Tag: UPR

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 7: The Midway Point

Half the regular season is in the books in high school football across New Jersey, and we talk about it on Episode 7 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland!

Mike Pavlichko starts the show with a look at the playoff standings – interrupted by a mild rant on the state’s multiplier formula for power points.

Then, it’s a look at the Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week, South Brunswick’s Khiri Summers, who had three receiving touchdowns on offense, and two interceptions on defense, against Monroe.

Mike and Dom Savino wrap it up with a look at the Week 6 slate, including some playoff implications.

Top seeds in reach for several Big Central schools in Week 5 UPR standings

There are still three more weeks of play before Cutoff Weekend, but five Big Central Conference schools currently hold one of the top two positions in their respective supersections, meaning they would get top seeds in the playoffs if they started today.

  • In North 5, Union sits second with a UPR of 2.8, behind Clifton. Westfield is 5th with a UPR of 6.6, and has taken a fall with two straight losses.
  • South 5 finds undefeated Hillsborough in second with a UPR of 2.4. Old Bridge is 4th with a 3.8 UPR.
  • In North 4, Woodbridge sits in 2nd with a 2.6 UPR.
  • In North 3, undefeated Cranford is tops with a 1.6 UPR, ahead of River Dell (2.6).
  • In South 2, unbeaten Delaware Valley has a UPR of 3.4 and is in second.

The top two teams in each supersection become the top seeds in the eight team sections once they’re seeded. The top 16 teams in each supersection make the playoffs. Most supersections have about 30 teams, except for the North ones, which each have a few teams missing. That’s because their placement in certain conference divisions came with the stipulation that they be ineligible for the playoffs.

Continue reading “Top seeds in reach for several Big Central schools in Week 5 UPR standings”

Week Four UPR brings a few changes as wins help teams soar, losses make them plummet

It’s still early enough in the season that a win or loss can make teams fluctuate wildly in the playoff chase.

Some even took a fall despite a win.

Such was the case with Somerville, as we’ll explain in a moment.

Here’s our analysis of all the public school sections; we’re not looking at Non-Publics yet since those will be seeded by committees, using UPR as one of several key metrics. For each supersection, click the link in bold to see the actual official standings on Gridiron New Jersey’s website.

Continue reading “Week Four UPR brings a few changes as wins help teams soar, losses make them plummet”

Week 5 Hot Takes: First looks at Pioneers and Raiders, Aquinas impresses, Friday night playoff impacts coming soon

When you call a game every Friday night, it’s going to make it hard to see game action in person of every team in the Big Central. Make that downright impossible.

How else can you cover 60 teams? Why, you’d have to be Marcus Borden to do that!

But this week, we got our first looks of games that count involving New Providence and Hillsborough, and they certainly impressed.

In fact, both will be successful this year for much of the same reason: they’re more than just one player, and their coaches are getting creative. (What, you thought it was because both coaches are juniors, whose fathers were legendary high school coacahes in their own right? Hmmmm…. maybe that could have something to do with it.)

New Providence with and without Barth…

Let’s start with the Pioneers, where head coach Chet Parlavecchio Jr. got his team to rebound from a tough loss to Willingboro on short prep with a 40-8 win over Bound Brook.

In 2020, New Prov rode Charlie Barth, their big-time junior back, on offense, and also saw him contribute heavily on defense. He was the Central Jersey Sports Radio Two-Way Player of the Year, racking up 1,502 yards and 25 TDs (for a touchdown every 7.4 carries) while also leading the Big Central with 115 tackles, good for Top Ten in the state.

READ MORE: Pioneers spread it around in 40-8 win over Bound Brook

Against Bound Brook, Barth had two scores, sure. But sophomore runningback Ben Gullo had a touchdown run, QB Dean Licari had a TD run, and sophomore fullback Jack Verbaro had a touchdown catch in a goal-line situation from the five that on any given night would just scream having Barth pound it down the middle through a solid offensive line.

Oh, and he didn’t play a lick of defense in the game, according to Parlavecchio.

Keep him fresh, coach.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I think this is going to be a special year for New Providence.

Hillsborough looks – and is – the part…

Then there’s Hillsborough. This is the team that has come in with all the hype of the 1-2 combo of quarterback Jay Mazuera and wide receiver Thomas Amankwaa, friends since the age of eight, since they were both – yes – linemen with the Junior Raiders in town. (Mazuera says his dad was the coach and didn’t want to favor either of them.)

