of those seasons, 2022, Don Sofilkanich was a full-time volunteer assistant. SO he got to see the inner workings of the culture Beagan built at his alma mater.

Now, the South Amboy resident and East Brunswick native – a GMC guy through and through – will get the chance to helm one of Middlesex County’s marquee programs of the last two decades.

We got a chance to talk with him the day after his hiring was approved by the Sayreville Board of Education.

Click below to listen:

Sayreville names Don Sofilkanich new Bombers’ football coach to succeed Beagan

The Sayreville Board of Education has approved Don Sofilkanich – who has won championships as an assistant and head coach at numerous New Jersey high schools – to be its next head coach, succeeding Chris Beagan, who retired after eight seasons at the helm of the Bombers’ program.

Sofilkanich was a full-time volunteer under Beagan this past season.

He came to prominence as a coordinator under John Quinn at New Brunswick on two state championship teams, the first of which came in 2003 when he led the defense on a team headlined by future New York Giants captain and two-time Super Bowl winner Jonathan Casillas and future NCAA All-American at USC Dwayne Jarrett. That was the Zebras’ first title since 1926. They won again in 2006 with him as the Offensive Coordinator..

He then left to become head coach at Asbury Park, turning around a program that went 1-9 in 2006, going 11-1 in 2007 with a Central Jersey Group 1 title.

After two more 11-1 seasons, he moved next door to to Neptune for a year before coming back to the GMC to lead then-Bishop Ahr, going 12-8 from 2011-2013. He spent the next three years at New Brunswick, going 15-16, including 9-2 in 2015.

He most recently was coach at Plainfield in 2019 and 2020, going 4-11.

“Don and I came in together and we were in lockstep. We shared the same philosophy,” Quinn told Central Jersey Sports Radio earlier today. “The successes that we had at New Brunswick were due to the fact that we worked so well together. Certainly Don was a huge contributing factor to the championships we won there.”

“I don’t think we could have achieved the success that we had without Don’s contribution,” Quinn added.

Sayreville’s Chris Beagan stepping down from Bombers football program after eight years, two state titles

Maybe he’s not that age yet, but retirement is calling Sayreville football coach Chris Beagan.

The man who brought the Bombers back after a hazing scandal rocked the program in 2014 – and won two state championships in the process – told his team just before the holidays that he would be stepping down.

The Sayreville school district posted for the job on January second.

A Sayreville alum, Beagan just wrapped up his eighth season as the head coach at his alma mater, going 51-31 in that span, and winning state titles in 2016 and 2018.


The first of the two was quite special – and to some degree, amazing even – considering the 2014 team got shut down the day before its fourth game of the season against South Brunswick, after allegations of hazing came to light and law enforcement became involved. The 2016 senior class essentially had played as freshman, but missed almost all of their sophomore seasons.

Sayreville beat Middletown North in the 2016 North 2, Group 4 title game at Rutgers and finished the year 10-2, their lone losses to South Brunswick and fellow state champ Piscataway. It was a grand renaissance for a program which has always had immense support in the town, and continues to draw some of the largest and most passionate crowds in Middlesex County.

In 2018, the Bombers won an instant classic Central Jersey Group 5 final, defeating North Brunswick 6-0 in the first year of regularly scheduled sectional finals at local high schools since the 1990s. They went on to win the South Group 5 “Bowl Championship” at MetLife Stadium, defeating Williamstown 14-7 in their own version of the “Miracle at the Meadowlands,” when Connor Holmes fell on a Williamstown fumble in the end zone to put the team ahead.


That team finished 11-1, Beagan’s best at Sayreville. And that despite a battle with a kidney disease which he had been waging for years, but had gotten worse by 2018 enough that he missed several practices, and eventually received a kidney donation from his wife, Laurie.

Beagan came to the Bombers – well, back to the Bombers, since he had played there and graduated in 1990 – from Monroe, where he also had a highly successful seven-year run as head coach. He won a GMC White Division title in his first season, in 2008, then delivered the school’s first-ever state title in 2009 – in just his second season – by way of a 30-10 victory over Middletown South at The College of New Jersey that left them 11-1 by the time all was said and done.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with retiring Sayreville head coach Chris Beagan:

What were the Top Ten stories of 2022 on Central Jersey Sports Radio? Here’s a look at the first five:

End-of-the-year lists are always popular, so we figured what better time to look at the most-read stories on Central Jersey Sports Radio this past year, one in which we had – yet again – a record number of visitors to the site? So, we compiled the top ten feature and game stories of the past year, and present them to you now.

