Tag: Scotch Plains-Fanwood

Return specialist Shawn Martin hopes to write next chapter at Southern Connecticut, but not before taking the diamond one last time

Shawn Martin returned four kickoffs for touchdowns last football season for Scotch Plains-Fanwood, amassing 414 yards on just six returns.

Sure, he only returned six, but that’s because no coach in his right mind would dare tell his players to kick the ball to the young man who would be the Central Jersey Sports Radio Special Teams Player of the Year.

But ask him now what his favorite return is? It’ll have nothing to do with football.

The 2019 football season was normal, of course, and 2020 was affected by COVID – but at least it happened.

Martin missed the entire baseball season last year when it got wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, only getting in a handful of games in the Last Dance Baseball Tournament.

So, right now, his favorite return is the one he just made this week back to the baseball field with his Scotch Plains teammates. (They just played their first game this week after a COVID-related pause.)

Martin is headed to Southern Connecticut State University, to play wherever he can get on the field for the owls, after a tumultuous recruiting season that tended to be the norm for high school athletes around the country, unless you’re a four- or five-star kid.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko caught up with Martin this week before his Raiders’ baseball team left for an afternoon game at A.L. Johnson.

Click below to listen:

Scotch Plains-Fanwood kick return specialist Shawn Martin

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.

Cipot helps North Brunswick figure it out, and is named Coach of the Year

In The Sound of Music, the nuns in the abbey sang “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”

In North Brunswick, head coach Mike Cipot had to figure out how to solve the problem of not having the graduated Myles Bailey.

All he did in his time with the Raiders was re-write more than a couple of key pages in the record books. Bailey is tops in career rushing yards (5,096), career rushing touchdowns (41), and career points (314). And as a safety, his 8 career interceptions rank 5th all-time in school history.

Bailey now is a grayshirt at Central Michigan, and he’s not the only top talent Cipot lost.

There’s Samod Wingo, a TE/DE who is at William Paterson, and Leon Lowery – who played in a handful of games late in the season for Syracuse.

But Cipot and his assistants found a way, leading North Brunswick to a 7-1 season, their only loss to Cranford, one of the Big Central’s top teams.

How did they account for the loss of Bailey’s big numbers? By committee.

Five different players – including the quarterback, sophomore Frankie Garbolino – rushed for 100 yards or more this season.

Click below to hear Mike Cipot talk about how the Raiders continued their success in 2020:

Honorable mentions for Coach of the Year included Dan Lee of Monroe and Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s Austin Holman.

Lee’s Falcons finished 5-1, by far the school’s best season since he took over for Chris Beagan in 2016. Monroe had gone a combined 8-30 in Lee’s first four seasons. Their only loss came by 7 at home to Old Bridge in Week One, and they won their remaining games by a combined 184-60, never allowing more than 18 points the rest of the way.

Holman led the Raiders to a 5-2 season, following a 4-6 mark in his first year at SPF in 2019. He took over a program that had gone a combined 9-50 under Mark Ciccotelli and Jon Stack from 2013-18. They scored three blowout wins, beating Princeton, JFK and Colonia by a combined 136-29.