Tag: Woodbridge

Bosch “sparks” Woodbridge to playoff-clinching win, and Week 8 Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week honors

It’s one thing to put up big numbers in a game, but to do it when the season on the line is extra special.

And so it went for junior A.J. Bosch last Friday night, in a must-win home game for Woodbridge that they needed to clinch a playoff berth.

All Bosch did was score all five of his team’s touchdowns – three on catches, two on runs – and then, on defense, seal the game with a late interception for a 35-21 win that got the Barrons a top 16 finish in North Group 4, earning them the seventh seed in North 1, Group 4, where they’ll visit second seed Ramapo next Friday.

The final numbers for Bosch – which won him the ninth and final Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Year award for Week Eight – were six catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns (71, 66, and 35 yards) along with 15 rushes for 85 yards and two more scores (3 and 27 yards). Then, on defense, that nail-in-the-coffin pick, and ten tackles from his safety position.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Woodbridge junior A.J. Bosch:

Like all winners, Bosch will receive a custom football at the end of the year, and one of the weekly winners will receive a $500 scholarship from Bellamy & Son Paving and Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Honorable Mentions

  • Shawn Purcell, Manville – The senior runningback had 10 carries for 194 yards and six more rushing touchdowns to give him 28 total touchdowns on the year (including 6 receiving) and 170 points. He’s believed to be the state’s scoring leader heading into the playoffs, according to MaxPreps. (Not all schools report to MaxPreps, and NJ.com does not provide statewide scoring totals.)
  • Manny Faxas, Colonia – Usually, massive stats earn these honors, but why not give it to a defensive end and an offensive guard? In a tense 21-20 win over Rahway Friday, Faxas had eleven total tackles, two TFLs and a sack, which came on the final drive to help secure the win. He also had key blocks on 79- and 50-yard touchdown runs.
  • Anthony Christian, Spotswood – The senior runningback carried 20 times for 124 yards and all three touchdowns in an 18-7 win at JP Stevens Friday night.
  • J.J. Jackson, Scotch Plains-Fanwood – First-year head coach Michael Henderson says it was “the best game of his career.” The senior runningback had two catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, 10 carries for 107 yards and a score, plus ten tackles and a pick-six on defense, though it wasn’t enough in a 21-19 loss to JFK Friday night.

Other Nominations

  • Nickie Kouflie, Bernards – In essentially one half of play, the senior runningback had two long rushing touchdowns, eleven carries for 125 yards, and a catch for 14 yards on offense, while recording two solo tackles at cornerback in a 42-0 win over Governor Livingston at Olcott Field.
  • Matt Maciolek, Bridgewater-Raritan – The senior had six catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns – including a circus catch for a 32-yard score – in a critical 34-0 win over Old Bridge that kept Bridgewater-Raritan in the playoff chase, and got them a spot in the post-season. Head coach Rick Mantz says he’s been the “team’s most consistent player.”
  • Matt Botvinis, New Providence – The junior defensiveback/wide receiver had a stellar game on D, recording 10 tackles, and was plus-3 all on his own in the tournover category, logging two INTs and a fumble recovery in a 26-6 win over Middlesex Friday night. One of thos epicks halted a potential go-ahead drive and led to a Pioneers’ touchdown at the end of the first half. The other snuffed out a potential game-tying drive.
  • Angel Ruiz, JFK – In a 21-19 win over Scotch Plains-Fanwood, the wide receiver had 7 catches for 119 yards and a 44-yard touchdown, plus an interception as a defensive back.
  • Terrell Mitchell, Somerville – The sophomore set the pace for the Somerville offense in a 41-28 must-win victory at South Brunswick that gave the Pioneers’ their second straight victory since Matt Bloom took over as head coach, and propelled The ‘Ville into the playoffs. He had 14 carries for 190 yards and a touchdown, an 81-yarder.

North Group 4 Playoff Analysis: North Hunterdon appears locked into a No. 1 seed

With Cutoff Weekend coming up Friday and Saturday this week, 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 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)

#1 North Hunterdon: Even if the Lions (7-1) were to lose Voorhees (3-4) at home Friday night, it still wouldn’t matter what Irvington, Ramapo, Randolph, and Morris Knolls do behind the, We think North is set as the top overall team, meaning they would be the North 2, Group 4 top seed. Who gets the other No. 1 seed is still very much up in the air; Irvington’s not a lock with a tough game against West Orange.

#7 Ridge: The Red Devils (5-2) – contrary to our initial take – can’t quite grab the second overall position and the other No. 1 seed. We thought if they’d won at Union (2-5) and had a ton go right, including losses by six other teams around them, they could do it. But two of those teams – Randolph and Morris Knolls – play each other. So unless both decide to use an ineligible player and are granted losses (yes it could happen!) a No. 1 seed is out of the realm of possibility, we now believe, for Ridge. A top four finish is possible, though, if the Red Devils win. Undefeated Wayne Valley should beat winless Mount OIive, so beyond that huge upset, Ridge would need Ramapo (5-2) to lose to Ridgewood (5-2), and Randolph (6-1) to lose to Morris Knolls (6-1). On paper, those games could go either way. So, if Ridge wins, we call that a 50-50 shot. A loss, and Ridge could drop as low as nine, going on the road for the first round if everything breaks the wrong way around them.

