Raiders Look to Cap Memorable Season with First Ever Regional Crown
PISCATAWAY, NJ—On Saturday afternoon, Big Central Gridiron will take a relatively much shorter drive to Rutgers University’s SHI Stadium to cover the 2021 NJSIAA South Jersey Group 5 Regional Championship between the BCG’s top ranked Hillsborough Raiders and the Kingsway Dragons.
Hillsborough punched its ticket to SHI Stadium by virtue of its solid win over third seeded North Brunswick at Noonan Field in the Central Jersey Group 5 title game while Kingsway defeated Toms River North, 21-14 in the South Jersey Group 5 Championship in Toms River. The Raiders enter the contest at 12-0 on the season while Kingsway comes in at 8-4. Take a look below at the BCG Tale of the Tape.
BCG Tale of the Tape—2021 NJSIAA South Jersey Group 5 Regional Championship
|Overall seed in Region||#1||#7|
|Section||Central Jersey Group 5||South Jersey Group 5|
|Conference||Big Central Division 5B||West Jersey Football League – Continental Division|
|Points Per Game – Season||37.8||18.3|
|Points Allowed Per Game-Season||10.4||21.8|
|Shutouts – Season||2||1|
|Points Per Game – Playoffs||44.3||30.7|
|Points Allowed Per Game – Playoffs||9.3||26.7|
|Shutouts – Playoffs||0||0|
|Yards Rushing Per Game||199.2||123.6|
|Yards Passing Per Game||153.3||134.8|
|Total Yards Per Game||352.4||258.4|
|Run/Pass Ratio||67.1 % to 32.9 %||75.6 % to 24.3 %|
|Common Opponents||Beat Old Bridge 44-0; Beat Williamstown 49-14||Beat Old Bridge 51-49; Lost to Williamstown 31-0.|
NOTE: In addition to playing Old Bridge and Williamstown, Kingsway also played Eastern and Cherokee, which played North Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group 5 playoffs. Kingsway defeated Eastern (34-7) on September 10th, and lost to Cherokee (28-7) on October 22nd. North Brunswick defeated Eastern (39-30) in the opening round and Cherokee on the road (34-21) in the sectional semifinals. The Dragons also only defeated 2-8 Rancocas Valley by one score (22-16) on September 24th, and 3-7 Atlantic City (14-0) on October 29th. Kingsway has won 5 straight since losing Cherokee. Hillsborough has outscored their playoff foes by 35 points per game while Kingsway has only outscored their playoff opponents by 4 points per game.
BCG’s Players to Watch—2021 NJSIAA South Jersey Group 5 Regional Championship
QB Jay Mazuera: Completed 108 of 169 passes for 1,839 yards and 21 TDs while only throwing 5 INTs; Also rushed 61 times for 172 yards and 2 TDs. He has thrown 37 career TD passes and also plays hoops in the winter.
RB Tyler Michinard: Rushed 175 times for 1,022 yards, or about 5.8 yards per carry, and 17 TDs. Michinard scored all 7 TDs including 6 on the ground in the Raiders 49-14 victory over Williamstown in the CJ Group 5 Semifinals. Michinard has also caught 15 passes for 163 yards and 2 TDs. Has 45 tackles and 3 sacks on defense.
WR/DB Tommy Amankwaa: Rutgers commit has caught 31 passes for 736 yards and 10 TDs, and rushed 78 times for 1,014 yards and 15 TDs. Also has 3 INTs on defense including one against North Brunswick in the CJ Group 5 Championship, and ran a kickoff back 85 yards for another TD to average 16.7 yards per touch. Has 48 career TDs.
TE/DL Will Dixon: Committed to the University of Akron. Caught 22 passes for 277 yards and 4 TDs while rushing 6 times for 102 yards. On defense, Dixon leads the team in sacks with 12.
WR/DB Charlie Volpe: Junior has caught 9 passes for 140 yards and 3 TDs including one in the first half versus New Brunswick in the opening round of the CJ Group 5 quarterfinals. Also rushed 4 times for 73 yards.
WR/DL Shane Donoghue: Junior along with Charlie Volpe, is an additional target in the passing game. He caught several passes versus North Brunswick in the CJ Group 5 Championship. Has 7 receptions for 166 yards and a TD and 5 total tackles on defense.
DB/PR Ryan Tasetano: Key return man on special teams, especially punts. Also an important figure on defense. Leads Hillsborough in interceptions.
RB/LB: Sal Volpe: Had a rushing TD versus North Brunswick in CJ Group 5 Championship. Rushed 10 times for 52 yards and caught 3 passes for 22 yards. Also has 26 tackles on defense.
DL Andy Santa Barbara: Anchors a very strong defensive line. Puts a lot of pressure on the opposing QB. Produces a lot of QB hurries and knockdowns. Has 43 total tackles including 39 solos, 14 for loss, and 3 sacks.
LB Jonathan Lobelo: Only a sophomore, he leads the team in tackles with 82 total tackles including 67 solos, 12 for loss, and 5.5 sacks.
K Sam Meechan: Made his only FG attempt of 32 yards while converting 47 of 49 extra point attempts.
QB Nate Maiers: Has completed 62 of 133 passes for 925 yards and 5 TDs with 7 INTs. Also rushed 139 times for 537 yards for 6 TDs and caught 6 passes for 32 yards and a TD. On defense he has 50 total tackles and an INT.
QB Joseph Lyons III: Completed 57 of 92 passes for 689 yards and 3 TDs with 4 INTs.
RB Darrell Brown Jr.: Rushed 149 times for 665 yards and 7 TDs, and caught 23 passes for 407 yards and 2 TDs. Has 27 total tackles and 2 INTs. On special teams has returned 13 kickoffs for 310 yards and 11 punts for 105 yards.
WR/DB Luke Van Brill: Caught 27 passes for 418 yards and 3 TDs to lead team in receiving. Also leads team in total tackles with 79 including 24 solos, 3 for loss, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and INT.
WR/DB Benny Liles III: Has 22 receptions for 229 yards and a TD.
RB/LB David DiPietro: Rushed 45 times for 130 yards and caught 3 passes for 31 yards. On defense, he made 59 total tackles including 27 solos and 9 for loss along with a forced fumble.
G/DL Carter Williams: Leads the team in sacks with 4 and fumble recoveries with 5. Has 56 total tackles including 32 solos, and 10 for loss.
LB Brady Whitzell: A freshman, who is 2nd on the team in total tackles with 64 including 21 solos, 7 for loss, and 2 sacks. Also has a fumble recovery.
DB Roman Kuzmick: Leads the team in INTs with 3. Has 7 catches for 165 yards on offense. Has 33 total tackles including 24 solos and one for loss.
DB/KR Jordan Potts: Sophomore, who leads the team in kickoff return yards with 322 in 14 returns. Also has 31 total tackles including 14 solos and 2 INTs.
K Nicholas Tanzola: Made 4 of 6 FG attempts this season as well as converted 15 of 16 extra point attempts.
K Reilly Robichaud: Made his only FG attempt of 25 yards as well as 3 of 5 extra point attempts.
BCG Keys to Game:
Kingsway Youth vs. Hillsborough Experience: Kingsway has managed to reach this level of the tournament despite a roster that is mostly made up of sophomores and juniors. On the other hand, Hillsborough’s roster is loaded with seniors. Will the Dragons youth and inexperience hinder them?
Battle of QBs: Kingsway has used two quarterbacks during the season in junior Nate Maiers and sophomore Joseph Lyons while the Raiders have been led the whole season by senior QB Jay Mazuera, who set a school record for career TD passes.
Can Hillsborough’s Offense be stopped? The Raiders have averaged more points per game in the playoffs than they did during the course of the regular season. Hillsborough’s key weapons are Tommy Amankwaa, Tyler Michinard, and Will Dixon, but in the win over North Brunswick, Shane Donoghue and Charlie Volpe were utilized as well. Volpe also had a TD catch in the opening round win over New Brunswick. A balanced attack with a plethora of weapons makes the Raider offense tough to stop.
DID YOU KNOW? Kingsway reached the Central Jersey Group 5 Championship Game two seasons ago when it lost to Cherokee (35-18). The Dragons defeated two of the teams it beat in this year’s state tourney run: Old Bridge (32-7) at Lombardi Field in the first round, and at Toms River North (19-14) in the semifinals.
Prediction: Hillsborough wins, 35-10.