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

But the varsity Raiders are so much more than that combo.

Sure, Amankwaa – who just committed to Rutgers less than a week ago – got his touchdowns, but the two he had were on the ground, a product of head coach Kevin Carty Jr. doing all he can to get the talented, speedy, and elusive Amankwaa more touches.

Tommy on the jet sweep? Yes please.

But then they also have bruiser Tyler Michinard at runningback. And what did he do Saturday afternoon in a 31-21 win over Bridgewater-Raritan?

Michinard flipped the other half of the script and had a receiving touchdown, and a nifty one at that.

READ MORE: No. 3 Hillsborough gets it to all the right people in 31-21 road win over rival Bridgewater-Raritan

I’ve always had fun watching Carty’s teams, and more often than not he’s had some really good ones, but even he admits this is one of the better ones, and I tend to agree with him.

They’re going to be special, too.

But they’ll be up for a big challenge against Ridge this Friday night, trying to prepare for the Red Devils on a quick turnaround, since their game against B-R was on a Saturday, and they should have started prepping Friday since the game was originally scheduled for Thursday. But alas, Mother Nature.

Trojans looking good

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve always enjoyed extremes in sports, good or bad. Teams scoring a lot of points. Going long stretches without. Winning streaks.

In this case, St. Thomas Aquinas was one of just two teams in the entire state heading into Saturday’s action to be 4-0, without allowing a single point. (The other is Cedar Creek.)

The resume shows a 6-0 season opening win against Woodstown at home, followed by a 43-0 win at Roselle, a 59-0 win at Spotswood, and a 46-0 home win this Friday night over Johnson.

That’s a 49.3 point per game scoring average in Big Central play.

And yet, Woodstown may have been the best win of the bunch, as they’re 3-1. Roselle is 2-1, Spotswood is winless and Johnson only has one win on the season. So you can take this however you take it.

But schedule out the window, I’ve always believed it’s not easy to shut a team out. Even a bad one. All it takes is one play to go wrong and there’s a touchdown.

A shutout – 48 minutes in high school football – requires intense focus, especially when you’re scoring 43, 59 and 46 points. It’s easy for a 16 or 17 year old to take his foot off the gas pedal.

The fact that Brian Meeney’s squad has not done that, in four games, makes it super impressive.

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

They’re on a historic run, too: 4-0 to start a season for the first time since 1989, and it’s their best record through the first four games since going 3-0-1 in the first four of 1992.

Are they top ten material? It’s certainly debatable. There might be 15 or more teams worthy of the Top Ten in their own right in this 60-team league.

But what they’re doing is something special. A good test comes Saturday at South River’s Bill Denny Stadium, and their biggest test will be in their regular season finale when they host 4-0 Del Val.

UPR coming soon(er)…

While Gridiron New Jersey released its first UPR playoff standings of the year last Sunday (they’re the official calculator for the NJSIAA) Central Jersey Sports Radio will soon be doing its own unofficial calculations.

We know you live for this stuff.

It’s still early; teams with only three games can make big jumps (or falls) with a win or loss in one week. So, we’ll start updating soon on Friday nights/Saturday mornings. Keep an eye out for it on cjsportsradio.com.

Analysis: A closer look at the Week 3 UPR released by Gridiron New Jersey

Cutoff Weekend in New Jersey is still six weeks away, but it’s never too early to start looking at the chase for the postseason.

Gridiron New Jersey – the official calculator of all things playoffs – released its Week 3 UPR standings Sunday afternoon, and a quick look finds two Big Central teams – Westfield and Cranford – atop their respective supersections, with a third – Woodbridge – in the top two.

The top two teams in each supersection get a top seed in their section once they’re divided up, and guaranteed home field through the sectional championship game.

Regional Championships then will be played for one more season, until next year, when the NJSIAA will have football play down to overall group champs, a measure the state’s schools overwhelmingly voted in favor of this year.

Here’s a closer look:

Of the 54 Big Central teams that must qualify for the playoffs (the four non-publics in the league all qualify as all non-publics who want in will get in this year) 30 are on the right side of the line, in the top 16 in their supersection.

North Group 5

Westfield leads the pack right now with a 2-0 mark, ahead of Clifton and Passaic Tech. Union is 7th at 2-1, with Phillipsburg 9th, and Bridgewater-Raritan 10th. Elizabeth is 13th.

