Tag: St. Thomas Aquinas

A look at some of the best defensive seasons in Middlesex County over the last two decades

St. Thomas Aquinas is on an unprecedented shutout streak, still not having allowed a point all season through six games, following a 41-0 win at Middlesex Thursday night.

That’s 26 full quarters of football without anyone scoring on the Trojans.

Colonia quarterback Josh Oluremi was the last person to score on Aquinas, coming in the second quarter of a 16-14 Trojans win in the second round of last year’s postseason pod play.

It’s the most shutouts a Middlesex County school has pitched since Piscataway’s dominant 2004 season, one of the program’s – and the area’s – best ever. That year, Dan Higgins’ second as head coach of the Chiefs, led them to their third straight state championship, and a 12-0 record, logging seven shutouts along the way.

They blanked JP Stevens, South Brunswick, Edison, North Brunswick, Union, Linden and Franklin (on Thanksgiving) by a combined 274-0. Perhaps what was most impressive is that the whitewashes against Union and Linden came in the first and second rounds of the playoffs.

No, that’s not even it. The most impressive part of that team was that if featured three – yes, three! – future NFL first round draft picks: Anthony Davis, Kyle Wilson and Malcolm Jenkins.

The Chiefs in 2012 allowed ten or more points just three times, including 26 in an epic overtime win over Phillipsburg in the North 2, Group 4 title game. Piscataway won 27-26 when they stopped a Stateliners’ two-point conversion to win the game on their possession.

They outscored opponents that year by a combined total of 405-66.

In fact, Piscataway has had the most seasons with the most shutouts in recent times under Dan Higgins. To wit, they logged six in 2008 when they went 11-1 and beat Hunterdon Central for the North 2, Group 4 title.

And they logged five 2018, when they won the first-ever North 5 regional championship and became the first Middlesex County team to win 13 games in a season, going 13-0.

They also shutout five opponents each in 2014 and 2011. The only one of those years they did not win a title was 2014, falling in the North 2 Group 5 semis 16-6 to Elizabeth,

Among other Middlesex County schools, Sayreville shut out five in 2003 when they went 10-1, but lost in the sectional semifinals to Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

Dunellen had a dominant defense in 2010, though its ball-control offense was its best defense, known to sometimes hold the ball nearly an entire quarter. They had five shutouts that year – over Cardinal McCarrick, Keansburg, Mater Dei, South River and New Egypt. The Destroyers lost to Shore in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game at Rutgers that year.

And New Brunswick, in its heyday under John Quinn, logged five shutouts once, but in 2004, a year they didn’t win a title. The 2003 championship team with Dwayne Jarrett blanked four opponents.

Most Shutouts in a Season since 2000 by Middlesex County schools:

  • Piscataway, 2004 – 7
  • Piscataway, 2008 – 6
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, 2021 – 6 (all consecutive)
  • Piscataway, 2018 – 5
  • Piscataway, 2014 – 5
  • Piscataway, 2011 – 5
  • Dunellen, 2010 – 5
  • New Brunswick, 2004 – 5
  • Sayreville, 2003 – 5

St. Thomas Aquinas will have a chance to tie that mark by Piscataway next week when the Trojans host Governor Livingston, which has been shutout itself in two straight games heading into Saturday’s home contest against North Plainfield.

Should they pick up their seventh then, they’ll face a stiff challenge to make it eight in a row, as they face currently-undefeated and 10th-ranked Delaware Valley on the road in their regular season finale.

There are 30 undefeated teams remaining in New Jersey: How do the Big Central schools stack up?

After seven weeks of play (yes, we’ve only finished Week 6, don’t get us started about “Week 0”) there are 30 teams remaining in New Jersey without a single loss.

Five of them are in the Big Central, including Cranford (5-0), Delaware Valley (6-0), Hillsborough (6-0). St. Thomas Aquinas (5-0), and Woodbridge (6-0). That number will be reduced to four this weekend, after Woodbridge hosts Cranford Friday night on the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland (7 pm on CJSR).

But we decided to take a closer look at those teams and how they stack up against the rest of the state.

(We skipped the two schools – Bogota and Dumont – who are in the NJIC and NJSFC divisions that include schools that requested “schedule relief” and therefore are ineligible for the postseason.)