We start today with stories 10 through 6, and will have the top five later this week.

Click on each headline for the complete, original story.

10. Yascko, Edison defense help knock off top-seed Lenape, bring home trophy for first time in 31 years

Edison’s Matt Yascko – shown here as a freshman against South Plainfield on October 18, 2019 – helped lead the Eagles to their first title since 1991. (Photo submitted by coach Matt Yascko)

It had been a long time coming, but Edison finally got its championship. With a group that had several key four-year starters, the Eagles brought home the big one. But they’d have to travel through wind and rain to do it.

With the remnants of Hurricane Nicole buffeting the state, Edison and some of the Eagles’ heartiest fans had to make the hour-plus-long trek down to to-seed Lenape in Medford, NJ (Burlington County) to see their beloved team. But it paid off, as they won the Central Jersey Group 5 championship, their first since the CJ4 trophy they won in 1991.

FULL GAME AUDIO: Central Jersey Group 5 Final: (6) Edison 28, (1) Lenape 14

9. Sayreville looking for more of the Wright stuff

Zaimer Wright (left) with his Bellamy & Son Player of the Week Award from Week 3, poses alongside head coach Chris Beagan. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Zaimer Wright was just a sophomore in 2021, but with him leading the way on the ground, Sayreville had its best season since they won the Central Jersey Group 5 title in 2018. His 1,403 yards and 25 touchdowns made him the to returning runningback in the Big Central Conference in 2022.

Injuries, however – both to Wright and others – slowed the Bombers a bit in 2022. They finished 4-5 as Wright only managed to play in seven of the team’s nine games and rushed for 644 yards and three touchdowns on 103 carries, fewer than half as many touches as he had in 2021.

Should he be healthy in 2023, expect more big things from Wright and the Bombers in his senior season.

8. Edison, Lenape to face off for Central Jersey Group 5 title tonight in Medford

Edison coach Matt Fulham talks to his team after a 42-23 win at St. Joseph-Metuchen on October 7, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Excitement was at a fever pitch for Edison fans heading into the Central Jersey Group 5 title game. Not only had it been a long time since they’d won a title – 31 years, to be exact – they had not been to a final since they last won it in 1991.

And with Eagles’ fans not knowing much about Lenape other than they were a top seed in the section despite a middling record of 4-4 at the cutoff, our interviews with Edison head coach Matt Fulham and Indians’ head coach Joe Wojceichowski drew a great number of fans to check it out.

It probably didn’t hurt that Lenape fans didn’t know much about Edison either.

7. Entire Edison community mourns the loss of much-beloved youth sports leader “Mr. G”

The man Edison children knew for years as “Mr G.”

People in Edison love their school sports, as you’ll notice from this bottom five of our Top Ten list. But they also loved “Mr. G.”

Beloved youth sports mentor William Giampolo passed away in January of 2022, and the news affected everyone who’d ever played rec baseball or football dating all the way back to the 1970s. He led the Edison Boys’ Baseball League from 1973 to 1998, and was instrumental in the Edison Youth Sports Council.

We talked with Edison Boys’ Baseball League President Brian Calantoni for his memories of Mr. G for this story, which also includes a photo gallery.

6. Yascko & Yascko: How the father-son QB-OC tandem united to help bring Edison its first title in 31 years

Edison’s Matt Yascko (the QB/son, left) and Matt Yascko (the offensive coordinator/father, right) have helped lead Edison to its first sectional title since 1991. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

One more Edison story today, and this one’s a keeper. (Hey, we can’t help it if Eagles fans turn out on CJSR!)

Matt Yascko was a freshman in 2019 when the Eagles’ starter went down to injury, and he was elevated to starting quarterback for the final six games of the season. But before head coach Matt Fulham made the call, he made a call: to Yascko’s father, Matt, then the head coach at Carteret. Yascko, the dad, had played at Edison and was on the 1991 team that was the last one – until this year – to win a sectional championship for the Eagles.

With his blessing (though he might have done it anyway) Yascko, the son, became the starter.

And the next year, despite uncertainty about the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yascko the dad joined Fulham’s staff at his alma mater as offensive coordinator, bringing father and son together for what would be an immensely successful three-year run: a record of 20-10 over that span, culminating with the Central Jersey Group 5 title this past season.