#8 Colonia: The Patriots and the next few teams have so many possible scenarios and combos of winning and losing and other teams’ results, so we’ll just give their range. They could legitimately go as high as No. 7 overall, guaranteed at least a first-round home game, or drop as low as 13 in a worst-case scenario.

#11 Rahway: With Colonia being a strong team with just one loss, should they beat the Patriots, they could finish as high as an eight or nine overall, meaning a first-round home game is still in play. But we believe they’re in regardless of what happens; it looks like the lowest they can drop is 14 with a loss.

#12 Montgomery: Even with a loss to Linden, it looks like the Cougars are in, but destined to be on the road in the first round, as we peg them for a range of No. 10 to No. 15 overall.

#14 Sayreville: Similar to Montgomery, we think Sayreville is in whether they beat Woodbridge or not Friday night, and in the same 10-15 overall range.

#16 Woodbridge: Here’s where things start to get tricky. We thing the Barrons aren’t guaranteed of anything, even if they beat Sayreville Friday night, and the reason is the tiebreaker. If somehow, the Barrons end up a spot ahead of Linden, the Tigers have the tiebreaker by virtue of winning their regular season matchup. That’s even the case if Woodbridge finishes 16 and Linden finishes 17, regardless of power points, OSI or UPR. So, the Barrons need to finish two spots ahead of Linden if they end up at No. 16. Win, and it’s easier: they just need a loss by Linden and nothing else, and they’ll be the last team in. With a loss, they would not only need Linden to lose, but also Barringer to win Friday night against Nutley and Bergenfield to beat Pascack Valley on Saturday. Those have to happen to bump Linden to 18 so that Woodbridge avoids the tiebreaker. *We think.

#17 Linden: The Tigers, even though they’re behind Woodbridge, have it easier. With a win, even if everything else breaks wrong – including the Barrons winning – we have them at 17, with Woodbridge in 16th, and Linden getting the tiebreaker over the Barrons. We’ll see how it shakes out. And, as stated above, they could still get in with a loss, if things break right regarding Barringer and Bergenfield losing.

UNOFFICIAL: Group 4 Playoff Standings Update

North Hunterdon keeps on winning, and keeps solidifying its position as No. 1 in the North Group 4 standings. Here’s a look at Central Jersey Sports Radio’s unofficial standings for both Group 4 supersections following Friday night’s Week 7 games:

With a win over Woodbridge, North Hunterdon remains a solid No. 1 – first in both power points and UPR – while Irvington remains No. 2, but dropped in UPR from 2 to 2.6, which is more breathing room for the Lions, whose only loss was a “good” loss – according to the OSI – to Phillipsburg.

Ridge‘s home win over Westfield helped it stay in 7th, inching closer to sewing up a top seed and a first-round home game in the sectionals. The Red Devils are at Union next Friday, and a win there should lock it up.

Colonia dropped from No. 9 to No. 10 based on other teams’ results, but still has to play this weekend – today at red-hot Summit, which is 3-3 but has won three in a row.

Rahway has pulled up behind them, from 14 to 11, after a win Friday night over Carteret, which snapped a three-game skid. And right behind the Indians are Montgomery, which pulled up from 13th to 12th after snapping a two-game losing streak with a win over Scotch Plains-Fanwood Friday night.

Sayreville drops from 10th to 14th with Friday night’s loss to Piscataway, which would have produced a good amount of power points to get the Bombers – we think – closer to the top eight. Now, that may not be possible.

On either side of the bubble are Woodbridge and Linden, both of whom lost Friday night. The two flip-flopped last week’s position, with the Barrons now in 16th and the Tigers now 17th. Why? The Barrons’ loss to North Hunterdon was “better” – according to the OSI – than the Tigers’ loss to Cranford.

Bottom Line: North Hunterdon should get that top seed. Ridge could wrap up a first-round home game with a win against Union, but might still be able to get it with a loss. Colonia may be in play for a top eight seed since they have two games to work with. Rahway and Montgomery maybe not so much. But we think they’re in the dance, so to speak. Sayreville should be. Woodbridge has Sayreville next week, and Linden is at Montgomery: consider them must-wins, and root against Middletown South.

In South 4, Middletown South and Hammonton switch places, but still hold the top two positions.

Group 4 playoff analysis: North Hunterdon continues to rise; is a top-seed in play?

With just three weeks before Cutoff Weekend, we take a deeper dive into the playoff standings, after Week 5 results are tabluated by Gridiron New Jersey.

NORTH 4 (Click here for official standings)

After a big win over Colonia last weekend, North Hunterdon (5-1) continues to make its push up the standings, climbing from fifth last week to third this week. They boosted their power point average from 13.4 to 17 with a 25-point win over then 5-0 Colonia last week. Their OSI went from 58.77 to 63.01.