Of the 28 undefeated teams eligible for the playoffs, St. Thomas Aquinas is the only one to have not allowed a single point all season long. The Trojans are 5-0, pitching shutouts in all five games, against Woodstown, Roselle, Spotswood, Johnson and Belvidere. Their remaining schedule includes a road game against Middlesex this weekend, a home game against Governor Livingston, then a huge test in the regular season finale, hosting Delaware Valley.

Aquinas leads the entire state with its five goose eggs.

Among undefeated teams, Ocean City and Central each have four, but have played six games. Woodstown (5-1) also has four shutouts.

The largest margin of victory among the undefeated teams also belongs to Aquinas, which is winning this season by an average of 41 points per game. And that’s including a 6-0 season-opening win over Woodstown, the Wolverines only loss this season. Five of their six games have been shutouts, four in their favor.

After Aquinas, there are three undefeated teams that have not allowed more than a touchdown in any game this year.

Ocean City, with its four shutouts, has not allowed more than seven points in its other two wins. Rumson-Fair Haven – with one of the toughest schedules in the state – has been even more impressive; the Bulldogs have only two shutouts, but have never allowed more than seven in a game. The same goes for Cedar Creek, the only seven-win team in the state.

The smallest average margin of victory of the 28 teams belongs to Middletown South. And 5-0, they’re the only team that has not scored more than 100 total points this year, outscoring opponents just 96-36, with an average margin of victory of 12.2 points.

Eight teams with unbeaten records have allowed fewer than 20 points in every game this year. In addition to Aquinas, Ocean City, Rumson and Cedar Creek, Middletown South, Delsea, Nottingham and Woodbury are on the list.

Below is the full list. Schools of the same group size are linked by color, starting with Group 5, working down to Group 1, then Non-Public A and B:

Moyer, Young, Hudson and Wyatt among the many contributors to Aquinas’ 4-0 start

Toughness.

Talk to any one of the St. Thomas Aquinas football players right now, and that’s they’re mantra.

Over and over again, it’s enough to drive you crazy. Unless you’re a fellow student, parent, or other fan of the Trojans. In which case, it’s a delight.

St. Thomas Aquinas is off to its best start since going 6-0-1 to start 1993, and its first 4-0 start since 1989, with all four wins coming by shutout.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko stopped by practice this week; click below to listen to the story of the Trojans so far in 2021:

Who are the eight undefeated teams left in the Big Central heading into Week 5?

As we head into Week Five of nine in high school football across New Jersey, there are dozens of undefeated teams remaining in the state – 52 to be exact.

Eight of them reside in the Big Central Conference.

The North Jersey Super Football Conference leads the pack with 19, including Immaculata, which is playing in the Independence Red Division after leaving the fledgling Big Central over a disagreement about their division and scheduling.

So who are these eight teams? Who’s having their best success in years? We take a closer look:

Hillsborough (4-0) ad Ridge (3-0): We put these teams together since they square off tonight in Basking Ridge, so one will have suffered their first loss of the season. The Raiders started 2019 with a 4-0 mark, and a win tonight would give them their best start since they won seven-in-a-row to start the 2014 season. That year, the Raiders made it to the Central Jersey Group 5 semifinals, where they lost 28-6 to eventual champion Manalapan, which beat South Brunswick 21-7 for the title at Rutgers.

Each team has a Bellamy & Son Player of the Week to their credit. Thomas Amankwaa of Hillsborough won for his outstanding performance in a 21-14 overtime home win over Phillipsburg a couple of weeks ago, including two touchdowns, a two-point run and an interception on the Liners’ possession in OT that clinched the come-from-behind win. Ridge quarterback Mike Olivo was honored this past week, as he accounted for all seven of his team’s touchdowns (three passing, four rushing) in a 49-20 win over Hunterdon Central.

READ MORE: Big plays in big spots earn Hillsborough’s Tommy Amankwaa Week Two Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Honors

READ MORE: Seven touchdown performance earns Ridge’s Olivo Week Four Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Award

It’s the best start for the Red Devils under second-year head coach Andy West. Bill Tracy was at the helm when Ridge last won three straight to start the year; they went 6-0 to begin 2018.

Bottom line, this kind of start is nothing new for these ballclubs.

Woodbridge (5-0): The Barrons did this last year, and the year before.

