Hillside hasn’t lost a game since a tough defeat at the hands of Bernards back in September at the Rumble on the Raritan, and that has the Comets oh-so-close to a top two finish in the South 2 supersection, which would give them guaranteed home games throughout the sectional playoffs that begin the weekend of November 5th.
Hillside (5-1) is in third, with a 3.8 UPR, just 0.4 behind Willingboro (4-2). The issue is, there aren’t a lot of ways for the Comets to move up. They are in second in power point rank (15.5) but Pt. Pleasant Boro, which leads the section, is all the way up at an 18.5 power point average. With Carteret and Rahway next for the Comets, worth 15 apiece, that won’t cut it.
What about OSI? Hillside is in 5th at 50.61, but Carteret is only worth 48.91 OSI points. They’ll need to beat the Ramblers, and then beat Rahway, which has a higher 61.64 SI value, and hope for the best with Willingboro.
One thing that could help – and we just emailed the NJSIAA for a clarification late Thursday night – is the situation with Camden. After a fight in a game with Pleasantville, they collected enough ejections to make them ineligible for postseason play. The question is, does Camden – currently fourth in UPR – remain in the supersection and the teams below them all bump up one place? Or do they get yanked entirely from the supersection like the North Jersey teams in “relief” divisions who agreed to not be eligible for the playoffs in exchange for easier schedules. If that’s the case, consider that ahead of 5th place Hillside in OSI is Camden. If they’re entirely out of the supersection, guess who moves to fourth, picks up 0.6 UPR points and jumps Willingboro?
You guessed it: Hillside.
And believe it or not, the third place OSI team is overall first-place Point Pleasant Boro, so they could even catch them and move up. The point is, Hillside may be very much in play. We’ll keep you posted on what the NJSIAA tells us, as we await a response Friday morning. It’s probably more likely Camden stays in the standings, but either way, Hillside has a shot. It’s just better with Camden out.
At the back end of the top eight are Delaware Valley (6-1) and Bernards (5-2). The Terriers are 6th with a 6.2 UPR, while Bernards is at 6.8 in seventh place. Ahead of them is Haddonfield, with a 6.2 UPR, and then there’s the issue of No. 4 Camden. One way or another, they’re not in the postseason, so at worst that effectively moves Haddonfield to 4th, Del Val to 5th and Bernards to 6th, all separated by 0.6 UPR points. That means that the coveted fourth spot, which guarantees home field for the first round and semifinals in sectional play, is still very much up for grabs for any of those three teams, should they keep on winning, as one jump in either power points or OSI for anyone could shuffle all the teams around.
Haddonfield has Collingswood (1-7) and Haddon Heights (4-2) remaining. Bernards has a home game with South River (3-3) then a road game at Middlesex (2-4) left. And Del Val has Roselle (4-2) and St. Thomas Aquinas (6-0) to go. Del Val may have the tougher schedule, but the other side of the coin says they have the biggest upside.
New Providence has only lost one game – ironically, a last minute game with Willingboro, 26-7 on September 18th, when Belvidere cancelled on them – but sits in 10th. But they have a shot at a first round home game with a top eight finish since they have an 8.8 UPR, while the teams ahead of them are within 0.6 UPR points – just one place in OSI apart; Overbrook is at 8.4 and Nottingham has an 8.2 UPR.
At No. 15, we have Bound Brook, with the Crusaders nearly in a must-win situation with Bound Brook Friday night (7 pm, CJSR) in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland. Two teams would have to catch them to knock the Crusaders out of the playoffs. The next two out are West Deptford (2-5, 1.8 UPR behind) and Haddon Heights (4-2, 2.0 UPR points behind).
A split still could get them in – they have Roselle (4-2) next week – but why chance it? Besides, Roselle is the next team down from Haddon Heights, in 19th place. But if they were to get close enough to Bound Brook that the Rams were in 17th and Bound Brook in 16th, here comes the NJSIAA’s “head-to-head” rule into play. If Roselle beat the head-to-head, the Rams move in.