High schools prepare for autumn sports season to begin in less than five weeks

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Believe it or not, the commencement of high school football practice in New Jersey is now less than five weeks away.

Official practices for all schools in the Garden State may begin Wednesday, Aug. 10, according to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Scrimmages may start one week later, on Wednesday, Aug. 17.
Once again, the regular season will begin before Labor Day weekend, ahead of the first day of school.

The first day of practice for the fall sports of boys soccer, girls soccer, field hockey, cross-country, girls volleyball and gymnastics is set for Monday, Aug. 22.

Girls tennis starts a bit sooner, with the first day of practice being Wednesday, Aug. 17.

Football is the only sport of the nine in the fall that will have regular-season games taking place before classes begin.

The first weekend of the high school football season is Friday, Aug. 26, and Saturday, Aug. 27. The only Union County high schools scheduled to play that weekend are Governor Livingston, New Providence and Scotch Plains–Fanwood.

Governor Livingston is scheduled to play at New Providence, and Scotch Plains–Fanwood is set to host North Plainfield High School, both on Friday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. The other 14 high schools in Union County with football teams will have their season openers the following weekend, Labor Day weekend, with games scheduled on Friday, Sept. 2, and Saturday, Sept. 3.

Governor Livingston and New Providence have clashed on Thanksgiving every year since 2002. They decided to end the holiday game and move it up in the schedule. This year it is the season opener for both, with the game to take place at New Providence’s Lieder Field.

The Highlanders are guided by first-year head coach Pete Ramiccio, who was previously an assistant coach at Montclair under head coach John Fiore. Ramiccio succeeds Dan Guyton, a 1998 Governor Livingston graduate who was the head coach since 2013.

Fiore has also made the move to Union County, as he became the head coach at Elizabeth High School. The Minutemen open Friday, Sept. 2, at home against Plainfield High School. Last year, at its Williams Field, Elizabeth prevailed 19-18. That win ultimately enabled Elizabeth to qualify for the North 2, Group 5 playoffs, while Plainfield, winners of five games for the first time since 2005, just missed.