Tag: South River

Spotswood extends Big Central-best win streak to seven with 30-0 win at South River in “backyard brawl”

The rain didn’t spoil South River’s homecoming, as Rams’ fans braved the raw, wet, windy weather to cheer on their team and see old classmates.

If anything spoiled their homecoming, it was the Spotswood football team.

And maybe the mud.

The Chargers won their seventh straight game dating back to last year – and improved to 5-0 in 2023 in the process – thanks to a convincing 30-0 win at Bill Denny Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Spotswood led 17-0 at the half on a pair of touchdown runs by senior quarterback Trey Lazar and a 21-yard field goal, then continued adding on in the second half. They built up to their final margin, 30-0, by the end of the third quarter.

Lazar also threw for a TD in the second half.

Click below for postgame reaction with Marcus Borden in South River, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

South River football program gets generous gift from an old alum

Back in 1991 – when South River head coach Rich Marchesi was in his fourth season as head coach – the Rams won a state championship, beating Dunellen 14-0 for the Central Jersey Group 1 title.

One of the players he coached was Minkah Fitzpatrick. And before you are thinking of the Minkah Fitzpatrick who’s now with the Pittsburgh Steelers and one of the top safeties in the NFL, that’s the “son” Minkah Fitpatrick. This is the father we’re talking about.

He was pretty well-known for his basketball exploits, too, his team winning the CJ1 title in basketball in 1990-91, the school year prior to the ’91 football championship.

Fitzpatrick was on South River’s 1991 Central Jersey Group 1 title team. Quarterback Matt Lonczak is shown here. (Source: Newspapers.com)

So, fast forward to one day in February, 32 years later: Marchesi gets a call from Fitzpatrick – the father – who tells him he wants to help out the program. He donated a 50 brand-new sets of cleats, practice jerseys, and practice pants with pads.

“His son does a pretty good job,” Marchesi told Central Jersey Sports Radio. “He said the family is blessed, and he wanted to pay it forward.”

Being a small school, and with the cost of everything skyrocketing, Marchesi says it’s not always easy to afford to get new jerseys or new equipment.

And, of course, the district will go to voters in November to ask for $5.5 million dollars to repair Bill Denny Stadium, which the Board of Education confirmed earlier this month will be demolished, with the nearly 90-year-old stadium no longer safe.

“The kids knew where it came from,” says Marchesi, who notes they appreciate the history of the program, and often get to meet former South River stars when they come back home, a visit that’s never complete without a stop in at a football game.

Click below to hear South River coach Rich Marchesi talk about the big equipment donation from the family of Minkah Fitzpatrick:

2023 Big Central Preview: Patriot Gold Division

The top two teams in this division, whether it had a name or not, have been Bernards and Delaware Valley the past couple of seasons. And this year may be no different.

The Mountaineers always challenge themselves, and have three-year QB Connor Laverty back on the scene, so there’s stability on offense that’s always a positive. The Terriers have a new head coach in Ben Ibach – who’s been with the program since 2017 but now takes over for Mike Haughey – and also have a number of holes to fill.

The rest of the division was young and suffered some injuries last year. Hoping to stay healthy, Voorhees, South River and Bound Brook look to make big improvements as well.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko’s preview of the Patriot Gold Division from the Big Central Conference’s inaugural Media Days:

Marchesi has seen it all, and seen it all change, in more than three decades at South River

Rules, offenses, defenses, power points and UPR: there have been so many changes in the game of football – specifically at the high school level – in the last 36 years.

But in South River, one thing has remained constant: the head coach.

Rich Marchesi is entering his 37th year at the helm of the storied Rams’ program, having been the head coach since 1988. He’s won over 200 games, with a record of 225-138, and is the all-time winningest coach in school history.

Rich Marchesi and his assistants pose in the gym after he won his 200th career game in 2017. (submitted photo)

This year will bring even more change, as the team will still play on its home field at Bill Denny Stadium, but no one will be in those large, expansive stands.

They’ve been condemned, cordoned off due to safety concerns since the spring, and will await the wrecking ball, along with a referendum this November to build a new seating area, press box, and even replace the well-worn natural grass field with synthetic turf.

This year, temporary stands will be brought in for fans.

Wednesday, at Big Central Media Days, Marchesi – a South River alum who played at Denny Stadium himself – fielded a question on how the game has changed in his long tenure as South River head coach.

Click below to hear his answer:

Denny’s days officially numbered; district confirms demolition awaits, referendum to go before public

The South River high school football team will play four home games on the field this year at famed Bill Denny Stadium, but no one will be sitting in the large stands on the home side as they have since 1934.

In response to a request for an update by Central Jersey Sports Radio, the district confirmed via email today that “after many years of repairs, our Denny Stadium has reached the end of its lifespan, and is in need of demolition and rebuilding.”