Winless Watchung Hills, Plainfield, JP Stevens and Piscataway are nowhere near the cutoff. But it’s still early, so a win can give a team a huge boost, especially against better competition.

South Group 5

Hillsborough is the highest Big Central team at No. 5, followed by Old Bridge, North Brunswick and undefeated 3-0 Monroe at seven though nine. East Brunswick at 2-1 is 11th, with New Brunswick at 13, and Edison 14th.

The Raiders play a tough schedule, so I’d anticipate that if they keep winning, they’ll move up and challenge for a top-seed. Thursday’s game at Bridgewater Raritan (CJSR, 7 pm) will be key to that.

North Group 4

Undefeated 4-0 Woodbridge is second in the standings here, right behind 3-0 Northern Highlands. The Barrons had a little to prove after losing Ali Lee, Jr., and Anthony Santino, but they’ve answered the bell so far. The Highlanders, though, have a hefty OSI at 77.69, with Woodbridge at 68.78. With North Hunterdon and Cranford coming up in two of the next three games, those will be critical to keep pace and/or gain ground.

But again, the Barrons at least would have home field through the sectional finals should they finish second in the supersection, so not all is lost.

Ridge’s win over Bridgewater Friday helps put them 5th, followed by Linden at 7, Colonia at 10, Sayreville 13th (thanks to a big win over No. 1 North Brunswick Friday night) and Scotch Plains at 15th. North Hunterdon is knocking on the door in 17th.

North Group 3

Cranford at 2-0 leads the pack here, ahead by just over 5 UPR points of Montville and Nutley, with 2-1 Summit – the team Cranford just beat this weekend – in fourth. A Hilltoppers win, and they might be flip-flopped right now.

Warren Hills checks in 8th, while 1-2 North Plainfield is on the other side of the peephole in 17th.

South Group 3

Somerville always struggles here. Not on the field, or in the playoffs, but to get that top seed. Though they do have one loss (to Northern Highlands, not a bad one) they sit in 5th behind Rumson, Delsea, Cedar Creek (all undefeated) and Woodrow Wilson – which they lost to in the South 3 finals in 2019.

To have a shot at one of the top seeds, the Pioneers likely have to win out, or have the teams above them trip.

South Plainfield checks in at 18.

South Group 2

Raritan, Pt. Pleasant Boro and Camden lead the pack here, with two BCC teams – Delaware Valley and Bernards – in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Hillside checks in 12th, and then two teams who square off Friday night are 14th and 16th: Bound Brook and New Providence. The winner will get a big boost; the loser will have dropped two straight and most likely be on the outside looking in.

South River checks in 18th, and with a week schedule and a 2-1 record, might very well have to win out to qualify.

Remember, undefeated teams qualify no matter what, but the Rams already have a loss. Bottom line: there’s little margin for error with Rich Marchesi’s squad due to their schedule.

North Group 1

Brearley is the only team in the hunt here at 2-0, standing in 10th. Hasbrouck Heights leads the supersection.

South Group 1

Despite a 1-2 record, but thanks to good competition, Middlesex is in 12th in a supersection led by deep south teams like Woodbury, Salem, Audubon, Paulsboro, Gloucester City and Penns Grove.

(Do the Blue Jays really belong in this section?)

You have to go to all the way to No. 7 to get to a remotely “Centrral Jersey” team in Shore Regional from Monmouth County.

Manville checks in at 16, with the Mustangs owners of a 2-0 record.

Non-Publics

This year, the NJSIAA pared the non-public sections down to two: A and B. A has the larger schools, and B has the smaller ones. The local teams are split with Pingry (not in the BCC) and St. Joe’s of Metuchen in A; Immaculata (not in the BCC) and St. Thomas Aquinas are in B.

These sections will be seeded by committee, using the UPR as one of several factors. Due to the human element, we won’t be projecting matchups throughout the year, but as of now, Pingry is 13th out of 16 teams in Non-Public A, while the Falcons are last.

In Non-Public B, Immaculata is 4th our of 16, while St. Thomas Aquinas is right behind in 5th

What does it all mean?

Not a lot yet. The best teams will be near the top, those that likely won’t contend are well out of the mix already, with a few exceptions of teams that could make a dent.

But the bottom line is, it’s so early. For OSI, which is an average, three games doesn’t say a lot. Give it another two weeks before hitting the panic button, or going into cruise control. A lot can happen – and will – between now and Cutoff Weekend.