UNION COUNTY, NJ — We’re down to two weekends to go before the start of the high school football playoffs in New Jersey.
The season goes by that quickly.
Perhaps the biggest winners in Union County last weekend included Summit High School out-lasting Linden High School at home in a battle of one-loss squads, Hillside and Cranford high schools getting to 4-2 and Westfield and New Providence high schools improving to 3-3.
All 12 Big Central Conference division winners have been crowned. Two are from Union County, with Union High School capturing the American Gold championship at 3-1 and Hillside repeating as Patriot Silver champs at 4-0.
Hillside finished first in the division it played in for the sixth straight season.
Here are the Big Central Conference division winners for 2023:
• American Gold: Union High School (3-1).
• American Silver: Hillsborough High School (3-1), Phillipsburg High School (3-1), Ridge High School (3-1).
Tri-champs were crowned, with Phillipsburg beating Ridge, Ridge beating Hillsborough and Hillsborough beating Phillipsburg.
• Freedom Gold: Spotswood High School (4-0). Freedom Silver: South Hunterdon Regional High School (4-0).
• Liberty Gold: Woodbridge High School (4-0). Liberty Silver: Montgomery High School (3-0).
• National Gold: South Brunswick High School (4-0). National Silver: North Brunswick Township High School (4-0).
• Patriot Gold: Bernards High School (4-0). Patriot Silver: Hillside High School (4-0).
• United Gold: St. Thomas Aquinas High School (4-0). United Silver: Carteret High School (4-0).
The United Power Rankings, how the power points are now determined, were updated Sunday afternoon, Oct. 8, on www.gridironnewjersey.com.
Here’s a look at where Union County schools are at the moment. The top 16 teams in each section qualify:
• North, Group 1: 18-David Brearley High School (3-3). 23-Roselle Park High School (2-4).
• South, Group 2: 7-New Providence High School (4-3). 17-Arthur L. Johnson High School (4-2). 22-Abraham Clark High School, Roselle (2-4). 29-Jonathan Dayton High School (1-5).
• North, Group 3: 2-Summit High School (5-1). 6-Cranford High School (4-2). 8-Hillside High School (4-2). 15-Governor Livingston High School (5-2).
• North, Group 4: 9-Linden High School (5-2). 15-Rahway High School (3-3). 20-Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (1-6).
• North, Group 5: 5-Union High School (4-3). 6-Plainfield High School (4-2). 10-Westfield High School (3-3). 19-Elizabeth High School (1-6).
That means that if the playoffs were to begin this weekend, the following Union County schools would be in: New Providence, Summit, Cranford, Hillside, Governor Livingston, Linden, Rahway, Union, Plainfield and Westfield.
All 17 Union County football playing schools are in action again. Games this weekend are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14.
For the first time this year Roselle Park, David Brearley and Jonathan Dayton will all be hosting games on a Friday night, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m.
Here’s a look at Week Seven of the 2023 high school football season in Union County:
Friday, Oct. 13
• Summit High School (5-1) at Colonia High School (4-3), 6 p.m.: Averaging more than 35 points, Summit defeated 5-1 Linden High School 30-20 at home on Saturday, Oct. 7, for its third straight triumph. Colonia has won its last two, scoring a combined total of 83 points in wins at home against North Hunterdon Regional High School, 48-24, and at Perth Amboy High School, 35-23.
2022: Colonia 28, Summit 23 – at Summit
• Dunellen High School (4-2) at Roselle Park High School (2-4), 6 p.m.: Dunellen is coming off a 40-22 home loss to South Hunterdon High School, while the Panthers have dropped their last two, both by just one touchdown. After falling at home to 5-0 Spotswood High School, 7-0, two weeks ago, Roselle Park fell at Middlesex High School, 14-6, last weekend.
2022: Roselle Park 28, Dunellen 14 – at Dunellen
• Middlesex High School (5-1) at David Brearley High School (3-3), 6 p.m.: Middlesex, much improved from last year’s 4-6 finish, is on a three-game winning streak and has allowed only 14 points in that span. This is a big game for the Bears, if they want to qualify again for the playoffs out of North, Group 1.
2022: David Brearley 44, Middlesex 6 – at Middlesex
• South Hunterdon High School (6-1) at Jonathan Dayton High School (1-5), 6 p.m.: The Eagles from Hunterdon County have won six straight, after opening with a 28-12 loss at home to Ewing High School on Friday, Aug. 25. For the first time this year, Jonathan Dayton did not score, as the Bulldogs were shut out at home by 6-0 Spotswood, 34-0, on Friday night, Oct. 6, in Springfield. This is the third consecutive Friday night that the Bulldogs will be playing at home.
2022: South Hunterdon 40, Jonathan Dayton 7 – at South Hunterdon
• Phillipsburg High School (5-1) at Union High School (4-3), 7 p.m.: Phillipsburg has won two straight, after its 14-13 setback at Hillsborough High School. Union, on the other hand, has lost two in a row, close games at that. Following a 15-7 loss at home to Hillsborough, Union was edged by 0-6 Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth, 28-26, on Friday night, Oct. 6, at Elizabeth’s Williams Field.
2022: Phillipsburg 42, Union 14 – at Phillipsburg
• Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth (1-6) at Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School (1-6), 7 p.m.: Elizabeth just won its first game of the year after opening 0-6. The Minutemen topped arch rival Union 28-26 at home last Friday night. Bridgewater-Raritan has lost six in a row, after opening with a 44-12 home win against Edison High School. The Panthers lost at home to Phillipsburg, 42-19, on Friday, Oct. 6. Elizabeth snapped an 11-game losing streak dating back to last season. The Minutemen lost their first six games this year by a combined total of just 26 points.
2022: Bridgewater-Raritan 17, Elizabeth 13 – at Elizabeth
• Plainfield High School (4-2) at Monroe Township High School (2-5), 7 p.m.: Plainfield had a three-game winning streak snapped at home against 5-1 Watchung Hills Regional High School on Saturday, Oct. 7. Monroe lost two straight, including last weekend’s 14-7 decision at home to Old Bridge High School.
2022: Plainfield 54, Monroe 28 – at Plainfield
• Linden High School (5-2) at Cranford High School (4-2), 7 p.m.: Both teams appear headed for the playoffs, but the winner will almost certainly lock up a berth, with just one more qualifying week to go. After pulling off a big 30-12 upset win at Linden in the first round of the 2018 North 2, Group 4 playoffs, Cranford has continued its mastery against the Tigers the past three regular seasons: 2020 – Cranford 37, Linden 7 at Linden; 2021 – Cranford 42, Linden 13 at Linden; and 2022 – Cranford 31, Linden 0 at Linden. For a change, Cranford will play Linden on its home turf on Friday night, Oct. 13, at Cranford’s Memorial Field. Linden last beat Cranford in 2006, a 35-20 win at Linden. This is the only Union County common game this weekend.
2022: Cranford 31, Linden 0 – at Linden
• Rahway High School (3-3) at Carteret High School (6-1), 7 p.m.: Rahway has lost three straight and only scored 20 points in that span. They kept the score respectable in a 31-7 home loss to 6-0 St. Thomas Aquinas High School on Friday night, Oct. 6. Carteret is coming off a convincing 55-7 win at 5-1 Governor Livingston High School, which clinched the United Silver Division crown for the Ramblers of Middlesex County.
2022: Rahway 20, Carteret 19 – at Rahway
• Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (1-6) at Montgomery High School (7-0), 7 p.m.: Scotch Plains-Fanwood has lost six straight, the last two by 42-6 scores at Summit and home to Cranford. Montgomery, one of the top Group 4 schools in the state, is averaging a little more than 30 points a game.
2022: Montgomery 40, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 14 – at Scotch Plains-Fanwood
• Hillside High School (4-2) at Delaware Valley High School (4-2), 7 p.m.: Hillside bounced back from its shutout loss at home to St. Thomas Aquinas High School, 17-0, to defeat Arthur L. Johnson High School, 42-15, at home for the BCC’s Patriot Silver Division crown. Delaware Valley has won its last two, including the 41-0 romp at South River High School on Saturday, Oct. 7.
2022: Hillside 35, Delaware Valley 14 – at Hillside
• Bernards High School (7-0) at New Providence High School (3-3), 7 p.m.: New Providence evened its record with a 35-7 home win against Metuchen High School on Friday night, Oct. 6. The Pioneers have not beaten Bernards since 2005, a 28-0 win at Bernards. The last five games have gone Bernards’ way, including wins by the Mountaineers against the Pioneers in 2022, 2017, 2016, 2013 and 2012. Bernards, one of the top Group 2 schools in the state, has yielded only 38 points and has two shutouts. The Mountaineers beat Bound Brook High School, 47-7, at home on Friday night, Oct. 6.
2022: Bernards 31, New Providence 0 – at Bernards
• Abraham Clark High School, Roselle (2-4) at Bound Brook High School (1-5), 7 p.m.: Roselle’s season is going the same as last year’s season went, so far. Following an 0-4 start, the Rams have defeated Metuchen High School, 21-14, at home and Bergen County’s Ridgefield Park Jr.-Sr. High School, 19-17, on the road. Bound Brook went 0-9 last year and its only win so far this season was at home against South River High School, 35-13.
2022: Roselle 47, Bound Brook 6 – at Roselle
Saturday, Oct. 14
• Governor Livingston High School (5-2) at South River High School (0-6), 1 p.m.: Governor Livingston will seek to bounce back from its 55-7 loss at home to Carteret on Friday night, Oct. 6, when it faces a South River squad that has been shut out twice and scored only 29 points. The Rams from Middlesex County have lost 12 straight, going back to their last six games a season ago.
2022: Governor Livingston 17, South River 7 – at Governor Livingston
• Arthur L. Johnson High School (4-2) at Spotswood High School (7-0), 1 p.m.: After a 1-8 finish in 2021, the Chargers from Middlesex County have now won at least seven games the past two seasons, including last year’s 7-3 finish. One of Spotswood’s three losses last year was a 44-0 setback at Arthur L. Johnson on Oct. 14. That was the last time the Chargers lost, as they closed last year with two wins and are now on a nine-game winning streak.
2022: Arthur L. Johnson 44, Spotswood 0 – at Arthur L. Johnson
• Ridge High School (5-1) at Westfield High School (3-3), 2 p.m.: Ridge has won four straight, including last weekend’s 35-0 home win against South Brunswick High School. Westfield has won three of its last four, following an 0-2 start, including last weekend’s 31-29 triumph at home against 4-2 Somerville High School.
2022: Ridge 31, Westfield 3 – at Ridge