American Gold Could be BCC’s Most Competitive Division
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Over the first four years of the Big Central Conference, teams that have made up what is now the American Silver Division may be the toughest top to bottom in the league. However, this season, teams in the American Gold Division could make the case for being the most competitive in the conference. A year ago, only one team was over .500 although all five teams qualified for the state playoffs.
This year, not much separates the five teams in the division. Only two games separated the first-place team (Union) from the last-place team (Elizabeth) in the division standings. Of the ten division games that were played, 9 of them were decided by 8 points or less with seven contests decided by a field goal or less. The average margin of victory in division games was just 6.2 points per game.
2023 American Gold Results
- Union 37 – Westfield 7
- Union 13 – Somerville 10
- Union 22 – St. Joseph’s 15
- Elizabeth 28 – Union 26
- Westfield 23 – Elizabeth 21
- Somerville 28 – St. Joseph’s 20
- Somerville 17 – Elizabeth 14
- St. Joseph’s 21 – Elizabeth 19
- St. Joseph’s 17 – Westfield 14
- Westfield 31 – Somerville 29
Union clinched the outright division title on Saturday despite losing to Elizabeth on Friday night. The hard luck Minutemen finally broke through with a thrilling 28-26 upset win at Williams Field. Elizabeth may be just 1-6 on the season, but it could be the toughest team in the state with that record. The Minutemen’s six losses have been decided by a total of just 26 points or an average of 4.3 per contest.
Elizabeth’s three losses in BCC American Gold Division play were just by a total of 7 points: Westfield 23-21, St. Joseph’s 21-19, and Somerville 17-14. In its four division games, Elizabeth has been only outscored 87-82. On the season, the Minutemen are averaging 20.6 points per game while allowing 24 points per contest.
Union, which finished 3-1 in divisional play, had the most lopsided win of the year when it defeated Westfield (37-7) in Week 1. The Farmers are averaging just 19.7 points per game, but have given up only 16.7 per game. St. Joseph’s is one of three teams in the division that finished 2-2 in divisional play. The Falcons have given up the fewest points per contest among BCC American Gold teams at 16.1 per game while enjoying the largest margin of victory at 7.7 points per contest.
Somerville is another team that finished tied for second at 2-2 and has equaled its win total from a year ago. The Pioneers lead the teams in the division with the most points per game at 25.6 while yielding 18 per contest. Somerville had a chance to claim a share of the division but lost to Westfield at Kehler Stadium last Saturday (31-29) to end up in a three-way tie for second with the Blue Devils and St. Joe’s.
Last year’s division winner, Westfield has had an up and down year at 3-3 following Saturday’s win over Somerville. The Blue Devils are averaging 21 points per game while giving up 23 per contest. Overall Union and Somerville are 4-3, St. Joseph’s is 4-2, Westfield is 3-3, and Elizabeth is 1-6. Union defeated Somerville (13-10) at Harry R. Cooke Jr. Memorial Field several weeks ago. The Farmers defeated St. Joseph’s on the road at Brenner Family Field in Week 3 (22-15).
Besides losing to Elizabeth last Friday night, Union lost to Rancocas Valley (21-6) in the Battle at the Beach played in Ocean City, and to Hillsborough (15-7). The Red Devils from Mount Holly in Burlington County are currently 5-2 and also defeated Paterson Eastside (32-14) earlier in the year. Hillsborough plays in the rugged American Silver Division and is the only team to defeat Phillipsburg this season with a 14-13 win at the Rumble on the Raritan on September 24th.
Elizabeth’s three losses outside of division play came at the hands of an improved Linden squad (27-22) in Week 0, a touchdown loss to another improved Union County school in Plainfield (33-26), and a seven-point loss to an improved Hunterdon Central program (21-14). The three teams of Linden (5-2), Plainfield (4-2), and Hunterdon Central (4-3) are combined 13-7. Linden and Hunterdon Central have been previously ranked in the BCG Top 10.
St. Joseph’s, currently ranked 5th in the latest BCG Middlesex County Top 10, has two wins outside of division against New Brunswick (35-0) and Edison (35-14). Somerville’s two wins outside American Gold play came against Voorhees (41-7) in Week 0 and Old Bridge (33-14) in Week 1. The Pioneers also lost a heartbreaker to No. 2 ranked Montgomery (27-21) at Brooks Field on September 15th.
Westfield has a win and a loss outside of play in the BCC’s American Gold Division. The Blue Devils lost a tough one in Week 1 to Watchung Hills (34-20) after leading 20-0 in the second quarter. Westfield also shut out neighborhood rival, Scotch Plains-Fanwood (31-0) on the road at Perry Tyson Field in Week 4. All five teams have a chance to qualify for the playoffs again this year.
Looking at the latest UPR Rankings for North Group 5 courtesy of Gridiron New Jersey, Union, and Westfield are among the Top 16 in the supersection at No. 5 and No. 10 respectively. Elizabeth is ranked 19th and is only 2.2 points back of both Bayonne and Bridgewater-Raritan for the last spot in the supersection. The Minutemen travel to play Bridgewater-Raritan on Friday night. Bridgewater-Raritan is another tough 1-6 team that lost to Union (27-21) in OT at home in Week 1.
Moving over to South Group 3, Somerville is looking at a possible 4th or 5th seed in either the Central Jersey or South Jersey bracket depending upon how things shake out. The Pioneers are currently ranked 9th in South Group 3 with a UPR of 9.4. Somerville still has two games to play at Hillsborough this week and against South Brunswick at Brooks Field next week to finish out the regular season.
St. Joseph’s is in a good position to qualify in Non-Public Group A despite the tremendous competition there. Currently, the Falcons are ranked 10th in the section with a UPR of 10.2. St. Joe’s still has three very tough games to play including two on the road.
The Falcons travel up to Tozier Stadium in Warren to play Watchung Hills on Friday night, and then head up to Sussex County to play a very good Pope John team in Sparta on October 28th. Sandwiched between those road contests is a home game against Summit, which is currently ranked 8th in the latest BCG Top 10.