A date for the demolition was not specified, but the district does plan another referendum this fall.

The email – sent by Debra Napolitano, Confidential Secretary to the Superintendent – says “while the bleachers will not be available for use, the district will make seating accommodations for spectators for these games,” but did not provide further details.

There is currently a small section of permanent bleachers on the opposite side of the field from the main stands, generally for use by fans of the visiting team.

The Rams’ four home football games scheduled for this season include:

  • Saturday, September 2 vs. Metuchen, 1 pm
  • Saturday, September 23 vs. Spotswood, 1 pm
  • Saturday, September 7 vs. Delaware Valley, 2 pm
  • Saturday, October 14vs. Governor Livingston, 1 pm

Longtime South River football coach Rich Marchesi confirmed to Central Jersey Sports Radio back in May that Denny Stadium had been recently condemned by the Board of Education, and the bleachers cordoned off sometime in April, due to safety concerns.

Following that, the district issued a statement saying “The home bleachers at Denny Stadium were built before 1945, and despite ongoing maintenance over the past 80 years, they have unfortunately reached the end of their useful and safe life.” It made no mention of demolition at the time.

The Bill Denny Stadium bleachers were cordoned off this Spring due to safety concerns. Now, the venerable stadium will be demolished, though a date has not yet been set. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

According to a New Jersey 101.5 news story last August, a July 2022 engineers’ report for the school district said the stadium “is at the end of its life cycle” and said it shouldn’t be used after the 2023-24 school year. The report said the stadium was structurally sound, but needed a number of repairs to ensure public safety.

Back in January, a replacement for the stadium complete with stands, press box, concession stands, and ADA-compliant facilities was included in a referendum that also asked residents to approve a new pre-K school to accommodate growing enrollment in town, but that was defeated soundly in January, 882-334. A separate question seeking just the turf field also was defeated by a similar margin.

The bones of Bill Denny Stadium in South River – built in 1938 – are wood, a rare instance these days. This November, the district will put a referendum to voters asking for $5.48 million dollars to build a new stadium. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Now, the district says, it “will once again pursue a referendum on November 7th to cover the cost of this project ($5,475,000). This referendum will be for the stadium and field only, and does not include the Early Learning Center included in last January’s question.”

Historic Bill Denny Stadium in South River to face wrecking ball, but football team expected to play a home schedule in 2023

So many great players have come through South River – Joe Theisman, Drew Pearson, Kenny Jackson, Alex Wojciechowicz, to name just a few – and one of the threads that holds them all together is that they all played in front of crowds at Bill Denny Stadium.

But sometime soon, though it’s not clear exactly when, Bill Denny Stadium will be no more, and its future even more murky.

Longtime Rams’ football coach Rich Marchesi confirmed to Central Jersey Sports Radio Monday afternoon that Denny Stadium was recently condemned by the Board of Education, and the bleachers cordoned off sometime last month, due to safety concerns.

Marchesi says though no date is set, it will eventually be demolished..

The South River School District sent Central Jersey Sports Radio a statement Tuesday saying, “This Spring, it was determined through two independent professional evaluations that the bleachers are no longer structurally sound or safe for use. Accordingly, the stadium bleachers have been fenced off, and they are not accessible to the public,”

However, the field and track at Denny stadium remain open and in “full use,” according to the statement, which added, “Spring track operated as usual, and we will hold high school graduation on the field. The district is in the process of investigating options to address the needs of the stadium.”

Rich Marchesi and his players on the sideline in an August 28, 2021 game against South Plainfield. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

However, when Deb Napolitano, Confidential Secretary to the Superintendent, who phoned to confirm receipt of the statement, was asked when Bill Denny Stadium would be demolished, she referred us to the statement issued by the district, which made no specific mention of any demolition plans.

“The home bleachers at Denny Stadium were built before 1945,” the statement says, “and despite ongoing maintenance over the past 80 years, they have unfortunately reached the end of their useful and safe life.”

Published reports over the last couple of years have documented problems with the bleachers, which are entirely made of wood, except for some metal benches that were put in as part of what Marchesi says was part of many “patch jobs” over the years.”

“It’s life is over. You can only patch it so much,” Marchesi told Central Jersey Sports Radio.

According to a New Jersey 101.5 news story last August, a July 2022 engineers’ report for the school district said the stadium “is at the end of its life cycle” and said it shouldn’t be used after the 2023-24 school year. The report said the stadium was structurally sound, but needed a number of repairs to ensure public safety.

Now it appears officials decided to close the stadium a year ahead of the recommendation by engineers.

“It’s time has passed. As much as I would like to keep the grass and the field and the stadium, because it is pretty cool and historic, it’s time. You know, it’s not 1977 anymore.”

A replacement for the stadium complete with stands, press box, concession stands, and ADA-compliant facilities was included in a referendum that also asked residents to approve a new pre-K school to accommodate growing enrollment in town, but that was defeated soundly in January, 882-334. A separate question seeking just the turf field also was defeated by a similar margin.

South River cheerleaders perform for the home fans at Bill Denny Stadium in South River on August 28, 2021. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The tax impact would have been nearly $150 per year on the average homeowner in South River.

As for the future, Marchesi says school officials are working on it.

“The Board [of Education] is doing a good job, trying to figure something out, what’s good for us,” Marchesi said. The last I heard is we’ll be able to play home games on the field.”

Marchesi says the subject came up about playing all road games, but that’s not something he wants to do, saying he’d rather play home games without bleachers than travel all season, particularly with a more veteran group he hopes will improve on last season’s 2-7 record.

The stadium is named after William C. Denny, who coached the Rams for 25 years from 1927 through 1961, and died in 1984. He also founded the local Bill Denny/Rutgers Letterwinners Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame

Four advance on opening weekend of newly-expanded GMC Tournament

South River, Metuchen, Piscataway and Carteret all won opening round games Saturday afternoon the the GMC Tournament, part of the pilot program format that expanded the Championship field to 20 teams this season. All will go on to play Monday at higher-seeded teams – the top four – that had first round byes.

(16) South River 4, (17) Colonia 3

The 16th-seed, South River, had perhaps the most dramatic win of the day, a 4-3 walk-off at Grekoski part against 17th-seed Colonia. The Rams trailed 3-0 heading into the sixth inning, but scored twice in the bottom half on a Julius Rosado home to pull within a run, then twice more in the bottom of the seventh for the victory.

Click here for the full story on the South River win, with postgame reaction from head coach Mike Lepore.

The Rams (10-4) move on to play at top-seed North Brunswick (11-5) on Monday at 4pm at Community Park.

(19) Metuchen 4, (14) JFK 2

It was an all-Blue Division opening round game, as 19th-seed Metuchen also had to rally for a 4-2 first-round win, coming back from down 2-0 heading into the top of the seventh. Kennedy – the 14th-seed and home team – scored in each of the first two innings, and held that lead until the seventh when Metuchen got all four of its runs, on RBIs from Marcus Malamug, Daniel Cordes, Lucas Weiss and Simon Rosal.

JFK fell to 9-8 with the loss.

Metuchen (7-8) won’t have to go far for its second round game on Monday, visiting 3rd-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen for a 4 pm first pitch.

(15) Carteret 2, (16) JP Stevens 1

The 15th-seeded Ramblers – the GMC Gold Division champion – fell behind in the fourth, but took the lead in the fifth and hung on for a 2-1 win over 16-seed JP Stevens (3-14).

The game didn’t see much offensive action, with the teams combining for just ten hits, and the only two extra base hits – doubles – coming from the Hawks’ lineup. They scored a run in the top of the fourth, but Carteret took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth, and got solid pitching from the combo of starter Nick Kee and reliever Justin Santana. Kee allowed just a run on four hits in 5 and 2/3 innings, while Santana threw an inning-and-a-third of no-hit, shutout ball to earn the save.

The Ramblers (14-2) will visit second-seed Old Bridge (13-6) at Fred Cole Field, Monday at 4 pm.

(20) Piscataway 7, (13) St. Thomas Aquinas, 4

The higher-seed Trojans (No. 13) never got a chance to lead in the game, as the 20th-seed Piscataway led 6-0 before Aquinas could get on the board with a run in the bottom of the second. The Chiefs scored a run in the first, then had a five-run outburst in the top of the second.

They added another insurance run in the third.

Troy Hutchinson and Jason Hoffman each had two RBI’s in the game, with Hutchinson’s coming on a pair of walks. Terrance Bell, Jr., was 4-for-5 with an RBI while Piscataway starting pitcher Jaden Peace went the distance to get the win, throwing seven innings, scattering six hits and allowing just one unearned run.

The Chiefs (5-12) now move on to play at 4-seed Monroe Monday afternoon at 4:00 in the second round.

South River walks off Colonia, erases 3-0 deficit in final two innings to advance in GMC Tournament

With its second walk-off win this week, 16th-seed South River came back from three-runs down to stun 17th-seed Colonia 4-3 at Grekoski Park Saturday afternoon, advancing to the second round of the GMC Tournament.

Twice, it was Julius Rosado – who started the game on the mound and came out in the fifth inning with a high pitch count – with a key stroke.

