Tag: Summit

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

No. 1 Somerville in for a fight when Summit comes to town

In a series once dominated by Summit, the arrival of the Jeff Vanderbeek/Dallas Whitaker era in Somerville has brought more intense matchups, albeit mostly won by the Pioneers.

But Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker admits the Hilltoppers have given his team fits over the years, and he expects tonight to be no different when the two teams square off at Brooks Field for the first time since 2016.

No. 1 Somerville (6-2) and Summit (5-3) will play in the final game of the regular season tonight at 7 pm, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action, beginning with the pregame show at 6:45.

Click here to listen live to all the play-by-play on cjsportsradio.com.

Summit leads the all-time series 7-4, but Somerville was won four of the last five, including a 55-42 decision last season, the most combined points (97) scored in the all-time series between the schools.

MORE CUTOFF WEEKEND COVERAGE: A team-by-team breakdown of every Big Central team’s postseason standing and chances heading into Week 9

Summit also is one of just three teams to beat Somerville in the regular season in the Jeff Vanderbeek/Dallas Whitaker era. The others are Rahway, and Northern Highlands.

While Somerville is likely to be a top eight team in the South 3 supersection – meaning at least a first-round home game – there’s much at stake for he Hilltoppers. A loss could bounce them from the North Group 3 playoffs if things don’t break right with the teams below them. But if they win, they’re in.

Click below to hear both coaches talk about tonight’s matchup:

Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker

Summit head coach Kevin Kostibos

North Group 3 Week 9 Breakdown: Cougars are locked in as overall top seed, do Summit and North Plainfield have must-wins?

There’s a lot people don’t know about the playoff formula New Jersey uses for high school football – even though it’s completely available to the general public. But what we do know is that Cranford – with a 7-0 record – appears to be the only Big Central team locked into its playoff position. Here’s a team-by-team unofficial breakdown of Big Central teams in playoff contention in North Group 3:

Cranford: We believe Cranford is locked in as the overall Number One seed. And though top versus second overall seed matters little – since the regional champiosnhips will be at a neutral site at MetLife Stadium – the Cougars can take that bragging right. By our math, even if Cranford should lost at Montgomery (3-4) Friday night in Skillman – and even if River Dell, West Morris, Sparta, and West Essex behind them all win – Cranford should still be the number one seed. Go ahead. Move along. Nothing else to see here. Believe it or not, they could end up with an all-Big Central first round game at Memorial Field next Friday night. Read on…

MORE CUTOFF WEEKEND COVERAGE: A team-by-team breakdown of every Big Central team’s postseason standing and chances heading into Week 9

Summit: The Hilltoppers (5-3) are in 15th place, with a tough opponent this weekend in Somerville (6-2). The Pioneers have won five straight on the field (with a forfeit loss to Phillipsburg sandwiched in the middle) and are really hitting their stride, with Ethan MacNair steamrolling opponents since moving from tight end to runningback; he’s rushed for 544 yards and six touchdowns in just the last two games, against St. Joseph-Metuchen and Warren Hills. But enough about the Pioneers. Should Summit pull off an upset – though they’re a team that always gives the ‘Ville fits, the only team to beat them in the 2019 regular season – they could end up anywhere from 12th to 14th depending on who else wins, like Nutley, Vernon, Warren Hills or Wayne Valley (the more of them that win, the lower Summit finishes). Could the unthinkable happen, and Summit get knocked out of the playoffs with a loss? Somerville is a strong opponent with a solid OSI and worth a good deal of power points, so on its own, the defeat leaves them in 15th place. We believe if Demarest, Morris Hills and North Plainfield all win this weekend, it would knock Summit out. There may be other combinations, too, but those are the three directly behind the Hilltoppers, if they lose to Somerville. Bottom line: Summit has a lot to play for Friday night at Brooks Field, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland. Game time is 7:00, pregame is at 6:45. Click here to listen.

North Plainfield: The Canucks (5-3) are less cut and dry, currently sitting in 16th place. And a win or loss at South River (5-3) Saturday afternoon, will bring about the same result; they’re going to need help in the form of all three teams currently behind them losing. That’s Morris Hills, Roxbury and Demarest. Should any of them win, regardless of what happens at Denny Stadium Saturday afternoon, the Canucks can bring their axes home.

Undefeated Cranford still holds top spot in North 3; North Plainfield win puts them inside the bubble

There was little surprise at the top of the North Group 3 standings after Friday night’s games, as Cranford – now 7-0 after a 42-13 win over Linden – held on to the top spot, according to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s exclusive unofficial UPR calculations.

The Cougars – who maintain a 1 UPR, tops in both power point average and OSI, with their regular season finale at Montgomery next week – remained firmly in place, with West Morris in second at 2.4 UPR, but with a Saturday game at Morris Knolls this week still pending. Both teams are 5-2, but a West Morris win shouldn’t bump them up enough to overtake the Cougars, and third place River Dell remains there, even with a Friday night win.

Summit dropped a spot on the bye wee, jumped by Wayne Valley, which won Friday night.

At the bottom, North Plainfield’s 35-13 win over Johnson – coupled with Demarest’s 49-28 home loss to Westwood – climbed into the 16th spot in the standings with a UPR of 17. But the lead over Morris Hills is narrow. Still, they already played this weekend, losing big Friday night to Sparta, so it’ll likely come down to next week.

The Canucks are at 3-4 South River next Saturday afternoon. Morris Hills (3-5, 17th) is at Randolph (5-2) next Saturday. Demarest (3-5, 18th) is at Bergenfield next week, not a huge pickup for the Norsemen, should they win.

But let’s put it plainly: we believe the Canucks will clinch a postseason berth with a win at Bill Denny Stadium next Saturday afternoon.

Week 8 Analysis: Cranford’s win over Woodbridge keeps Cougars atop North 3; Summit falls, Warren Hills gains

The battle of unbeaten teams in Week Seven at Priscoe Field lived entirely up to its billing.

For tension, entertainment, big plays, and yes, even for playoff implications.

While the loss looks like it dropped Woodbridge out of playoff contention, it kept Cranford as the leader of the pack in the North Group 3 supersection.

It didn’t actually put any distance between them and the teams behind them, even though their power point average jumped about two-and-a-half points. In fact, one of the the teams behind them crept even closer. Cranford had a UPR of 1 – the best you can get last week – and it kept that ranking this week. But West Morris (5-2, 2nd place) rose from a 2.8 to a 2.4 UPR, moving up one place in power point rank from fourth to third.

The third place team, though, moved a bit further back. Actually, West Essex (6-1) dropped despite a win; they were a 3.2 UPR last week. They were overtaken by River Dell (5-2) which has a 2 UPR, two-tenths closer than last week’s third place team.

Still, if Cranford can take care of business with road wins at Linden and Montgomery this week an next, they’ll finish as a top seed, and likely the top overall seed.

Winning takes care of everything else, we like to say.

The other two likely playoff teams here – who played each other last week – went opposite directions in Week Seven, and met in the middle

Summit took its second loss of the season, falling to Warren Hills, and fell from 9th to 12th in the standings, while the Blue Streaks climbed from the wrong side of the bubble at 17th to 13th. Both are 5-2, with Summit having an 11.29 power point average, and Warren Hills at 11.86. UPR is close, too: 11.8 for the Hilltoppers, 12.6 for Warren Hills.

Summit had a bye this week, and we think should be in, even with a loss to Somerville next week (CJSR, 7 pm). But should they win, depending what other teams do this week, they could jump up to the top eight and earn a first-round home game. Right now it looks like a stretch, with only one team ahead of the – Old Tappan – having two losses. (Old Tappan, interestingly, only has a 9.71 power point average, one of only four single digit power point teams in the top 20 of the section. But their OSI ranks 11th, which is how they’re in.)

As for Warren Hills, they have Somerville this week, and could make a big jump. Not helping them is the fact that their regular season finale next Friday night is against longtime rival Hackettstown, which is 0-7, and only has an SI value of about 45, which is a tick above the Blue Streaks’ average. So they’re probably relegated to a bottom eight seed.

North Plainfield sits in 18th, a not-so-insurmountable 1.4 UPR points behind the No. 16 team in the standings, Demarest. The question is: Can wins at Johnson this week (2-5) and South River next week (3-3) help their cause? Johnson is worth 14 power points (their average is 8.71) but only 36.41 in OSI value (their average is 41.74). And the Rams are worth 17 power points, but will be about a 47 in SI value. It might wash out, but it that enough to pick up a couple of places in power points and move into 16th? Absent anything else, they could jump to about a 10.22 in power point average, which would vault them over four teams (not considering anything they might do the next two weeks) and gain 1.6 UPR points; remember, they’re 1.4 out now. Is it enough to more than offset losses in OSI?

We’ll have to see.

Central Jersey Sports Radio picks Bound Brook-Manville and Somerville-Summit as Week 8 and 9 Autoland “Games of the Week”

Central Jersey Sports Radio has announced its final two games of the regular season broadcast schedule for the Big Central Game of the Week, driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland!

The Week 8 game this coming Friday, October 22, will be Manville at Bound Brook. The Mustangs are 5-1, yet fighting for their lives in the playoff chase. Entering Week 7, Manville was 19th in the latest UPR standings, and moved up to 18th after this weekend’s games, in which they beat Highland Park 35-0. Bound Brook is 3-4 after a 34-20 home setback to Brearley back on Friday night.

The two schools have been longtime rivals in many sports since the 1950s, and had met on Thanksgiving or the night before every year from 1998 to 2011. Prior to that, they would play in one of the first few weeks of the season.

The Week 9 game – Cutoff Weekend for the playoffs – will feature No. 1 Somerville hosting Summit. The Pioneers are 5-1 and winners of four straight after a 47-26 road win at St. Joseph of Metuchen Saturday, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Summit is 5-2 after dropping a 20-13 decision to Warren Hills in the last of a stretch of four home games. The Hilltoppers have a bye next week before facing the Pioneers at Brooks Field.

LISTEN: MacNair’s 300-yard game propels No. 1 Somerville past game St. Joe’s-Metuchen

Summit also is the last league team to beat Somerville, having knocked off the Pioneers in 2019 – their only regular season loss that year – 23-16 on October 5th. This will be their first meeting since then, as the teams did not meet in last year’s COVID-shortened season.

Since 2016, when Jeff Vanderbeek became the solo head coach of the Somerville program – now led by then-assistant Dallas Whitaker – the Pioneers have never lost a “rematch” game against an opponent that beat them. They are 2-0 in such games, avenging a defeat at the hands of Rumson in the 2016 Central Jersey Group 3 title game with a win in that same game in 2017. their only loss in 2017 was to Rahway, and the Pioneers exacted revenge their next time out in 2018.

In that stretch, Somerville has only lost to Rumson in the 2018 title game, but they haven’t played since; to Summit in the 2019 regular season; to Woodrow Wilson in the 2019 South Jersey Group 3 title game, and they haven’t played since; and to Northern Highlands earlier this season.

Overall, the Pioneers are 54-6 since 2016, the best five-years-and-change stretch in school history.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will also broadcast select playoff games in the state tournament, which begins the weekend of November 5-6. Continue to follow us on Facebook – and on Twitter at @cjsportsradio.com for updates on our broadcast schedule, which can be found here.

Week 6 Group 3 playoff analysis: Cranford in the drivers’ seat for a top seed in the North; Somerville may end up on the road in the South

There they are, right at the top: Cranford – undefeated at 5-0 with a huge game at Woodbridge Friday night (7 pm, CJSR) – leads the entire North Group 3 supersection, the only team from the Big Central Conference to hold such a lofty position in the Week 6 playoff standings.

The Cougars are 1.7 UPR points ahead of West Morris (2.8), while West Essex (3.2) and River Dell (3.8) are not far behind. But there’s no real advantage to being first or second overall, other than the first-place team gets the 16th overall team in the opening round, while the second-place team gets the 15th overall team. And in the playoffs, it’s always more about matchups anyway.

For just this one more season, home field will end at the sectional finals, and the “regional championships” will be held at Met Life Stadium. But next year, when football plays down to overall group champions – finally! – those games will be at neutral sites, and it remains to be seen if the “regional championships” – soon to be “group semifinals” – will be held at neutral sites as well, or at the higher seeded team’s home field.

Nonetheless, it’s stating the obvious that a win against Woodbridge would be huge. But, practically-speaking, it’s an opportunity to shore up a top-two spot for Cranford. A loss, and they still might get it. That may depend, in part, what happens the rest of the way with West Morris (4-2) and West Essex (5-1), and to some extent, possibly River Dell (4-2).

The next team down in North 3 is Summit, where the Hilltoppers are in the 9th spot with a UPR of 8.4. They’re more likely to move up than down, in our estimation. There are two teams ahead of them within two UPR points, Lincoln (8.2) and Montville (7.6). But the teams behind them are at least 2.4 UPR points away. Pascack Valley is a 10.8 and Vernon has an 11.6 UPR.

The only other team from the BCC with a remote possibility here here is North Plainfield. The Canucks are 3-3 but have won two straight. And they may win out, with three road games coming up to finish the regular year at Governor Livingston and South River; those opponents have a combined four wins, and the best of them is South River. The Rams are 3-2 with a 48.25 SI. That Strength Index will help North Plainfield, as will the 15 power points they’ll get. But whether it’s enough to offset the drop they’ll possibly see even if they beat their previous two opponents may not be enough to overcome.

The next two weeks will bring that into clearer focus for cutoff weekend.

