We’re going to start at the bottom of this section, because that’s where it gets most interesting. Manville is the cause celebre in 2021 for Central Jersey Sports Radio.
A couple of years ago, the NJSIAA acknowledged an undefeated team – provided they had 8 wins at least an no ties – should be in the playoffs regardless of their schedule. So, they wrote that into the Football Regulations.
What about a one loss team? Manville is 5-1, tied for 18th with Buena (0-5 – what???), and one of four teams in the state – out of the 132 currently outside the top 16 in their supersections – who have two or fewer losses. The others are Bordentown (5-1, 23rd in North 1), Northern Burlington (5-2, 23rd in South 2), and Belvidere (3-2, 17th in South 1).
What more can Manville do? The Big Central is a superconference of the former GMC and Skyland leagues, but there are still not enough quality teams of a similar size to play them. They’d have to play small Group 2s or 3s that are weaker, but that’s not right. Shouldn’t Group 1 teams compete against Group 1 teams for playoff spots? And while Manville may not be 5-1 any year, the same could be said if they are down and Metuchen put together a great season.
Add to this everything the town of Manville has been through, and it makes this an extra troubling scenario.
Of course, all may be forgiven if Manville beats rival Bound Brook Friday night, because the power points and OSI bump they would get would be huge. As a Group 2 with 3 wins, the Crusaders are worth 17 power points, while the Mustang’s power point average sits at 9.50, which means they would jump – assuming no other movement, of course – to a 10.57 and pass two other teams. Brook’s OSI value is 48.27, so Manville’s average would jump up from 28.44 to 31.27. That bumps them two spots as well, for a total UPR shedding of 2 points, getting them into a tie with Glassboro for 16th. Still so close!
Manville needs to win out, Friday, then beat Metuchen in Week 9 to have a prayer, and they still may need some help. At least as it looks now.
No one from the Big Central is in the top eight of this section, and the other two who look solidly in – South Hunterdon and Middlesex – probably don;t have a shot and will be starting on the road. It’s so tough to gain in UPR when you get to the smaller groups, especially playing like opponents in group size on the power point side. The Eagles are 5.2 UPR points out of 8th, and the Blue Jays 5.6 out. I don’t see them making up that ground, but they should be safely in the playoffs; there aren’t enough good teams to catch them.