Tag: Somerville

NJSIAA State Tournament opening round sees half-dozen girls teams advance on opening night

Colonia, Dunellen, Highland Park, Middlesex, North Plainfield and Somerville all picked up wins on the opening night of the 2023 state girls’ basketball tournament, while seven area teams were knocked out in the first round.

Dunellen’s win was especially satisfying for the third-seeded Destroyers, who beat 14th-seed Henry Hudson 56-29 at home to snap a three-game losing streak, part of a five-game regular season stretch they had since getting knocked out of the GMC Tournament in the preliminary round. It sets up the only all-are matchup in the sectional quarterfinals, as they will take on 6th-seed Highland Park Wednesday. The Owls got by 11th-seed Woodbridge Magnet 53-33.

Dunellen lost at Highland Park a week ago, 44-29, their only meeting this season.

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Now it’s on to the sectional semifinals for Group 1 and 3 schools on Wednesday. Groups 2 and 4 begin play tomorrow, with non-publics starting play on Wednesday.

Below are the opening night results in all sections with CJSR-area teams still alive in the state tournament. Scroll further down for the upcoming schedule, including the next matchups for tonight’s winners:

Central Group 3
#1 Ewing def. #16 Middletown North, 66-34
#8 Colts Neck def. #9 Hamilton West, 56-14
#5 Somerville def. #12 Jackson Liberty, 44-37
#4 Allentown def #13 Carteret, 59-17
#3 Red Bank Regional def. #14 Hopewell Valley, 58-24
#11 Brick Memorial def. #6 Steinert, 39-23
#7 Robbinsville def. #10 South Plainfield, 31-29
#2 Ocean Twp. def. #15 JFK, 69-17

Central Group 1
#8 South Hunterdon def. #9 Manville, 46-24
#5 Pt. Pleasant Beach def. #12 Somerset Tech, 53-32
#13 Keyport def. #4 Perth Amboy Magnet, 35-21
#3 Dunellen def. #14 Henry Hudson, 56-29
#6 Highland Park def. #11 Woodbridge Magnet, 53-33
#7 New Egypt def. #10 Keansburg, 38-17
#2 Middlesex def. #15 Florence, 63-33
(#1 seed Shore had a bye)

North 2 Group 3
#1 Randolph def. #16 Rahway, 60-16
#8 North Plainfield def. #9 Governor Livingston, 42-37
#5 Colonia def. #12 Nutley, 56-27
#4 Fort Lee def. #13 North Hunterdon
#3 Millburn def. #14 Belleville, 46-18
#11 Mendham def. #6 West Morris, 50-42
#7 Warren Hills def. #10 Cranford, 57-48
#2 Chatham def. #15 Orange, 68-34

Here’s the remainder of the upcoming schedule, including matchups from Monday’s results:


Central Group 4
#16 North Brunswick at #1 Hightstown
#9 Marlboro at #8 Old Bridge
#13 West Windsor-Plainsboro North at #4 East Brunswick
#14 Northern Burlington at #3 Monroe
#15 Freehold Township at #2 South Brunswick

Central Group 2
#11 Bound Brook at #6 Spotswood
#10 South River at #7 Metuchen

North 2 Group 4
#9 Woodbridge at #8 Hillsborough
#12 Union at #5 Edison
#11 Franklin at #6 Watchung Hills
#10 Ridge at #7 Scotch Plains-Fanwood

North 2 Group 2
#13 Bernards at #4 Dayton


Central Group 3 Quarterfinals
#8 Colts Neck at #1 Ewing
#5 Somerville at #4 Allentown
#11 Brick Memorial at #3 Red Bank Regional
#7 Robbinsville at #2 Ocean Twp.

