Tag: South Hunterdon

South Group 1 Playoff Analysis: Manville may not stay among Top 4

Cutoff Weekend starts with tomorrow night’s games under the lights, and 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.

We’ll have two live shows Saturday to give you the very latest. The first is tentatively scheduled for 11 am, as Mike Pavlichko hosts a Playoff Update show, factoring in all the Friday night games. Then, our second annual Playoff Projection airs at 6 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio for all our unofficial pairings. Click here to listen to both shows.

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: There are no undefeated teams here, but it looks like Woodstown and Woodbury have a lock on the top two spots, no matter what happens in their games this weekend. If both lose or both win, Woodbury appears to get the top seed. Woodstown would have to win and get a loss out of Woodbury to get the top seed.

#4 Manville: The Mustangs should finish 8-1, easily dispatching of Bound Brook, which is winless, has scored 18 points all year in seven games, and no more than six points in any single game this season. So, we’re not even going to go with what happens with a loss so Pat Gorbatuk can keep the Rolaids in his glove compartment for now. This is certainly better than last year, when at 6-2, Manville missed the playoffs with a weak schedule. This year’s was better from the Big Central, and picking up a Week Zero game against Keyport – which they won – turned out to be a boon, too. All that aside, though, having Bound Brook this final week will hurt them, even with a win. And we don’t think Manville can stay in the top four, even with losses by teams like Salem and Maple Shade. The trouble is, they would need losses by both Paulsboro and Audubon. So unless a bus breaks down somewhere in deep South Jersey, we peg the Mustangs for anywhere from a fifth to seventh place finish overall. We believe It would be fifth if both Maple Shade and Salem lose, sixth if Salem wins and Maple Shade loses, and seventh is Maple Shade wins and Salem loses. Either way, hosting a first-round playoff game at 8-1 is a far cry from going 6-2 and missing altogether.

#12 South Hunterdon: The Eagles play at New Hope/Solebury, their Pennsylvania rivals, so this game won’t count in the UPR standings. It’s all up to their opponents. We think their range is as high as nine if Florence, Asbury Park and Keyport all lose, and as low as 12th if they all win. Any other combo should put them right in the middle of that range somewhere, pending residuals, and on the road in any eventuality in the first round.

#16 Middlesex: The Blue Jays visit New Providence Friday night, and just like the other way around, this is an even game, so it doesn’t really move the needle much. But they still need it; a loss eliminates them, according to our calculations. With a win, Middlesex would stay in 16th without any other games added, and they’ll need help: namely, losses by Buena or Penns Grove (Schalick and Clayton behind them can’t jump that high, and appear irrelevant). Buena (2-5) visits 5-2 Glassboro Friday while Penns Grove (2-6) is at 6-1 Woodstown). So both those losses are fairly likely.

UNOFFICIAL: Group 1 Playoff Standings Update

Brearley keeps winning, but the Bears keep dropping in the playoff standings. Here’s a closer look at the North and South Group 1 supersections based on Central Jersey Sports Radio’s unofficial calculations after Week 7’s Friday night games:

Brearley is the only legitimate playoff contender from the Big Central, but the Bears keep slipping. That’s not because they keep winning, it’s because of their schedule and the teams they’re beating.

To wit: the Bears are tops in the section in power points, but eighth in the UPR. That says their wins at 7-0 are not as good as Mountain Lakes, which has the same record, is in fifth in power point average, third in OSI, and third in UPR. Same deal with Wood-Ridge, which is second in power point average – just behind Brearley – but first in OSI at 60.37. Brearley’s is 45.49.

Part of the problem is this: there are not enough quality Group 1 schools of Brearley’s size in the Big Central to play. To find teams with better OSIs, they might have to play some Group 2s or even Group 3s. But that’s another story for another day.

Brearley was fourth from Week Three through Week Six. Now they fall to sixth place, and with Dunellen on the schedule, could they fall even further out of the top eight and lose a first round home game due to the schedule? We’ll know more after Saturday play today, and as the Strength Index values are locked in going into next week. Then we can see what scenarios play out – best- and worst-case – for the Bears.

Manville suffered a bit of the same fate as Brearley, as the Mustangs dropped from 5th to 6th despite a win Friday night; they beat a “weak” OSI Highland Park team. They’re at Bound Brook next week so it’ll be much of the same most likely, if they beat the Crusaders. The question is, can they now hold on to a top eight finish, which would guarantee them a first round home game in the playoffs?

South Hunterdon with a Friday night win over Dayton moved up a bit from 12th to 11th, not terribly consequential in the long run. The Eagles don’t have a shot at the top eight, but are in the playoffs.

Middlesex, which lost to Brearley Thursday night, dropped one spot to 19th, but the Blue Jays still have a shot next week, if they can beat New Providence. It remains to be seen if they will need some help from the teams around them. On the OSI side, they would be helped by losses by Buena and Penns Grove. On the ppower points side, they’re looking at losses by Paulsboro (yes, way up in the UPR but just one spot ahead of them in power point average) Audubon and Asbury Park. (Asbury plays Saturday at Lakewood, then next Friday at Shore.

Bottom Line: Manville needs a win next week to have a shot – and maybe a good one at that – to finish in the top eight. South Hunterdon is in and will be in the bottom eight. Middlesex needs a win and maybe some help to get in, but it’s not doable with a loss.

Eight teams, four games, one day: Bound Brook hosts Skyland-GMC Coaches vs. Coronavirus showcase

Starting anything outside the confines of a pandemic is challenging enough, but doing so in the midst of one is hit or miss.

And so it went last year with what should have Bound Brook head coach Anthony Melesurgo’s inaugural Coaches vs. Coronavirus showcase, a fundraising event meant to raise money for those hit hard by the the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year? He again got plenty of interest, and the fates have smiled on the event, at least for the participants.

Though cases continue to surge in New Jersey – and across the U.S. – spurred by the omicron variant, all eight teams are healthy enough to play in today’s event, including the Crusaders, who are coming off a two-week layoff and only got back onto the practice floor as a group yesterday.

Scroll down for previews and notes on today’s games.

Click below to hear organizer and Bound Brook head coach Anthony Melesurgo talk about the event with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

Skyland vs. GMC Coaches vs. Coronavirus Schedule
Saturday, January 8 – Bound Brook High School

Dunellen vs. South Hunterdon, 12 pm
South Plainfield vs. Pingry, 2 pm
Franklin vs. Timothy Christian, 4 pm*
Bound Brook vs. Middlesex*

*games broadcast live on Central Jersey Sports Radio; click here to listen


Are we there yet? Top 5 longest treks for Big Central schools in the opening round of the playoffs

The way the NJSIAA now seeds the high school football playoffs – choosing the top 16 teams in the North and South halves of the state in each group, then snaking them through eight-team sections with no regard for geography other than that the overall Number One seed gets to be in their “natural” section – can lead to some long bus rides of a Friday night or Saturday morning.

We’ve compiled the five longest road trips for Big Central Conference teams in the opening round.

5. South Hunterdon at Paulsboro (1 hour, 6 minutes – 58 miles): Though both are along the Delaware River, they couldn’t be in more different towns. South Hunterdon Regional High School is in Lambertville, just under four miles from the bridge that takes you to New Hope, PA. Paulsboro High School is practically within walking distance of the Delaware, south of Philadelphia, but with its straight-line view marred by oil tank after oil tank at the Sunoco refinery, and with Philly International across the way. Believe it or not, Google says the fastest way between the schools is to take I-95 in Pennsylvania, then cross back over the Walt Whitman Bridge into Jersey. Taking the Turnpike all the way down from Trenton would add another six minutes to the trip.

4. Montgomery at Northern Highlands (1 hour, 15 minutes – 63 miles): When we trekked up to Northern Highlands to cover Woodbridge’s North 1 Group 4 title game there a couple of years ago, that was a trek coming from New Brunswick. Coming out of Skillman is no fun either. That’s a trip up 287 in the heat of rush-hour. Bring a good movie for the bus, or maybe a game of Risk, and settle in. For fans, there are some good eats in downtown Allendale, a quaint little village. Jerry Seinfeld even taped an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” there.

3. Old Bridge at Kingsway (1 hour, 19 minutes, 75 miles): In 2019, 6th-seed Kingsway pulled off an upset at Lombardi Field, heading back home for the nearly hour-and-a-half ride with a 34-7 win over third-seed Old Bridge. This time, the Knights are the five-seed on the road, and Kingsway is the four-seed at home. Maybe with the seeds flipped, the Knights can turn the tables on the Dragons.

2. St. Thomas Aquinas at St. Joseph-Hammonton (1 hour, 30 minutes – 78 miles): The parcohial schools, particularly down south, are used to this. With so few of them, and so far in between, trips are never a picnic. That doesn’t make it any easier. And the 7-2 Wildcats are a beast just about every year, so it’ll be a tall order for our Trojans. Then again, everyone said “Wait ’til they play Del Val.” Point taken.

1. Middlesex at Woodstown (1 hour, 42 minutes – 92 miles): This has got to be one of the longest trips for any team in the state in the opening round. It’s 287 to the Turnpike, all the way down to Exit 2, then through farms and fields until you get to the little village that is Woodstown. Ionically, the Wolverines’ baseball team made this same trip back in June for the Group 1 semifinals, which Middlesex won 7-5 in dramatic fashion, on Bobby Ulmer Jr.’s two-out, two-strike, walkoff grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Blue Jays would go on to win the Group 1 title, defeating New Providence in a 13-inning affair, their third straight in walkoff fashion – fourth if you count a walkoff mercy rule win in the sectional semifinals over Florence.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Click here to listen again – and again – to Bobby Ulmer Jr.’s game-winning grand slam against Woodstown from June 2021.

Group 1 Week 9 Breakdown: Brearley stands alone in the North, and is Manville finally in?

With only four Group 1 teams overall in playoff contention from the Big Central, we’re combining our unofficial projections for North and South 1 into one story. Take a look below:


Brearley: The only team from the Big Central in this supersection, the Bears already have played their Week Nine game, dispatching of Dayton in Kneilworth 40-6 to improve to 7-2. The win didn’t move the needle, though, so Brearley gains a spot to 11th place with an 11.2 UPR, and their finish is at the mercy of the teams below them. A win by Weequahic could drop them to 12th, since they would gain in power points, even though they’re behind Brearly significantly in that department; that’s the system! We think they’re around a 12 or 13 even if everyone behind them wins.


South Hunterdon: The Eagles (6-1) sit in 11th place at the moment, with a 12.2 UPR. Believe it or not, a win over Morrisville (PA) drops them to 12th, one place behind Middlesex, all on its own. So, South Hunterdon isn’t in any danger of getting a first-round home game. A loss – unlikely as it may be – could move them squarely out of the playoff picture entirely. If tragedy struck, they could get back in with a Glassboro loss to Woodstown, and/or maybe some other help.

MORE CUTOFF WEEKEND COVERAGE: A team-by-team breakdown of every Big Central team’s postseason standing and chances heading into Week 9

Middlesex: The Blue Jays sit in 12th, and we’ve already documented their move up even if South Hunterdon beats Morrisville. A win over Bernards could vault Middlesex into the top eight, and give them a first-round home game, if they get a little help from behind, In particular, an Asbury Park (4-3) loss at Manasquan (5-2), not out of the realm of possibility. A loss to Bernards keeps the Blue Jays in the bottom eight, starting the playoffs on the road.

Manville: Ah, the cause celebre for a couple of weeks, the Mustangs (6-1) sit in 16th place, currently “in,” but will they stay there? Let’s look at the two scenarios. Should Manville beat 2-6 Metuchen at home Friday night, they pull up into 14th just on that. Maple Shade and Glassboro could both pass them with wins and knock them out. If Manville loses, we think they’re out. So it’s “lose and your out” and “win and wait” for the Mustangs.

Manville still two spots out of the playoffs in South 1, despite big win at Bound Brook and 6-1 record

The good news is Manville moved up one place in the South Group 1 standings in unofficial calculations done exclusively by Central Jersey Sports Radio following Friday night’s games.

The question mark is what will happen in the slew of Saturday games down in South Jersey, and whether that will affect anything.

The bad news is, Manville is still out of the playoff picture at the moment, in 18th place, despite a 6-1 record, and a win over the second-best team on its schedule, Bound Brook, 51-27 as heard Friday night on Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Big Central Game of the Week, driven by Autoland.

What more can Manville do? Not a lot.

They can’t even cheer for Metuchen -which hosts Middlesex today – or at least it wouldn’t do any good. The Bulldogs are Manville’s last opponent, but have already played seven games, so they can’t get any extra residuals from a Bulldog win over Johnson, if they beat Metuchen next week.

They’re going to be at the mercy of others for help, it looks like, and that’s a shame. (I’ll have more on that later. Trust me.)

Meanwhile, Middlesex edged up a spot prior to today’s matchup with Metuchen, from 12th to 11th, flip flipping with South Hunterdon, which is idle this week. But again, the Blue Jays play Saturday afternoon in the Brainy Boro, so that will likely change, one way or the other. Both should be locked in the bottom eight though, and will start the playoffs in two weeks on the road.

Week 8 Analysis: Manville is rare case of a winning team still far from playoffs; South 1 breakdown

We’re going to start at the bottom of this section, because that’s where it gets most interesting. Manville is the cause celebre in 2021 for Central Jersey Sports Radio.

A couple of years ago, the NJSIAA acknowledged an undefeated team – provided they had 8 wins at least an no ties – should be in the playoffs regardless of their schedule. So, they wrote that into the Football Regulations.

What about a one loss team? Manville is 5-1, tied for 18th with Buena (0-5 – what???), and one of four teams in the state – out of the 132 currently outside the top 16 in their supersections – who have two or fewer losses. The others are Bordentown (5-1, 23rd in North 1), Northern Burlington (5-2, 23rd in South 2), and Belvidere (3-2, 17th in South 1).

What more can Manville do? The Big Central is a superconference of the former GMC and Skyland leagues, but there are still not enough quality teams of a similar size to play them. They’d have to play small Group 2s or 3s that are weaker, but that’s not right. Shouldn’t Group 1 teams compete against Group 1 teams for playoff spots? And while Manville may not be 5-1 any year, the same could be said if they are down and Metuchen put together a great season.

Add to this everything the town of Manville has been through, and it makes this an extra troubling scenario.

Of course, all may be forgiven if Manville beats rival Bound Brook Friday night, because the power points and OSI bump they would get would be huge. As a Group 2 with 3 wins, the Crusaders are worth 17 power points, while the Mustang’s power point average sits at 9.50, which means they would jump – assuming no other movement, of course – to a 10.57 and pass two other teams. Brook’s OSI value is 48.27, so Manville’s average would jump up from 28.44 to 31.27. That bumps them two spots as well, for a total UPR shedding of 2 points, getting them into a tie with Glassboro for 16th. Still so close!

Manville needs to win out, Friday, then beat Metuchen in Week 9 to have a prayer, and they still may need some help. At least as it looks now.

No one from the Big Central is in the top eight of this section, and the other two who look solidly in – South Hunterdon and Middlesex – probably don;t have a shot and will be starting on the road. It’s so tough to gain in UPR when you get to the smaller groups, especially playing like opponents in group size on the power point side. The Eagles are 5.2 UPR points out of 8th, and the Blue Jays 5.6 out. I don’t see them making up that ground, but they should be safely in the playoffs; there aren’t enough good teams to catch them.

Wall to Wall Big Central Football will air Thanksgiving Weekend on Central Jersey Sports Radio

Did the high school football season end too soon for you? Not stuffed yet from Thanksgiving Dinner?

Have no fear.

Central Jersey Sports Radio begins a new tradition this year: We’ll air every single one of our high school football broadcasts back-to-back-to-back to…. (you get the idea) … to-back this Thanksgiving Weekend.

Buy a bigger belt!

That’s right: 3 days, 13 games, 20 teams, 30 hours of Big Central Conference Football, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving of Piscataway.

Simply go to our website and click the Listen Live button to tune in any time, morning, noon or night. We’ll be “on the air” practically from sunup to sundown – definitely after sundown!

Here’s the schedule for each day, with original air date, and approximate start time:

Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 26

  • Somerville vs. South Plainfield, October 2 – 8 am
  • St. Joseph-Metuchen vs. Elizabeth, October 3 – 9:45 am
  • Old Bridge vs. East Brunswick, October 9 – noon
  • South River vs. Spotswood, October 10 – 2 pm
  • Bernards vs. Johnson, October 12 – 4:30 pm
  • Bound Brook vs Voorhees, October 16 – 6:30 pm

Friday, November 27 (Now starts at 9 am instead of 8 am)

  • Edison vs. North Brunswick, October 23 – 8 am
  • Manville vs. Bound Brook, October 30 – 11 am
  • Ridge vs. Hillsborough, November 6 – 1:45 pm
  • St. Joseph-Metuchen vs. Woodbridge, November 7 – 4:15 pm
  • Metuchen vs. South Hunterdon – 6:30 pm

Saturday, November 28

  • Woodbridge vs. Somerville, November 13 – noon
  • Edison vs. Hillsborough, November 20 – 3 pm

Balanced South Hunterdon attack helps Eagles soar over Metuchen

Four different starters each carried at least 6 times and caught passes from senior quarterback Ryan Hinman, who expertly led South Hunterdon to a 41-7 victory over Metuchen Saturday afternoon, in the “Big Central Game of the Week” powered by Bellamy & Son Paving on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The victory was just the third of the season for the Eagles (3-4), but you might not have known it with how efficiently their option attack picked apart the Bulldogs (0-5).

Hinman completed his last ten passes to go 10-for-11 for 91 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Logan Conner, who caught five passes for 37 yards, including a 5-yard TD. Conner carried 12 times for 63 yards and two touchdowns, while Hinman led the rushing attack with 21 carries for 68 yards and two TDs of his own.

Listen below to all the play-by-play of the game from Saturday, November 14th, 2020, with Mike Pavlichko on the call with guest analyst Harry Frezza.

1st Half

2nd Half