Check back later this week for the remaining five stories in our Top Ten of 2022 on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

North Group 4 Playoff Analysis: North Hunterdon appears locked into a No. 1 seed

With Cutoff Weekend coming up Friday and Saturday this week, Central Jersey Sports Radio is taking a look at every team in the Big Central to see where we think they’ll land in the playoffs.

We’re not looking at tiebreakers just yet, and even adding the few residuals to be had can make for infinitely more possibilities – although there are none up for grabs from any Big Central opponents at this point – so we’re not doing those either. But we are looking at where we think teams will fall in the top 16. Tune in to our Playoff Projection show Saturday at 6 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio for all our unofficial pairings.

Below is our analysis, with each team’s current ranking in the UPR standings noted.

(Click here for official standings on Gridiron New Jersey)

#1 North Hunterdon: Even if the Lions (7-1) were to lose Voorhees (3-4) at home Friday night, it still wouldn’t matter what Irvington, Ramapo, Randolph, and Morris Knolls do behind the, We think North is set as the top overall team, meaning they would be the North 2, Group 4 top seed. Who gets the other No. 1 seed is still very much up in the air; Irvington’s not a lock with a tough game against West Orange.

#7 Ridge: The Red Devils (5-2) – contrary to our initial take – can’t quite grab the second overall position and the other No. 1 seed. We thought if they’d won at Union (2-5) and had a ton go right, including losses by six other teams around them, they could do it. But two of those teams – Randolph and Morris Knolls – play each other. So unless both decide to use an ineligible player and are granted losses (yes it could happen!) a No. 1 seed is out of the realm of possibility, we now believe, for Ridge. A top four finish is possible, though, if the Red Devils win. Undefeated Wayne Valley should beat winless Mount OIive, so beyond that huge upset, Ridge would need Ramapo (5-2) to lose to Ridgewood (5-2), and Randolph (6-1) to lose to Morris Knolls (6-1). On paper, those games could go either way. So, if Ridge wins, we call that a 50-50 shot. A loss, and Ridge could drop as low as nine, going on the road for the first round if everything breaks the wrong way around them.

#8 Colonia: The Patriots and the next few teams have so many possible scenarios and combos of winning and losing and other teams’ results, so we’ll just give their range. They could legitimately go as high as No. 7 overall, guaranteed at least a first-round home game, or drop as low as 13 in a worst-case scenario.

#11 Rahway: With Colonia being a strong team with just one loss, should they beat the Patriots, they could finish as high as an eight or nine overall, meaning a first-round home game is still in play. But we believe they’re in regardless of what happens; it looks like the lowest they can drop is 14 with a loss.

#12 Montgomery: Even with a loss to Linden, it looks like the Cougars are in, but destined to be on the road in the first round, as we peg them for a range of No. 10 to No. 15 overall.

#14 Sayreville: Similar to Montgomery, we think Sayreville is in whether they beat Woodbridge or not Friday night, and in the same 10-15 overall range.

#16 Woodbridge: Here’s where things start to get tricky. We thing the Barrons aren’t guaranteed of anything, even if they beat Sayreville Friday night, and the reason is the tiebreaker. If somehow, the Barrons end up a spot ahead of Linden, the Tigers have the tiebreaker by virtue of winning their regular season matchup. That’s even the case if Woodbridge finishes 16 and Linden finishes 17, regardless of power points, OSI or UPR. So, the Barrons need to finish two spots ahead of Linden if they end up at No. 16. Win, and it’s easier: they just need a loss by Linden and nothing else, and they’ll be the last team in. With a loss, they would not only need Linden to lose, but also Barringer to win Friday night against Nutley and Bergenfield to beat Pascack Valley on Saturday. Those have to happen to bump Linden to 18 so that Woodbridge avoids the tiebreaker. *We think.

#17 Linden: The Tigers, even though they’re behind Woodbridge, have it easier. With a win, even if everything else breaks wrong – including the Barrons winning – we have them at 17, with Woodbridge in 16th, and Linden getting the tiebreaker over the Barrons. We’ll see how it shakes out. And, as stated above, they could still get in with a loss, if things break right regarding Barringer and Bergenfield losing.

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 7: Cutoff Weekend is Here!

On this week’s trek around “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” we get veteran sportscaster Mike Pavlichko’s take on the coaching situation at Somerville, Piscataway being a contender again, and a winner take all game in Monmouth Junction Friday night!

Click below to listen to the Week Seven edition of “The Big Central in 2 Minutes”: