BCG Game Preview – Woodbridge @ Summit – September 2, 2023

Barrons Visit Tatlock Field to Take on Hilltoppers in BCC Crossover

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – On Saturday afternoon, Big Central Gridiron wraps up its Week 1 coverage with a trip to Investors Bank Stadium at Tatlock Field to see Summit host Woodbridge in a Big Central Conference Football crossover.  Last season, the Hilltoppers traveled to Priscoe Stadium and lost to the Barrons in a 34-27 donnybrook during Week 1.

This game will be the season opener for Summit while Woodbridge is playing its second game of the season.  Last week, the Barrons hosted Old Bridge in their season opener and won 28-13.  In that contest, the Barrons had five players combine to rush 33 times for 215 yards and 2 TDs.

Junior QB Derek Anderson completed 8 of 17 passes for 89 yards and a TD.  Twin brother Bryan recovered a fumble and returned it 62 yards for a TD and caught a 4-yard pass for another score.  Bryan Anderson finished with 6 catches for 77 yards and a TD on offense while collecting 7 total tackles and recovering a fumble on defense.

The Anderson twins, younger brothers of former Woodbridge football and hoops standout Kyle Anderson, lead a solid junior class for the Barrons.  Also included in that junior group are Jamir Beal, Jose Tejierio, and Izaiah Toliver.  Beal rushed 9 times for 68 yards including a 36-yard scamper for a TD in the first quarter of last week’s victory.  Tejierio collected 14 total tackles including 4 solos, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks in the win as well.  Tolliver was a perfect 4 of 4 on extra points.

Two years ago as freshmen, these Barrons only lost one game.  The only team to top them was a solid Linden squad, which is now 2-0 as juniors at the varsity level so far this year.  Bryan Anderson was already seeing action at the varsity level two years ago, and contributed right away with a huge interception in the fourth quarter versus Winslow Township at the 2021 Battle at the Beach played at Camden Catholic.

One key returning player from a year ago is A.J. Bosch.  In the Barrons’ opening night win over Old Bridge, Bosch rushed 10 times for 68 yards and caught one pass for 6 yards on offense.  Bosch, a senior, rushed 80 times for 455 yards and 7 TDs and caught 40 passes for another 655 yards on offense.  Meanwhile, on defense, he added 55 total tackles and 2 INTs.  Bosch also contributed in the return game on special teams with a kick return average of 23.7 yards and a punt return average of 21.8 yards.

Woodbridge finished 4-6 a year ago and qualified for the North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 playoffs.  The Barrons finished third in the BCC’s Liberty Gold Division behind Colonia and Linden.  Meanwhile, Summit was 6-5 a year ago including a 2-2 mark in the BCC’s United Gold Division.  The Hilltoppers started out 0-3, but won 6 of their last 8 including all three rounds of the 2022 NJSIAA North Group 3 Regional Invitational Tournament.

In those three games, Summit averaged 43.3 points per game while giving up only 24.0 per contest.  Two of Summit’s five losses a year ago came at the hands of Woodbridge (34-27) and Colonia (28-23) by a total of only 12 points.  In addition, the Hilltoppers lost two games to St. Thomas Aquinas (19-6) and St. Joseph’s (35-21) by only two scores.  However, Summit lost 11 players including RB Jake Lowry, QB Brian Bauman, and RB Joe Fagan to graduation.

The Hilltoppers do return three key players from a year ago with Ryan Schnall, Tyler Kessel, and Carter Shallcross.  In addition Shane Walsh, Jack Bronikowski, Seamus Browne, Henrique Giucardi, and Luke Harris return and will have bigger roles this season.  Summit competed against the likes of Somerville, South Plainfield, and Warren Hills in the BCC’s Division 3 during the first two seasons of the conference.  Now, only the Hilltoppers and Rahway remain from that group and compete in the United Gold with Cranford, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

As a junior, Schnall rushed 108 times for 743 yards and 8 TDs.  In the game that BCG covered against Colonia a year ago, Schnall rushed 8 times for 27 yards and a TD.  Schnall also caught 5 passes for 80 yards in 2022.   Kessel collected 120 total tackles including 20 for loss and 5 sacks a year ago.  Kessel also had a forced fumble, fumble recovery, and an interception.  Against Colonia, he picked up 12 total tackles including a tackle for loss and a sack.

Shallcross was another key contributor to Summit a year ago.  In four games, Shallcross rushed 26 times for 211 yards and 2 TDs and caught three passes for another 120 yards and two more scores.  One of those TD catches was a leaping last-second grab from Brian Baumann before the end of the first half to give the Hilltoppers a 14-10 lead over Colonia.

Last year, Walsh completed 5 of 12 passes for 55 yards with a TD and an INT.  Walsh also rushed 10 times for 75 yards and a score.  Guicardi also contributed with 8 carries for 70 yards in 2022.  Bronikowski had an interception while Browne connected on 2 of 3 field goal attempts and a perfect 3 of 3 on extra points.  Harris had 86 total tackles including 13 for loss along with a forced fumble and a kick block.  

This game should be an entertaining matchup.  Summit is historically one of the top programs in Union County and in Group 3 year after year.  Woodbridge is usually among the top teams in Middlesex County perennially as well.  BCG expects a game similar to Summit’s battle with Colonia a year ago with the Barrons coming out on top.

Prediction:  Woodbridge wins, 31-27.