Tag: Somerville

Mid-Season Playoff Analysis: Summit, Cranford, Carteret may have chance at top seeds in Group 3

It’s our first week of playoff analysis here at Central Jersey Sports Radio – this year, presented by our friends at My Family Appliances in Edison – and it seems like more teams have a legitimate shot at earning top seeds.

That may just be anecdotal evidence, and there’s still a lot of football to be played, but as of now, at least three Group 3 schools may have a chance.

But first…

Playoff Qualification Primer

The NJSIAA uses the United Power Ranking (UPR) to determine where teams are seeded. Without getting into all the behind the scenes calculations and caveats, each team’s UPR is based on two factors: their rank in the supersection based on power points and on OSI.

Power points are an average and based on the traditional formula that’s been used – albeit altered from time-to-time – over the years. Teams get six points for every win, group points based on the group of the opponent, and residuals – 3 for every win by a team you beat, 1 for every win by a team you lost to.

OSI is the Opponent Strength Index, and average of all the opponents played. Teams get the full value of a team’s Strength Index for a win, half for a loss. A win over an opponent with an SI of 80 gets and 80, a loss gets you 40 points. SI varies based on results throughout the year.

Teams are ranked in each category. OSI values are worth 60 percent of the formula, power points 40 percent. That added number makes the UPR, with lower numbers better. The best UPR a team can have is a 1, which is first in both power points and OSI.

The UPR is calculated for the NJSIAA by the website Gridiron New Jersey. Central Jersey Sports Radio also does its own unofficial calculations throughout the season, and will unveil its playoff projections in our annual special broadcast, this year on Saturday, October 21 from 5-7 pm, presented by My Family Appliances in Edison.

North Group 3

While Old Tappan (4-0, 10-game win streak, second longest active in the state) sits at the top, Summit (3-1) is No. 2 overall at the moment in the section, with a 2.2 UPR, right behind Old Tappan (1.4) and ahead of Warren Hills (4-1, 2.4 UPR) by a smidge. Cranford (2-2) is just behind the, but it’s a wider gap, as they have a 6.4 UPR, which is decent ground to make up.

The Hilltoppers have a good schedule coming up after winless Scotch Plains-Fanwood at home this weekend, with strong teams like Linden at home next week, then two road games to closer it out at Colonia and St. Joseph-Metuchen. Old Tappan’s schedule may be slightly lower in quality the rest of the way out, and Warren Hills is fairly similar, too. Summit may have to win out to earn a top seed, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Cranford has a tough schedule, too, including closing with Group 5 North Brunswick. The Cougars may need some help, but it’t not out of the question for them either if things break right.

The next area team in the standings is Hillside at No. 12. The Comets are 3-1, and should fairly safely be in the playoffs if they continue to play at the level they have been; their lone loss is to Ridge.

Governor Livingston is an interesting study. The Highlanders are 4-1, having won four straight after losing their opener. It”s their best start since going 8-1 to start 2006, a season they finished 8-3. It’s their first four-game win streak since 2008, when the Highlanders went 7-5 and lost to Caldwell in the North 2, Group 2 title game.

All that and GL is only in 16th place.

It’s mainly due to their schedule: three of their four wins have come against teams that are a combined 0-14 in North Plainfield, JFK and JP Stevens. The schedule gets tougher though, with Carteret and Bernards – teams with top-seed playoff aspirations – among their final four games. Both are at home, the Ramblers next week, and Bernards on the Saturday of Cutoff Weekend.

A win against one of those might be needed in order to combat the weak schedule. Stay tuned, they could be this year’s cause celebre in the Big Central, a la Spotswood last year and Manville two years ago. They finished with seven and six wins, respectively, at the cutoff, and didn’t make the postseason, and scheduling had a lot to do with it.

South Group 3

It might be a bit of a longshot, and playing winless JP Stevens won’t help them this week, no matter how close they keep it, but Carteret sits in sixth with a 7.4 UPR, 4.8 points behind second-place Holmdel.

Then again, after the Hawks this Friday night (7 pm on CJSR) the schedule gets tougher. There’s 4-1 Governor Livingston, then Rahway and Hillside.

A lot may depend on what others do.

Somerville (3-2) sits in eighth at the moment, so they’re right on the bubble of a first round home game. They could go either way at this still-early date.

South Plainfield, like Governor Livingston, is another plus-.500 team in rough shape. At 3-2, the Tigers sit in 24th place, a full nine UPR points out of the playoff window. Worse yet, their remaining schedule is not good. Other than GL this week, they have Voorhees, at Perth Amboy, and home to Monroe the last three weeks; those three teams are a combined 6-9. It’s not awful, but there’s no “big win” either, to give them a big boost.

