The first weekend of true state championship games for public schools have been played and one thing I think about is the attendance. It wasn’t good and the weather may have had something to do with it the first day. However, I don’t know if it will get much better in future years, if it gets better at all. As a state, we may not be used to something like this and it may take time for us to embrace the event. Sectional championships have been the climax to the season for a long time and it is still very important. I used to think we would draw well if state championships came along, but my mind began to change in 2018 when the regional championships – what is now the state semifinals – came along and the attendance was poor with not much changing. I used to think we could easily get 15,000 for these games. My mind went back to 1977 when Westfield played Barringer at the old Giants Stadium and drew 32,000 to a game that featured future NFL players Andre Tippett and Butch Woolfolk. Maybe that was a different age where we didn’t have the distractions people face today. Which brings me to this: New Jersey may be too much of a “pro football state” for the state championship games to ever be a big attendance draw. Face it, this is not a big “college football state.” There have been so many times over the years when I would be talking football with others and when I would bring something up about college football, someone would abruptly say, “I don’t follow college football.” It may be one of the problems Rutgers faces as a program and also hosting the championship events. I would like to be wrong, but it may be a simple reality in New Jersey. There is also the fact many think there are too many games for kids and it is a point well taken, but that is besides the point. I don’t have any answers and I am not criticizing anybody; it is just my observation.….The transfer portal has become a way of life in college football and it is something I cannot keep up with. I become a big cynic, though, when I see a college announce their newest signing class. In the past, one could look forward to 4-5 years of service from these signings with the occasional player transferring. Now I look at those signing classes and wonder how many of them will still be around in 2-3 years?….Joe Hofmann’s recent column on morrissussex.com has a part that points out how game programs are not as easily available any more. From experience, when I ask someone, there are times they look at me as if I am speaking Bulgarian….One thing over the years at games, there are always the cries of “HOLDING!!!!” from a team’s fans as if it is the biggest crime being pulled off. I never fret about that and take it in stride, knowing an official can call holding on every play….One of the highlights of the weekend was watching Woodbury play defense against Mountain Lakes. It is easy to point out the team speed, but they are very sound, very disciplined, with excellent pursuit. I inquired as to who the defensive coordinator is and it is head coach Anthony Reagan Sr. A tip of the hat goes to him and linebacker Derron Moore was outstanding. Duquesne is a lucky school to have him next year….Did anyone see that 45-0 score Bergen Catholic had over Don Bosco? Better yet, did anyone see the 31-7 score Don Bosco had in their first game?….It is fashionable in the North Jersey Catholic school community to criticize Red Bank Catholic because of their schedule. It is different in other parts of the state where at least 75% do not care what the North Jersey Catholics do. However, the last two years show me they are on a level with DePaul. Not Bergen Catholic, but DePaul and RBC is to be saluted for that….I have been asked a couple of times who the top teams will be next year and I initially had no answer. I do think I can presently say the usual suspects from this year until proven otherwise….One of the bands I enjoyed listening to at the state semifinals was North Hunterdon….Another linebacker who impressed in the playoffs was Zach Chostaka of Northern Highlands and his knack for the big play. If he did not intercept those two passes in the state semifinal, it probably would have been North Hunterdon facing Millville….That’s all for this week and maybe this year! I may have a few columns in the offseason, but I am toast right now and I will have to save some energy for team previews start up and I might even start them in May with the earlier start for the season.
- Most stats come from nj.com – some from Maxpreps