The Shore Conference announced with much fanfare in the off season that its last two weeks of regular season play would include pod championships, inspired by what leagues did during the 2020 COVID season when the NJSIAA decided not to have state playoffs. They would group the top four teams in a bracket, followed by the next four, and the next four, and award trophies to each champion.
But on the week those pods would have been announced, a surprise announcement: that plan is dead in the water.
As first reported by NJ Advance Media, the surprise announcement came today, along with a full, pre-determined schedule of games for Weeks 8 and 9.
Marlboro Athletic Director Dave Ryden told NJ Advance’s Joe Zedalis that the pods turned out to be a logisitcal nightmare, including issues like finding buses on short notice, rematches from earlier regular season games, and getting intent cards to the NJSIAA with unnamed opponents.
The NJIC up in North Jersey has run a similar system for years now, seemingly without such major issues, and will continue to do so this year.
The full schedule of Week 8 and 9 games can be found here.
The changes could affect Big Central conference teams vying for playoff berths, home playoff games, or even one of the top seeds in the sectionals. A strong team might have faced two similarly strong opponents, and lost both. Now, opponents will be predetermined both weeks.