WCTC Sports has announced its 2019 Central Jersey High School Football broadcast schedule, an expanded slate featuring ten regular season games.
Our coverage will begin right off the bat on Week Zero, thanks to an arrangement that will air at least three games on tape delay, to be heard on Sundays before Somerset Patriots baseball. WCTC ordinarily would not cover these games live due to conflicts with the Patriots schedule, but now will call play-by-play of those games and broadcast them on Sundays. Two additional games could air in tape delay depending on the Patriots’ playoff schedule.
One again, WCTC’s coverage of high school football will be led by Mike Pavlichko, who enters his 20th year in the broadcast booth for WCTC. He’ll be joined by Max Schiener, now in his 9th season on the air.
Here is the week-by-week schedule, with a brief breakdown of each contest.
Friday, September 6 – South Brunswick at North Brunswick, 7 pm (Air Date: Sunday, September 8 at 11 am): Thanks to expanded playoffs, Thanksgiving games have gone by the wayside in Central Jersey. This annual affair – like most of the others – now will be played on the season’s “Week Zero.” While North Brunswick leads the all-time series 23-19-1, the two teams haven’t played since 2017 and South Brunswick had dominated until then, winning the last eight. The Raiders’ last win against the Vikings came in 2009. But the Central Jersey Group 5 finalists return all-world runningback Myles Bailey, while South Brunswick could be adjusting under new head coach and alum John Viotta.
Friday, September 13 – Sayreville at Piscataway, 7 pm (Air Date: Sunday, September 15 at noon): It’s always a battle when the Bombers and Chiefs meet, and this year will be no exception. Each team won their respective “bowl” games in the NJSIAA’s inaugural season with what amount to group semifinal games at Met Life Stadium; Piscataway beat Ridgewood, while Sayreville got its very own “Miracle at the Meadowlands” on a Connor Holmes fumble recovery in the end zone. Though both teams are now “down” into the Greater Middlesex Conference White Division due to a realignment based strictly on enrollment, the White is shaping up to be the premier division (with North Brunswick, Edison and New Brunswick included), and this is a Week Two game with serious division title implications.
Saturday, September 14 – South River at Spotswood, 1 pm: These two have forever been division rivals. South River won the Gold Division last year, and the Blue in 2017, while Spotswood won the Blue in 2016 and 2015. While the Chargers have been a bit down, numbers in the program continue to run high. Rich Marchesi, meanwhile, continues to have success as the Rams’ head man, returning for his 33rd year at the helm, the Dean of Middlesex County coaches.
Friday, September 20 – Carteret at Colonia, 7 pm (Air Date: Sunday, September 22 at 11 am): Here’s a GMC Blue Division matchup between one team that wears blue, and another that plays on blue turf. Colonia is a perennial playoff contender, while Carteret has been, but is working to get back to that level under Matt Yascko, whose Ramblers have uncharacteristically missed the playoffs two of the last four seasons. Prior to 2015, in Yascko’s first nine seasons, Carteret made the playoffs seven times, winning state titles in 2007 and 2012. And one of those two years they missed, Carteret was 5-4 at the cutoff. They’ll be back, though, and this is a key Week Three tussle.
Friday, September 27 – Bridgewater-Raritan at Franklin, 7 pm (tape delay if conflict with Somerset Patriots): Last year was the first time since 2014 the Panthers did not make it to the state sectional finals (where all three times, incidentally, they lost to Westfield). But expect the Panthers to be better than their 2-6 mark at the cutoff in 2018 (a mark which also got Westfield in the playoffs). Franklin is looking to make strides under third-year head coach John Paczkowski; the Warriors have not qualified for the postseason since 2012 under Lou Solomon.
Friday, October 4 – Edison at Sayreville, 7 pm (tape delay if conflict with Somerset Patriots): The Eagles picked up a big win in the opening round of the 2018 playoffs, knocking off South Brunswick in Joe Goerge’s last game at the helm of the Vikings. Matt Fulham has a solid program year in and year out, but this year will have a tough task in a division that has three sectional finalists in Piscataway, North Brunswick and Sayreville. While they didn’t play the Chiefs last year, they lost two games to North Brunswick – once in the regular season and once in the playoffs – by single digits, and escaped Edison with a Mark Whitford-to-Jacari Carter highlight reel touchdown catch with no time remaining that gave the Bombers a one-point win. This year’s game should have a lot of juice.
Friday, October 11 – North Brunswick at Piscataway, 7 pm: Raiders’ head coach Mike Cipot told me this week “one at a time,” but as much as Sayreville-Piscataway will be a pivotal game, this one could carry the same weight. (North Brunswick visits Sayreville in Week Two.) These two teams last met in 2015, and Piscataway has won all 11 matchups dating back to 1994. If Myles Bailey can find room to run against what is historically a tough Chief offensive line, this one could burn out the scoreboard.
Friday, October 18 – Colonia at Hillsborough, 7 pm: Based on last year’s meeting – the first-ever between the schools – this one could carry a lot of juice as well. On Colonia’s punt attempt in the final 30 seconds, the Patriots fumbled the snap, and Hillsborough recovered, leading to the heroics of one Franklin Wasserman. Here was a kid who had never played football at any level before joining the team in 2018 He had tried soccer, he had tried cross country. Football seemed to fit. The kid they now call “Frank the Tank” nailed the game-winning field goal as time expired and the Raiders pulled out the victory. This one moves from the blue turf out west and should be a fun one.
Friday, October 25 – New Brunswick at Woodbridge, 7 pm: Some feel Woodbridge could be the GMC Blue Division team that takes a step up this year. But for New Brunswick, this crossover against Woodbridge – in a tough White Division with the likes of P’way, Sayreville and North Brunswick – could be crucial in terms of second-year Zebras’ head coach Nate Harris trying to return his team to the postseason for the first time since 2016 under then-head coach Don Sofilkanich. At this point of the season, these games become all the more critical with the cutoff date looming the following week.
Friday, November 1 – Immaculata at Somerville, 7 pm: This one will be a home game for Somerville, although both teams will be playing on their home turf at Brooks Field. Immaculata first played football in 1966. Four years later, the Spartans and Pioneers met on the gridiron for the first time, with Somerville winning the first 11, and 12 out of the first 14 before the series went on hiatus in 1984. The series was revived again briefly, to much fanfare, in 1994 – but by then, Immaculata was a powerhouse, too, and the Spartans – after dropping the first of the new matchups – won the next four. Bragging rights aside, it seemingly was a lose-lose for both teams: Immaculata got few power points by playing small Group 2 Somerville, and the Pioneers saw little use in going up against a school that could draw from its own base. But they meet again now for the first time since 2008, and one thing is for sure: you should get there early lest you be at the end of the line, and end up having to watch from the shoulder of Route 22.
Playoffs: WCTC will broadcast whatever playoff games are possible, as always, depending on availability of games and potential conflicts with Rutgers football and men’s and women’s basketball.