In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, they went 5-1, only losing their final game, in the first week of pod play to Somerville in a highly-anticipated 1 vs. 2 matchup. The Barrons had been No. 1 all season, with Somerville working its way to No. 2.

The ‘Ville took a 39-26 decision at Priscoe Field, and then both teams’ seasons ended due to COVID and contact tracing.

READ MORE: Whitaker and Desiderio postgame reaction after Somerville knocks off Woodbridge

Isn’t it great to see high school football back?

The year before, Woodbridge was 10-0 heading into the North 1, Group 4 title game, but lost 37-7 at Northern Highlands.

Cranford (3-0): The Cougars also got off to a hot start last year, beginning the year 3-0. But they were stopped by Woodbridge in their fourth game and finished 6-2, losing in their finale in pod play to St. Joseph-Metuchen.

READ MORE: Cranford wins a battle of top Union County QBs, Cougars off to 2-0 start

Cranford has Scotch Plains-Fanwood at home tonight, then hosts Colonia next Friday, before traveling to the other side of Route One for what could be a battle of two undefeated teams at Priscoe Field on Friday, October 15th, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

If you’re looking for the Cougars’ next best start prior to last year, you’d have to go back to 2015, when Cranford ran the table at 12-0 and won the North 2, Group 3 title with a 50-23 win over Chatham at Kean University in Union.

Linden (3-0): Yes, make it three teams out of eight in what we felt heading into the season was one of the more balanced and competitive divisions in the Big Central, Division 4. In addition to Woodbridge and Cranford, the Tigers are unbeaten, and none of the three teams obviously have played each other yet.

It’s a nice turnaround for Linden, which managed just five games last year due to COVID and ended up 1-4. They had a 7-1 start to their 2018 season, but lost their opener before winning seven straight and dropping their last two.

This is their best start since going 7-0 to begin the 2014 campaign, which they finished 10-2, bringing home a North 2, Group 5 trophy; they beat Elizabeth for the title 27-20 at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.

St. Thomas Aquinas (4-0): The Trojans are on a historic streak. It’s the first time they’ve had this kind of success in North Edison in quite some time.

READ MORE: St. Thomas Aquinas finding historic success, wins fourth straight by shutout

Aquinas has not gone unbeaten in its first four games since starting the 1992 season 6-0-1, their streak stopped on November 7th of that year by Edison. (Fun side note: current Eagles offensive coordinator Matt Yascko had two touchdown catches in that game; the other went to Justin Garbolino, whose son Frankie is the QB at North Brunswick. Yascko’s son QB’s for Edison.)

They’ve not started a year with four straight wins since 1989, when the Trojans went ran the table in the regular season and finished 10-1, their lone loss coming in the Parochial South A final to Notre Dame, 9-6.

Look for a piece on the Trojans later today on cjsportsradio.com.

Delaware Valley (4-0): The Terriers got off to a 5-0 start last year, finishing 6-1 in the COVID-shortened campaign.

Del Val runs record to 4-0 with 40-7 cruise past Governor Livingston

A win tonight against a tough Bernards team would match that effort, and give them a shot at their best start since 2015 when they began 6-0. They also went 7-0 to start 2011 and 8-0 in 2003, finishing 9-1 with a playoff loss to Spotswood.

We got to see them early on against North Plainfield, and the Terriers looked impressive, nearly pitching the shutout before allowing a late touchdown.

Brearley (3-0): The Bears had an 8-2 year in 2019, and won eight straight games in that campaign, but after suffering a season-opening loss to out-of-conference West Essex.

READ MORE: Brearley off to hot 2-0 start, looks to keep it going against rival Roselle Park in Week 3

They’re off to their best start since 2018 when they went 5-0, but their season-opening win was a forfeit by Highland Park, which didn’t have enough personnel to play the game. Going by true on-field wins, you’d have to go back to 2015, when the Bears won their first eleven games, and were the top-seed in the North 2, Group 1 playoffs.

They lost in the finals at Kean 34-12 to second-seed Hoboken.

What team has the longest active winning streak in Big Central play?

The answer to that question may surprise you.

Hint: it’s not any one of the undefeated teams we mentioned above.

The answer? It’s Bernards!