Central Group 1 Quarterfinals
#8 South Hunterdon at #1 Shore
#13 Keyport at #5 Pt. Pleasant Beach
#6 Highland Park at #3 Dunellen
#7 New Egypt at #2 Middlesex

North 2 Group 3 Quarterfinals
#8 North Plainfield at #1 Randolph
#5 Colonia at #4 Fort Lee
#11 Mendham at #3 Millburn
#7 Warren Hills at #2 Chatham

Non-Public South A First Round

#9 Our Lady of Mercy at #8 Pingry
#12 Union Catholic at #5 St. Thomas Aquinas
#11 Immaculata at #6 Camden Catholic

Non-Public South B First Round
#14 Moorestown Prep at #3 Rutgers Prep
#11 Timothy Christian at #6 Trenton Catholic
#10 Calvary Christian at #7 Bishop Eustace


Non-Public North B Quarterfinals
#5 Gill St. Bernard’s at #4 Montclair-Immaculate
#7 Wardlaw-Hartridge at #2 Morris Catholic

Somerville’s Bloom officially appointed full-time football coach

“You learn a lot about what to do from the people before you.”

That thought from Matt Bloom may best sum up the reason the Somerville Board of Education officially appointed him as the full-time football coach at the high school at its meeting Tuesday night, after he took over with just two games to go in the season from first-year head coach Ian Pace.

Though the move was not disclosed publicly and inspired a bit of a sense of mystery around the Big Central Conference, there’s no mystery as to why Bloom now has the job. He was the lone holdover from the highly successful Jeff Vanderbeek/Dallas Whitaker era, which saw the program go 57-8 under the two head coaches – winning a state title in 2017 and reaching two other sectional finals – after losing 25 straight from 2012 through 2015.

Bloom went 2-1 after being elevated from offensive line coach to head coach in time for the Pioneers’ October 14th home game against Hillsborough. With a 2-5 record at that point – in part due to a forfeit against Mastery Charter of Camden for using an ineligible transfer – and needing to likely win two games to clinch a playoff berth, Somerville did just that.

They beat the Raiders 35-14 at Brooks Field, then came up with an equally as critical and convincing 41-28 road win at South Brunswick on the Friday night of Cutoff Weekend to make the postseason at 4-5, though they eventually dropped a first-round game at Seneca.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s exclusive interview with Matt Bloom upon being approved by the Board of Education as Somerville’s full-time head football coach:

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 8: It’s Playoff Time!

Now that the playoffs are upon us, “The Big Central in Two Minutes” with veteran sportscaster Mike Pavlichko takes a look at teams that can do some damage in the postseason, the double-multiplier effect, and how we did with our preseason playoff projections.

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

Somerville fends off South Brunswick to clinch playoff berth

It was a game that looked like it would be a rout at halftime, but turned out to be an old-fashioned Donnybrook.

That is, until Somerville finally decided to eat the clock before scoring its final touchdown in a 41-28 win over South Brunswick, a victory that appears to have locked up a playoff spot for the Pioneers, avoiding a miss for the first time since 2015.

On touchdowns from runningbacks Terrell Mitchel and Hashym Hobbs-Harris, and a touchdown catch by Quinn Carran that opened the scoring, Somerville led South Brunswick on the road 21-0 in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio Friday night.

But South Brunswick came out angry in the second half, with Jacob Brokaw leading the way on his Senior Night.

Brokaw had a five-yard touchdown run to pull the Vikings withing 21-7. But Julian Finger’s touchdown pass answered right back for the Pioneers.

Then quarterback Braden Paulmenn finished off a drive led by Brokaw to make it 28-14, but Hobbs-Harris came back with a 54-yard score.

Paulmenn added another one-yard run, but QB Mike Miller of the Pioneers got it back to a three-schore lead at 41-21.

South Brunswick would add another touchdown from Brokaw with 1:19 left, but that would be all they’d get as Somerville came away with a 41-28 road win that should clinch a playoff berth.

Official state playoff pairings will be out Sunday from the NJSIAA, but Central Jersey Sports Radio will have a live Playoff Update Saturday morning at 11 (click here to listen) followed by a live Twitter Spaces at noon for a Q&A with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko. Then, at 6, Mike is back with a full Playoff Projection Show, with a live look at the likely matchups.

Click below for postgame reaction from Somerville’s playoff berth-clinching win over South Brunswick Friday night:

Somerville sophomore RB Terrell Mitchell (13 carries, 192 yards, 1 TD)

Somerville head coach Matt Bloom

South Brunswick hosts Somerville with playoff berth on the line

When Joe Goerge left South Brunswick in January 2019, the last game he coached for the Vikings was a playoff game, a windy affair at Mike Elko Field that saw Edison – on a great game by receiver Noah Stansbury – head back up Route One with a win.

After a couple of seasons on Staten Island, George is back in Monmouth Junction, and has a chance to do something that he did every year during his first go around: take the Vikings to the postseason.

Currently 3-4 and 15th in the South Group 5 United Power Rankings heading into Cutoff Weekend, South Brunswick hosts Somerville (3-5) Friday night in a unique “win and in” scenario. Should they come out on top on their home field, the playoffs await. Lose, and the Vikings will be forced to rely on outcomes across the state.

“I think now-a-days, these kids actually know the power points situation better than I do,” George said. “They’re on it. They were the first ones that said it’s coming down to this one game. You can’t phony up motivation. We approach it very honestly with them.”

Junior quarterback Braden Paulmenn made his first career start in last week’s loss to Edison and showed plenty of promise. He’ll be flanked in the backfield by two talented senior backs, Khiri Summers and Jacob Brokaw. Both have run for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns this season and will set the tone for the Vikings’ triple-option offense.

You can hear Friday night’s game with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling the play-by-play starting with pregame at 6:15, and kickoff at 6:30 pm from Mike Elko Field in Monmouth Junction. Click here to listen.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk with South Brunswick head coach Joe Goerge:

Somerville looking to finish strong, facing a “Win and In” game at South Brunswick Friday night

At 2-5, having a season-opening victory taken off the board, and going through the gauntlet of a mostly Group 5 schedule for Group 3 Somerville, the Pioneers season had come down to two games. But one at a time.

In rolled Hillsborough, ranked No. 3 in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten. Banged up to be sure, with its first two quarterbacks out due to injury, but a team whose only loss came at the hands of Phillipsburg, the top-ranked team in the league.

And with a coaching change less than 48 hours before kickoff at Brooks Field, Must-Win Game No. 1 could have gone a lot of different ways.

That kickoff was the difference. Terrell Mitchell took it to the house, and before Hillsborough could blink, the Pioneers were up 14-0, en route to a 35-14 win.

Now, the second of those two must-win games, as Somerville (3-5) visits South Brunswick (3-4) in a game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, where the winner will make the playoffs, and the loser may have to do some scoreboard watching.

You can hear Friday night’s game with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling the play-by-play starting with pregame at 6:15, and kickoff at 6:30 pm from Mike Elko Field in Monmouth Junction. Click here to listen.

Somerville appears to have a new fire in its belly since offensive line coach Matt Bloom – the only holdover from the Dallas Whitaker/Jeff Vanderbeek era – was handed the reins, with Ian Pace no longer coaching the team. School administrators have not publicly commented on the change.

It wasn’t a distraction last week, and you can bet it won’t be this week.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Somerville head coach Matt Bloom:

South Group 3 Playoff Analysis: It’s “Win and Get In” for Carteret and Somerville

With Cutoff Weekend just a couple of days away, 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 too many 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)

Top Seeds: We’re projecting Delsea will be the overall top seed. Why? Even if they lose this weekend, it’ll be to St. Joseph-Hammonton, a multiplier. So, they’ll get massive points. Behind them is up for grabs, however, and we project the top seed could be anyone of four teams, with varyig degrees of likelihood: Seneca, Camden, Ocean Township or Hopewell Valley.

#10 South Plainfield: If the Tigers beat Monroe and complete the undefeated regular season 8-0 – which would be their first since their 9-0 state championship year in 1965 – they could finish as high as No. 7 and earn at least a first-round home game. They would need a lot to go right, like Timber Creek, Highland Regional, Manasquan, Cedar Creek and Camden Eastside to lose as well. They may not need all of that to get in the top eight. The most likely scenario is a No. 9 or No. 10 finish, though. And with a loss, they could go as low as No. 12 if everything breaks the wrong way.

#15 Carteret and #16 Somerville: We think the Ramblers get in with a win, and the lowest they could finish in that case – if they beat Hillside Saturday on the road – is eleventh. The Pioneers also would get in if they win at South Brunswick Friday night in a game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio with kickoff at 6:30 (click here to listen), but still could finish as low as 16. We think Carteret can get as high as No. 8 and Somerville No. 13 if both win, possibly higher if one or the other wins, but a win by either doesn’t necessarily automatically eliminate the other. Hillside would be a significant win for Carteret due to their success, as would South Brunswick for Somerville considering they’re a Group 5 school. If they lose? It becomes a little more tricky. Both teams would need help, though Somerville might need a little more. It’s possible though. We’ll have a much better idea once we see how Friday shakes out. And while the Pioneers are just 3-5, it’s a shame Carteret is in this situation at 6-2. Their downfall is they lost to perhaps the best two teams on their schedule to date: South Plainfield and Rahway. The last time they were 6-2 was at the cutoff in 2013, when they lost in the second round of the playoffs, and beat Perth Amboy on Thanksgiving to finish 8-3 under Matt Yascko.

“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”:

UNOFFICIAL: Group 3 Playoff Standings Update

Somerville’s huge upset win over Hillsborough Friday night all of a sudden has them in the thick of the playoff race. Here’s a look at Central Jersey Sports Radio’s unofficial playoff standing update for Group 3’s North and South supersections:

West Morris and Old Tappan hang on to the No. 1 and No. 2 spots they each had last week, though Old Tappan slipped from a solid 2 to a 2.4 UPR.

Hillside and Cranford flipped this week, even though the Comets haven’t played yet. They go from fourth to third, while the Cougars slipped from third to fourth due to the OSI factor of Friday night’s win over Linden. Hillside plays Delaware Valley at home Saturday, and the question is: Can they move into second with a win?

This is where the system gets complicated. Because even though Hillside is third in UPR, they have limited room to rise, even though they’re just 0.2 UPR behind Old Tappan.

Teams can’t rise in UPR directly. They have to do it through power point rank or OSI rank. Every position up a team goes in power point rank is worth 0.4 UPR points shaved off, yielding a better UPR. So an increase in power point average rank of one spot would do the trick. But Hillside is second in that category overall, and Old Tappan is third. So even though Old Tappan is ahead of them in UPR, that’s not the team they’re chasing in power points. And West Morris (No. 1 in power points) is 5 points ahead of them.

Del Val is a 23 point game, but that still would only get Hillside to 18, well behind West Morris’ 21.5 average.

For OSI, Old Tappan and West Morris are ahead of them, and while a win Saturday vs. Del Val would increase Hillside’s OSI by about 3, they’re still two behind Old Tappan. But a win is still important to avoid falling back to fourth, where they could lose that spot next week.

Summit dropped two places – they play Colonia today – but still has had a meteoric rise from 24th to 7th (after last week) after starting the year 0-3 but winning its next three games. Huge chance against the Patriots Saturday, as a win could get them as high as 6th.

Bottom Line: Hillside and Cranford both need to win next week to lock up home field through at least the semifinals, assuming no one passes them otherwise with “stronger” wins. A win over Colonia might solidify at least a first-round home game for Summit.

South 3 is where it starts to get interesting. We’ll begin with the easy one, South Plainfield, which, despite a win Friday night over a “weak” Perth Amboy team, dropped a spot to 8th. The Tigers are in the playoffs, no doubt, but they’d love a first-round home game.

The next two Big Central teams are tied at the cutoff line.

Carteret – despite losing to Rahway Friday night – holds in 16th.

But Somerville, in desperation mode to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015 – when Jeff Vanderbeek was “co-head coach” – came up with a massive and convincing win over Hillsborough Friday night to improve to 3-5, and get back in the heat of the race. The Pioneers jumped from No. 21 to tie the Ramblers for 16th, with another must-win looming at South Brunswick next week. But if they could beat the Raiders, why not the Vikings?

One interesting thing to note here: Wall is in 15th, aided on the power point side by multiplier losses to Red Bank Catholic and Donovan Catholic. But with zero wins, and the NJSIAA making two wins the minimum this year, they’re essentially eliminated. Which means, as of this moment, Carteret and Somerville would be in.

Bottom Line: South Plainfield is in, but may need a win next week to guarantee a first-round home game. It looks like Carteret and Somerville both have must-win games next week to get in, but with losses by teams behind them, may be able to sneak in. The Ramblers may be able to better suffer a loss, considering their opponent is Hillside. Just know this: it’ll be an exciting Cutoff Weekend!