Tag: Summit

North Group 3 Playoff Analysis: Hillside still has a crack at a top seed, while Cranford’s a longshot

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)

#3 Hillside: Overall No. 1 West Morris appears to be locked in whether or not the 8-0 Wolfpack lose to Morristown (3-5) this weekend, which they shouldn’t. Regardless, the Comets still could earn the other top seed (No. 2 overall) if things break right for them. It starts with beating Carteret at Conant Street Park this Saturday afternoon. With that victory, and everyone else around them winning (we’re taking into account the top seven teams here – including West Morris, as well as Old Tappan, Cranford, Sparta, Mendham and Monvtille – Hillside would end up third. But if a major upset happens and Old Tappan (6-1) happens to lose at Demarest (1-6) Friday night, we believe Hillside can get the second seed. And with Hillside playing the next day, they’d know they have a shot. Regardless, it doesn’t appear that a lost will cost Hillside much. If they do, and all those other teams win, we think the lowest the Comets can finish is fourth, which may be just as good as third: it’s a two-seed (albeit in West Morris’ section) and guaranteed home games through at least the sectional semifinals. In this case, Sparta would jump up into that third slot.

#4 Cranford: Along the same lines as Hillside in regards to West Morris, we think a Cougars’ home win Friday night over North Brunswick gives them a remote shot at a No. 2 finish and one of the top seeds. That would happen if all the “others” (top 7 teams) win except Hillside and Old Tappan. It’s not likely, but it looks at least mathematically possible. If all six of those other teams win – including the Comets and Old Tappan, Cranford likely drops into the 5th slot, and loses that home-field guarantee for the first two rounds, but still would start at home. It’s possible with other scenarios they could still end up in fourth.

#13 Summit: The Hilltoppers (3-4) could actually finish as high as No. 6, we think, if they were to beat St. Joseph-Metuchen (3-4) Saturday afternoon at Tatlock Field. The Falcons are reeling a bit, so that’s not impossible. What else would have to happen? It looks like Monvtille, Mendham and West Essex would all have to lose. If those teams all win, they would likely finish No. 10 because either River Dell or Paramus could pass them, and they play each other; those wins also would bump other teams around in the rankings. Now the scary part: Summit may not have clinched a playoff berth yet. We still stick by our original projection that they are a “likely” playoff team, but here’s what would have to go wrong: Summit would have to lose at St. Joseph, Snyder and Parsippany Hills would have to win, and Warren Hills or Pascaack Valley would have to win. (Lincoln can’t catch them.) If that all happens, Summit may end up No. 17. Bottom line: We still think they’re in.

Colonia solidifies playoff position, keeps pace as it cools off Summit, 28-23

With just one loss on the season – and to one of the top teams in the Big Central Conference – maybe Colonia deserves better than to be fighting for a top eight finish and a first-round playoff home game.

Then again, maybe it won’t matter.

That’s because the Patriots went on the road Saturday to face red-hot Summit – winners of three straight – and came out of Tatlock Field with a 28-23 win that kept them in 9th place – where they started the weekend – in the playoff chase.

QB Jaeden Jones – banged up a bit in the loss at North Hunterdon – scored four touchdowns in the game, of 52, 7, 5 and 6 yards.

Click below to hear postgame comments from Colonia head coach Tom Roarty:

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!

Group 3 playoff analysis: Cranford takes a big jump with win over Barrons

There are just three weeks to go before the state playoff cutoff for public schools in New Jersey, so we at Central Jersey Sports Radio will continue to dig deeper into the numbers to look at each team’s prospects:

NORTH 3 (Click here for official standings)

West Morris (6-0) – the defending North 3 regional champ – and Old Tappan (5-0) are the top two teams in this supersection, with UPRs of 1 and 2 respectively. It’s a jumble behind them, with Cranford next up at 3-2, with a 4 UPR. Not far behind them is Hillside (4-1, 4.2 UPR) in fourth place and Sparta (3-2, 4.6 UPR) in fifth. The Comets are down a spot after suffering their first loss of the season, a defeat last Friday night at the hands of St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Cougars – defending North 2, Group 3 champs – improved to 3-2 with a 35-0 win over Rahway, leaping Hillside in the process, coming all the way up from 7th place into third.

It might be difficult for Cranford or Hillside to gain a top seed here, because the teams above them are so far ahead in both power point average and OSI. With UPRs of 1 and 2, that means West Morris is first in both categories, and Old Tappan in second. and it’s not that close. In power point average, it’s West Morris 17, Old Tappan 15.4, Hillside 14 and Cranford 12. In OSI, it’s West Morris 65.77, Old Tappan 63.02, Sparta at 56.28, Cranford at 54.2 and Hillside at 53.02. Two factors are in play here: First, there are not many places to climb in either ranking to make up the difference in UPR. Second, the gap to jump a space or two is fairly wide.

