A wild weekend Central Jersey sets up some great races, games

It was either a calamitous or glorious weekend for some area teams teams this weekend.

Where to begin?

Let's start with the glorious.

Piscataway head coach Dan Higgins was about as happy as could be after Friday night's big win for the No. 1 Chiefs over 6th-ranked South Brunswick.  Higgins and company rode Juwon Jackson for 196 yards and got 3 touchdowns en route to a convincing win over the Vikings.  Piscataway won the battle up front on both sides of the ball.  The victory sets up a game that - barring any wacky upsets along the way - could determine the GMC Red Division title on Friday, October 6th, when Piscataway visits Sayreville.  WCTC will have that game against the Bombers, who were dominating in the return of head coach Chris Beagan and linebacker Mike Germann after one-game suspensions with a 46-17 victory over New Brunswick.

Perth Amboy had a moment of glory in a 12-7 win over JFK.  Without a winning season since 2011, the Panthers are 1-2.  And while they're a long way from being over .500, it was just their 9th win against 45 losses since that 6-4 campaign six years ago.  Perth Amboy also is the only GMC team never to make the playoffs since their inception in 1974.

Somerville also proved it is for real - again - with a come-from-behind win over Voorhees at Brooks Field.  Head coach Jeff Vanderbeek told me Saturday on Football USA "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  Cliche, yes.  Coachspeak, yes.  True?  Absolutely.  Vanderbeek says they are more of a grinding team this year than one that had amazing explosiveness a year ago en route to an undefeated regular season.  But the Win column doesn't discriminate.

Yet, perhaps more amazing - or intriguing - than those results was South River's win over Bishop Ahr on Saturday afternoon.  The Rams had been hyped in the pre-season, and beat arch-rival and three-time defending champ Spotswood in their season opener.  After that turned some heads, South River followed it up with an overtime win against Middlesex, and a 35-12 win over Bishop Ahr.  This is a Trojan team that asked to move down to the Blue Division a year ago, and as a result isn't eligible to win the title for the duration of their two-year stay.  They're essentially a GMC White team and would be right at home there, possibly challenging St. Joseph-Metuchen.  But the Rams proved they are for real with a resounding victory (!) and are in the drivers' seat to win the division for the first time since 2013, when they finished 8-2, and ran the table in the Blue.  While there's still plenty of season to play (including a game against Highland Park at Denny Stadium on Saturday, October 7th on WCTC), the next question for the Rams to answer may be: Can they bring home a sectional title for the first time since 2001.  That year, they won the second of back to back Central Jersey Group 1 championships.  In fact, no GMC team has won a CJ1 title since '01.  Of course, the Rams are now a Group 2 school, so that title task just got a bit tougher.

Who had a rough weekend?

Take your pick.

Bridgewater-Raritan had its 24-game regular season winning streak snapped.  They had not lost since October 2014, when they were beaten by Elizabeth, but fell to Phillipsburg Friday night at Basilone Field 30-7.  The Panthers have been tested.  Hillsborough came within a point of knocking off B-R last Friday night, failing on a two-point conversion in the closing minutes that would have given them the lead, and maybe a win.  The Raiders could be a team to watch.

Ridge, after a tough defeat at home to Westfield - now winners of a state-best 28 straight - lost a shootout with Linden 55-48.  The Tigers had played Westfield tough, so Bill Tracy knew his Red Devils would be in for a fight.  They drop to 1-and-2, and still may be very good.  But those 2 losses could cost them power points for better playoff placement, leaving them a tough road in a gritty North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5.

Colonia also lost a hard-fought battle with still-undefeated St. Joe's.  South Brunswick had a reality check against the top team in the area.  And Spotswood is now 0-3 after winning three straight division titles.

Programming Notes...

With the Somerset Patriots having been eliminated from the postseason, the schedule has opened up to add two more games to the WCTC Central Jersey High School Football Broadcast Schedule this year.  We'll have a game Thursday and Friday this week (thanks to Yom Kippur, the games are spread out this week), so look for an announcement this week!