Tag: South Plainfield

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 5: Don’t sleep on the Lions, stingy North Brunswick “D”

On this week’s trek around “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” Mike Pavlichko comes away impressed with North Hunterdon’s ground game, and talks about North Brunswick’s season-long stingy defense. That and a whole lot more on this week’s edition!

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

Rough night for (most of) the Big Central unbeatens, as four of seven playing Friday night go down

The Big Central Conference had eight teams boasting unblemished records heading into Week 5 of the high school football regular season.

Half those teams went down Friday night – Colonia, Hillside, Johnson and Montgomery – with one more still to play Saturday afternoon, when South Plainfield (4-0) visits Governor Livingston (3-2), winners of their last three games.

First, the good news: top-ranked Phillipsburg and No. 2 North Brunswick picked up convincing wins Friday night, while Brearley won as well.

Though they only led 7-0 at the half, Phillipsburg scored twice to take a 21-0 lead on Hunterdon Central, eventually winning 21-7 in Flemington. Xavier Moore opened the scoring and Jett Genovese threw a pair of touchdown passes to Matthew Scerbo, Jr. Now 5-0, the Stateliners host Bridgewater-Raritan at Maloney Stadium next Friday night.

North Brunswick allowed just its third and fourth touchdowns of the season in a 34-14 road win at Franklin. A fourth-quarter touchdown came when the game was out of hand. The Raiders are 5-0 as well, and take the short trip down Livingston Avenue to New Brunswick next Friday night.

Phillipsburg and North Brunswick both led their respective Group 5 playoff supersections – North and South 5 – heading into the weekend, but they won’t meet in the regular season. They could only play if they both reached the first-ever Group 5 state final this December at Rutgers.

As for Brearley, the Bears blanked South Hunterdon 14-0, their third shutout in five games this season. QB Matt Sims rushed for a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter, while Brendan Fitzsimmons scored on a nine-yard TD pass from Sims in the fourth quarter. The Bears are 5-0.

Now, to the downside, and the four teams that went down for the first time all season.

If it wasn’t the least surprising result, it might have been on paper, at least according to the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten rankings. In a battle of ranked teams, 8th-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas edged out Hillside in North Edison, 17-7. The Comets fall to 4-1, while the Trojans are now 5-1, undefeated in Big Central play, with their only loss coming to Timber Creek of the West Jersey Football League in Week Zero. The highlight for Aquinas was a 100-yard pick six by Najee Lovejoy late in the first quarter.

Montgomery’s 5-0 season came to a crashing halt with a 33-0 home loss to Watchung Hills. The Cougars didn’t help their cause losing two fumbles. Click here for a recap and postgame reaction from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Chris Tsakonas.

In the Big Central Game of the Week on Central Jersey Sports Radio, No. 6 Colonia got dominated as well, as runningbacks Kente Edwards and Alex Urinyak combined for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-7 home win for No. 10 North Hunterdon over the Patriots in Annandale. Click here for a recap and postgame reaction from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko.

And Johnson, off a 4-0 start – its best start since a 5-0 mark to begin 2017 – suffered its first loss of the season, with a 27-14 loss at New Providence, which has won two straight to improve to 3-3 as they figure out life post-Charlie Barth. Ben Gullo led the way for the Pioneers with three touchdowns and 124 rushing yards. The Crusaders fall to 4-1.

Group 3 playoff analysis: Somerville needs some wins, and badly, while Cranford battles for a home game

With the midway point of the high school football season upon us, we start to take a closer look at playoff standing and the chase for the postseason, with Cutoff Weekend just four weeks away. Below is a look at Group 3:

NORTH (Click here for official standings)

Defending North 3 Regional Champion West Morris remains the class of the section this year, as the Wolfpack sit 5-0, with a UPR of 1.0, and Old Tappan behind them with a 2.4 UPR. Two undefeated teams lie ahead, both 4-0 at the moment: Morris Knolls this Friday night, and Randolph on the road two weeks later.

Cranford – which won the North 2, Group 3 section last year, but lost to West Morris in the regional final at Met Life Stadium – is the highest-ranked Big Central team here, at 2-2. They have wins over Summit and Woodbridge, with losses to North Hunterdon and St. Thomas Aquinas. If those schools continue to have good years, it will bode well for Cranford, with the goal here to earn at least a first-round playoff game, which necessitates a top eight finish.

They visit Rahway this Friday, which just took its first loss of the season Saturday on Central Jersey Sports Radio, 20-0 to winless Summit. That’s a big game, and then there’s a huge one cutoff weekend at home against North Brunswick. Should they beat the Raiders, that could seal the deal.

To find the next team in the section, you need to go all the way down to No. 17 to find Summit, a full UPR point behind Wayne Hills, with a 15.6 UPR. The Hilltoppers’ win over Rahway could be a turning point for the season, with winnable games against Scotch Plains-Fanwood (2-2) and Linden (1-3) the next two weeks before facing some of the big boys – Colonia (5-0) and St. Joseph-Metuchen (3-1) – the last two weeks.

After an 0-2 start, which has hurt them, Governor Livingston has all of a sudden won three straight. But they’re in 21st place, and the Highlanders have a tough schedule the rest of the way, though. South Plainfield, Carteret, South River and Bernards are a combined 14-4. The good news is this: beating those good teams will boost their chances a lot.

SOUTH (Click here for official standings)

This is a playoff section where – for the last several years, it’s been Somerville mostly trying to get over the hump to earn a top-seed despite their weak schedule. And more often than not, there was nothing they could do about except win and hope for the best.

That will be the thinking again this year, but that’s just to make the playoffs. After five straight playoff appearances (not counting 2020 where there were no playoffs) with one title and three finals berths, the Pioneers are in drastic danger of snapping that string under first-year head coach Ian Pace.

They sit in 23rd place, with a 22.2 UPR, ironically right behind Camden East Side (nee Woodrow Wilson), the team they lost to in their last finals appearance, in 2019. They will have to make up oodles of ground to get into the top 16, with Manasquan holding that last playoff position with four weeks to go, with a 16.8 UPR.

The good news is that if Somerville can get it in gear, their tough schedule will help it immensely. They play five Group 5 schools to finish the regular season, starting this weekend at Elizabeth, which just knocked off St. Joe’s in Metuchen Saturday afternoon for its first win of the season. Then, they have Westfield and Hillsborough at home before closing on the Friday night of Cutoff Weekend at South Brunswick. All will boost their power points and OSI – if they can beat them.

The highest-ranekd team here is South Plainfield in ninth, as Bill Hamilton has the Tigers 4-0 in his second season as head coach. Can they crack the top eight to earns first-round home playoff game? Too early to say, as their schedule the rest of the way is a bit weak after a Saturday afternoon road game at resurgent Governor Livingston. That’s the best team left on their schedule, with a road game at Voorhees the next week, followed by Perth Amboy at home and Monroe on the road.

Want a shot at a home game? GL is a must win.

Carteret is also having a fine season. Kevin Freeman’s squad is 4-1, their lone loss to South Plainfield, and they sit in 13th. Considering that among the teams behind them are Manasquan (0-3) and Triton (1-3) and the minimum number of wins to make the playoffs is two this season (up from one last year) it would appear Carteret, should they continue their excellent play this year, is a good bet to make the playoffs, and end up on the road in the first round. Next up is Group 5 JP Stevens in Edison this Friday night, the third Group 5 team they’ll play this year. (They’ve already beaten Perth Amboy and Plainfield.)

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 4: Liners stake their claim, and who had the biggest upset?

On this week’s trip through “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” Mike Pavlichko weighs in on Phillipsburg’s claim to the No. 1 ranking in the league, who had the biggest upset wins of Week Four, and whether Somerville should be in a division with Group 5 schools/

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

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 2: Great Starts and Wild Finishes

On this week’s whip around “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” Mike Pavlichko explains why North looks at some great starts for North Hunterdon, South Plainfield and Hunterdon Central, and the very early playoff standings that have come out, plus much much more!

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

Senior leadership, perseverance, powers South Plainfield past Carteret

To say South Plainfield had a few heartbreaking losses in 2021 would be putting it mildly.

But to put a finer point on it, this year’s team has already matched last year’s win total, just two games into the season.

The Tigers improved to 2-0 with a 13-12 win over Carteret (1-2), outscoring the Ramblers 13-6 in the final quarter. Carteret missed an extra point, and failed on a two-point try on their second score.

Michael Green scored both touchdowns for South Plainfield, on a 76-yard run to open the fourth quarter scoring. After Carteret answered, he hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass from Joe Moroney to put the Tigers’ up for good with about seven minutes to go in the game.

Last year’s South Plainfield squad went 2-8, losing four of those games by eight or fewer points. This year’s 2-0 start is their best since 2017, when the team went 4-6. Next week when they visit North Plainfield, they’ll look to go 3-0 for the first time since 2016, when the Tigers were 8-4 and lost to Tumson-Fair Haven 27-22 in the Central Jersey Group 3 final at Rutgers; they started 4-0 that year.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with South Plainfield coach Bill Hamilton about the win over Carteret:

St. Joe’s is the favorite, but here’s how all 16 teams can win the GMC Tournament

No team worth its weight in stirrups and rawhide enters the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament bemoaning its seed and wishing they were someone else.

If you’re picked as one of the top 16 teams in the league and make the “big dance,” there’s reason to think you have a shot, or else why get up in the morning?

The way the tournament is laid out, with enough time for every team’s No. 1 starter to pitch three games – that is, if Mother Nature cooperates on Monday – just about everyone has a shot, since there are so many good No. 1s in the county.

So why should 16th-seed South River have hope like top-seed St. Joe’s or third-seed Middlesex has hope that they can win it all?

Click below to listen to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko break down all 16 teams:

INSTANT REPLAY: South Plainfield 9, No. 7 Edison 2

On the strength of a five-run second inning, and a four-run fourth, South Plainfield also got solid pitching from senior Jack Massett en route to a 9-5 road win over 7th-ranked Edison, in a GMC White Division game on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

The Tigers improved to 2-2 with the win, while Edison dropped to 0-2.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko call all the action from Edison High School:

South Plainfield bats around twice, knocks off No. 7 Edison 9-2 to sweep home-and-home set

Knowing it had pitching and defense, South Plainfield wasn’t happy to say the least with its first two games of the 2022 season, a 4-3 loss to Monroe, followed by a 17-5 defeat.

What they got against Edison in their next series were the same two games, except the Tigers ended up on the right side of both this time.


South Plainfield (2-2) capped off a home-and-home sweep of Edison Thursday afternoon with a 9-2 win over the 7th-ranked Eagles (0-2), as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

After a 1-2-3 first inning, the Tigers batted around in the second. They got a single, walk and a bunt for a hit to load the bases, then a two-RBI double by DH Steven Zultowski followed by a bases-clearing two-RBI double by right fielder Tyler Balent to take a 4-0 lead, adding a fifth-run on an infield hit by second-baseman Zack Robinson.


South Plainfield would add four more in the fourth inning, when they would again send nine men to the plate, including a bases-loaded three-RBI double by catcher Luke Bickunas.

While there was no one star offensively – all but one starter got a hit and scored – the Tigers got a gem on the mound from senior Jack Massett, who allowed just two runs on four hits, struck out five and walked no one.

South Plainfield has now won five straight against Edison in the regular season, with their last loss coming exactly three years ago to the day, early in the 2019 campaign. However, the Eagles beat the Tigers in last year’s GMC Tournament quarterfinals.

Click below for postgame reaction from South Plainfield’s 9-2 win over Edison:

Senior pitcher Jack Massett
Head coach Scott Gleichenhaus

Rebuilding South Plainfield looks for sweep of Edison, while Eagle bats look to take flight off Tigers’ ace

South Plainfield will have its best pitcher on the mound, while Edison’s heavy hitting lineup will try and tee off on him.

And we haven’t even played a full week of high school baseball yet. Isn’t it great?


The Tigers rallied late to beat the No. 7 Eagles Tuesday afternoon at home, 5-4, handing Edison (0-1) a loss in its opening game, while giving South Plainfield (1-2) its first victory, after a rough opening weekend against Monroe.

Wednesday afternoon – if the rain holds off, which it should, expected to end around midday – the two teams will square off on the red turf on the Boulevard of The Eagles, in a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio.


Mike Pavlichko will have all the live play-by-play, beginning with the pregame show around 3:45, and first pitch at 4:00. Click here to listen.

Click below to hear previews of the game with both head coaches:

Edison head coach Vinny Abene
South Plainfield head coach Scott Gleichenhaus