But a good consolation prize is to finish in the top four, at least earning a home field advantage guarantee through the sectional semifinals, wherever they land. Both have a good shot at that if they can keep Sparta at bay.

After that, scroll all the way down to 13th place to find Summit, which has now won two straight to get to 2-3 on the season, with a 12.6 UPR. They’re not solidly in yet, but if they can continue their resurgence, there’s a good shot they’re in the playoffs. The schedule is difficult, but it’s been that way all season. We’ve seen them in person, and the Hilltoppers are better after Week Five than the team that lost at Woodbridge by a touchdown on September 2.

We think they’ll make it; the schedule the rest of the way features a road game at Linden this Friday night, then home games against Colonia and St. Joseph-Metuchen.

SOUTH 3 (Click here for official standings)

Delsea is the top team here, with a 1 UPR, meaning they are tops in both power point average and OSI, and without the benefit of a multiplier – yet. They play St. Joe’s-Hammonton on Cutoff Weekend at Rowan. So, they’re a lock for No. 1. (Should it really be this way, thanks to multipliers? Ah, another argument for another time.) Camden is second, followed by Seneca and Hopewell Valley.

The first Big Central team here appears at No. 9, where South Plainfield (5-0) is at No. 9, with a UPR of 10. They are on the bubble for the top eight, which guarantees a first-round home playoff game. There are six undefeated teams in this section, in addition to the top four already mentioned and Ocean Township at No. 6. The Tigers have the weaker schedule, to be sure, and probably deserving of where they are.

It’s too close to call on where they end up considering the teams bunched around them. Just 0.2 points ahead of them in eighth is Highland regional, and Burlington Township is 1.2 UPR ahead in seventh. Nottingham is right behind at 10.2, and Matawan is 11.8. Bottom line is they should be a top eight team if they win out, with a road game at Voorhees this Friday, followed by Perth Amboy at home next Friday, and at Monroe on Friday night of Cutoff Wekeend.

Carteret (5-1, 15 UPR) is in 15th, with a similar schedule to the Tigers, but one loss – to South Plainfield. There are four teams behind them in striking distance: Allentown (15.6 UPR), Triton (16.6) and Camden Eastside (formerly Woodrow Wilson, 16.8). The Ramblers have a super tough schedule the final three weeks of the regular season: Governor Livingston this Friday night at The Pit, then at Rahway and at Hillside.

This might be tough.

Somerville (2-4) is another story. Note that Gridiron has them 3-3, but our numbers match up, after that season-opening forfeit against Mastery Charter for using an ineligible player. They are 3.4 UPR points out of the playoffs, which is a lot of ground to make up. And it’s a good news/bad news situation. They have Westfield and Hillsborough at Brooks Field this week and next week, then are at South Brunswick on the Friday night of Cutoff Weekend.

So, the schedule is conducive to picking up a lot of ground; the trick is they have to WIN those games. They’re 2-3 minus the forfeit, but those two wins are not nearly against the caliber of opponent they’ll face the next three weeks.

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.)

Summit blanks Rahway behind Bauman, Schnall for first win of season

Summit junior runningback Ryan Schnall scored two touchdowns as senior quarterback Brian Bauman expertly directed the offense, and Summit capitalized on a key Rahway turnover, en route to a 20-0 home win at Tatlock Field Saturday afternoon, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The Hilltoppers looked nothing like the team that came into the game with an 0-3 record.

336 Morris Ave, Summit, NJ
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Summit scored its first touchdown with 10:08 to go in the first half after a Rahway miscue. The Hilltoppers had punted, but Rahway’s Damari Williams-Julius got hit immediately after catching the ball, fumbled, and about 20 yards up the field, Summit recovered. A few plays later, Ryan Schnall scored from four yards out.

Schnall would punch it in again about seven game minutes later, from 15 yards out, and Summit went into halftime with a 14-0 lead.

Will Johnson added two filed goals in the fourth quarter – from 29 and 38 yards away – to give Summit the final margin.

Defensively, it was an all around effort for the Hilltoppers, who stopped Rahway on a number of fourth-down conversion tries, including a 4th-and-1 late where Rahway fumbled the snap, appeared to recover, but short of the first down marker for a turnover on downs.

Summit is now 3-1, while Rahway drops to 1-3.

Click below for postgame reaction from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

Summit senior quarterback Brian Bauman

Summit head coach Kevin Kostibos

Summit seeks first win of season, as it looks to continue growth in ’22

by Chris Tsakonas

For the Summit Hilltoppers, the 2022 season has been defined by one word: growth.

“We’re a young team, and we keep finding new things to learn,” Summit head coach Kevin Kostibos said. “So what we’re looking for this week is to continue that process.”

336 Morris Ave, Summit, NJ
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It’s a new look lineup on both sides of the ball – particularly on the defensive side, which returns only two starters in senior defensive lineman George Morgan and senior inside linebacker Joe Fagan.

Joining Fagan in the inside linebacker spot is junior Tyler Kessel, who has broken out in the first three games, pacing the defense with 4 tackles for loss and 36 tackles overall. The defense is coming off a season-low 19 points allowed in last week’s game against a 3-1 St. Thomas Aquinas team that had scored 49 and 43 in its previous two games.

“I thought we took some real strides with St. Thomas,” Kostibos said. “I thought we defensively gave them a great game, and we’re just looking to build off that and continue to get better.”

Offensively, the Hilltoppers have relied heavily on the run game, with senior running back Jake Lowry becoming the leading rusher with 181 yards and a touchdown on 51 carries. Lowry is joined in the backfield by junior Ryan Schnall, who has an efficient 141 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.

“When we need a play, [Lowry is] the kid who we’re looking to,” Kostibos said. “So far, he’s exceeded my expectations, and I think he’s got a great career ahead at the college level.”

Click below to hear Chris Tsakonas talk with Summit head coach Kevin Kostibos about Summit’s 2022 season and Saturday’s matchup with Rahway:

Rahway has overcome adversity, tragedy en route to 3-0 start

With the wake Thursday and the funeral Friday for beloved teammate Ali Muhammad, one could say you might not know what to expect the Rahway football team when the Indians (3-0) visit Summit (0-3) this Saturday afternoon.

But that’s not the case. Because we already know how they’ve responded: quite well.

Muhammad passed away in his sleep in the early morning hours of September 8th. The team learned about it later that day in school, and practice was called off for that afternoon.

39 River Road, Summit, NJ (parking on Plain St.)
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But when presented with the opportunity to cancel their Friday night game against Lincoln High School of Jersey City – a non-league game, mind you, with no bearing on division standings – they stood tall, and not only showed up at Caven Point, but came back down the Turnpike with a 45-16, while senior runningback Kyle Hall took home Week 2 Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Honors.

READ MORE: Hall stands tall after teammate’s tragic passing to win Week 2 Bellamy & Son Player of the Week Honors

The team dedicated the game, and then the season, in Muhammad’s memory. Mainly a practice player on the scout team, he was an integral part of the program, and much loved on the tight-knit squad.

So, they’ll continue the season in his honor this Saturday when they visit Summit, continuing a series that dates back to 1919, and which the Hilltoppers lead 31-23, with one tie.

You can hear Saturday afternoon’s game on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action from Tatlock Field in Summit. Kickiff is at 1, pregame starts at 12:45 pm. Click here to listen.

Rahway has a balanced rushing attack of senior Kyle Hall (206 yds, 2 TD), Andrew Avent (111 yds, 3 TD) and Jeremiah Derilus (103 yds), while quarterback Amir Robinson can sling it (352 yds on 21-36 passing, 6 TD, 0 INT).

On the other side of the ball, senior defensive end Jalen Barnesalready has registered three sacks and seven tackles for loss.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Rahway head coach Brian Russo about his team:

Top-ranked Somerville battles through driving rain, MacNair injury, to win slugfest against Summit

We don’t know yet who Somerville will face in the playoffs, and head coach Dallas Whitaker doesn’t really care until the NJSIAA comes out with its official brackets sometime Sunday.

But he was certainly happy with how his team came through at a very wet and windy Brooks Field Friday night, as the No. 1 Pioneers improved to 7-2beat Summit 45-22 in the Big Central Game of the Week, driven by Mark Montenero and his team, at the world-famous Autoland, heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Ethan MacNair came out of the game late in the first quarter with an apparent ankle injury after rushing for 49 yards and a touchdown on five carries, but Hashym Hobbs stepped up big-time. He scored on Somerville’s next two offensive plays, on touchdown runs of 63 and 72 yards, staking the Pioneers to a 19-3 that would turn into a 19-9 advantage going into the locker room.

Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker didn’t have an update on MacNair after the game, pending a further medical evaluation.

Hobbs’ performance came at a critical point of the game, with Summit – after a trio of three-and-outs – starting to find its groove a bit on offense. The timing of his big plays earned him Autoland Player of the Game honors.

The loss for Summit (5-4) leaves its playoff hopes in question; they’re likely in the bottom four of the North 3 standings, but may need some help to stay there.

Click below for postgame reaction from Somerville’s 45-22 win over Summit Friday night:

Junior quarterback Mike Miller

Head coach Dallas Whitaker