In the bottom of the sixth, down 3-0, Joe Lepore – head coach Mike Lepore’s nephew – walked to lead it off. Then Rosado blasted a nearly-400 foot home run to left center to bring the Rams within one. Parker Lane hit a triple, and Colonia brought in Colin Kroner to replace Dylan Conklin on the mound.

Kroner hit his first batter, setting up first and third with nobody out for South River, but then got the next three outs on a pop up, strikeout and ground out.

After a scoreless seventh pitched by Gavin Franco – who’d come in during the top of the fifth – the Rams had 8-9-1 due up in their final at bat, and after two ground balls, South River was down to its final out. But they were back to the top of the order as they were in the sixth.

Lepore singled up the middle, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Rosdado was up next, and though he didn’t put it over the fence this time, he singled through the left side to tie the game at three, and advanced to second on the throw to the plate.

That set things up for Parker Lane, with a runner in scoring position and two out. And on a 2-1 pitch, he singled up the middle. Rosado beat the play at the plate, and Grekoski Park went wild. Colonia fell to 7-10 with the loss.

The Rams (10-4) now move on play in Monday’s first round, where they will visit North Brunswick (11-5) at Community Park for a 4 pm first pitch.

Click below to listen to South River head coach Mike Lepore detail the Rams thrilling victory in the opening round of the GMC Tournament:

Cumiskey fans 10 to power Spotswood past South River to gain leg up in GMC Blue race

The game featured two future Division 1 baseball players on the mound: Spotswood’s Carter Cumiskey – a Seton Hall Commit – and South River’s Julius Rosado, who’ll one day suit up for Rutgers.

It was Cumiskey who got the better of Rosado this time around, striking out ten, giving up one run, and scattering five hits over five innings to get the win, in a 6-1 win Tuesday afternoon over the Rams in Spotswood.

The victory snapped a two-game skid for the Chargers (10-2) who were undefeated before two non-conference losses this past weekend.

It also puts first-place Spotswood at 7-0 in the Blue Division, with South River in second at 7-2, and would earn them at least clinch a share of the division if the two were to end up tied.

The teams meet again ion South River on Thursday.

South River (7-2) broke the deadlock in the top of the third, when back to back doubles from Rosado and Parker Lane gave them a 1-0 lead.

Spotswood answered in the bottom of the fourth. Casey Cumiskey – Carter’s older brother- scored from second after an errant throw from home plate to tie it, and then Sebby Saracino gave the Chargers the lead by reaching home off a wild pitch.

Spotswood kept that momentum going in the fifth, with John Lubin scoring on another wild pitch before Jackson Walsh hit a two RBI single to make it a 5-1 game. Spotswood would load the bases again in the sixth, leading up to a second run for Lubin after Carter Cumiskey drew a walk.

Spotswood sealed the deal with two scoreless innings from Breckyn DeAngelis, who got three strikeouts on six batters faced.

Rosado took the loss, allowing five runs – three earned – in five innings of work. He struck out seven, but also walked seven.

Click below for postgame reaction from Spotswood’s win over South River:

Spotswood sophomore Carter Cumiskey
Spotswood head coach Glenny Fredricks

Red-hot South River looks to keep it going as Rams play in their 14th Autism Awareness Challenge

The South River Rams have been there almost since the beginning.

Of the Autism Awareness Challenge’s 15 seasons, this will be their 14th.

Longtime South River head coach Mike Lepore, Jr., is a big fan of the event, but he also knows it’s good baseball.

On Sunday, the Rams (7-1) will take on Bernards – which is 4-3 heading into Saturday’s Somerset County Tournament first round game at Hillsborough – in Game One of a doubleheader you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio, starting at 9:45 am with pregame, and first pitch for the Rams and Mountaineers at 10 am.

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will be on the call, with the opener followed by Edison vs. Barnegat at 1 pm. Click here to listen to both broadcasts.

The Rams have been getting great hitting from senior Matt Marques and super-sophomore Julius Rosado, who had a fantastic year as a freshman in 2022 and already is committed to Rutgers.

Marques is a perfect player to hit behind Rosado, who already has drawn three intentional walks among his eight bases on balls so far this season. Yes, Rosado still is hitting .435, with six RBIs, five doubles and a triple. Marques himself is hitting .444 and leads the team with 13 runs batted in, making it a pick-your-poison type of scenario for opposing pitchers.

Lepore will throw freshman Brendan Lell against the Mountaineers. He’s only thrown 5 2/3 innings this season, allowing seven runs – six earned – on five hits. In minimal action, he’s shown control, walking two, striking out five.

Rosado, a stellar arm, will be available. if needed. But, Lepore says his intention is to start him for game one of a critical Tuesday-Thursday home-and-home series against Blue Division-leading and currently undefeated (9-0) Spotswood.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk witth South River head coach Mike Lepore Jr. about the Rams’ season so far and the matchup with Bernards: