GMC Gridiron Game Capsules–Week Twelve–Thanksgiving Day

Seven GMC Games on tap for Turkey Day

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–On Thanksgiving Day, there will be seven games involving teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference.  One of those match-ups will involve a battle between two Blue Division schools when Middlesex travels up Route 28 to Columbia Park in Dunellen to take on the Destroyers.  Other match-ups include Piscataway at Franklin, North Plainfield at South Plainfield, and J.P. Stevens at Edison.  Below are game capsules with predictions on these seven match-ups:

Middlesex (7-3) at Dunellen (9-1)–This is the featured game for GMC Gridiron on this Thanksgiving.  The last time we saw those two teams play was at Middlesex on Thanksgiving Eve in 2009 when Dunellen won for the first time in several years.  The victory by the Destroyers on that night began a streak of five straight wins for DHS in this rivalry.  Dunellen is looking to make it six straight.  Both teams had solid seasons with deep playoff runs.  Dunellen will be playing for the North Jersey Section 2 Group I championship on December 6th against Shabazz at Kean University while Middlesex fell short against Shore Regional in the Central Jersey Group I semifinals.  Both teams lost to Blue Division champ, Spotswood this year with the Blue Jays losing in overtime while the Destroyers lost by two touchdowns on opening weekend.  Since that time though, Dunellen has been on a roll with 9 straight victories including a 46-22 win at Metuchen, which shut out Middlesex a month ago, and a 16-7 come from behind victory over Shore Regional, which defeated MHS last week.  The Jays began the season with five straight wins, but has lost 3 of 5 since then.  Dunellen is a well oiled machine offensively with its single wing formation directed by QB Dave Johnson, and rounded out by a backfield consisting of Rob Young, Nassan Anderson, and Paul Appleton.   The Destroyers are anchored on defense by the likes of Conrad Paddyfoot, Ryan McCann, Rob Puckett, and Danny Russomano.  Middlesex counters with a solid group led by Anthony Abate, Dennis Broadnax, Kayshawn Wilson, Anthony Marshall, Carran Marks, Paul Meixner, and Matt Hode.  While Dunellen is playing next weekend for a championship, the Destroyers are still looking to win the Battle of Route 28 for a sixth consecutive year.  This game will be closer than recent match-ups between these two schools.  Prediction:  Dunellen wins, 35-21.

North Plainfield (2-7) at South Plainfield (3-6)–Is this the year the Tigers finally break through?  After only losing by two last year,  it would seem that this year might finally be the year after NPHS has won each season since the rivalry was renewed in 2002.  North Plainfield was only 2-7 this season although it was still good enough to qualify for the North Jersey Section 2 Group III playoffs.  The Canucks have played six playoff teams this year including N2 Gr III sectional champ Summit and top seed Cranford twice.  Meanwhile, the Tigers just missed qualifying for the CJ Group III playoffs, and won its consolation game over Holmdel on November 13th (21-12).  The Tigers are 3-2 at home while North Plainfield is 0-5 on the road.  South Plainfield has played four teams that qualified and participated in the playoffs including sectional finalists Colonia and Carteret.  The Tigers also took on Bishop Ahr and St. Joseph’s, two teams that qualified for the state playoffs, but chose not to participate.  SPHS will be led at QB by Patrick Waldrop, who had 4 TDs against Bishop Ahr (41-12 win) while John Chillemi and Kyle Dickerson will provide solid targets at WR.  Jason Lee was used a lot at RB against Colonia, but also plays TE.  Zaire Cone also plays in the SP backfield at RB, and had a big game in the team’s season opener against St. Joseph’s (35-14 win).  As Bill Murray said in Meatballs in 1982, “This is the year Fink beats The Stomach!”  Prediction:  South Plainfield wins, 16-14.

Piscataway (8-2) at Franklin (2-7)–P-Way will be looking to finish its season on a strong note after falling short of a North Jersey Section 2 Group V finals appearance for the second straight year.  Franklin, a long time rival of the Chiefs dating back to the days of the Mid-State Conference back in the early 1960s, is looking to end its season on a bright note with three straight wins.  The Chiefs have recorded four shutouts this season, and has allowed no more than 16 points in a game while giving up an average of just 5.6 points per game.  In addition to their two wins, the Warriors have played tough in three of its losses including a 22-14 loss to Bridgewater-Raritan, a team that also qualified for the North Jersey Section 2 Group V playoffs (22-14).  Franklin also played playoff teams such as Hillsborough, Phillipsburg, and Elizabeth.  P-Way is led by the likes of QB Danny Haus, RBs Eljiah Barnwell and Elijah Pierson, WR Tyrell Bush on offense and Elorm Lumor on defense.  The Warriors will give the Chiefs a battle, but P-Way should come out on top.  Prediction:  Piscataway wins, 28-13.