Randolph (5-0, 1 UPR) sits at No. 1, followed by Morris Knolls (4-1, 2.4 UPR), while the Lions are a 2.6 UPR. That’s oh-so-close. But there are a few snags in the plan if North Hunterdon wants one of the two No. 1 seeds. They are already second in power point average, so there’s little room to climb. They’re also just 0.29 UPR points behind Morris Knolls, and 1.05 behind Randolph, which leads the group, so there’s little room to climb there as well.

But both teams are in the same boat as they try to gain – or not lose – based on their upcoming schedules. Other than Montgomery this Friday, home to Woodbridge and Voorhees the final two weeks isn’t all that great. But neither is Morris Knolls’ schedule, with 0-6 Morris Hills at home this week, at 0-6 Mount Olive next week, and home to 5-0 Randolph on Saturday of Cutoff Weekend.

Irvington (4th, 4-2, 4.8 UPR) has taken a major hit losing two straight after a 4-0 start, and they don’t exactly have a schedule to make much of a dent either.

Bottom line? If North Hunterdon can take care of business and run the table the next three weeks – not an impossible task, on paper – it could come down to some scoreboard watching on Cutoff Saturday.

Colonia, meanwhile, despite dropping to 5-1 with that loss in Annandale last Friday night, didn’t drop. The Patriots remain in seventh; it was a “good loss” at least OSI-wise. They have a 6.8 UPR, and a 1.8 UPR lead over ninth-place Chatham. If they can dust themselves off – and QB Jaeden Jones is healthy after suffering what appeared to be a lower leg injury in the third quarter against North Hunterdon – and win their last three regular season games against Perth Amboy, at Summit, and at Rahway – a distinct possibility – they should hold on to a top eight seed and get at least a first-round home game in the playoffs.

Montgomery (5-1, 9.6 UPR) took a hit with its first loss of the season last week, but could be in play for a top-8 seed if they get back on the saddle, though they may need some help. It’s a tight jumble in the middle of this section, with Ridge (3-2, 11.4 UPR) and Sayreville (3-2, 11.4 UPR) tied right behind them.

A win for Monty over North Hunterdon would pay huge dividends, but they would also have to win at Scotch Plains and back in Skillman against Linden the last two weeks to get that first-round home game gaurantee. Ridge is at South Brunswick, home to Westfield, and at Union. Sayreville hosts Franklin and Piscataway before closing at Woodbridge. It all looks pretty even to us, but Montgomery may have the upper hand among the three.

Rahway (3-2) is in 13th place after dropping two in a row, with a 12.4 UPR. They may need to win two of three to really solidify a playoff spot, but they have a challenging schedule. This Friday they visit St. Thomas Aquinas, which is red hot, and hasn’t lost a conference game this season. They they host Carteret and Colonia to close things out.

Linden (3-2, 15.6 UPR) is in 15th and Woodbridge (2-4, 17.4 UPR) are bubble teams at this point. The Tigers are at least on the right side of things, and close with Summit, then Cranford at home, followed by a road game at Montgomery, while the Barrons have JFK, visit North Hunterdon, then host Sayreville. They’re on the wrong side of the bubble and appear to have the tougher schedule.

Too close to call for those two at this point.

SOUTH 4 (Click here for official standings)

There are no Big Central teams in the South 4 supersection, but with Group Finals in the picture this year, take note that Middletown South and Hammonton are in the top two slots here, and South still has a second multiplier to play; they lost to Red Bank Catholic a couple of weeks ago, and visit Donovan Catholic the Friday of Cutoff Weekend.

They should be a lock for a top-seed because of that. Hammonton is also a good bet to hold on, as well, at 5-1 and with a mostly strong schedule the next two weeks against Timber Creek and Delsea, a combined 10-1.

Group 4 playoff analysis: North Hunterdon leads BCC teams packed tightly behind them

As we head into the final four weeks of the regular season before Cutoff Weekend in high school football, it’s time to start taking a closer look at the race for the playoffs. Here’s a look at Group 4; note that we only give a detailed breakdown of the North section since South 4 doesn’t include any teams from the Big Central Conference, the only such supersection in the state.

NORTH 4 (Click here for official standings)

Ramapo is the leader in this section, with Randolph right behind, but both UPRs are in the twos (2.2 for Ramapo, 2.4 for Randolph). That oddity is because while they are 1-and-2 in OSI, Ramapo is fourth in power points, while Randolph is third. (OSI weighs 60%, power points 40% in the state UPR formula).

The highest Big Central team is North Hunterdon in fifth, and there are a bunch of league teams sort of right behind them, and they play two of the three in the next couple of weeks. The Lions have a 5.6 UPR, followed by Wayne Valley (5.8) and Colonia (6.6). Rahway is eighth with a 9 UPR, and Montgomery – with a 10 UPR – is in tenth, followed by Sayreville (10.4 UPR).

That’s a fairly good-sized gap in the middle of the pack. It essentially means that the top seven teams are all tightly packed in the top of the power point and OSI standings; i.e. there’s no team in the top seven that’s very high (say, fourth) in one and very low (say, 12th) in the other.

North Hunterdon can really solidify things and maybe make a run at a top-four seed (and home field through the sectional semifinals) with wins the next two weeks. They host Colonia Friday night – where Central Jersey Sports Radio will have live updates during the Sayreville at East Brunswick game, which kicks off at 7:00 – and next week, North Hunterdon travels to Montgomery.

Now back to that gap: it’s a lot to make up, and if nobody can do it, we’ll have Rahway, Monty, Sayreville, Chatham and maybe more battling it out for that eighth spot, which means a first-round home playoff game.

Ridge in 14th is a good bet to make the playoffs, but Linden in 15th is a little more on the bubble, but at least on the good side.

Woodbridge, however, at 1-4, is in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2018. They are in 18th, with a 17.4 UPR. They may need to run the table, which would include not only winning at Perth Amboy this weekend and beating in-town rival JFK at home next week, but then winning out in Clinton over North Hunterdon on October 14th, and beating Sayreville at home on the Friday night of Cutoff Weekend.

Put it this way: for the Barrons, the playoffs start now.

SOUTH 4 (Click here for official standings)

Again, there are no Big Central teams here, but with the NJSIAA going to group finals for the first-time ever this year, it warrants a brief look.

The top two teams here are Middletown South (3-1) and Millville (2-1). They might not be were it not for the multiplier effect, as Middletown South lost to Red Bank Catholic – and still has Donovan Catholic later on. Millville beat St. Augustine two weeks ago.

There’s only one undefeated team in this section: 4-0 Pennsauken, in 6th place right now, with a 7.2 UPR. Their power point total is what hurts them

Woodbridge’s Rosato fuels the Barrons’ offense, is named Week One Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week

Fitting in with new teammates isn’t always easy, but for Woodbridge senior quarterback Antonio Rosato – a transfer from St. John Vianney down in the Shore Conference – it’s gone pretty well.

After a tough season-opening loss to Irvington – coming off its first ever state championship – Rosato accounted for 451 of his team’s 492 total offensive yards back on Friday night, in a 34-27 barnburner against Summit.

He went 17-of-24 passing for 212 yards with three TD passes, running 23 times for 239 yards and another two scores.

And that has earned him Week One Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Honors.

Rosato is a good student, too. Make that an excellent one, with a 4.0 GPA, according to head coach Joe LaSala.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Week One Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week Antonio Rosato:

Honorable Mentions:

  • Patrick Smith, South Plainfield: In a 33-13 season-opening home win over JFK, he just about did it all: 79 yards on the ground with a touchdown, 55 yards receiving and a score, and a 90-yard kick return for a touchdown. That’s 224 total yards and three touchdowns.
  • Shane Donoghue, Hillsborough: The Raider tight end had only three catches, but he made them count: for 98 yards and two touchdowns, while also being active on
  • Jeremy DeCaro, St. Joseph: The junior made an impact in all three phases in a 30-6 season-opening victory over New Brunswick in Metuchen Saturday. At halfback, he carried five times for 57 yards. From his outside linebacker spot he registered seven tackles, one TFL, and had two pass breakups, as well as a pick-six. He had a punt return for 35 yards and made two tackles on special teams.
  • Matt Sims, Brearley: At QB, he went 7-13 for 91 yards and a touchdown, but was even more impressive on the ground, carrying 29 times for 248 yards and four scores. He also scored a pair of two-point conversions and had 6 tackled and an interception on defense from his safety position in a 34-20 road win at Manville.
  • Kyle Hall, Rahway: The senior wide receiver had two catches for 30 yards , both for touchdowns, but also had seven rushes for 40 yards in a 21-20 home win over Linden. From his linebacker position on defense, he registered six tackles, 3 TFLs, and a QB hurry. On special teams he punted three times for an average of 27.3 yards, with one inside the 20 yard line.
  • Brayden Kelly, Watchung Hills: In a 17-7 season-opening win over Westfield, the cornerback had a 50-yard interception return and two fumble recoveries, as well as two tackles.

Other Nominations:

(in no particular order)