South Group 3:

Rumson-Fair Haven, which has one of the toughest schedules in the state among public schools – and also has benefitted from a mutliplier win over Donovan Catholic – leads the pack here, followed by undefeated Cedar Creek, the only seven-win team in the state at the moment.

This is one of the sections where we will differ from Gridiron New Jersey, which did not use the Week 5 Strength Index update for Out of State teams as it outlined in a post last Friday. Those SI numbers are to be updated at mid-season, then again after Week 8 when all the other SI values are fixed heading into the final weekend.

This affects Somerville, which is also one of the teams whose OSI is off because of the discrepancy. The Pioneers played Olney Prep of Philly in Week Zero. Holmdel is off, too, as they played St. Joe’s by the Sea (NY) on Week One.

By CJSR’s calculations, Somerville is in 6th at the moment (Gridiron has them 8th) but there’s also the matter of the Pioneers’ forfeit against Phillipsburg, which will go down as a loss after week eight if it’s not made up, but has not been added to the mix yet. If it were factored in now, the Pioneers move to tenth, and would be two places out of at least a first round home game.

That’s rare territory for Somerville, which is used to battling for a top seed. But that’s what two losses will do, no matter how they come.

In any event, it’s critical for the Pioneers to win out, and a victory at St. Joseph of Metuchen Saturday (2 pm, CJSR) would be a big help, since they’re a multiplier that would get them 42 points for a win. Warren Hills (4-2) is next, and then Summit on Cutuoff Weekend (5-1).

They can win out, and need to if they want a shot at a home game at least in the first round of the playoffs, although they still might get it with a loss to the Falcons and wins over the Blue Streaks and Hilltoppers, as St. Joe’s is worth 28 points for a loss.

The only other Big Central team in this race is Rahway, which has won two straight after dropping their first three, and stands in 15th place. A tall task for the Indians comes this weekend in a road game at Donovan Catholic, but they’re a multiplier, so even a loss will give them a boost. That’s a 42/28 multiplier, so even the 28 for a loss would jump their power point average from 8.8 to 12. That would jump them from 16th to 11th in power point rank (assuming no one else moves), which is good for 2 full UPR points, and would likely move them to a more comfortable 12th or 13th place. They close at South Plainfield and Hillside, which both could be must-wins. We’ll have to see how this week shakes out.

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

Cranford head coach Erik Rosenmeier believes football is a fall sport. He believes summer is for vacation, and that’s why his team didn’t play in Week One.

It had nothing to do with the remnants of Ida that caused major damage in some parts of town along the Rahway River.

Either way, his team is off to a 2-0 start, following up on a 43-37 OT win over North Hunterdon in the opener with a 45-8 home win at Memorial Field over Summit.

Senior Shane Van Dam and the Cranford offense got the better of Summit and QB Charlie Schaffer, whose attack managed just a single touchdown on the road against the Cougars.

Van Dam threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers, and ran for another.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk about the win – and expectations for the season – with Cranford head coach Erik Rosenmeier:

North Brunswick claims top spot in Big Central Media Poll, edging out Union in Week Two

A week ago, North Brunswick had three first place votes in the Big Central Week One Media Poll, while Union had just one.

But the voters that didn’t pick Union first had the Farmers higher than those who didn’t have the Raiders in the top spot, so Union took Number One.

In Week Two, the first place votes went the same way – with Somerville and Woodbridge each getting a nod – but a win over ranked Old Bridge on the road boosted the Raiders in the minds of voters, and this week, they earned the top spot with 52 points, two more than Union.

There was little other change in the poll. Hillsborough jumped over Phillipsburg following a 21-14 overtime home win over the Stateliners, while Edison and Watchung Hills both dropped out. Three teams – Bernards, Cranford and Linden – tied for tenth, with five other teams getting votes.

Below is the Week Two Big Central Media Poll:

North Brunswick win over No. 4 Old Bridge keeps Raiders at No. 1 in CJSR Week Two Top Ten

Going on the road is never easy. Going to Vince Lombardi Field in Old Bridge is even tougher, where the Knights’ student section is loud. Coming out of there with a victory is even tougher.

But that’s what No. 1 North Brunswick did on Friday, pulling out a 34-27 victory at then No. 4 Old Bridge. And so, the Raiders remain No. 1 this week in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten, picking up both first place votes.

Woodbridge and Summit made their season debuts in the rankings, while Edison and New Providence dropped out, though the Pioneers were more of a mathematical casualty, having still received a vote in the poll.

The Media Poll will be out later Monday afternoon.

Below are the Week Two CJSR Rankings: