BCG Game Preview—St. Thomas Aquinas @ Middlesex—October 14, 2021

Blue Jays Host 10th Ranked Trojans in BCC Small School Crossover Contest on Thursday Night

MIDDLESEX, NJ—On Thursday night, Big Central Gridiron begins its Week 7 football coverage with a trip over to Memorial Field at Mountain View Park in Middlesex Borough to see the hometown Blue Jays take on St. Thomas Aquinas, which is now ranked 10th in the latest Big Central Gridiron Top 10.  Both teams are coming off Week 6 shutout victories.

As a result of its game with Dunellen being cancelled, Middlesex scrambled to get a game with Harrison of Hudson County and the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference (NJIC) on Friday night.  Despite the chaos, and having to scramble to get a game in at the last minute, the Blue Jays still managed to register a 34-0 shutout to even its record to 3-3 on the season.

Meanwhile, St. Thomas Aquinas, which had its game with South River postponed at the last minute in Week 5, got back out on the football field at its friendly confines in North Edison last Friday night against Belvidere of Warren County.  For the fifth straight game, the Trojans posted a shutout, a 51-0 victory over the County Seaters.

Both teams are currently in the Big Central Gridiron Small School Top 10 with the Trojans coming in at No. 2 while the Blue Jays are in at No. 9.  Middlesex has already matched its record from a year ago while Aquinas (5-0) has already surpassed its win total from all of 2020 (4-3), 2019 (4-6), and 2018 (4-6).  St. Thomas Aquinas is looking to have its best season since 2016 when it finished 7-3 overall.

The two schools, which have been rivals since the Trojans moved down to the GMC Blue in 2016, did not play last year due to COVID.  Middlesex missed out on two weeks of play after defeating Pingry (51-29) in Week 2 of the 2020 season to even up at 1-1.  The Blue Jays did not play again until November 1st when they beat Spotswood 34-7 on Senior Day.

Two years ago, the two schools last played each other at Aquinas with the Blue Jays coming out on top, 41-8 en route to a solid 8-2 season that resulted in a Central Jersey Group 1 playoff berth, and a defeat at the hands of Salem (47-7) in the opening round.  Since Aquinas moved down to the GMC Blue in 2016, the Jays and Trojans have met four times with Middlesex going 3-1.

St. Thomas Aquinas won the inaugural meeting on November 5, 2016 (26-13), and then Middlesex won the last three by a combined score of 107-28.  In the four contests, the Blue Jays have averaged 30 points per game while giving up less than 14 per contest.  The largest margin of victory was Middlesex’s 56-20 win over Aquinas in 2018.  The Jays also have the only shutout, a 10-0 victory in 2017 when they eventually went on to defeat Point Pleasant Beach in the Central Jersey Group 1 Championship and finished 11-1 overall.

Prior to those four meetings, Middlesex and Aquinas only played each other three times:  1981, 2004, and 2005.  Middlesex won the inaugural meeting between the two schools in 1981 (27-0).  The Jays won again when the teams met the second time in 2004 (12-7) before the Trojans won the last of the three original meetings in 2005 (21-13).

In the brief all time series, Middlesex holds a 5-2 edge, and has outscored Aquinas by a total margin of 172-82, or an average of about 25 to 12 per contest.  When the two teams met originally in 1981, Middlesex was a member of the Mountain Valley Conference while Aquinas was in the Bicentennial Conference.  The other six meetings occurred when both played football in the GMC (Greater Middlesex Conference).

St. Thomas Aquinas has historically been one of the top football programs in the Greater Middlesex Conference. Mostly a GMC White school from the inception of the conference until the end of the 2015 season, Aquinas, known previously as Bishop Ahr, was a dominant program in the 1980s and into the 1990s.  Led by head coach Tony Aschettino, the Trojans went 19-3 in 1984 and 1985 when it won two sectional championships.  

In the 2000s, the Trojans experienced a rebirth and challenged some of the elite programs in both the GMC and Non-Public A.  Particularly in 2008 when the Trojans defeated Sayreville (13-0), and gave Camden Catholic all it could handle before bowing out, 34-27 in the Non-Public A playoffs opening round in North Edison.  

Now, in Non-Public B, the Trojans are looking to challenge the elite teams in that section this year, and also capture a BCC Division 2B title. Led by the likes of QB Jayden Young (35 of 61 for 510 yards and 9 TDs), RB Joel Marellis (44 carries for 373 yards and 6 TDs), and WR Jonathan Wyatt (12 receptions for 249 yards and 6 TDs) a Villanova commit, the Trojans brought some excitement back to /the gridiron.  Those three are all back this season along with another top receiver in Najee Lovejoy (12 catches for 117 yards and a TD).

In addition, the Trojans, which looked very impressive in a pre-season scrimmage versus South Brunswick back in August, also have added the likes of Kendall Jordan (24 carries for 147 yards and 5 TDs), who transferred in from Piscataway in 2020, Sharief Guinyard (transfer from Steinert), and Sherrod Hudson (49 carries for 355 yards and 8 TDs).  There are also another contributors as well such as Kenny Coghan, Jeremiah Derlihomme, Israel Bey, Brian Moyer, Etinosa Igebor, Nico Tricoles, and Nyzir Lawson. 

So far this season, Aquinas has outscored its opponents by a margin of 205-0, or an average of 41-0 per game.  Meanwhile, Middlesex now led by first year head coach, Gary Brenner, has been outscored by a margin of 166-122, or an average of about 28 to 20 per game.  Leading the Blue Jays is senior QB Stephen Young, who also happens to be a solid basketball player for the Jays.

Another hoops player that is on the football roster at Middlesex is A.J. West.  Other key contributors for Middlesex include senior RB Justin Robinson, who leads the team in rushing yardage with 444 yards,  senior RB Colin Deem, and junior Mehki Parks.  Bobby Ulmer leads the defense with 63 total tackles including 25 solo tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and a sack.

Prediction:  St. Thomas Aquinas wins, 35-0.