Who are the Big Central’s most improved teams this season? Week 5 winners? The Strength Index tells all

Offensive lineman Brian Moyer is part of St. Thomas Aquinas’ turnaround this season.

The Strength Index New Jersey uses to determine OSI – Opponent Strength Index – which accounts for 60% of the state playoff formula is calculated on a weekly basis.

And it can give us a pretty good idea of who’s having a good season, as well as who has improved.

The SI formula is simple. Each team is calculated on their results every week. Compare the two numbers of a pair of opponents, and how each of them does compared to the difference in that number determines how much a team’s Strength Index goes up or down.

If Team A is rated 87, and Team B is rated 80, the difference is 7. The expected result is that team A is 7 points better than Team B.

If Team A wins by 7, both teams stay the same.

If Team A wins by 12, they go up by 1/5 the difference against the expected result. The difference is 5, so Team A goes up by 1 point, and Team B goes down the opposite.

If Team B wins by 3, that’s a 10-point swing. They would go up by 2, and Team A would go down by two.

Knowing that, we can see who has made the biggest gains since the beginning of the year.

The Strength Index says St. Thomas Aquinas (4-0) has made the biggest gain, almost 20 points higher than it started the year. That means the Trojans have improved, and they certainly have. In three league games, they’re averaging 49.3 points per game, and they’ve won all four of their games by shutout. They’re coming off a 4-3 season last year.

Colonia also has gained a lot, 17.39 points to be exact. The Patriots were 2-6 last year, but are 4-1 heading into Week 6, their only loss coming in their opener, 21-14 to Woodbridge, one of the top teams in the league.

Here’s a look at the most improved teams in the Big Central in 2021, using Strength Index:

The top gainer from Week 5 to Week 6 with South Brunswick, picking up 7.01 points after handing Monroe its second loss of the season.

Roselle gained after a 42-point home win over Johnson, and Bridgewater-Raritan climbed after a road win at Phillipsburg, its first at Maloney Stadium since 2016.

Here’s the rest of the list:


  1. Can you explain why Bridgewater is ranked ahead of Ridge? Ridge beat them head to head decisively and they both have a loss to Hillsboro

    1. This is only on biggest gain in Strength Index. Bridgewater-Raritan gained more strength points this week than Hillsborough. And the difference was small, only about a point.
      HB was just a bit below Ridge in SI before their game (~4 pts), and pulled ahead because they did “better than expected.” The head to head matchup confirms what the “human” rankings say, that Hillsborough is stronger, and now the computer shows they are.
      BR was below Phillipsburg by a lot more (16) and though they won by a narrower margin than HB did, they beat the “expected result” by more, and gained more than Hillsborough did.
      Essentially: Bridgewater did better than expected more than Hillsborough did. Bridgewater was a bigger surprise. And the “humans” would say the same thing.
      In all the “rankings” though, Hillsborough has been well ahead of Bridgewater all season.

  2. Thank you. Although your “human” rating in your poll is a head scratcher since Ridge beat BW 24-0 and they both loss to HB. I’d say that is worth more than BWs big win over Pburg
    Thanks for the explanation

    1. Not sure what you’re referring to. In our CJSR “human” poll, Bridgewater had not been ranked all season. They are ranked this week, and they have jumped ahead of Ridge, but based on a more recent result. As for my personal voting, I put Bridgewater ahead of Ridge based on recent results; Ridge lost to a team I had ranked higher than them (Hillsborough) but Bridgewater got a road win against a lesser-ranked team but in a tough environment (at Phillipsburg). I also was at the BR-HB game and Bridgewater was in that one. Recent results count more, IMO.

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