BRIDGEWATER, NJ — Barring any unforseen setbacks or delays, the Bridgewater-Raritan football season will finally get underway Friday night with a road game at 7 p.m. at Ridge High School.

It will be the first of six scheduled regular season games on a slate that was delayed and condensed after the NJSIAA issued its adjustments for the 2020 campaign based on COVID-19 restrictions.

Last season, the Panthers finished with a 4-6 record, but four of those six defeats were by a touchdown or less, playing against a competitive schedule. Reversing that trend in close games will depend partly on how an experienced core of skill position players can blend with an offensive line looking to establish some depth and a defense seeking to sort out several roles.

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The receiving corps should be a strength, with senior wideout Miftar Hasanaj (42 catches, 529 yards, four TDs) and senior tight end Bryce Myers (29 catches, 296 yards, four TDs) both coming off superb junior seasons. Brady Kurdyla, who lined up as receiver last season, will be taking snaps at quarterback as a junior this year. He'll also have junior wideout Dylan Corsi to throw to.

Head coach Scott Bray's team will run a multiple pro offense with some no-huddle looks that they hope will keep opposing defenses off stride.

Bridgewater-Raritan's 4-2-5 defense will include ends Michael Pastor – also the team's placekicker – and Matt Messing, linebacker Sal Cicale and defensive back Ryan McKinney among those returning. 

"We lost some quality starters, but feel that some younger players received some valuable experience," Bray said. "Skill players are our strength to start, and we will rely heavily on them to make plays happen."

Other returning senior starters include two-way linemen Keshev Appanna and Jared Karabinos and OL/LB Michael Winchock. 

Pastor is a genuine offensive weapon as a placekicker. Last season, he booted nine field goals in 10 attempts, and converted 17 of 19 extra-point kicks.

One of the teams that is not on the Panthers' abbreviated 2020 schedule is traditional rival Hillsborough, whom BRHS instead played in a game scrimmage last Thursday night.

"We still need to work on some things, but that scrimmage showed us that there are some things we actually did better than we thought we might," Bray said. "Overall, expect us to compete and be a factor in the division and the playoffs."

Following Friday's opening night road game at Ridge, the Panthers will play their first home game on Oct. 9 against Union. Although fans will be allowed to attend the game, crowd capacity guidelines established by the Bridgewater-Raritan Board of Education will be followed.

RETURNING STARTERS
10 - Bryce Myers 12th, TE/LB
1 - Miftar Hasanaj 12th, WR/LB
3 – Ryan McKinney 12th, DB
16 – Michael Pastor 12th, DE/WR/PK
55 – Keshev Appanna 12th, OL/DL
73 – Jared Karabinos 12th, OL/DL
8 – Brady Kurdyla 11th DB/WR/QB
14 – Dylan Corsi 11th, WR/DB
28 – Evan Goldberg 11th, DB/RB
37 – Sal Cicale 12th. LB/FB
46 – Sammy El Hididi 11th, LS
51 – Michael Winchock 12th, OL/LB
Ryan Luis 11th, OL/DL
87- Matt Messing 11th, TE/DE

TOP NEWCOMERS
Dom Pagnotta 11th, WR/DB
Reilly Stevens 11th, FB/LB
Tushan Dargan 12th, OL/DL
Malachy Morehead 12th, OL/DL
Joe Carroll 11th. RB/LB
Connor Driscoll 11th TE/DE
Ryan Driscoll 11th OL/DL
Andrew Mirra 11th, WR/DB
Matt Bratus 10th, QB/DB
Antinoe Hinton 10th, RB/DB
Colin Knapp 10th, OL/DL
Colin Kurdyla 10th, WR/DB
Matt Maciolek 10th, WR/DB
Jordan Okolo 10th, OL/DL
CJ Stevens 10th, RB/DB
Thomas Tremarco 10th, TE/DB