The Mountaineers are 3-1 this season, but their loss came to Penns Grove in the Battle at the Beach in Week Zero. Last year, after a season-opening loss to Hillside – which they avenged this year in the Rumble on the Raritan at Rutgers – Bernards won their final eight games to finish 8-1.

Of those, six came against Big Central opponents (the other two wins were against Monmouth and Immaculata). So, the Bernards winning streak in league is nine games.

After that, it’s Somerville and Woodbridge tied with 8 straight in league play (Somerville’s loss this season was to Northern Highlands).

Union – who’s only loss this season is to Millville, out of conference – has won six straight against BCC competition, while Del Val and Brealy each have won five-in-a-row.

The ‘Ville holds on to top spot in Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten, with few other changes

The top nine teams – including Number One Somerville – didn’t budge an inch in the Week Four Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten.

The Pioneers were idle.

The only teams to lose in Week Four were Bridgewater-Raritan and Westfield, the two teams tied for tenth. The Panthers lost 31-21 at home Saturday afternoon to No. 3 Hillsborough, while the Blue Devils were knocked off by unranked Linden 20-14.

Both dropped out of the CJSR rankings.

All six teams who at one point checked in at No. 10 have been bounced from the poll. Only two lasted more than one week: New Providence (from Preseason to Week One) and Bernards (from Week One to Week Two).

Westfield and Monroe were replaced this week by a pair of 4-0 teams who will face each other in their regular season finales: St. Thomas Aquinas and Delaware Valley, both of which are making their debut in the Top Ten.

Below is the Week four poll:

St. Thomas Aquinas finding historic success, wins fourth straight by shutout

There are only two high school football teams in the entire state of New Jersey who own 4-0 records, while whitewashing each opponent.

Cedar Creek is one; the other is St. Thomas Aquinas.

The Trojans are doing it on both sides of the ball, like in Friday night’s 46-0 win over A.L. Johnson in North Edison.

Sherrod Hudson ran for three touchdowns. John Wyatt had two touchdown receptions from quarterback Jaden Young. And Joel Marelis had a 72-yard scoring sprint.

Auqinas has also beaten Woodstown at home (6-0), and picked up road wins at Roselle (43-0) and Spotswood (59-0).

In Brian Meeney’s second year as head coach, following a 4-3 campaign in 2020 – the Trojans are outscoring their opponents 154-0 through their first four games, best in the Big Central, and are averaging 49.3 points per game in league play.

But they’re also on a historic streak.

Aquinas has not gone unbeaten in its first four games since starting the 1992 season 6-0-1, their streak stopped on November 7th of that year by Edison.

They’ve not started a year with four straight wins since 1989, when the Trojans went ran the table in the regular season and finished 10-1, their lone loss coming in the Parochial South A final to Notre Dame, 9-6.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk about the Johnson win and the season so far with Aquinas head coach Brian Meeney:

Rutgers Prep steamrolls everyone, runs wire-to-wire with No. 1 ranking to be named CJSR Girls’ Basketball Team of the Year

Here are the two numbers you need to know: 31 and 45.

Want us to use them in a sentence? OK.

The Rutgers Prep girls’ basketball team allowed a paltry 31 points per game this year, while beating teams by an average of 45 points.

And we did not just pull those numbers out of a hat.

En route to a perfect 13-0 season, and the Skyland Conference Tournament’s top pod title, Rutgers Prep blitzed all comers this season, and finishes 2021 where it began: as the Number One team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten, earning them the honor of our 2021 Girls’ Basketball Team of the Year.

No one even came close.

How good was Rutgers Prep?

Let’s put it this way. No disrespect to any other team, but if you actually ranked the teams in terms of how good they were, Rutgers Prep would be No. 1, and the next team behind them might be at No. 3.

The Argonauts are also ranked No. 21 in the nation – not the state, the nation – by ESPN, behind No. 13 St. John Vianney, but a spot ahead of Trenton Catholic, which is scheduled to close after this academic year, and to whom Rutgers Prep lost last year in the Non-Public South B finals.

LISTEN: An audio retrospective on Rutgers Prep girls’ dominance in 2021, with Mary Klinger, Christina Dalce, Belle Pellecchia

Monroe – the winner of the Greater Middlesex Conference’s top bracket, the Somogyi Family Pod – checked in at No. 2, avenging its only loss of the season in the Somogyi Pod title game, using a second half rally to beat St. Thomas Aquinas in their second meeting of the year.

Below are the final girls’ basketball rankings for 2021, including postseason achievements:

The goal was: “Get hardware.” They did, and Watchung Hills is the CJSR boys’ basketball 2021 Team of the Year

There were many good boys’ high school basketball teams in the GMC and Skyland Conferences in this COVID-shortened season, but when you beat three of them – including two that you lost two a total of three times this season – en route to winning your league’s top pod trophy, that has to count for something.

For us, that counts for making Watchung Hills the No. 1 team in the final Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten of the year, and thus the 2021 Boys’ Basketball Team of the Year.

The Warriors finished the year 12-3, their losses coming to Hunterdon Central twice, and once to Gill St. Bernard’s, at the time the No. 1 team in our rankings.

Watchung Hills beat both of those teams in the first two rounds of the Skyland Conference Tournament’s Blue Division pod, then knocked off then No. 5 Rutgers Prep in the finals on the road, on a game-winning baseline bucket by Tyler Bokatch in the final few seconds, holding off one last chance by the Argonauts, who had to go the length of the floor in just under 1.5 seconds.

LISTEN: An audio look back at Watchung Hills boys’ basketball, 2021 CJSR Team of the Year, with Coach Justin Salton, Trevor Bokach, Elijah Lewis

Second in the final rankings was Colonia. The Patriots – in a four-team GMC pod – took down the No. 3 and No. 2 teams in the rankings, respectively: St. Joseph of Metuchen and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Below are the final rankings, including postseason tournament superlatives:

Colonia gets crowned as Patriots tame Trojans to win top GMC boys’ pod

Second-seed Colonia used an 11-0 run at the start of the the second quarter to pull ahead of top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas nearly for good, en route to winning the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament top boys’ grouping.

They beat the Trojans 80-64 Friday night in North Edison, in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving, to win the Karl-Anthony Towns/Jay Williams Pod.

Senior guard Ruben Reyes scored a game-high and matched a career-high set earlier this year against Passaic with 25 points for Colonia (11-4), including 17 in the second half, and a 7-for-7 effort from the foul line.

Three other Patriots scored in double-figures, as senior do-it-all guard Jordan Derkack poured in 18, junior guard Saivon Pressley added 11, and Malik Kabia fouled out with ten.

Aquinas (9-5) was led by Tristian Jeffries, the senior who came back from an ankle injury Wednesday against South Brunswick to score 19 points. He had 20 Friday night in a losing cause.

With the defeat, St. Thomas Aquinas – which swept the GMC Tournament titles last season – was swept itself: by Colonia on the boys’ side and Monroe on the girls, while playing on their home floor.

Click below to listen to postgame reaction from Colonia’s win in the Towns/Williams pod final:

Colonia senior guard Ruben Reyes
Colonia head coach Jose Rodriguez

Monroe avenges regular season loss to Aquinas to win GMC Girls’ Somogyi Family Pod championship

There it was, hanging out there: one loss, to the two-time defending GMC Tournament Champions.

Aquinas also beat them in last year’s GMCT final.

Oh, and don’t forget that the Monroe girls’ basketball team, which prides itself on its defense, gave up the most points it had all season in that game, in a 49-41 loss.

Don’t worry, they didn’t forget it either.

While third-seeded Monroe didn’t ever have a lead in the first half, they used a 12-1 early second-half run and a 23-7 third quarter to power past and hold off second-seed St. Thomas Aquinas, 46-40, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving. The win gave the Falcons (13-1) the Somogyi Family Pod Trophy, given to the winner of the GMC’s top four-team girls’ pod.

St. Thomas Aquinas (9-8) had the game’s leading scorer in 5-4 freshman Amarilis Shubick. She’s the second-leading scorer on the team, but was the only Trojan in double-figures, scoring 16, nearly six over her average. Shubick had four treys, including two in the second half that helped Aquinas’ effort to get back into it.

Senior co-captain Akyia Baker was held to just seven points, all in the second half.

For Monroe, senior forward Rosie Regan led the way with 14 points, eight of which came after intermission.

Click below to hear postgame comments from Monroe head coach Leigh Vogtman and senior forward Rosie Regan:

Monroe head coach Leigh Vogtman
Monroe senior forward Rosie Regan