  • Frankie Garbolino, North Brunswick: The senior QB kept the offense steady in a 19-0 blanking of rival South Brunswick in the Raiders’ opener. He threw 12-of-17 for 126 yards and a touchdown, while carrying 13 times for 101 yards and a TD.
  • Jaeden Jones, Colonia: The QB went 11-of-19 for 175 yards and a touchdown in a 34-24 home win over Scotch Plains-Fanwood, while also carrying 19 times for 275 yards and three scores. He also had an INT on defense.
  • Xavier Moore, Phillipsburg: The Stateliners’ top returning rusher from 2021 went for 162 yards and 18 carries in a 14-7 season-opening win at Sayreville.
  • James Williams, Plainfield: In a tough, one-point loss, 23-22 at Elizabeth, QB Ala-Meen Watkins completed 17 of 20 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Ryan Tasetano and Joey Witcoski, Hillsborough: Tasetano was minimal, but efficient, under center: 7-of-8 passing for 143 yards and three touchdowns, while Witcoski registered six tackles, two for loss, 1 1/2 sacks, and had a fumble recovery on defense in a 42-6 blowout of East Brunswick in their opener.
  • Christian Maglicano, St. Joseph: On offense, the junior had three catches for 46 yards. On defense, playing both inside linebacker and D-end, he had nine tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a QB hurry. He also had a tackle on kickoff coverage.
  • Alex Uryniak, North Hunterdon: A team captain, Uryniak had a busy night on offense, with 18 tackles, 2 TFLs, a sack and an interception. On the other side of the ball, he carried nine times for 58 yards and a score in a 34-7 victory that gets the Lions to 2-0. He also made an impact on special teams.
  • Darius Armstrong, South River: The sophomore running back was a workhorse, carrying 24 times for 190 yards in the Rams’ season-opening 28-21 win over Metuchen, their first win to start a season since 2019.
  • Kyon Simonson, Hillside: The Army-bound runingback carried 21 times for 167 yards and three touchdowns, also adding two catches for nine yards in a nice opening-game road win at Bernards, 35-20.
  • Isaac Levitan, Justin Wistuba of Voorhees: Levitan threw 8-of-11 passing for 139 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for 97 yards, and adding six tackles from his linebacker position on defense. Wistuba had five catches – two of which went for touchdowns – for 96 yards, then added 2 INTs from the defensive backfield.
  • Napolean Williams, Carteret: The senior outside linebacker had four sacks in the Ramblers’ big 13-0 win over their arch-rivals Perth Amboy.
  • Lucas Stocks, Summit: The runningback carried 17 times for 133 yards and 1 TD in a one-touchdown loss at Woodbridge.
  • Mehki Parks, Middlesex: The senior runningback had five carries for 39 yards and two catches for 87 yards and a touchdown in a 27-0 season-opening shutout win at home over Bound Brook. On special teams, Parks also returned a punt 70 yards for a score.

Ridge is No. 1, the 2022 Team of the Year, in final Bellamy & Son Top Ten Rankings

Winning its first Somerset County Tournament Championship in over a decade helped propel the Ridge Red Devils to No. 1 in the inaugural Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten rankings on Central Jersey Sports Radio, and in the end, that’s where they finish – No. 1 in 2022 and the CJSR Team of the Year.

With more wins than all but one team in the CJSR coverage area, Ridge narrowly missed out on making the North 2, Group 4 title game, with a close, extra-inning loss to Woodbridge. Ridge finished the season 24-4, their most wins since picking up 22 in 2014.

Finishing second was North Brunswick. The Raiders knocked off then-No. 1 and top-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen in the GMC Tournament Final, winning their first title ever, and finished the year 22-10, with a loss to East Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group Four Finals. They were the lowest seed to win the GMC title since 14th-seed South Plainfield won it all in 2018, and second-lowest since JFK won in 2013.

North Brunswick with its 2022 GMC Tournament Championship trophy. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The full rankings follow, with more details on the rest of the teams below:

In third is St. Joseph, 22-9, and the GMC Red Division Champions. Dominant all year long against the rest of the league, they ran up against the juggernaut that is Zach Konstantinovsky in the GMC Tournament finals. Zack “K” held the Falcons to two runs on three hits, in a 4-2 win. With some arm trouble to top starters Donovan Zsak and Andrew Goldan down the stretch, Joe’s was eliminated in the semifinals of Non-Public South A by Christian Brothers Academy.

Fourth is Woodbridge, which set a program record for wins, finishing 25-7, and might be the best team in the area without a title on its resume. The gritty, never-say-die bunch finished second in the White Division to Middlesex, and were knocked out in the GMCT semifinals by St. Joe’s. They did, however, beat Ridge in a marathon 11-inning North 2, Group 4 playoff game, before losing 5-1 at Hunterdon Central to future MLB draft prospect Kyle McCoy. The Barrons graduate a handful of seniors and are expected to be another tough out next season.

Fifth is East Brunswick, which made it to the Central Jersey Group 4 title game, losing to eventual statewide group 4 winner Howell. The Bears had a deep pitching staff, and lost one of the more epic GMCT semifinals ever played, a 1-0, 12-inning affair against North Brunswick. They finished 17-13.

In sixth is Immaculata. The Spartans may have been only 14-13, but play in the tough Skyland Conference Delaware Division, which – top to bottom – may be the best in the CJSR coverage area, rivaling the GMC Red. Though the Spartans didn’t even make it to the Somerset County Finals, they did something no other Somerset County team did this year: make it to Bob DeMeo Field in Hamilton for the Group Finals. And they did it by knocking off top-seed Rutgers Prep in the Non-Public North B finals, 11-2, then rallying from a 7-0 deficit entering the bottom of the 6th to beat Gill St. Bernard’s for the sectional crown. Immaculata would, fall, however, to Ranney in the Non-Public Group B finals.

Seventh is Rutgers Prep, which finished 19-6, Valley Division Champions in the Skyland Conference, and made the finals of the Somerset County Tournament, falling to Ridge. Powered by – among others – a pair of freshmen in pitcher Zach Fronio and catcher Andrew Parisi, the Argonauts will continue to be contenders.

Middlesex comes in eighth, the GMC White Division champion at 23-6. The Blue Jays won two critical games against Woodbridge just before the county tournament seeding meeting to win the title in their first year up from the Blue, a significant feat. But in the tournament, they suffered a late collapse against North Brunswick in the quarterfinals, and were the victim of a controversial call on a play at the plate that killed their rally. And after beating Point Pleasant Beach in the Central Jersey Group 1 finals for each of the past three seasons, this time, the Garnet Gulls came through. Middlesex will be in reload mode next year, with a number of seniors graduating.

Checking in ninth is Pingry, which finished 23-2 and had a tremendous year in and out of its division, and won the Prep A Tournament Championship, defeating Hun. They were also Skyland Conference Mountain Division champs, with their two regular season losses coming to Delaware Division squads – Ridge and Somerville. Their only other defeat came in the state tournament, to St. John Vianney our of the Shore Conference.

In tenth is Monroe, which finished 16-11, and came in second in the GMC Red Division, behind St. Joe’s. They started hot, going 7-1 before dropping four-in-a-row mid-season, including two to St. Joseph, sandwiched in between losses to Somerville and Jackson Liberty. They then ran off another seven wins in eight games before getting knocked out of the GMC Tournament in the quarters by East Brunswick. Their season ended in the Central Jersey Group 4 semis with a loss to eventual state Group 4 champ Howell.

A look back at Woodbridge baseball championship history: local historian shares tales

When the Woodbridge baseball team takes on Hunterdon Central today for the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 Championship, the Barrons will be playing for their first-ever state sectional title in the playoff era.

Nick Sardone, Woodbridge Class of ’63, and the town’s resident high school sports historian, knows all the stories, all the names of the past, but says this one, if they can bring home a trophy today, would be one of the greatest achievements in school history.

We got a chance to talk to Nick this morning about the three “other” titles the Barrons won, back when the NJSIAA would choose champions based on a point system. They cam in 1935, 1938 and 1939, the last two under legendary head coach Nick Priscoe.

He was also the football coach – for whom the Barrons’ stadium is now named – and, in fact, also won football titles in 1938 and 1939. Yes, one coach, two years, four titles!

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Nick Sardone about Woodbridge baseball’s championship history:

Here’s the story from the June 23, 1939 edition of the Woodbridge Independent-Leader, announcing Woodbridge’s last sectional championship:

It’s Championship Friday! Five area teams vie for state sectional titles

One team seems like they’re there every year. Another has some of the deepest pitching in their league. A third has played the role of underdog to the hilt. And of the other two, one is guaranteed to go home a champion today.

Those are the story lines this Friday, as Middlesex, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, Immaculata and Gill St. Bernard’s all play for sectional titles in four separate championship games this afternoon.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will bring you one of those contests live, the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 title tilt between 3rd-seed Woodbridge and top-seed Hunterdon Central. Game time is at 3. Pregame begins at 2:30 from Flemington with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. Click here to listen.

Scroll down for previews and more details on all four title games involving CJSR-area teams:

North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 Championship Game:

Details:
(3) Woodbridge (25-6) at
(1) Hunterdon Central (23-4)
3:00 pm Friday in Flemington, NJ
LISTEN LIVE

Starting Pitchers:
Woodbridge – Eddie Nunez (9-2, 1.98 ERA)
Hunterdon Central – Kyle McCoy (6-0, 0.00 ERA)

LISTEN TO THE HEAD COACHES:

Woodbridge head coach Mike Monaco
Hunterdon Central head coach Kevin Cuozzi

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Woodbridge:
1st Round: def. (14) Newark East Side, 12-2
Quarterfinals: def. (6) Westfield, 8-4
Semifinals: def. (2) Ridge, 5-4 (11 innings)

Hunterdon Central:
1st Round: def. (16) Phillipsburg, 14-0
Quarterfinals: def. (9) Elizabeth, 10-1
Semifinals: def. (4) Watchung Hills, 4-0

Key Stats:

Eddie Nunez can go nearly the distance Friday, having thrown 46 pitches against Ridge in relief in their 11-inning marathon Tuesday. That means he has 104 remaining, six shy of the 110 pitch limit for a single game. Matt Troche and Drew Lukachyk are also available, but Josh Vazquez – who started the Ridge game, is not.

Troche – at a respectable .239 – has the lowest average in the starting lineup, and only three starters are hitting below .300 heading into the final, which means there are no easy outs in the Barrons lineup.

Yes, you read that right about Kyle McCoy. The tall, lanky lefty has not allowed a single earned run all year, letting up just one inconsequential run up all year, that in the Red Devils’ opening round playoff game, a 16-1 victory over Elizabeth. He’s being talked about as an MLB Draft prospect, and head coach Kevin Cuozzi says they’ve eased him off the gas pedal a bit this year – something he can afford to do with a deep staff – to keep him McCoy fresh just for this time of year.

Championship History:

Woodbridge is seeking its first-ever state title, in only its fourth finals appearance since the advent of the playoffs in 1971. They were champs in 1935, 1938 and 1939, those last two coming under Nick Priscoe, who also was the football coach, and for whom the Barrons football stadium is named. His teams won double championships – in baseball and football – in ’38 and ’39, and he also won a state title on the gridiron in 1960.

In the playoffs, Woodbridge is oh-for-three in finals:

  • 1977: lost to Piscataway, 2-1, in the Central Jersey Group 4 final
  • 1987: lost to Hunterdon Central, 3-0, in the Central Jersey Group 4 final
  • 2017: lost to Millburn, 3-1, in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 final

Hunterdon Central last won a sectional title in 2018, when they went 28-2. They beat Manalpan 4-0 in the CJ 4 final, then went on to win the statewide Group 4 title, beating Westfield 7-0 in the championship game.

The also won the Central 4 title in 2017 (2-1 over Freehold) but lost to Millburn in the statewide Group 4 final, 10-5. In 2016, they beat South Brunswick 12-2 to win the CJ 4 title, then won the state Group 4 crown with a 4-2 win over Morristown. In 2013, they beat Brick Memorial in the CJ4 final, 2-1, but lost to Eastern in the Group 4 semis.

The Red Devils’ last sectional final loss came to Hillsborough in 2012, a 6-1 defeat. The Raiders that year went all the way to the Group 4 final, where they lost to Manalapan, 2-0, finishing 17-14.

More Red Devils: If Woodbridge is to win its first-ever sectional championship, they will have beaten the Red Devils in back-to-back games: Ridge in the semifinals, Hunterdon Central in the finals.

What’s Next? The winner of this game goes on to host the winner of North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4, based on the rotating host sites pre-determined by the NJSIAA. (Last year was the first year of that system, with Central and North 1 champions hosting. This year, South and North 2 champs host.) The North 2, Group 4 final is between 2-seed Passaic Tech (25-5) and 4-seed Livingston (20-8). That game is scheduled for 1:30 this afternoon at PCTI.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF WOODBRIDGE:

Central Jersey Group 4 Championship Game:

Details:
(9) East Brunswick (17-2) at
(2) Howell (22-6)
2:00 pm Friday in Howell, NJ

Starting Pitchers:
East Brunswick – Joe Ditzel (4-1, 0.84 ERA)
Howell – Nick Gomes (4-1, 2.76 ERA)

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

East Brunswick:
1st Round: def. (8) Freehold Twp., 8-6
Quarterfinals: def. (1) Middletown South, 1-0
Semifinals: def. (5) North Brunswick, 4-2 (8 innings)

Howell:
1st Round: def. (15) Manalapan, 3-1
Quarterfinals: def. (7) Monroe, 5-4
Semifinals: def. (3) Jackson Memorial, 3-2

Key Stats:

East Brunswick has beaten all higher seeds to get to the final, including the top-seed, defending champ and heavy favorite Middletown South in the quarterfinals. And their win over 5th-seed North Brunswick was a revenge win for the Bears. They lost a regular season meeting in walk-off fashion on back-to-back home runs, and a 1-0 game in the GMC Tournament semifinals that took 12 innings.

The key pitching number to know is Ditzel’s sub-one earned run average. The Bears have allowed just eight runs in their first three state playoff games, including that shutout of Midd South. They’ve been playing solid baseball the last month or so

Championship History:

It’s been a while for both of these schools: East Brunswick has won only one sectional title, Central Jersey Group 4 in 1997. Howell hasn’t won since 1994. One very long streak will come to an end today.

What’s next? The winner here gets the South Jersey Group 4 winner. That game features 6th-seed Cherokee (21-7) at top-seed Kingsway (26-4), and is being played at noon today.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF EAST BRUNSWICK:

Central Jersey Group 1 Championship Game:

Details:
(1) Middlesex (23-5) vs.
(2) Point Pleasant Beach (19-9)
4:00 pm Friday at Mountainview Park in Middlesex, NJ

Starting Pitchers:
Middlesex – Stephen Young (4-1, 3.05 ERA) OR Aidan Kozak (4-1, 1.60 ERA)
Point Pleasant Beach – James Larsen (3-3, 4.62 ERA)

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Middlesex:
1st Round: def. (16) Highland Park, 10-0 (5 innings)
Quarterfinals: def. (8) Riverside, 12-3 (6 innings)
Semifinals: def. (5) Shore, 11-1 (6 innings)

Point Pleasant Beach:
1st Round: def. (15) Henry Hudson, 10-0 (5 innings)
Quarterfinals: def. (7) Bound Brook, 4-0
Semifinals: def. (3) New Egypt, 9-1

Key Stats:

These teams have met in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game each of the last three playoff seasons, with Middlesex winning them all. Yes, they certainly have the Garnet Gulls’ number. The Jays beat them on a walk-off last year 2-1. They beat them in 2019, 6-1. And Middlesex shut them out 2-0 to win the CJ1 title in 2018.

For good measure, they also beat Point Beach in the 2017 Central 1 quarterfinals, making it four straight seasons they’ve ended Point’s year.

Championship History:

The numbers for Middlesex under Justin Nastasi indicate a dynasty. To wit:

  • 2021: GMC Blue Division Champions, Central 1 Champs, Group 1 State Champions
  • 2019: GMC Blue Division Champions, Central 1 Champs
  • 2018: GMC Blue Division Co-Champions, Central 1 Champs, Group 1 State Champions
  • 2017: Central 1 Champs, Group 1 State Champions
  • 2016: no titles
  • 2015: Central 1 Champs

It’s quite the remarkable run for the Blue Jays, who nearly moved up to Group 2 this year. Football and basketball did, but not baseball, owing to the different number of schools in each sport that field teams.

What’s next? The winner here gets the victor in the South Jersey Group 1 title game, featuring 9-seed Woodstown (16-9) at 6-seed Paulsboro (16-9). If it’s the Blue Jays and Woodstown, it would be a rematch of last year’s Group 1 semifinal at Middlesex, which they won 7-5 on a walk-off grand slam with two outs by Bobby Ulmer – you can read the recap and hear the game winning call below. Except this year, the game would be down at Woodstown, a mere 92 miles down the Turnpike, and South of the Mason-Dixon Line.

At today’s gas prices, assuming 30 miles per gallon, that’s about a $30 trip, plus another $11 in tolls round-trip.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF MIDDLESEX:

MIDDLESEX STATE TOURNAMENT COVERAGE FROM 2021:

Non-Public North B Championship Game:

Details:
(6) Gill St. Bernard’s (15-13) at
(5) Immaculata (13-12)
1:00 pm Friday at Diamond Nation in Flemington, NJ

Starting Pitchers:
Gill St. Bernard’s: Logan Mote (2-4, 4.16 ERA) OR Carter Nowak (4-3, 3.32 ERA)
Immaculata: Matt Warzeniak (3-2, 2.56 ERA)

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Gill St. Bernard’s:
1st Round: def. (11) Mater Dei, 13-3 (5 innings)
Quarterfinals: def. (3) Montclair-Kimberley, 7-4
Semifinals: def. (2) St. Mary-Rutherford, 3-0

Immaculata:
1st Round: def. (12) Newark Academy, 10-0 (5 innings)
Quarterfinals: def. (4) Morristown-Beard, 9-6
Semifinals: def. (1) Rutgers Prep, 11-2

Key Stats:

One, two and three.

One, as in only one meeting ever between these two teams in the schools’ histories, at least so far as anyone remembers. And that meeting, ironically enough, came this year, when Gill beat the Spartans in the second round of the Somerset County Tournament, 4-2, also out at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Two, as in Gill St. Bernard’s – until the state tournament – had not won more than two games in a row all season.

Three, as in the Knights also haven’t lost more than three games in a row all season, and they only did that once, in late April/early May. Immaculata, meanwhile, has been slightly more up-and-down all year. The Spartans opened the season 0-3 – including a season-opening 15-4 loss to Somerville as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – but then reeled off three straight wins to get back to .500 by mid-April. They had two more three-game skids throughout the year, and two more three-game winning streaks, including in the playoffs heading into today’s final.

Championship History:

The Spartans have had immense Somerset County Tournament success, winning a record 14 titles, all between 1991 and 2019, including an unprecedented run of six straight from 1997 to 2002, and four of the next five from 2004 to 2008.

But the state tournament is always tougher. Still, the Spartans have four to their credit, plus two group titles:

  • 2010: South A and Group A Non-Public Champs (beat St. Joseph-Metuchen in the Group A final)
  • 1997: North A Champs (lost to Bishop Eustace in the Group A final)
  • 1995: North B Champs and Group B Non-Public Champs (beat Gloucester Catholic in the Group B final)
  • 1985: North B Champs (lost to Gloucester Catholic in the Group B final)

For Gill St. Bernard’s, this will be their fourth trip to a sectional final in the last six seasons, still looking to bring home their first hardware. Previous finals appearances:

  • 2019: Lost at St. Mary-Rutherford 2-1 (North B)
  • 2018: Lost at DePaul 8-4 (North B)
  • 2016: Lost at Holy Cross 4-3 (South B)

What’s next? Since there are only two sections in each non-public group, unlike the four in the public ranks, the winner of this game goes right on to the Non-Public Group B final next Wednesday at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton. Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast the game, which should be either at 4 or 7 pm. Immaculata or Gill would get the winner of the South B title game, which is being played at 3:30 today, and features (2) Gloucester Catholic (21-9) at (1) Ranney (24-5) in Tinton Falls.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF IMMACULATA and GILL ST. BERNARD’S: