Monthly Archives: October 2012

Sayreville rallies to clinch GMC Red Division title

MONMOUTH JCT. – Bottled up for the majority of the game, the Sayreville High School football team exploded for 21 points in the fourth quarter, en route to a 28-14 victory over South Brunswick, clinching the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division title.

Zeke Perkinson rumbled 41 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with just 2:19 remaining and Thomas Spiecker returned a T.J. Perkowski interception 45 yards for another score 44 seconds later to seal the game. Sayreville finished the night with 327 yards of offense, but didn’t have a touchdown drive of more than four plays in length.

“It’s funny because we’re usually a ball-control team, a team that drives the ball down the field and punches it in,” Sayreville head coach George Najjar said. “Today, we had some spots and openings and we have kids that can go the distance and they showed that tonight.”

On the second play of the final period, Deion Miller exploded 60 yards down the middle of the field, tying the game at 14-14 and giving the Bombers life they’d been desperately seeking all night. In the first half, Sayreville (7-0) turned the ball over on downs twice and went three-and-out on another possession, compiling only 87 yards of offense.

“We overcame a lot adversity in the first half, but our kids responded in the second half,” Najjar said. “We had a lot of opportunities and couldn’t cash in, but the kids kept fighting and they never quit and showed a lot of heart.”

South Brunswick led 14-7 at the break, thanks to a pair of one-yard touchdown runs to cap long drives. On their third possession of the game, Perkowski went in from one yard out, capping a 10-play, 66-yard drive. Two drives later, the Vikings went 11 plays, covering 68 yards, with Dahrae Ford walking in on fourth-and-1 to make the score 14-7.

In between, Myles Hartfield got Sayreville on the board when he went 55 yards on a punt return. Hartsfield finished the game with 103 all-purpose yards.

The score remained the same until Miller’s touchdown with 11:36 to play in the fourth quarter.

South Brunswick only managed 34 yards after intermission, and Perkowski threw three second-half interceptions. Najjar credited his coaching staff with stopping the Vikings in the final 24 minutes and keeping their perfect record intact.

“In the second half, the defense bottled them up completely and they controlled the field position and the momentum in the game and that was the difference,” Najjar said.

Between halves, South Brunswick honored the best player in school history, retiring Mohamed Sanu’s No. 2. The current Cincinnati Bengal wide receiver starred for the Vikings from 2005-07, leading South Brunswick to the state playoffs for the first time in nearly 40 years in his final season.

The former Rutgers standout, who set a Big East Conference record with 210 career receptions, said it was an honor to have his number retired.

“I’m thankful for my town and the support I have behind me and they’ve always been by my side,” Sanu said. “I get phone calls and text messages all the time, so I’m thankful for all the people supporting me. I know I have a whole town behind me and it brought back a lot of memories to be here tonight, under these lights.”

Buffolino’s goal lifts Monroe boys to upset of North Brunswick

EAST BRUNSWICK — All fourth-seeded Monroe needed was one opportunity, one look at the goal, and they knew they’d have a chance to score an upset victory. And 43 seconds into the second overtime period Thursday night, the Falcons got that opportunity and Luigi Buffolino seized it, ripping the game’s only goal into the back of the net, giving Monroe a 1-0 win over top-seeded North Brunswick in the Greater Middlesex County Tournament semifinals.

The Falcons will play third-seeded South Brunswick in the finals on Saturday afternoon.

Fellow forward Sean Doyle got the assist on Buffolino’s tally, which came after the two teams battled to a stalemate for the game’s first 90 minutes. As the ball rolled past the end line, Buffolino ripped his jersey off, running around to meet his exuberant teammates, while the Raiders fell to their knees in disbelief.

“Sean Doyle played me the ball and I saw an opportunity and I just wanted to win the game, and I put it in the back of the net,” Buffolino said. “Sean and I didn’t play that well tonight, but scoring the winning goal is a great memory.”

The Falcons controlled the ball for the majority of the second half, after making some adjustments at halftime, and got the better of the scoring chances after intermission. For the game, Monroe was outshot 18-10, but the amount of quality chances that North Brunswick had were few and far between.

“The whole first half was not good for us, but in the second half we started figuring it all out and we had a couple opportunities,” Monroe head coach Steve MacKenzie said. “Luigi didn’t have his best game, but this is what he’s been doing all season and we felt that if we kept pushing forward, we’d get an opportunity to score.”

Monroe thought it had the game’s first goal in the opening minutes of the second half, but the officials, who whistled offsides on the play, waived it off. From there, it was all Falcons, as they earned the game’s next two quality chances, though both were stifled by North Brunswick goalie Steven Szakas, who made four saves in the contest.

MacKenzie stressed that he was very happy for his players, who have been under immense pressure all season long.

“It’s awesome, for these guys, all season long it’s been tough,” MacKenzie said. “They’ve had to handle high expectations and we learned how to do it throughout the year. It’s rewarding for the players and I want them to taste what it’s like to go for a county championship.”

Monroe will match up with South Brunswick for the GMCT title Saturday in Woodbridge. The teams split their two meeting this season and Buffolino thinks he has the strategy to get his team their first county championship since 2008.

“We’ve got to go all-out, 80-plus minutes, and score some goals in the first half and put them away early,” he said.

South Plainfield defeats East Brunswick for GMC field hockey title

PARLIN — It’s never easy to beat a single team three times in the same season, but on Tuesday night, the South Plainfield High School field hockey team did just that, taking home the Greater Middlesex County Championship in the process. Shannon Hughes and Deirdre Machia each scored and the Tigers held off East Brunswick for a 2-1 victory, their third win against the Bears this season.

The South Plainfield victory was a sign of revenge, as the Bears won the GMCT last season after losing both regular season meetings to the Tigers. South Plainfield head coach Cheryl Hughes stressed how hard it is to beat a team three times in a single year, especially one as talented as East Brunswick.

“It’s very difficult because they get to see you and fix things that didn’t work the first time,” Cheryl Hughes. “Every time East Brunswick comes out, they are a better passing team and they’ve cleaned up their game and they know how to attack us better. We know it’s going to be a tough game against them and it’s really tough to battle them.”

Shannon Hughes got the Tigers on the board 18 minutes into the contest when she hammered home a shot right in front of the East Brunswick net. It was her 20th goal of the season. Danielle Butrico came up with the assist, her 17th of the year. Shannon Hughes was at a loss for words after the game when describing her goal.

“It was amazing. It was off of a corner and I’ll never forget it,” she said.

The Tigers went up 2-0 when Machia ripped home her marker with 23 minutes left to play. But the Bears went on the offensive, earning three consecutive corners, eventually leading to their best scoring chance of the game.

Eight minutes after South Plainfield went up two, Lauren Cram tallied her 11 th goal of the season, with the goalie heavily screened in front, cutting the lead to 2-1. The goal was the first one South Plainfield had allowed since Sept. 27, when they beat Ridge 3-2.

From there, it was just a matter of holding onto the ball and not giving East Brunswick any more chances.

“When you’re up 2-1, it can be 2-2 like that, and you get nervous that your kids aren’t going to mark up and stay with their girls, but we were yelling from the sideline ‘deny, deny, deny,’” Cheryl Hughes said. “And they did it really well, they didn’t let East Brunswick get off a clear shot. The only clear shots that they had were on corners and their goal was beautiful.”

The Tigers won both regular season meetings; by a 2-1 score on Sept. 6 and a 1-0 score 18 days later. But their goal all along was to get back to this game and beat East Brunswick for the county title.

“Ever since we lost to them last year, all we’ve wanted to do was come back and beat them this year, and we did it,” Shannon Hughes said. “It’s amazing. This was our goal from the beginning and we did it as a team.”

Paustian-led Bridgewater wins fifth straight SCT title

WATCHUNG — Behind Championship Game MVP Dayle Paustian, the Bridgewater-RaritanHigh School field hockey team (18-1) captured their fifth straight Somerset County Tournament title, besting Montgomery 5-1 Saturday afternoon at Mount St. Mary’s Academy.

Paustian scored two goals and added an assist and Cat Caro also had three points as the Panthers wrapped up the SCT, out-scoring their three opponents in the tournament by a combined score of 16-1.

But Bridgewater-Raritan fell behind early against a pesky Montgomery team (11-5-3) that refused to roll over and die. After the Panthers secured the game’s first six corners, but could not score, Montgomery used a corner of their own to get the contests’ first goal. With just over eight and a half minutes to play until halftime, Tori Rudo banged home a loose ball in front of the Bridgewater-Raritan net, giving the third-seeded Cougars the lead.

Three minutes later, the Panthers found the equalizer, with Paustian sending a Caro pass into the back of the net. Bridgewater-Raritan controlled the play for the remainder of the half, earning two more corners and jumping in front when Caro dove for a loose ball and whipped it past Montgomery goalie Kiran Sunduram, making the score 2-1.

“I thought we started out a little bit slow today, but the girls kicked it into gear and they played with composure and came back and got into our game,” Bridgewater-Raritan head coach Kathie DeBonis said. “Once we were in our game, we were able to control the ball. We just had a bit of an issue finishing in the beginning of the game; Montgomery did a really nice job covering up in the circles, but once we got into our groove, we knew we had control of the game.”

In the second half, the Panthers seemed to get to most of the 50-50 balls, keeping possession inside the Montgomery end and forcing the Cougars to play defense. Eight minutes into the final stanza, Rachel Yaney scored a beautiful goal, backhanding the ball inside the near post off a Bridgewater-Raritan corner, upping the Panthers’ advantage to 3-1.

From there, the Panthers just tried to keep the ball away from their own net, but Montgomery stepped up their pressure, at one point winning four consecutive corners, but could not score.

Paustian scored her second goal of the contest with just over 11 minutes to play and Emily Howarth collected a goal of her own nine minutes later, capping the scoring.

For the game, the Panthers earned 17 corners to Montgomery’s five. DeBonis credited winning that battle to the philosophy of her squad.

“We play possession-ball, we play a stick-to-stick game and we take a lot of pride in that, so it’s just a culmination of what we do in practice and games prior to today,” DeBonis said. “The kids have really bought into what we’re doing and they just go out there and do what we ask.”

Zebras end long losing streak

NEW BRUNSWICK — It had been 1,079 long days since the New Brunswick High School football team last won a game. But on Friday night at Memorial Field, the Zebras got that monkey off their backs, defeating Perth Amboy 26-13, giving Castor Losada his first victory as head coach.

Shamal Ayton rushed for 81 yards and scored two second-half touchdowns and the Zebras defense held Perth Amboy to just 235 yards of offense.

Losada, drenched in Gatorade, tried to put the victory into perspective, after delivering a heart-felt speech to his players in front of the scoreboard.

“It feels great, especially for these seniors, on the night that they were honored, those kids have been through three years of misery and I can’t even imagine what that feels like for them,” Losada said. “We have a talented team. Yes, we’re young, but getting that first win was will just make the things I’m trying to put in place that much easier to understand. Getting that win and understanding that what we’re doing is going to work, feels great.”

The Zebras got out to a fast start, scoring the game’s first two touchdowns in very different ways.

On their second possession of the ballgame, senior quarterback Tereak Butler broke loose down the right sideline and ran in 75 yards for the score, putting New Brunswick up 6-0. After Perth Amboy turned the ball over on downs and the Zebras punted, the hosts added to their lead when James Sullen picked off Panthers’ quarterback Dennis Sutton and returned the ball 45 yards, going untouched up the middle of the field.

But Perth Amboy wouldn’t go quietly, refusing to let New Brunswick run away with the game.

Four plays after Sullen’s touchdown, Sutton got a bit of revenge, scampering 25 yards for a Panthers’ touchdown, cutting the lead to 12-7. Four minutes later, after New Brunswick had fumbled on the first play of a drive deep in their own territory, Darius Pearson went in from one yard out, giving Perth Amboy the lead at 13-12.

The Zebras got the final score of the first half after taking over at Perth Amboy’s 49 with just over four minutes left. A Luis Contreras 35-yard bomb to Yameer Shamary set up New Brunswick at the 15 and three plays later, Ayton plunged in from two yards out, regaining the lead for good.

“I told these guys that I’m so proud of them, because earlier in the season, we probably would have went in the tank and given up [when Perth Amboy took the lead] and to be able to deal with the highs and lows and the roller coaster of the game is what makes a good team win,” Losada said.

The last victory for New Brunswick had come on Nov. 6, 2009, when the Zebras beat Sayreville 28-13. After the game Losada stressed to his players that they needed to act like they’d won football games before. For some on the New Brunswick roster, that wasn’t the case, but now they can say they have.

“I told the players that this is a great time and a great experience, but we have to do it like we’ve been here before,” Losada said. “We’ve got three games left and I think we have a chance to win them all.”

Perkowski helps South Brunswick to quick start in beating Hillsborough

MONMOUTH JUNCTION — Senior T.J. Perkowski ran for a 63-yard touchdown and threw a 57-yard touchdown pass, helping the South Brunswick High School football team to a 35-21 victory over Hillsborough in the NJSIAA Central Group V quarterfinals Friday night.

“It was definitely hard coming off a three-week break, but we picked it up,” Perkowski said. “It was huge to get those touchdowns right before the half and it really helped us put them away and pick up the win.”

The Vikings put the game away in the second half, playing solid defense and locking down on John Banaciski, who was ripping them apart in the opening 24 minutes.

South Brunswick opened the half with a four-play, 57-yard drive, capped by a Darhae Ford 5-yard touchdown run. Ford rushed for 34 yards on the drive, with a 17-yarder and a 12-yarder spliced in. Ford finished the game with 152 yards on the ground and had 16 yards receiving.

The Raiders quickly got a touchdown of their own, going 10 plays and covering 68 yards. Banaciski carried the ball four times on the drive, but it was an Andrew Zitel’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Tyshon Murdock that ended the possession. That would be the final time Hillsborough found the end zone.

Dontae Strickland polished off the South Brunswick offensive output with a 10-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Strickland finished the game with 85 yards of offense.

Banaciski was a workhorse for Hillsborough, carrying the ball 27 times and adding two catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.

The Raiders got themselves on the board just 25 seconds into the game, using a big catch-and-run from Zitel to Banaciski. The junior quarterback dumped the ball off to Banaciski, who did the rest, going 73 yards down the middle of the field, putting Hillsborough up 7-0.

They held that advantage until the very end of the first quarter, when South Brunswick took over on a short field. After Zitel was intercepted by Amir Johnson at the Hillsborough 26, the Vikings needed just six plays to find the end zone. Dahrae Ford pounded the ball in from two yards out, knotting the score at 7-7.

South Brunswick is just two wins away from capturing a sectional championship, something that Perkowski said has driven the team all season long.

“We wanted to do that last year, but obviously we didn’t get there and we worked our butts off to get back to that spot,” he said.

Montgomery holds on for 2-1 victory in SCT semifinal

MARTINSVILLE – The second semifinal of the Somerset County Tournament seemed to be under control for Montgomery, as the Cougars held a 2-0 advantage heading into the final two minutes of play. But Emery Sorvino found the back of the Montgomery net, giving the hosts a glimmer of hope and giving Cougars’ head coach Tiffany Trockenbrod fits on the sideline.

“We were thinking ‘just get the ball up the field and get it to the flags and let’s make them chase it,’” Trockenbrod said afterwards. “We fought really hard as a team and we fought together and that’s something we got better at as the season went along.”

But after her defense kept the ball away from Pingry’s offense for the final 86 seconds,Montgomery was finally able to celebrate a 2-1 victory, which sends them into the SCT championship game against top-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan next Saturday.

“We haven’t played them since 2010, so the kids are looking forward to it,” Trockenbrod said. “We really want to play them; they want to play anyone, really. So it doesn’t matter to us who we play, because it’s the first time we’ve made it to the county finals, so the girls are really happy. I’m really proud of them for that.”

Montgomery got on the board 12 minutes into the first half when Erica Hrudowsky banged home an Allison Mannheimer pass, through the legs of Pingry’s keeper. The Cougars had a chance to extend the lead minutes later, but a shot bounced just wide of the net.

The game was 1-0 at halftime, but not without Pingry getting a few chances to tie the score. The Big Blue earned six corners in the first half, but were unable to do much with their opportunities, turning the ball back over to Montgomery on multiple occasions.

Coming out of intermission, the Big Blue turned up their offensive pressure, carrying the ball for most of the first 10 minutes of the half, but the Montgomery defense stepped up time after time to thwart any scoring chances.

Then, with 11:41 remaining, Montgomery seemed to put the game out of reach when Mannheimer knocked home a goal of her own, beating multiple defenders to a loose ball in front of the Pingry net. Caiomhe Tyndall picked up the assist on Mannheimer’s tally.

The Cougars’ defense helped finish it out from there, setting up the matchup with Bridgewater-Raritan for all the marbles next weekend. Trockenbrod knows her team will have to come out with a superior defensive effort to dethrone to high-powered Panthers’ attack.

“We’re going to have to play tough defense and our goalie is going to have to have a huge game [for us to beat them],” Trockenbrod said.

The SCT Championship Game will be played at 2 p.m. at Mount St. Mary Academy in Watchung.

