Big Central Teams Competing at Battle at the Beach

Bernards, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Union, and Woodbridge to Compete in WJFCA Showcase

OCEAN CITY, NJ–On Friday, the 2021 high school football season got underway around the Garden State with a number of games including Carteret’s season opener versus J.P. Stevens at The Pit.

On Saturday afternoon, South River will host South Plainfield at Denny Stadium in another Week 0 regular season clash. Four other schools from the Big Central are headed down to Ocean City High School this weekend to make a case for themselves and Central Jersey football.

Bernards, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Union, and Woodbridge are all scheduled to play in the Battle at the Beach at iconic Carey Field next to the Ferris Wheel of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier. All four BCC schools will face stern tests as they compete against some of the elite teams in South Jersey.

Three of the four opponents: Cedar Creek, Millville, and Winslow Township are all ranked in the South Jersey Sports Zone Top 15. Millville, a traditional South Jersey power, which will be playing Union at 5:00 PM on Saturday is ranked the highest of the three at No. 3 while Woodbridge’s opponent on Sunday, Winslow Township, is right behind at No. 4.

Cedar Creek, which will be playing Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the game prior to Woodbridge-Winslow on Sunday, is ranked 11th. Bernards opponent on Saturday morning will be Penns Grove out of Carneys Point, which is not ranked, but was given consideration, and won back to back South Group I titles in 2018 and 2019.

All four Big Central teams managed to get a season in despite the problems from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The Mountaineers, which finished 8-1 a year ago, still managed to get a full slate of regular season games in along with fellow Big Central member New Providence, which also finished 8-1. Bernards also won eight straight after losing a tough season opener at Hillside (14-9).

After losing its first two games, Scotch Plains-Fanwood (5-2) finished the season with five straight victories including a 35-7 win over Colonia on Thanksgiving Eve to complete its first winning season since 2007. The Raiders ended up qualifying for the playoffs in 2007 and reached the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 semifinals before losing to South Plainfield.

Union, a perennial powerhouse in the Garden State, lost two of its first three games before winning 3 of its last 4 to end up a game over .500 at 4-3. All three defeats were by a combined total of 34 points against the likes of Bridgewater-Raritan (36-28), Ridge (37-21), and Northern Highlands (45-35).

Following a solid season in 2019 that ended with a berth in the North I Group 4 Championship Game, Woodbridge went almost wire to wire as the top team in the Big Central media poll with a 5-1 mark. The lone defeat came in the de facto Big Central Championship against Somerville last November (39-26). The Barrons have compiled a 15-3 record over the past two seasons.

Below is the Big Central schedule at the WJFCA Battle at the Beach this weekend:

2021 Battle at the Beach–Big Central Schedule–Saturday, August 27th

  • Bernards vs. Penns Grove, 11:00 AM
  • Union vs. Millville, 5:00 PM

2021 Battle at the Beach–Big Central Schedule–Sunday, August 28th

  • Scotch Plains-Fanwood vs. Cedar Creek, 3:00 PM
  • Woodbridge vs. Winslow Township, 6:00 PM