BCG Game Preview—#3 North Brunswick @ #1 Hillsborough—Central Jersey Group 5 Championship—November 19, 2021

Rematch of Big Central Conference Schools for Sectional Title on Friday Night

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ—On Friday night, third seeded North Brunswick continues its revenge tour with a visit to David A. Noonan Memorial Field in Hillsborough to take on the top seeded and top ranked Raiders for the 2021 NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 5 Championship.  Big Central Gridiron plans to be there to cover the action as these two teams rematch from a game played several weeks ago.

Back on October 29th, North Brunswick and Hillsborough had their first installment of the Clash of the Raiders at Noonan Field as a regular season Big Central Conference Crossover contests between Division 5 schools.  Hillsborough, which competes in the rugged Division 5B, defeated North Brunswick from Division 5D, by the score of 41-0.  Both teams have been ranked in the BCG Top 10 with Hillsborough currently atop that poll.

North Brunswick, which rallied from a 14-0 deficit to defeat 6th seeded Eastern (39-30) in the opening round at Libro Field two weeks ago, came back from a 14-0 deficit again last week on the road in Marlton to defeat 2nd seeded Cherokee (34-21).  The Raiders comeback victory avenged a loss to the Chiefs from Burlington County in the CJ Group 5 semifinals back in 2019.

Meanwhile, Hillsborough, which rolled past 8th seeded New Brunswick (49-6), also from Division 5D of the BCC, in the first round, cruised past 5th seeded Williamstown (49-14) in the semifinals last week.  In the victory, the Raiders rode the Tyler Michinard express, as the senior RB rushed 25 times for 155 yards and 6 TDs while catching two passes for another 44 yards and an additional score for 7 TDs total in the contest.

In addition to Big Central Gridiron’s coverage, the contest between Hillsborough and North Brunswick will be broadcasted live on the HSG Network’s You Tube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p6dGxGSsrA.  Korbid Thompson of the King James Radio Network will be providing a live audio broadcast of the contest via Speaker starting with pre-game at 6:20 PM.  Central Jersey Sports Radio will also be providing updates from the game during its broadcast of the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 Championship between Cranford and Sparta from Memorial Field in Cranford.

Entering the contest, Hillsborough has an overall record of 11-0 on the season, and won Division 5B of the BCC with a mark of 5-0.  Meanwhile, North Brunswick enters the game with a mark of 8-3 on the year with losses to Sayreville (35-22), Union (42-0), and Hillsborough (41-0).  As a result of its loss to Sayreville, NBTHS finished 2nd in Division 5D with a mark of 4-1.

Through its previous 11 games, North Brunswick has outscored its opponents by a margin of 290 to 256, or by an average of about 26 to 23 per game.  The Raiders rank 23rd out of 60 schools in the Big Central Conference in Point Differential, 14th in scoring offense with an average of 26.4 points per game, and 40th in scoring defense with an average of 23.3 points per game allowed.  NBTHS has one shutout this year, which ties it for 14th in the conference.

Hillsborough, on the other hand, has outscored its foes by a margin of 419-117, or by an average of about 38 to 11 per contest.  These Raiders rank 2nd in the Big Central in Point Differential just slightly behind St. Thomas Aquinas with an average margin of victory of 27.5 points per game.  Hillsborough also ranks 2nd overall in the BCC behind Cranford with a scoring average of 38.1 points per game, and the Raiders rank fourth in scoring defense with an average of 10.6 points per game allowed.  HHS also has two shutouts, which ranks it 4th in the BCC as well.

The Raiders of Hillsborough finished the regular season with a Strength Index of 87.39 to rank third in the Big Central while North Brunswick completed the season with an SI of 69.56 to rank 17th in the conference.  Hillsborough tallied 19.39 power points, and compiled an OSI of 63.39 to produce a UPR of 1.  Meanwhile, North Brunswick compiled 18.11 power points, and an OSI of 54.29 for a UPR of 5.2.  Hillsborough was the top overall seed in the South Jersey Group 5 Super Section while North Brunswick ranked 5th.

North Brunswick has chalked up 1,755 yards through the air, and another 1,348 yards on the ground for 3,103 yards of total offense, or an average of 282.1 yards per contest.  The NBTHS Raiders offense is quite balanced with a run to pass ratio of 54.5% to 45.5%.  On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Hillsborough has racked up 1,648 yards passing and 2,202 yards rushing for 3,850 yards of total offense, or an average of 350 yards per game.  Hillsborough’s run to pass ratio is 66.9% to 33.1%.

In the previous meeting between the two schools on October 29th, Hillsborough rushed 41 times for 397 yards, or an average of 9.7 yards per carry while limiting North Brunswick to -26 yards on 20 carries.  Hillsborough also held NBTHS QB Frank Garbolino to 5 to 13 passing for just 43 yards, and picked off two passes.  Hillsborough QB, Jay Mazuera, who recently set a new school record for career TD passes, has completed 95 of 149 passes for 1,648 yards with 19 TDs while throwing five interceptions.

Garbolino, on the other hand, has completed 139 of 224 passes for 1,755 yards with 22 TDs while throwing 9 interceptions.  Garbolino has also rushed 83 times for 214 yards and 3 TDs.  Marquise Perry leads North Brunswick in both rushing and receiving with 77 carries for 551 yards and 8 TDs along with 48 receptions for 842 yards and 11 TDs.  Perry also has a kickoff return of 70 yards to average 11.6 yards per touch this season.

Other offensive weapons at Garbolino’s and North Brunswick’s disposal are junior RB Jared Tynes, senior WR Jayden Myers, junior WR Zahmir Dawud, and Ashwani Stuart.  Tynes has rushed 43 times for 242 yards and a TD on the ground while Myers is close behind Perry in receiving with 46 catches for 560 yards and 8 TDs.  Dawud has caught 15 passes for 127 yards and a TD.  

In addition to Mazuera on offense, Hillsborough has the likes of Rutgers commit, Tommy Amankwaa, who provides plenty of offense both on the ground and in the air.  Amankwaa, who averaged about 30 yards per touch in the opening round victory over New Brunswick, has rushed 51 times for 711 yards along with 12 TDs while catching 26 passes for 655 yards and 8 TDs. Amankwaa, who also recently set a school record for TD receptions, has also returned a kickoff 85 yards for another TD to average 18.6 yards per touch this season.

Last week’s star, Michinard, leads the HHS Raiders in rushing with 152 carries for 922 yards along with 17 TDs while also catching 13 passes for 132 yards, and two more scores.  Michinard averages 6.3 yards per touch entering tonight’s contest.  Tight end Will Dixon is another target through the air with 16 receptions for 206 yards and 4 TDs while rushing 4 times for another 64 yards.  Charlie Volpe, who opened the win over New Brunswick with a TD catch, has 5 receptions for 79 yards and 2 TDs.

Hillsborough’s defense is anchored by sophomore John Lobelo, who has 44 total tackles including 19 solos, two for loss, and a sack.  Dixon leads the team in sacks with 10 while Ryan Tasetano, who also stars in the return game, ranks first on the team in interceptions with 2.  Senior Andy Santa Barbara is another stalwart on the Raiders defense while Tyler Van Cleef and Sal Volpe rank 2nd and 3rd on the team in total tackles.

North Brunswick’s defense is led by senior Amari Macklin, who has racked up 117 total tackles including 35 solos, 10.5 for loss, and a sack.  Senior LB Tamir Jenkins is 2nd in total tackles with 86 including 22 solos, 2.5 for loss, and a sack as well as three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.  Brandon Harrison ranks 3rd in total tackles with 83 including 24 solos, 8.5 for loss, and 2.5 sacks.  Harrison along with Garbolino and Perry are standouts on the NBTHS boys basketball team during the winter as well.  

Willie Wilson, is tied with Macklin, Dawud, and Jack Garbolino with two interceptions on the season while Wilson has 70 total tackles including 27 solos and 1.5 for loss.  Tynes is also a significant contributor on defense with 76 total tackles including 30 solos, 20 for loss, and 8.5 sacks along with two forced fumbles.  Denzel Bonsu handles the placekicking duties for NBTHS, and has converted 14 of 22 extra point attempts while Hillsborough placekicker, Sam Meecham has made his only FG attempt of 32 yards while converting 42 of 44 extra points.

BCG expects this game to be much closer than the first time.  North Brunswick, which is playing in its 2nd sectional final in the past four years, will be playing with something to prove, and show that they learned something from the first meeting.  In the end though, Hillsborough, which has won two sectional titles, will prevail in front of its home crowd thanks to a more stout defense, and potent offense as well as the best player on the field in Amankwaa.

DID YOU KNOW? When Hillsborough and North Brunswick played each other on October 29th, it was the very first time that both teams played each other on the gridiron.

Prediction:  Hillsborough wins, 31-20.

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