John F. Kennedy runs past Perth Amboy

ISELIN – When your defense is on the field for nearly 10 minutes to open the game, things don’t look good. But the John F. Kennedy Mustangs defense bent but didn’t break, forcingPerth Amboy to kick a field goal after holding the ball for the first 9:49 of play, ending a 13-play, 43 yard drive.

On the ensuing possession, Anthony Roberts ran four yards to pay dirt, the first of three touchdown runs for the junior tailback, and J.F. Kennedy was off and running to a 21-13 victory Friday night. Roberts finished the game with 194 yards on 27 carries and those three touchdowns, leading a Mustangs offense that finished with 239 yards on the evening.

But stopping Perth Amboy on that opening drive and the Panthers’ third possession, an 8-play, 48 yard drive that also ended with a Chris Bermeo field goal was the turning point of the game, according to J.F. Kennedy head coach Rich Nyers.

“It was huge for us,” Nyers said. “We were playing some solid defense and we had a few penalties that hurt us, but the kids showed a lot of character to hold them to a field goal there. And to do the same thing on the next long drive was awesome. They held the ball for a long time and only came away with six points.”

From there, it was all about Roberts, who was the focal point of the J.F. Kennedy offense all night long. The tailback had six carries on the Mustangs’ first touchdown drive and nine of the final 11 runs to close the ballgame, with Perth Amboy only eight points down. J.F. Kennedy took over with 6:12 to play after the Panthers had sliced the lead to 21-13, and promptly turned it over to Roberts, who picked up the game-clinching first downs with gaggles of Perth Amboy defenders draped all over him.

Nyers credits the offensive line for a lot of the success running the ball tonight, but couldn’t do so without giving his star due praise.

“Anthony Roberts is an amazing tailback, no doubt about it,” Nyers said. “But the line did it tonight: Tom Patten, Louis Santa Maria, Brian Teehan, Taquari Ellis Webb and Jimmy Smith, along with fullback Mike Hogan just blocked phenomenally and when Roberts sees the holes, he runs it really well.”

In the opening 24 minutes, Perth Amboy held the ball for 17:25, while J.F. Kennedy had it for just 6:35, but in the second half, the hosts milked just enough out of the clock to keep the Panthers at bay. Both of J.F. Kennedy’s second half touchdowns came on short fields, set up by poor punts by the Perth Amboy kicking game.

Darius Pearson rushed for 43 yards on 14 and scored Perth Amboy’s touchdown with a four-yard run in the third quarter.

Red Devils’ Drew hits milestone

It wasn’t until last Friday when Emily Drew found out how close she was to reaching a career milestone worth celebrating. Going into Hunterdon Central’s matchup with Warren Hills, Drew was told that her next assist would be No. 1,500 for her career, a number not attained by many in New Jersey history.

Against the Blue Streaks, Drew had a team-high 14 assists, pushing her career total to 1,513, in a 2-0 victory that upped Hunterdon Central’s record to 12-1.

“I actually found out the day before that I was one away,” Drew said. “I had no idea that I was that close. But it was just like any other game: I was prepared and excited to go out there and play.”

Drew, a 5-foot, 6-inch senior setter for the Red Devils, has been perfecting her craft since she was in the 5th grade. But she knows that she’s just a part of the equation that helps Hunterdon Central rack up the victories.

As a setter, Drew is normally positioned in the middle of the Red Devils attacking formation for Head Coach Stephen Fenton, receiving passes from the defenders in the back of the court and setting up lobs for her hitters to crush onto the hardwood.

In the win over Warren Hills, nine different Hunterdon Central players finished with at least one kill, most all of them being set up by Drew. And when the competition has been at its highest this season, Drew has played some of her best volleyball.

In Hunterdon Central’s fifth match of the season against Cherokee High School, Drewfinished with a season-high 31 assists in the three-set victory. Five games later, Hunterdon Central lost for the first time this season, but it wasn’t because Drew didn’t have a big night. She finished with 29 assists in the three-set defeat to West Morris, which is 13-1 this season.

For the season, Drew is averaging 19.7 assists per contest, helping Hunterdon Central win all but one of its matches in 2-0 sweeps. They’ve played the maximum three sets just three times, the victory over Cherokee, the loss to West Morris and a 2-1 win against North Hunterdon on Sept. 21.

Drew began playing for Fenton last year, when he took over as Hunterdon Central’s coach. But in the two years that they’ve been working together, Fenton has seen Drew grow into a real leader on the court.

“She’s developed a great work ethic since she got here,” Fenton said. “She’s a leader on the floor and she’s a leader in how she plays the game. Due to her tremendous athleticism and her experience, we’re able to rely on her in the middle. We wouldn’t be able to do the things we’re doing without Emily.”

The Red Devils have seven games remaining on their regular season schedule, with the state tournament looming large afterwards. With their current 12-2 record, Hunterdon Central should be a force to be reckoned with, with Drew leading the way. For those remaining games on the slate, Drew has high expectations for her squad.

“I expect to play to my fullest potential and I expect that we’ll get to states and win it,” Drewsaid.

Fenton echoed his star’s words, saying that reaching the championship of the state tournament is the ultimate goal for the Red Devils.

“We’re looking to do well in the county tournament and to get a good seed in the state tournament,” Fenton said. “Anybody can beat anybody in volleyball, but if we’re playing well, we can beat anyone.”

J.P. Stevens emerges from area rich with great marching bands

Luis Fabionar won’t be going around bragging to his friends at other Greater Middlesex Conference schools, telling them that he’s part of the best band in the conference, but nobody would blame him if he did.

Fabionar, one of three senior drum majors, leads the J.P. Stevens Marching Hawks onto the field at football games and competitions, and the squad was recently named as the topband in the GMC, according to a reader poll on The Home News Tribune website. J.P. Stevens received 66 percent of the 63,221 votes casted, besting perennial powerhouse South Brunswick, which received 33 percent of the vote.

Band director Andy DeNicola found it to be an honor to be recognized as the top marchingband in one of the most competitive conference in all of New Jersey.

“Marching band doesn’t always get a fair wrap,” DeNicola said. “Kids work hard and put time in throughout the whole year and a lot of times, it’s ‘oh the band is here,’ and it’s unfair. There are a lot of wonderful bands in this area and this is a hot bed for goodmarching bands. So for us, it’s a positive to hear that someone wants to talk aboutmarching bands and someone is willing to write about the best in the area.”

The 125-member band which has members from all four grades in the Edison-based high school, is headed up by a trio of senior drum majors: David Choi, Fabionar and Rudy Yang.

Choi, a first-year drum major, whose main instrument is the saxophone, said the support received from the rest of the student body has been excellent since he’s been enrolled at J.P. Stevens.

“We all have each others’ backs. They [the student body] look at the band and realize that we’re one of the best bands in the state and they encourage us to be our best,” Choi said. “It’s an honor, really. It feels really good.”

Not only are the Marching Hawks spending a lot of their time showing off their skills in competitions, but they perform before and during all of the J.P. Stevens football games. The members of the band spend more time with their band-mates than they do with their family at times, according to Yang, who said managing time is becoming harder and harder now that he’s one of the drum majors.

“Marching band is really time-consuming and getting home and doing my homework is really difficult after long practices,” Yang said. “But I feel like marching band helps me manage my time at home better, because I know I have to get everything done to march.”

But quite possibly the greatest thing for these kids is that they’re doing something that they love. And the fact that people are noticing how great of a band J.P. Stevens has is making DeNicola proud.

“I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I couldn’t be happier with it all,” DeNicola said. “More than anything else, I want them to all feel good about themselves when it’s all over. Win, lose, draw, as long as they come out of it saying ‘we worked extremely hard, we did as good as we can do,’ that’s all I can ask for.”

Fabionar mentioned that his parents came out to their first football game earlier this year and were so proud of him and his efforts in the band. It was something he said that he will remember in the long-run, after he’s graduated and moved on to college.

But before that happens, the Marching Hawks have a few more important dates on their schedule, including possible trips to MetLife Stadium and Rutgers Stadium later this year.

“It’d be another once-in-a-lifetime experience to play at those places,” Yang said. “Just being able to play in such a big stadium against the bigger bands would be awesome.”

The people at J.P. Stevens aren’t the only ones who think that the Marching Hawks are deserving of their recent honor. Larry Markiewicz, who’s the band director at Bridgewater-Raritan High School and also a judge of band competitions, gave high praise to two GMC schools.

“I was just in Texas over the weekend judging marching bands down in Houston,” Markiewicz said. “I travel around the country teaching and drum and bugle corps. There’s a hotbed of bands in this part of New Jersey that the whole country is paying attention to. South Brunswick, Immaculata, us [Bridgewater-Raritan], J.P. Stevens, Hillsborough—there are a lot of great programs that people (outside New Jersey) recognize.”