Tag: Tommy Amankwaa

Amankwaa set to graduate Hillsborough early, join Rutgers in January

Thomas Amankwaa – now a state champion – plans to graduate Hillsborough High School early and enroll at Rutgers for the Spring semester, once he signs his National Letter of Intent on December 15th, the first day of the “early” signing period.

Amankwaa spoke of his decision exclusively with Central Jersey Sports Radio Wednesday afternoon.

Amankwaa and the Raiders are coming off a perfect 13-0 season, the first in school history, and their first state championship in 21 years. That came three weeks ago when they beat North Brunswick for the Central Jersey Group 5 title at Noonan Field.

READ MORE: Hillsborough’s Amankwaa gets offer from Rutgers, verbals to Knights, all within 48 hours

Not only was it an all-time best year for Hillsborough – the first school in Somerset County ever to win 13 games in a season – but Amankwaa had a record-setting career. He owns the school marks for touchdown catches (28), total TDs (50), and total points scored (304), as well as receiving yards, breaking Jackson Parham’s mark (2014-17) in Saturday’s regional championship game win against Kingsway, finishing with 2,184.

This season, he began taking the ball at running back to help replace some of the productivity of the graduated Sean Levonaitis, and had career bests at both positions: 853 receiving yards and 12 TDs, along with 1,125 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

Amankwaa had a number of Power 5, FBS and FCS offers heading into this season, but was waiting for an offer from Rutgers, which came in-person from Scarlet Knight head coach Greg Schiano when the Hillsborough senior was on the field for the Delaware game. He committeed two days later.

Click below to hear Tommy Amankwaa talk about his decision to graduate high school early, and enroll at Rutgers for the Spring:

Perfection! Hillsborough caps 13-0 season with milestone win over Kingsway

In the end, Hillsborough did what Hillsborough has done all season long.

Highlight reel catches by Thomas Amankwaa, pressure by Will Dixon and Andrew Santa Barbara, a pounding rush from Tyler Michinard, and the arm of Jay Mazuera were just some of the reasons – not all by a long shot – why the Raiders are the South Jersey Group 5 Regional Champions for 2021, as well as a perfect 13-0.

Hillsborough beat Kingsway 28-7 Saturday afternoon at Rutgers’ SHI Stadium in Piscataway in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland, and in the process became the first Somerset County team in history to win 13 games in a regular season.

The win also was a personal milestone for Kevin Carty, Jr., the Hillsborough skipper, who picked up the 100th win of his career, now 99-63 in 16 seasons overall, 35-17 in the ‘Boro.

It looked for a while like Kingsway would put up a fight.

The Raiders went three-and-out on their first possession of the game, and Kingsway marched downfield to get a first-and-goal at the eight. But after a five yard rush on first down, Hillsborough forced a no gain on the ground, allowed a one yard rush, then set Kingsway back a yard on fourth down, to take the ball over at the three.

And that was the beginning of a glorious afternoon for the Raiders. They would take the next drive 97 yards on 14 plays, eating up 6:14 of game clock, to go ahead 6-0 on a 7-yard touchdown run by Tyler Michinard.

Hillsborough was off an running at that point.

The next two drives only took eight plays total, but each resulted in touchdown passes from Jay Mazuera to his childhood friend Thomas Amankwaa, 42- and 53-yards, and the second one even more amazing than the first,.

The first was an outstretched arm to make the ball reach the pylon.

On the second, Amankwaa made a two-handed grab down the left sideline, stretched the ball away from his defender with his left hand while on the run, and stiff-armed him away with the other, running it into the end zone once he got some distance.

It might have Greg Schiano rethinking that whole using him as a d-back thing, once Amankwaa – a Rutgers commit – signs on the dotted line in about 11 days.

Anmankwaa finished with five catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 111 yards on 12 carries. He also had a big tackle in the first half that kept a Kingsway drive from being extended.

The receiving yards put him over Jackson Parham’s school record 2,069 receiving yards, giving Amankwaa 2,194; he now owns four career records, including TD receptions (28), total touchdowns (50), and total points scored (304).

Hillsborough clinched its first-ever perfect season, besting its 1973 record of 8-0-1, which saw them awarded a state championship by the state, sharing with Warren Hills, in the final year before the advent of the playoffs.

The Raiders also are the first Big Central Conference team – as a member of the league – to win 13 games in a season. Piscataway did it in 2018, but the Big Central was still two years away from beginning play as a conference.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Hillsborough’s 28-7 win over Kingsway in the South 5 championship game with Central Jersey Sportrs Radio’s Max Scheiner:

WR/CB Thomas Amankwaa
QB Jay Mazuera
Head coach Kevin Carty, Jr.

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 15: The Cartys

There’s just one more team left!

On Episode 15 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland – our final regular weekly show – Mike Pavlichko takes a quick look back at Cranford’s loss in the North 3 regional championship, then has a full-on preview of Hillsborough’s South 5 regional title game against Kingsway out of the West Jersey Football League.

First, we hear from senior wide receiver and defensive back Tommy Amankwaa – the Rutgers commit – and senior quarterback Jay Mazuera.

Then, a very special segment on head coach Kevin Carty, Jr., and his father, Kevin Senior, who’s on his staff, working with the wide receivers. They talk about their time together as player and coach at Somerville, winning their championship in 1994 over Manasquan, and what it’s like with a life of football, including the younger Carty’s siblings, Ryan and Sean, who also are in coaching.

Then, it’s on to Saturday’s matchup at SHI Stadium at Rutgers, as we hear from Kingsway head coach Mark Hendricks and Carty Junior.

Finally, Mike gives his breakdown of the game.

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 14: The Lucky Threes

We’re off to the Meadowlands!

On Episode 14 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland, Mike Pavlichko has a look back at Hillsborough and Cranford’s state title wins, with postgame reaction from players and coaches.

Then it’s on to preview the North Jersey Group 3 Regional Championship, as Cranford gets set to take on West Morris at Met Life Stadium Friday afternoon.

First, Mike talks with West Morris head coach Kevin Hennelly.

Then, it’s on to Cranford as we catch up with Illinois-bound Cranford offensive lineman Matt Fries, who talks about the tight bond on the O-line, as well as following in his brother Will’s footsteps. Then, we hear from head coach Erik Rosenmeier on the matchup with West Morris.

Finally, Mike breaks down the matchup on both sides of the ball.

Hillsborough’s complete effort gives Raiders first state title in 21 years

Hillsborough’s longest state title drought of the playoff era is over, and the Raiders did it in style.

It was nothing fancy, mind you. In fact, they were a little sloppy early, and fell behind 8-7 in the second quarter – only the third occasion in which they had trailed in a game all year.

But then Hillsborough acted like the top overall seed that it was, scoring 28 unanswered points to pull away from third-seed North Brunswick for a 35-8 victory at Noonan Field, giving them the Central Jersey Group5 championship.

It was Boro’s first title since 2000, when they upended the No. 4 team in the state, Sayreville, for the CJ Group 4 crown.

North Brunswick falls to 8-4.

Quarterback Jay Mazuera was 12-for-19 for 171 yards and two touchdown passe for Hillsborough; he also rushed for another.

Tyler Michinard – who rushed for a school record seven touchdowns a week ago against Williamstown – ran for 53 yards on 16 carries, while Tommy Amankwaa had five catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for another. And if that wasn’t complete enough, the Rutgers commit also grabbed an interception on defense.

The win extends Hillsborough’s program-record victory total to 12, and the undefeated Raiders now move on the the South Group 5 regional championship. The fourth-seeded Dragons (7-4) out of the West Jersey Football League beat third-seed Toms River North Friday night 21-14.

That game will be played the weekend of Dec. 4-5, since Kingsway plays Clearview in its Thanksgiving rivalry game next Wednesday.

The regional championships are being held next weekend and the first weekend in December at Met Life Stadium and Rutgers University’s SHI Stadium. The NJSIAA will announce sites, dates and times for the matchups this Sunday.

Click below to hear Tim Catalfamo down on the field with postgame reaction from Hillsborough’s championship win:

Hillsborough senior WR/DB To\mmy Amankwaa
Hillsborough head coach Kevin Carty, Jr.

It’s 6-0 for Hillsborough, as No. 2 Raiders pull away from Westfield for 28-7 win

Quarterback Jay Mazuera threw two touchdown passes, and Tommy Amankwaa had a touchdown run and a touchdown catch, as No. 2 Hillsborough remained undefeated with a 28-7 road win over Westfield Saturday afternoon, on the Big Central Game of the Week, driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

Amankwaa opened the scoring with a 63-yard touchdown reception from Mazuera, then gave Hillsborough some insurance with a 93-yard touchdown run down the Raiders’ sideline, his breakaway speed making the difference, and giving his team a 21-14 lead.

Tyler Michinard had a four-yard touchdown rush, while slot receiver Shane Donaghue added a 27-yard touchdown catch, the second of Mazuera’s two TD passes. He unofficially threw for 161 yards and was named the Autoland Player of the Game. He’ll receive a custom football at the end of the season courtesy of Autoland.

Hillsborough is now, 6-0, and their challenging schedule continues next week with a home game against No. 6 Old Bridge. And after a Week 8 visit to Piscataway, they return home for No. 5 North Brunswick.

Westfield dropped to 2-3 with the loss.

Click below for popstgame reaction from down on the field with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

HIllsborough quarterback Jay Mazuera

HIllsborough head coach Kevin Carty Jr.

Summers makes the most of his opportunities on both sides of the ball to nab Week 5 Bellamy & Son Player of the Week honors

He didn’t have a dozen catches and a dozen tackles, or even a dozen of one or the other.

In fact, South Brunswick’s Khiri (pronounced like Kyrie, as in Irving) Summers only had five catches and five tackles in a 40-25 win over Monroe last Friday night.

But he made the most of what he got.

On offense, three of those catches went for touchdowns.

On defense, in addition to those five tackles, he had two interceptions, as part of what head coach John Viotto called the best performance his Vikings have turned in to date this season.

All that earned Summers Bellamy & Son Paving Big Central Player of the Week honors for Week Six.

Summers will receive a custom football to mark the accomplishment, and one Player of the Week will be awarded a $500 scholarship.

Click below to listen to Khiri Summers talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his performance against Monroe:

Honor Roll:

New Providence’s Charlie Barth was back playing defense again after sitting out that side of the ball in a 40-8 home win over Bound Brook heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio two Fridays ago.

And the senior RB/LB didn’t disappoint, with an outstanding two-way performance in a 42-14 win over Brearley: 16 carries for 176 yards and three touchdowns, while recording 12 tackles, a TFL and a QB pressure. Those numbers are what put him at the top of the Big Central leaderboard in tackles last fall, and made him one of the most active defenders in the league.

Few players record four touchdowns in a game; that’s reserved for the elite. But senior Logan Blake turned the trick for Delaware Valley Friday night, recording all four of the Terrier’s touchdowns in a solid 28-14 home win over Bernards. He had 11 catches in the game for 172 yards, with hauls of 13, 4, 26 and 16 yards.

North Plainfield’s Taeshaun Mallard a sophomore wide receiver had a nice four catches for 32 yards and two scores, but it was a trick play that boosted the prominence of his offensive game. It was a pass completion for a 39-yard touchdown to Jordan Bird in the fourth quarter. That have the Canucks enough cushion to hold on for a 28-19 win over Voorhees to move their record to 2-3 on the season and move them up one spot in the latest North 3 UPR rankings; the Canucks are two spots out of the top 16 at the midway point of the season.

And what would an honor roll be without Hillsborough’s Thomas Amankwaa. The senior – who won the award in Week 2 – is running the ball now in addition to catching it. He went for 103 yard and three touchdowns on five rushes while also catching three passes for 68 yards in a 42-14 win at No. 5 Ridge last Friday night.

Hillsborough’s Amankwaa gets offer from Rutgers, verbals to Knights, all within 48 hours

Hillsborough standout wide receiver/cornerback Tommy Ammankwaa had numerous Division I football offers as of Friday afternoon. Among the most prominent were two from Power 5 conference schools: Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

But there was one more he appeared to be waiting for, and he got it Saturday before Rutgers’ game against Delaware.

Just after 2:30 Saturday afternoon, less than an hour before kickoff, Amankwaa tweeted the news:

And then, Sunday, he jumped on the opportunity:

In his tweet, Amankwaa said he’s been “praying for this day to come,” and thanked “god (sic), my family, my coaches, my friends and their families, and this community for cheering me on and watching me grow up throughout the years and believing in me.

“I am proud to announce that I will be staying home to further my academic and athletic career at Rutgers University.”

Amankwaa was the Week 2 Bellamy & Son Player of the Week on Central Jersey Sports Radio, scoring two critical touchdowns and a two-point conversion to tie Phillipsburg in a top ten clash two weeks ago, then sealing the win in overtime with an interception.

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

He has 10 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a new wrinkle and sometimes lining up at runningback, where he has 17 carries for 186 yards.

In three years as a starter, he has 72 catches for 1,566 yards and 18 touchdowns, and is poised for a big season with veteran QB Jay Mazuera leading an offense that includes bruising senior Tyler Michinard at runningback.

The Raiders are 3-0 and ranked third in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten.

RU’s recruiting class for 2022 is ranked 19th in the nation and 4th in the Big Ten by 247sports, which doesn’t yet list Amankwaa among 15 commitments. The Knights’ class is ranked 16th in the country by Sports Illustrated.

Hillsborough has sent numerous players to the Division I football ranks over the years, and even on to the NFL. Among the most notable, Ricky Proehl (’86) went to Wake Forest and played 17 years in the league. he went to four Super Bowls and won two, one with the Rams as part of the “Greatest Show on Turf” and another with the Colts.

And, of course, there’s Shaun O’Hara, who started as a walk-on at Rutgers but eventually received a scholarship, then made his way to the Giants, where he was a three-time Pro Bowler and won Super Bowl XLII with Big Blue. He’s now a color analyst for NFL Network and ESPN Radio.

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 4: The Mr. Old Bridge

A pair of big wins for a pair of Raiders, and the Big Man in Old Bridge.

Those are some of the highlights of Episode 4 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

We take a closer look at the top-ranked North Brunswick’s big win at Old Bridge, thanks to a big night from Marqis Perry. Then Hillsborough came up with a statement win over Phillipsburg in overtime.

Later, host Mike Pavlichko talks with Bellamy & Son Paving Big Central Player of the Week Tommy Amankwaa, and sits down with Mr. Old Bridge, Ron Mazzola, to talk about his PA work for Old Bridge and Spotswood, work with GMC wrestling and gymnastics, and great moments in Knights’ football.

Then, Dom Savino slides into the chair across from Mike to preview Week Three action in the Big Central.

Hot takes: Hillsborough wins a big one, North Brunswick wins key matchup, Colonia pulls off an upset

A quick glance at the Friday night top ten scoreboard in the Big Central could make things even murkier in the Week 2 rankings when they come out next week.

To begin with, No. 6 Hillsborough overcame a very early 14-0 deficit to take No. 7 Phillipsburg to overtime, and came out with a 21-14 win, almost singlehandedly thanks to Tommy Amankwaa. He had the score and two-point conversion to tie the game, scored in OT to put the Raiders ahead, then sealed it with a pick on the Stateliners’ possession.

Talk about a game. He turned up big time.

READ MORE: Hillsborough has its sights set high with 1-2 combo of Mazuera and Amankwaa

Phillipsburg had won four straight against the Raiders, and even though Hillsborough was the higher-ranked team, it’s a huge win for them over a prominent Garden State program. A statement win that says they will be the team to beat in the division.

They get Franklin next week, which plays No. 5 Ridge this afternoon, and then will go at it in the Battle of Route 206 two Thursdays hence, in the “Big Central Game of the Week” driven by Autoland on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

That should be a fun one.

North Brunswick, meanwhile, the newly-minted No. 1 team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten, followed up an explosive second-half performance against South Brunswick – 35 unanswered points to end the game – with a 34-27 win at No. 4 Old Bridge.

This North Brunswick team is loaded, and to be honest, it was a tough pick making Somerville the preseason No. 1 over the Raiders. And though Somerville (2-1) lost a tough one to Northern Highlands last week at Rutgers out of conference, it looks like the Raiders are for real. That’s a good Knights team with Owen Haughney, Lawrence Hunter and company, but North Brunswick got a big road win here.

READ MORE: Hunter guides veteran Old Bridge to opening win over East Brunswick

Now 2-0, the Raiders get Sayreville (0-2) at home next week. Their next biggest test will come in mid-October when Union comes to Steve Libro Field.

And how about Colonia. The Patriots took Woodbridge – which got a first place vote this week in the Media Poll – to the bring in Week One, but are in the win column after a 38-7 upset of No. 8 (tie) Edison (1-1). The Eagles were coming off a 37-0 shutout win over JP Stevens – admittedly, not much of a test – but were thoroughly dominated by the Patriots, who are now 1-1.

The Patriots led 24-0 at halftime, thanks in large part to quarterback Josh Oluremi. All he did was rush for touchdowns on 10, 20 and 24 yards, and throw 32 yards for another to Patrick Miller.

Colonia also had a pick-six in the win, and Jake Ciencin managed six sacks all on his own.

The real test will be in the next four games with three of them on the road. They start at South Plainfield next week, then have Montgomery at home before traveling to Linden and No. 8 (tie) Cranford, which edged out North Hunterdon Friday night 43-37 at home, on a tough week for the Union County town following major storm damage from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.