J.P. Stevens (2-7) at Edison (3-6)–A rivalry that had been dominated by Stevens for a long time has recently been controlled by Edison with 6 victories over the last 8 years.  However, Stevens has won 2 of the last 3 times the two teams have played at The Drawl in Edison.  After losing its first four games of the season, Edison has won 3 of 5 including a forfeit victory over Sayreville.  Stevens played Sayreville on opening night, and lost 42-7.  The Hawks have been more competitive though overall this season with close losses against upper tier GMC Red teams such as Monroe (28-27 loss) and Old Bridge (17-6 loss).  JPS also only trailed Piscataway at the half 7-0 before losing 35-0, and had a bit more success in its loss against South Brunswick.  Edison did beat North Brunswick though at NBTHS (37-27) while the Hawks lost to the Raiders at McGowan Stadium (13-7).  J.P. Stevens is led by running back Chris Chukwuneke along with rushing and receiving threat DeAndre Perkins, and wideout Francois Ballou on offense.  Edison counters with the likes of Joe Kim and Godwin Asamoah.  We give the Hawks the edge here.  Prediction:  J.P. Stevens wins, 14-13.

Carteret (7-3) at Perth Amboy (3-6)–If you were to ask me about the outcome of this game about a month to a month and a half ago, I would have said Carteret wins easily here.  Today, I’m not as sure.  Entering this game, Amboy has won three straight including back to back two point victories on the road at South Plainfield and Bishop Ahr, and then a rout of Millburn in its NJSIAA consolation game.  The Panthers are also playing at home.  Another reason for the apprehension:  Six years ago, A 6-3 Carteret squad rolled into Waters Stadium in Amboy has a heavy favorite against a Panthers team that had only won one game, and lost (14-7).  Perth Amboy’s victory that Turkey Day ended a long run of recent Carteret dominance in the rivalry and sparked the Panthers to four straight wins.  After several years of struggle, Amboy looks like it may be turning things around again much like in late 2008.  Meanwhile, Carteret is trying to win a sectional title for the second time in three years, and the third time since 2007.  The Ramblers will face Matawan for the Central Jersey Group III title at Kean University on Friday night, December 5th.  Tristan Rock and Larry Johnson lead the Panthers of Amboy while Nelson Baez is back and healthy for the Ramblers, and will lead an offense with a ton of weapons including RB Ra’Keem Bennett and WRs Brandon Gilder, Hassan Williams, and Justin Taylor.  Sam Kamara anchors a tough defense.  Carteret will face some tough sledding, but should prevail in a close one.  Prediction:  Carteret wins, 28-21.

South Brunswick (10-0) at North Brunswick (2-7)–The Vikings are looking to come away with its first undefeated season in school history at 12-0.  Besides having to face a very good Manalapan team in 10 days  in the Central Jersey Group V championship at Rutgers, the Vikings will have to get through neighborhood arch rival, North Brunswick in their annual Turkey Day clash.  North Brunswick has improved this season despite facing the rigors of a tough GMC Red schedule.  The Raiders had a blowout win in week three over an East Brunswick team that still managed to qualify for the CJ Group V playoffs.  NBHTS also had a hard fought win over J.P. Stevens on the road about a month ago.  South Brunswick defeated EB twice including a win over the Bears in the opening round of the state playoffs, and defeated Stevens by almost four scores.  The Vikings have also dominated this rivalry in recent years.  Since 2003, SBHS has won 7 of 11 meetings including the last four in a row.  The Vikes are led by Syracuse bound running back, Dontae Strickland, but they also have another talented back in Phil Campbell.  Matt Golden also helps out in the backfield, but also anchors a tough defense as well as handles some of the kicking duties.  Amir Johnson and Josh Liao are a very good tandem at QB and Marcus Jackson and Mohammed Jabbie can make big plays at WR.  North Brunswick counters with Kevin Poindexter at QB, Joe Castellanos at TE, Max Emmanuel and Francis Omowole at RB, and speedster Rex Rogers returning kicks.  Vikings should win their fifth straight in this Turkey Day tussle.  Prediction:  South Brunswick wins, 38-14.

East Brunswick (4-5) at Old Bridge (5-4)–The Knights enter this contest losers of two straight by a combined total of 81-14 against two state playoff teams:  Piscataway and Manalapan.  Old Bridge will look to turn the tide, and finish the year on a positive note along with a 6-4 record with a victory over an East Brunswick program that has improved some this year, but has not had much success in the Battle of Route 18 Thanksgiving Day rivalry.  Since starting the season at 1-3, EB has won 3 of their last five although those two losses came in the past two weeks by a combined score of 73-17 including a 34-3 loss to Monroe, a team Old Bridge defeated on the road by a touchdown on Halloween.  Since this tradition began in 1994, Old Bridge has dominated.  The last time East Brunswick won this rivalry game was in 2010, and since 2003, Old Bridge has won 9 of 11.  The Knights will be led on offense by QB Mike Gargano while RB Nick Sodano has helped pick up some of the void left after the injury to standout RB Myles Williams.  Jake Esposito, Tyler Hopman, and Dante Whipple provide good targets through the air, and Ed Mish provides a big advantage in the punting and placekicking department while he and Mike Abarno anchor a tough defense.  East Brunswick is led by QB Kevin Hemmings, WR Sean O’Sullivan, and RB Sam Walker.  Old Bridge should win its fourth straight.  Prediction:  Old Bridge wins, 38-17.

GMC Gridiron plans to cover the Thanksgiving Eve game between Metuchen and Highland Park (weather permitting) and then take in the Thanksgiving Day contest between Middlesex and Dunellen at Columbia Park in Dunellen.