UNION COUNTY, NJ — Summer workouts are complete.
The beginning of practice in August has come and gone.
Games in August and September are now history.
We’re down to just three weekends remaining in the regular season.
October football to decide which teams make the playoffs and which squads don’t.
In Union County there are no undefeated teams, but five have just one loss. Governor Livingston High School, one of the most improved teams, is on a five-game winning streak.
Arthur l. Johnson High School, coming off a much-improved solid playoff season of 6-3 a year ago, is 4-1 and has won four straight.
Also with just one loss are Linden High School at 5-1 and Summit and Plainfield high schools at 4-1.
Plainfield was 0-3 in 2021, before finishing 5-5. The Cardinals were 0-4 last year, before rebounding for a 5-6 final mark. Plainfield just missed qualifying out of North, Group 5 both seasons.
The Cardinals are coming off a 33-0 win at North Bergen High School, which was their second straight shutout. Plainfield has allowed only seven points in its present three-game winning streak and has scored 103 points in that span.
Perhaps the biggest game in Union County this weekend is the 2:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Tatlock Field in Summit, where the host Hilltoppers, at 4-1, will clash with 5-1 Linden. Both tuned up at home last weekend with convincing wins on Saturday, Sept 30, Summit defeating Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School 42-6 and Linden besting John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, Iselin 42-7.
Last year, Linden lost at home to Summit by the score of 28-14.
Jonathan Dayton High School and Abraham Clark High School, Roselle, both reached the win column for the first time this year and both did so at home. The Bulldogs edged Highland Park High School 20-18 to hand the Middlesex County school its 47th straight defeat. Abraham Clark bested Metuchen High School 21-14 at Arminio Field in Roselle. It was the second straight season that Roselle defeated Metuchen, following an 0-4 start.
Frank J. Cicarell High School, Elizabeth, may be the most competitive 0-6 school in the entire state. The Minutemen are coming off a 17-14 loss at Somerville High School. They have lost their six games by a combined total of just 26 points.
Here’s a look at which teams are in playoff positions at the moment with three weekends to go:
• North, Group 5: Union High School-3, Plainfield High School-7, Westfield High School-12.
• North, Group 4: Linden High School-7, Rahway High School-11.
• North, Group 3: Summit High School-2, Cranford High School-4, Hillside High School-12, Governor Livingston High School-16.
• South, Group 2: New Providence High School-6. Arthur L. Johnson High School is presently 20th in the power points with its 4-1 record and on the outside looking in with three more games to go to pick up additional power points. The top 16 teams in each section qualify.
• North, Group 1: David Brearley High School-15.
All 17 Union County football playing schools are in action again this weekend.
Games are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7.
Here’s a look at Week Six of the 2023 high school football season in Union County:
Friday, Oct. 6
• Union High School (4-2) at Frank J. Cicarell High School, Elizabeth (0-6), 6 p.m.: Union has won the last four regular season meetings the past four years, giving up only one seven-point touchdown total, which came in last year’s 41-7 triumph at Union’s Cooke Memorial Field. Union is coming off a tough 15-7 loss at home to a 4-1 Hillsborough High School squad. After its last winning season in 2018, when the Minutemen went 6-3 and made the playoffs in North 2, Group 5, Elizabeth is now 9-32 in its last 41 games.
• St. Thomas Aquinas High School 6-0) at Rahway High School (3-3), 6 p.m.: One of the top parochial schools in the state, St. Thomas Aquinas has allowed only 27 points and has four shutouts, including its last two games. Rahway has lost two straight to solid teams in Summit High School and Cranford High School and this week’s challenge will be even tougher.
• Highland Park High School (0-5) at David Brearley High School (2-3), 6 p.m.: The Bears will be seeking to get back to .500 with a win against a Highland Park team that has lost 47 straight and not won a game since 2016.
• Spotswood High School (6-0) at Jonathan Dayton High School (1-4), 6 p.m.: The Chargers have won their last three games by shutout, have four total and have given up only 22 points so far. Jonathan Dayton lost last year’s game at Spotswood 25-7.
• Cranford High School (3-2) at Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School (1-5), 7 p.m.: Cranford has won its last nine games against Scotch Plains–Fanwood and is favored to make it 10 in a row. Scotch Plains–Fanwood last beat Cranford in 2009. Since 2010, the teams have clashed nine times, with the exceptions being 2020, 2018, 2015 and 2014.
• Carteret High School (5-1) at Governor Livingston High School (5-1), 7 p.m.: Governor Livingston’s annual night game at home is a battle of 5-1 teams that have not given up many points. Carteret has just yielded 33 points in its five wins, including one shutout. The Highlanders have allowed only six points total in their last four games, all wins.
• Abraham Clark High School, Roselle (1-4) at Ridgefield Park Jr.-Sr. High School (2-3), 7 p.m.: The Rams did not want to start 0-4 again this year, but it happened. Roselle then got past Metuchen High School 21-14 at home last week to hopefully start another winning streak. The Rams closed with an eight-game winning streak a year ago. This weekend, they travel to Bergen County to face a Ridgefield Park team that snapped a three-game losing streak by winning at Tenafly High School 28-6 last weekend.
• Metuchen High School (1-4) at New Providence High School (3-3), 7 p.m.: The host Pioneers will seek to snap a two-game losing streak against a team it shut out on the road last season, 20-0.
• Roselle Park High School (2-3) at Middlesex High School (4-1), 7 p.m.: Roselle Park gave 5-0 Group 2 Spotswood High School all it could handle before falling 7-0 at home to the Chargers last weekend. Middlesex has won two straight and yielded only 34 points thus far.
Saturday, Oct. 7
• Arthur L. Johnson High School (4-1) at Hillside High School (3-2), 1 p.m.: This game is for the Big Central Conference’s Patriot Silver Division championship. Both teams are 3-0 in the division and this is their last division contest. Hillside won the division last year at 4-0, including a 33-7 win at Arthur L. Johnson. The Crusaders are coming off a 24-19 home win against New Providence High School, while Hillside fell at home to 5-0 St. Thomas Aquinas High School, 17-0.
• Watchung Hills Regional High School (5-1) at Plainfield High School (4-1), 1 p.m.: Watchung Hills is coming off its first loss, a 28-21 setback at home to a 5-0 Montgomery High School team. Montgomery also beat Plainfield 23-14 at home.
• Somerville High School (4-2) at Westfield High School (2-3), 2 p.m.: Both teams were involved in 17-14 decisions last weekend. On Friday night, Sept. 29, Somerville won at home against Frank J. Cicarell High School, Elizabeth, and then on Saturday, Sept. 30, Westfield fell at St. Joseph High School, Metuchen.
• Linden High School (5-1) at Summit High School (4-1), 2:30 p.m.: There could be plenty of scoring in this one. Summit has scored at least 41 points in all four of its victories. Linden has won three straight and is averaging an even 35 points in that span.