High school football season in New Jersey will be here before you know it, and – of course – that means practice is coming even sooner.
Practices can start as soon as Monday, August 9th regardless of when a team’s season-opener is scheduled, and scrimmages can begin a week later, August 16th.
Week Zero games can be held as early as Friday, August 27th, with Week 1 openers available as early as Thursday, September 2nd, and Week 2 a week later on September 9th.
This will be the last season with a Week Zero, in anticipation of next year’s big schedule change to accommodate Group Championships. You can read more about the vote that made it possible by clicking here.
The regular season will run from Week Zero to Week Nine.
A few points to note this year, the first “normal” year since 2019, post-COVID:
The running clock rule will remain lower this year, at 33 points, where it previously was 35. Ostensibly, at 35, a missed extra point or two would keep the clock running normally, and we all know how unsure a thing extra points are in high school football.
In addition, a “normal” clock is only restored once the score differential drops below 25 points.
The United Power Ranking system – first implemented in 2018, but revised to use Opponent Strength Index in place of the controversial Born Power Index starting in 2019 – remains in place, with no major changes.
The supersections remain, and seeding will be “snaked.” OSI rank makes up 60% of the UPE, while power point rank makes up 40%. Undefeated teams automatically qualify, regardless of standing, while winless teams will not be eligible.
Multipliers will continue in the power point calculation for 2021:
- Category A (win = 54 points, loss = 36): Bergen Catholic, DePaul, Don Bosco Prep, Paramus Catholic, St. Joe’s-Montvale, St. Peter’s Prep
- Category B (win = 48 points, loss = 32): Delbarton, Pope John, Red Bank Catholic, Seton Hall Prep, St. Augustine
- Category C (win = 42 points, loss = 28): Donovan Catholic, Holy Spirit, Notre Dame, St. John Vianney, St. Joe’s-Hammonton, St. Joe’s-Metuchen
Of note: St Augustine moved up from Category C to Category B; Mater Dei (Category C) was removed entirely; Donovan Catholic and Notre Dame were added.
Group classifications have yet to be announced by the NJSIAA.
A plan to crown group champions in football won’t go into effect until next season.
Playoff dates for 2021 are as follows:
- Sectionals, First Round: 11/5 and 11/6
- Sectional Semifinals: 11/12 and 11/13
- Sectional Finals: 11/19 and 11/20
- Public Regional Championships and Non-Public Finals: 11/26, 11/27, 12/4 and 12/5
Regional crossovers – formerly known as “consolation games” – will be played on Week 10, the same week as the playoffs open, but starting on Thursday, to alleviate demand for officials.
Here’s a full look at the NJSIAA’s 2021 football regulations: