Week Four football preview sees 10 county schools have just one loss

UNION COUNTY, NJ — There are no undefeated football teams remaining in Union County, but that does not mean that there are not a bunch of good teams out there.

Through the first four weekends of the 2023 campaign, 10 of Union County’s 17 football playing schools have just one loss. Five are 3-1 and five more are off to 2-1 starts after their first three battles.

Here’s a closer look:

Union County teams that are 3-1: Union, Governor Livingston, Linden, Rahway and New Providence high schools.

Union and Governor Livingston are both on three-game winning streaks. Governor Livingston has produced back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2008. This weekend, the Highlanders will attempt to win a fourth straight game, also for the first time since their 2008 season, when the team went 7-5 and reached the North 2, Group 2 sectional state championship game at Giants Stadium.

Union is 3-1 for the second time in three years.

Union County teams that are 2-1: Summit, Hillside, Cranford, Arthur L. Johnson and Plainfield high schools.

Hillside has won two in a row, after winning at Abraham Clark High School, Roselle, 45-6, on Saturday, Sept. 16. It was the seventh straight year that the Comets beat the Rams and the first time in that span that they did so at Roselle’s Arminio Field. Abraham Clark last beat Hillside in 2016. The last four games were played at Hillside and the two before that at Rahway River Park.

All 17 Union County football playing schools are in action once again this weekend. All 12 games are scheduled for Friday night, Sept. 22. No Union County teams are scheduled to be playing on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Here’s a look at each clash for what is considered Week Four of the 2023 season:

Friday, Sept. 22:

• Frank J. Cicarell High School, Elizabeth (0-4) at St. Joseph High School, Metuchen (1-2), 6 p.m.: Although Frank J. Cicarell is off to a rare 0-4 start, the Minutemen have lost by five, seven, seven and two points. They are not that far away from being 4-0 or at least 2-2. St. Joseph has lost its last two, but only by eight points and then seven points.

• Linden High School (3-1) at Perth Amboy High School (2-2), 6 p.m.: The Tigers just won their second game at home by the score of 28-20, downing Colonia High School on Friday, Sept. 15. Two weeks before, Linden beat Rahway High School 28-20, at its Cooper Field. Perth Amboy is on a two-game winning streak, with victories at J.P. Stevens High School, 26-0, and last week at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, Iselin, 35-7.

• Governor Livingston High School (3-1) at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, Iselin (0-3), 6 p.m.: Governor Livingston produced its second consecutive shutout by halting J.P. Stevens 34-0 at home on Thursday, Sept. 14. Iselin Kennedy has lost all three of its games by double digits. The Highlanders will be seeking to win a fourth straight game for the first time in 15 years. When Governor Livingston last won four straight in 2008, it was Cranford, North Plainfield, Hackettstown and Summit high schools that the Highlanders defeated.

• Jonathan Dayton High School (0-3) at David Brearley High School (1-2), 6 p.m.: Jonathan Dayton has lost all three of its games by double digits and has scored just 21 points so far, a seven-point touchdown in each contest. David Brearley avoided an 0-3 start on Friday, Sept. 15, by scoring the winning points in the fourth quarter to down rival Roselle Park High School, 16-8, at Roselle Park. The Bears now own an 11-game winning streak against the Panthers, with Roselle Park last beating David Brearley in 2012.

• Union High School (3-1) at Somerville High School (3-1), 7 p.m.: Union has won three straight, while Somerville lost for the first time last weekend, after opening 3-0. Somerville was defeated at home by Montgomery High School, 27-21. Union went to Metuchen and beat St. Joseph High School, 22-15. Union leads the Big Central Conference’s American Gold Division at 2-0, while Somerville is second at 1-0.

• Westfield High School (1-2) at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (1-3), 7 p.m.: Westfield seeks to even its record, after beating Frank J. Cicarell High School, Elizabeth, 23-21, at home on Thursday, Sept. 14. Scotch Plains-Fanwood has lost three straight and scored just 24 points in that span, after opening with a 25-0 win at Monroe Township High School. This will be the first time Scotch Plains-Fanwood hosts neighborhood arch rival Westfield under its lights on a Friday night.

Westfield has a six-game winning streak against Scotch Plains-Fanwood. The last time Scotch Plains-Fanwood beat Westfield was in 2012. The teams clashed last year for the first time since 2017.
Here’s a closer look:

2022: Westfield 30, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 0 – at Westfield

2017: Westfield 35, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 14 – at Westfield

2016: Westfield 46, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 7 – at Scotch Plains-

2015: Westfield 42, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 10 – at Westfield

2014: Westfield 26, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 76 – at Scotch Plains-Fanwood

2013: Westfield 41, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 28 – at Westfield

2012: Scotch Plains-Fanwood 10, Westfield 2 – at Scotch Plains-Fanwood

• Plainfield High School (2-1) at North Hunterdon Regional (0-4), 7 p.m.: The Cardinals are off to a rare 2-1 start, after dominating Carteret at Hub Stine Field by the score of 35-7 on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 16. North Hunterdon Regional, a sectional state champion a year ago, has scored only 20 points so far, single touchdowns in three of its four games.

• Cranford High School (2-1) at St. Thomas Aquinas High School (4-0), 7 p.m.: Junior quarterback Tyler Veltre scored the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter and then the go-ahead touchdown in single overtime, as Cranford held on to edge Woodbridge High School 21-20 on Thursday night, Sept. 14. Woodbridge answered Cranford’s OT touchdown and went for two points and the win, but its pass went incomplete. St. Thomas Aquinas has allowed just 27 points and has two shutouts in its first four games. In a thriller at Cranford’s Memorial Field last year, St. Thomas Aquinas prevailed by a 24-21 score.

• Summit High School (2-1) at Rahway High School (3-1), 7 p.m.: This is not only a big United Gold Division game, but there are a ton of power points out there for the winner. Rahway is second in the United Gold at 1-0. Defending champion St. Thomas Aquinas High School leads at 2-0. Andrew Avent scored twice and Marquis Diggs and Trevor Delapara once for Rahway in the 27-12 victory at Rahway River Park on Thursday, Sept. 14. Diggs reached the end zone on an 80-yard kickoff return.

• Hillside High School (2-1) at New Providence High School (3-1), 7 p.m.: This game was confirmed to be played on this date on Thursday, Sept. 14, after some schedules showed it for a Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23, affair. Both teams are on two-game winning streaks, including a win against fellow Union County school Abraham Clark in Roselle. Hillside defeated New Providence 42-7 at home last year, so the Pioneers are out to prove they can do a better job against Hillside’s outside speed.

• Abraham Clark High School (0-3) at Arthur L. Johnson High School (2-1), 7 p.m.: The Rams are out to avoid a second straight 0-4 start. Last year’s team rebounded to win its last eight games and capture the first South, Group 2 Regional Invitational Tournament title. Abraham Clark needs to step it up offensively against an aggressive Arthur L. Johnson defense. The Rams have scored only 29 points in three games. Arthur L. Johnson, on the other hand, scored five touchdowns in winning at Metuchen High School, 35-11, on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 14.

• Roselle Park High School (1-2) at Highland Park High School (0-3), 7 p.m.: Roselle Park came close to beating David Brearley High School for the first time since 2013, falling 16-8 at home on Friday, Sept. 15. Highland Park has lost all three of its games by double-digits. Roselle Park defeated Highland Park the last two times they clashed, in 2022 and 2019.