Tag: Summit

Who’s streaking? After three weeks, Spotswood holds Big Central’s longest active win streak

The Big Central’s longest active winning streak is now up to six games, but Spotswood is all alone.

The Chargers and Summit both had five-game winning streaks heading into Week Three, but while Spotswood blanked Highland Park in a rare home night game – they brought in temporary lights – the Hilltoppers fell to the juggernaut that is St. Thomas Aquinas, 44-20, for their first loss of the season.

There’s less of a chance to carry a long winning streak into another season these days, since the NJSIAA last year played its first-ever group championships. Before expanding to “regional championships” – essentially group semifinals without a group title game – in 2018, there were 20 public schools that could carry a winning streak to the next year after winning a sectional crown.

Now that those teams can potentially play two more rounds, only five public schools (who made the playoffs) can go into the next season on a win streak. (There are others, but more on that later.)

After Spotswood, no one in the Big Central has a five game winning streak, but six have won four in a row. The only streak of those six that carries back to last season is Phillipsburg, which is 3-0, and beat Easton in its last game of 2022 after getting knocked out of the state playoffs in the North 2, Group 5 title game by West Orange.

The others who have won four straight are all 4-0 this season, uncluding HUnterdon Central, Montgomery, Watchung Hills, Bernards, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Statewide, Caldwell still owns the longest active winning streak in New Jersey, currently at 31 games. After winning their last three games of 2020, they went 13-0 last year and won the state Group 2 title over Rumson-Fair Haven, and are now 3-0 this year. The Indians host West Essex (2-2) Friday night.

The second-longest streak in the state ended Friday night when Toms River North lost 21-7 to Donovan Catholic. That streak ended at 17, and to add injury to insult, star quarterback Micah Ford went down with an injury, the extent of which is not yet known.

The next-closest streaks are nine games, owned by three teams. Old Tappan won its last six last year en route to the state Group 3 title; they’re 3-0 this year. Woodbury – last year’s Group 1 champ – won its final five last year and is 4-0 this season.

Meanwhile, Fort Lee also has won nine-in-a-row. Though just 2-0 this year, they won their last seven games last year, en route to an 8-1 season. How?

They’re in the NJIC’s Ivy White division, a division allowed by the NJSIAA where struggling programs can play each other, but are not permitted to make the state playoffs due to the intentionally weak schedule they play. There are two such divisions in the NJIC and another two in the Super Football Conference.

As for losing streaks, Highland Park and JP Stevens remain the longest and second-longest statewide.

The Owls are at 45 games after a 34-0 loss to Spotswood Friday. They’re 0-3, and host Roselle Park (1-2) this Friday.

The Hawks are at 35, with an 0-4 record this season after a 34-0 loss THursday to Governor Livingston. They host South Plainfield (2-2) Friday.

Behind them is Ferris, whose streak swelled to 26 with a 43-8 loss at KEarny on Friday. They host Dwight Morrow/Englewood (2-0) on Friday.

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 3: So many teams, no place to put ’em

We’re back with our Week Three episode of “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” as veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko shares notes, stats, and observations on area high school football.

This week, a look at all 15 unbeatean teams in the league, Carteret’s historic start to the season, Highland Park’s scoring outburst, and lightning ends a Saturday game.

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

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 2: Ramblers winning big, Red Devils’ debut”

We’re back with another episode of “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” as veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko shares notes, stats, and observations on area high school football.

This week, a look at Hunterdon Central’s first-ever appearance in our polls, Big Central win streaks, and the early dominance of Carteret.

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

Who’s got the longest win streak in the Big Central? In New Jersey? A closer look

The longest active winning streak in the Big Central doesn’t belong to a traditional football power in Central Jersey like a Piscataway or a Phillipsburg.

It doesn’t belong to either of the teams who won sectional titles last year in Edison or North Hunterdon.

In fact, with the state playing to group champions for the first time last year, that’s five fewer teams that will end their season on a high note coming into the following year.

Yes, the Big Central team with the longest active winning streak at the moment – after nearly three dozen teams opened up in Week Zero – is Roselle.

The Rams got off to an inauspicious start last season, losing their first four games, but rattled off eight straight wins to finish the season and finish 8-4. That included two “consolation” wins at Bordentown and Haddon Heights, and then a victory in their annual Thankgiving rivalry game against Roselle Park.

The stars aligned, and Roselle finished red hot. Junior quarterback Nazir Baker returns, but head coach Ibrahim Halsey will be looking for someone else to make up for graduated runningback Emmanuel Lyles’ 1,272 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.

Elsewhere in the league, no one else has a streak better than three games. Three teams have won three straight: Spotswood won its last two last season and is 0-1 this year. Same for Linden. Summit won its final three games last year, but hasn’t opened yet this season.

The Hilltoppers host Woodbridge Saturday, while Linden hosts Rahway Friday, and Spotswood is at Belvidere Friday.

The longest active winning streak in the state currently belongs to Caldwell, which has won 28 straight games.

The Chiefs haven’t opened this season yet, but after winning their final three games in 2020, went 12-0 in 2021 and won the North 2 Regional Championship. Then, last year, they went a step further, 13-0, winning the state Group 2 title. They open Friday night at home against Morris Catholic.

A good distance behind them is Toms River North, which won its opener last week 14-7 over Millville in the Battle at the Beach in Ocean City. Micah Ford and company have now won 15 in a row, including 14-0 last season with a state Group 5 championship. Their last loss was in the 2021 playoffs to Kingsway in the South 5 sectional semifinals. The Mariners are back in action Friday against Toms River East.

Summit looks to continue in ’23 with momentum of strong finish in ’22

Team chemistry is one of those X-factors of any team in any sport. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

In high school football, team chemistry often is borne of a group of players who have played together for a long time, since youth football.

And that’s the scenario in Summit this season, which started last year 0-3, then went 6-2 the rest of the way. It was a great turnaround, but now the challenge is to start out 2023 as hot as they finished.

They’ll attempt to do it with a veteran, tight-knit group. Senior middle linebacker Tyler Kessell will anchor the defense, after recording 120 tackles last season as a junior, while the offense will have to find a new quarterback and new top runningback.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Summit head coach Kevin Kostibos and senior Tyler Kessel:

2023 Big Central Preview: United Gold Division

Coming off a year in which Cranford won a state title, their move to a new division put them in with the behemoth that has become St. Thomas Aquinas, which won the United Gold Division in its inaugural season in 2022.

But both teams have lost significant talent, but should be right back in the mix, while their three other divisional foes will look to make a push.

That includes Rahway, which won four games last year, but had to deal with the death of a beloved teammate, Ali Muhammad.

MORE ’22 COVERAGE: Hall stands tall after teammate‚Äôs tragic passing to win Week 2 Bellamy & Son Player of the Week Honors

There’s also Summit, which finished 6-5 after starting the year 0-3, and has more experience back this season. And then Scotch Plains-Fanwood, nearly a playoff team two years ago, but coming off a two-win season that is likely more an exception to the rule for Austin Holman’s program.

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

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.