No. 6 Montgomery stands tall with backs to the goal line for wild 27-21 win at No. 10 Somerville

In a battle of undefeated, 3-0 teams, where both teams made big play after big play on offense, defense and special teams, it was Montgomery that made one more big play than Somerville.

After taking a 27-14 lead with two fourth quarter touchdowns – including a 66-yard pass play from Michael Schmelzer, Jr., to Matthew D’Avino – the No. 10 Pioneers got back to within a touchdown, held the Cougars to a three-and-out, and got the ball back with 1:36 left and a chance to win.

But for the second straight year, 6th-ranked Montgomery would not be denied. Almost, but not quite.

On fourth-down they got a huge pass play from Brenden Pacheco to Quinn Carran for 63 yards to the Monty 30, then worked their way to a first-and-ten at the 16 with 30 seconds left.

Pacheco’s first pass to Mitchell fell incomplete. Montgomery got called for pass interference on second down, leaving 9.4 seconds on the clock. Pacheco connected with Quinn Carran on second down again, but he came down out of bounds five yards past the goal line.

And on the final play of the game, Matt D’Avino broke up one last pass from Pacheco that would have tied the game, and given ‘Ville a chance to win it on the PAT.

The aerial attack was the story overall, with Pacheco and Schmelzer combining for 550 passing yards. Pacheco finished with 329 and two TDs, while Schmelzer had 221 yards and two TD passes, while running for a third.

Montgomery is off to a 4-0 start, while Somerville took its first loss and falls to 3-1.

Click below for postgame reaction with Mike Pavlichko presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Montgomery senior QB Michael Schmelzer, Jr.
Montgomery head coach Zoran Milich

Somerville to honor 1983 undefeated state champs, 40 years after CJ2 title

Somerville has had four undefeated seasons in its long and storied history, but the Pioneers’ most recent – which came in 1983 – will be honored tonight at Brooks Field as Montgomery comes to town in a battle of 3-0 teams.

The ‘Ville also was undefeated in 1979, 1953 and 1929. Technically, 1909 as well; they only played one game and beat Bound Brook 16-5.

But that 1983 team is one many still remember in town.

They beat West Windsor in the Central Jersey Group 2 final at muddy Brooks Field, 30-6, to cap off an 11-0 season.

“We have a great tradition and we can tee it up with anyone. This is one of the best team’s we’ve ever had here,” head coach Jerry Moore told reporters after the game. Moore is expected to be in attendance for ceremonies Friday evening.

Somerville was 4-5 the year before, in 1982, but they were considered the favorite to win the Mid-State’s Raritan Division over Bridgewater West, which graduated 18 players from their ’82 squad.

The year got started at Frank Jost Field, where the Pioneers crushed South Plainfield in a 40-0 shutout of a Tiger team considered one of the best defensive squads in the area. It was The ‘Ville’s biggest offensive output that season.

They then took out Bridgewater West two weeks later, and went into the four-team CJ2 playoffs at 9-0 as the top-seed.

It wasn’t easy in the opening round against fourth-seed Ridge, which cut a 7-0 lead to 7-6 with a second quarter touchdown, the first Somerville had allowed in the first half of a game all year long.

In the second half, the Red Devils again challenged, but lost a fumble on their opening drive, then Paul Gibbons picked up an interception to end another possession.

Somerville battles Ridge on November 19, 1983 in the Central Jersey Group 2 first round at Brooks Field. (Source: Newspapers.com)

The teams went into the final 12 minutes with ‘Ville still nursing a one-point lead before Pat Balunis threw a 55-yard TD strike to Pat Kelley on third-and-three from midfield, then got a 31-yard field goal with under five minutes left to seal the deal.

Somerville closed out the Raritan Division title with its 13th straight win, and tenth of the season, a 27-6 rout of Hillsborough, which had won a title just three years earlier. The Raiders scored first, in the second quarter, but the Pioneers responded with 27 unanswered points to win.

And the following week capped the perfect season. “We made the big plays all year when we had to, and it was a very good season,” Moore said after the title game.

Yes, it was.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko with former Somerville head coach Jerry Moore:

Somerville’s hot start will be tested again Friday by Montgomery in battle of 3-0 teams

Head coach Matt Bloom doesn’t want to take the credit for the team being 5-1 under his leadership, 3-0 this year, and 2-1 at the end of last year when he took over late in the season.

But he is the one main difference from the early part of last season through today, which finds the Pioneers unbeaten through three weeks heading into this Friday’s clash with equally-unbeaten, 3-0 Montgomery.

You can hear that game on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas on the call live from Brooks Field in Somerville. Kickoff is 7:00, pregame is at 6:45; click here to listen.

Also back from last year is Quinn Carran – the team’s top returning receiver – who had 158 yards on just five catches, with three of them going for touchdowns, as well as runningback Terrell Mitchell, who was the top rusher last year, with 725 yards and seven touchdowns.

