BCG Game Preview – Belvidere @ Metuchen – September 22, 2023

Bulldogs Looking to Get Back on Track Against County Seaters

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – On Friday night, Big Central Gridiron will take a short trip over to Metuchen High School for a rare night game.  The Bulldogs will be hosting the County Seaters of Belvidere on Senior Night at the Dawg Pound.  The last time BCG was at a Metuchen football night game, the Bulldogs ended a 16-game losing streak.

Metuchen already has a win this year with a 14-6 victory over South River at Denny Field on Labor Day Weekend.  Since then, the Bulldogs have taken a couple of tough losses at the hands of Big Central Conference Patriot Silver Division foes Hillside (28-7) and A.L. Johnson (35-11).  Belvidere is looking for its first win since the end of the 2021 season.

With standout RB Evan Toth out of the lineup, senior Cody Cardillo has shouldered much of the load for the Bulldogs.  Through Metuchen’s first three games, Cardillo has rushed 33 times for a total of 211 yards, or about 6.4 yards per carry.  Cardillo has also caught 5 passes for another 72 yards while racking up 20 total tackles including 11 solos, a tackle for loss, and two forced fumbles on defense.

In the victory over South River, Cardillo rushed for over half of his yardage on the season with 113 yards on 10 carries including a season-long 46-yard run.  Sophomore Kyle McPartlan has stepped up at QB.  After only going 7 of 13 for 47 yards in the Week 2 loss at Hillside, McPartlan completed 11 of 24 for 113 yards including his first career TD pass versus Johnson last week.

Along with Cardillo (3 catches for 64 yards last week vs. Johnson), McPartlan hooked up with fellow sophomore Cam Hayes-Durina.  Hayes-Durina has already caught 11 passes for 83 yards including a TD last week against Johnson.  Matt Flood is another key player for Metuchen, especially on special teams where he has a a kickoff return for 33 yards.  Flood also had the game-winning score against South River.

In addition to Toth, the Bulldogs have been without senior QB, John Bolesta.  Bolesta, who completed 55 of 104 passes for 657 yards and 2 TDs in 2022, completed 4 of 8 passes for 35 yards in the win over South River.  Bolesta also contributed on defense with 4 total tackles and a fumble recovery in the win over the Rams.  Toth, who scored the team’s first touchdown of the year in the second quarter, rushed 7 times for 60 yards against South River.

Toth had a solid sophomore season for Metuchen.  He rushed 88 times for 564 yards, or an average of 6.4 yards per carry and 8 TDs.  Toth also caught 12 passes for another 104 yards.  So, in exactly 100 touches, Toth collected 668 yards or an average of about 6.7 yards per touch.  The losses of Toth and Bolesta have hurt, especially in a very tough division, but the Bulldogs have battled.

Meanwhile, Belvidere has lost 13 consecutive games dating back to the opening weekend of the 2022 season.  The County Seaters, which finished 5-3 overall in 2021, only lost to unbeaten Spotswood by one (9-8) three weeks ago.  The near upset was then followed by two three-score defeats to rival South Hunterdon (35-15) and Dunellen (44-25).  The schedule also doesn’t get any easier for the Seaters.

Friday night’s game versus Metuchen starts a stretch of five games with three on the road and four against bigger schools.  The only contest where Belvidere has an opponent of equal school size is Manville on October 6th, and the Mustangs have surprised so far with two wins.  The biggest bright spot for Belvidere has been junior QB, Kyle Blew.

Blew has been a double threat on offense.  He has completed 23 of 56 passes for 361 yards and 3 TDs through the air while rushing 48 times for another 232 yards and an additional three scores on the ground.  Junior wideout, Mason Chamberlain has also played well with 14 receptions for 236 yards.  He has also rushed for another 22 yards and even thrown a pass.

Brayden Stefan, a junior defensive back, leads the Seaters with 55 total tackles including a team-high 12 solos.  Stefan has also contributed on offense with 21 rushes for 107 yards and 3 catches for another 41 yards.  Metuchen’s schedule also doesn’t get much easier with games against Roselle, New Providence, and J.P. Stevens over the next three weeks.

The emotion of Senior Night and a must-win situation for the Bulldogs should help get them past the Seaters at home.

Prediction:  Metuchen wins, 27-13.