UNION COUNTY, NJ — Union County schools that were 3-1 went 3-2 last week, while teams that were 2-1 went 4-1.
So that now leaves us with seven one-loss teams in the county, three at 4-1 and four at 3-1.
The three 4-1 squads are Group 5 Union High School, Group 4 Linden High School and Group 3 Governor Livingston High School. Union and Governor Livingston have won four straight and Linden won two in a row.
The four 3-1 teams are Group 5 Plainfield High School, Group 3 Summit and Hillside high schools and Group 2 Arthur L. Johnson High School. Hillside and Arthur L. Johnson have both won three in a row.
All, for the moment, appear on the path toward playoff qualification, as we say goodbye to the month of September this weekend.
There are games scheduled on three days for Week Five, beginning Thursday, Sept. 28, with red-hot Governor Livingston playing at South Plainfield High School in a key Big Central Conference-United Silver Division clash at Frank R. Jost Field.
Governor Livingston is tied with Carteret High School for the lead in the division, where both are 2-0, and both are also 4-1 overall. South Plainfield is next at 2-1 in the division and has an overall mark of 3-2.
Here’s a look at the slate for Week Five of the 2023 season, with all 17 Union County football playing schools scheduled once again:
Thursday, Sept. 28
• Governor Livingston High School (4-1) at South Plainfield High School (3-2), 7 p.m.: The Governor Livingston Highlanders have won four straight for the first time since 2008 and four in a row in the regular season since 2006. They have only given up five touchdowns in five games, two in their first game and three in their second. Governor Livingston has posted three shutouts in a row for the first time in a very long time. The last time the Highlanders were this stingy during a three game stretch was in 2004 when, all at home, they beat Arthur L. Johnson High School 19-0, Abraham Clark High School in Roselle 14-6 and then Morris Hills High School 28-0 in a first-round North 2, Group 2 playoff encounter at Governor Livingston’s Frey Field. Governor Livingston lost at home to South Plainfield 47-22 a year ago. The Tigers from Middlesex County have won two straight, with wins at home against North Plainfield High School 20-19 and at J.P. Stevens High School 47-19 on Friday, Sept. 22. This is the third Thursday game for Governor Livingston this season, with previous wins at home against Arthur L. Johnson 33-21 and against J.P. Stevens 34-0.
Friday, Sept. 29
• John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, Iselin (0-4) at Linden High School (4-1), 6 p.m.: Iselin Kennedy has not shown much offensively with just 20 points on three touchdowns. The Mustangs are coming off a 35-0 home loss to Governor Livingston on Friday, Sept. 22. Linden has won two straight including a 35-7 win at Perth Amboy High School on Friday, Sept. 22. Linden won at Iselin Kennedy by the score of 34-6 in 2022.
• Spotswood High School (5-0) at Roselle Park High School (2-2), 6 p.m.: Spotswood is one of the top South, Group 2 teams in the state and has won seven straight, going back to finishing last year’s 7-3 record with two consecutive wins. The Chargers from Middlesex County have given up only 22 points and have three shutouts, including their last two games. Roselle Park just evened its record at 2-2 with a 30-0 shutout win at Highland Park High School on Friday, Sept. 22. Last year’s game in Spotswood was a big one for Roselle Park, which snapped a 12-game losing streak by coming away with a 26-22 victory. That followed an 0-3 start and was the impetus to Roselle Park improving to 5-6 in 2022, after the Panthers went through a tough 1-9 season in 2021.
• Metuchen High School (1-3) at Abraham Clark High School in Roselle (0-4), 6 p.m.: Metuchen has lost three straight and has scored only 25 points in that stretch. Abraham Clark is 0-4 for the second year in a row and has only scored 35 points. Abraham Clark won at Metuchen 42-0 last year, after its 0-4 start in 2022.
• Highland Park High School (0-4) at Jonathan Dayton High School (0-4), 6 p.m.: Both teams are also 0-2 in the BCC’s Freedom Gold Division, with both offenses looking to get untracked. Jonathan Dayton has scored only five touchdowns so far, but produced a season-high two against David Brearley High School. Highland Park has been shut out its last two games and only has 58 points so far. Jonathan Dayton has scored only 35 points. The Bulldogs won at Highland Park 35-13 last year. The Owls from Middlesex County have lost their last 46 and have not won since ending a 6-4 season in 2016 with a 35-7 home triumph against Metuchen.
• Hillsborough High School (3-1) at Union High School (4-1), 7 p.m.: Hillsborough was 3-1 going into last weekend’s game against Phillipsburg High School at Rutgers that was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 24. Hillsborough topped Union in a close one at Hillsborough last year, winning 14-6. Union beat Somerville High School for the second straight season on Friday night, Sept. 22, coming away with a 13-10 triumph at Union’s Harry R. Cooke Jr. Memorial Field to extend its winning streak to four. If Somerville loses at home to Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth and Westfield High School falls at St. Joseph High School, Metuchen on Friday night, Sept. 29, then the Farmers will capture the BCC’s American Gold Division championship outright before they play their final division game on Friday, Oct. 6, at Frank J. Cicarell.
• Plainfield High School (3-1) at North Bergen High School (2-2), 7 p.m.: Plainfield is off to a rare 3-1 start and is coming off its first shutout victory of the season, a 35-0 triumph on Friday night, Sept. 22, at North Hunterdon Regional High School. The Cardinals have won two straight. North Bergen evened its record at 2-2 after downing William L. Dickinson, Jersey City 32-6 in the game on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Bruins Stadium, North Bergen, which is where this game in Hudson County on Friday, Sept. 29, will be contested. After an 0-4 start last year, Plainfield shut out North Bergen 42-0 at its Hub Stine Field, Plainfield. That began a streak where Plainfield closed last season with wins in five of its final seven games. Since that contest, the Cardinals are 8-3 in their last 11 games.
• Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth (0-5) at Somerville High School (3-2), 7 p.m.: Elizabeth is off to a rare 0-5 start after falling at home to St. Joseph High School, Metuchen 21-19 on Friday, Sept. 22. The Minutemen have lost their five games by a combined total of just 23 points, including their last two by just two points each. Somerville has also lost two straight and by a combined total of only nine points.
• Westfield High School (2-2) at St. Joseph High School, Metuchen (2-2), 7 p.m.: Both are coming off big wins on the road on Friday night, Sept. 22, Westfield at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School 31-0 and St. Joe’s at Frank J. Cicarell High School 21-19. Westfield edged St. Joe’s 14-10 at home last year in Bill Tracy’s first year as head coach. Tracy, a 1986 Union High School graduate, has guided Governor Livingston and Ridge high schools to sectional state championships. His son, Connor, played quarterback at Governor Livingston before graduating in 2022.
• Rahway High School (3-2) at Cranford High School (2-2), 7 p.m.: Both teams are coming off losses at home on Friday night, Sept. 22, against teams that came in with a combined record of 6-1. Rahway was defeated by 2-1 Summit High School 41-7 and Cranford by 4-0 St. Thomas Aquinas High School 38-0. Both teams made the playoffs in their respective sections last year and this is a big game for both teams, if they want to get back to the playoffs this year, Rahway out of North, Group 4 and Cranford out of North, Group 3.
• New Providence High School (3-2) at Arthur L. Johnson High School (3-1), 7 p.m.: This has the makings of a big-time Patriot Silver Division clash at Nolan Field in Clark. New Providence had a two-game winning streak snapped at home by Hillside High School 35-15 on Friday night, Sept. 22. Arthur L. Johnson has won three straight including a 27-6 home win on Friday night, Sept. 22, against Abraham Clark High School, Roselle. The Crusaders were 4-0 last year when they were defeated at New Providence High School 27-14. Hillside leads the Patriot Silver Division at 3-0, with Arthur L. Johnson 2-0 and New Providence 1-1.
• David Brearley High School (2-2) at South Hunterdon Regional High School (4-1), 7 p.m.: David Brearley has evened its record with consecutive victories, while South Hunterdon Regional has won four in a row, including last weekend’s 43-7 triumph at home against Manville High School. David Brearley scored its most points of the year on Friday, Sept. 22, when the Bears bested Jonathan Dayton High School 30-14 at Ward Field in Kenilworth. David Brearley beat South Hunterdon Regional 14-0 at home a year ago.
Saturday, Sept. 30
• Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (1-4) at Summit High School (3-1), 1 p.m.: Scotch Plains-Fanwood is struggling at the moment and on a four-game losing streak that includes being shut out twice. The Raiders, for the first time hosting neighborhood arch rival Westfield High School under the lights on a Friday night at their home field, were blanked 31-0 last week. Summit’s offense continued to roll in its 41-7 United Gold Division victory on Friday, Sept. 22, at 3-1 Rahway High School. Summit has scored more than 40 points in all three of its wins and is averaging 38.25 points so far.
• St. Thomas Aquinas High School (5-0) at Hillside High School (3-1), 1 p.m.: St. Thomas Aquinas has only given up 27 points and has won three of its games by shutout. Hillside has won three in a row and has outscored those three foes by an impressive 108-28 margin. Hillside was respectable in holding the parochial power down offensively last year in a 17-7 setback in Edison.