They’ll be seeking revenge for a loss last year at Montgomery, which saw the Cougars rally from a 14-13 halftime deficit to win 27-20 down in Skillman.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Somerville head coach Matt Bloom about the Pioneers’ 3-0 start and the matchup with Montgomery:

No. 6 Montgomery takes solid start into Somerville for Friday matchup with No. 10 Pioneers in battle of unbeatens

Last year’s 3-0 start for the Montgomery football was in serious jeopardy at halftime of their game against Somerville last year in Skillman, with the Cougars down 14-13.

Then they opened up the passing game, ran a hook-and-lateral, and came back for a 27-21 victory. The eventually won five in a row before taking their first loss, setting a new mark for best start to a season in program history.

They come into this year’s game in the same position, 3-0, with high-scoring wins over Robbinsville, Franklin, and Plainfield. With many of the same offensive contributors as last season – led by third-year starting quarterback Michael Schmelzer, his top receiver Matt D’Avino, and leading rusher Brady Post – the Cougars are averaging 35.3 points a game this season.

But the Cougars also have excelled defensively, allowing an average of just nine points per game while holding two of its first three opponents to single digits. Head coach Zoran Milich feels a combination of solid run defense and pressure on the quarterback have been a big part of their defensive success, which may face its stiffest test yet tonight: Somerville – also 3-0 – is scoring 34 points per game.

You can hear Friday night’s matchup at Brooks Field in Somerville on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with kickoff set for 7:00, and pregame at 6:45. Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the action. Click here to listen.

Click below to hear Montgomery head coach Zoran Milich talk about the Cougars and the matchup against Somerville:

Unanimous again: Phillipsburg remains No. 1 in Big Central Media Poll for Week 3

Once again, Phillipsburg got all five first place votes and is a unanimous No. 1 in the Big Central Media Poll for Week Three.

The Stateliners are 2-0 after wins over two ranked teams – Sayreville and Ridge – in its opening two games. Phillipsburg visits 0-3 North Hunterdon this week.

Somerville – which received votes the last two weeks – break into the field in a three-way tie with Montgomery and Sayreville, while Cranford (1-1) dropped out.

Following is the full Week 3 Big Central Media Poll:

Another win over a ranked team keeps Phillipsburg No. 1 in CJSR Week 3 Rankings

In its opening game, top-ranked Phillipsburg easily dispatched of No. 2 Sayreville.

Game Two was a bit more challenging, but with a 21-14 win over third-ranked Ridge, the Stateliners are 2-0, passing two early season tests, and hanging on again to the top spot in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten.

Ridge remains in the rankings, but at 1-1 now, drops to fourth. Two other one-loss teams are in the Top Ten. Sayreville (2-1) – with the loss to Phillipsburg – is eighth this week, while Colonia – also 2-1, with their loss coming to Sayreville – is right behind them in ninth.

Somerville and Hunterdon Central again tied for tenth, both at 3-0, leaving eleven teams in the rankings.

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

Phillipsburg again No. 1 in CJSR Top Ten; Somerville and Hunterdon Central join rankings

Off to a 2-0 start, Phillipsburg maintained its No. 1 ranking in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten for Week Two.

There was little change in this week’s rankings, which narrowed a bit. No. 10 Westfield dropped out after a loss to previously-No. 9 Watchung Hills, which moved up to sixth.

And two new teams joined the poll: Somerville (2-0) tied for tenth with Hunterdon Central (2-0). The Pioneers also received votes last week, while Hunterdon Central got its first-ever vote for the CJSR Top Ten. (CJSR’s first Top Ten came out in our inaugural season, 2020.)

No teams ended up in the Also Received Votes category, as Somerville and Central were the last two vote-getters, and both ended up in the Top Ten.

Below are the full Week Two CJSR H.S. Football Rankings:

With a full year ahead, Pioneers hoping Bloom will bring boom times back to Somerville

We’re not even going to talk about what happened in the first seven games of the 2022 football season for Somerville. All you have to know is the good news that Matt Bloom is back for his first full season as head coach.

Bloom took over with just two games left in a year that started going off the rails early. And all Bloom did was get the team to win its final two games of the season to make the playoffs. Both were must-win games, and they got Ws at home against Hillsborough and at South Brunswick on Cutoff Weekend.

This year, with some speedy skill players back, the Pioneers are looking to continue the momentum.

They’re already off to a good start, with a season-opening 41-7 win at Voorhees in their Week Zero game Friday night. In fact, it all started with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game by speedster Terrell Mitchell. Quarterback Brendan Pacheco went on to throw two touchdown passes, one to Quinn Carran who also had a 55-yard punt return for a TD.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s interview at Big Central Media Days with Somerville head coach Matt Bloom and two-way senior lineman Braeden Kaye: