The state’s UPR playoff formula has not been kind to Somerville, a consistently dominating and talented team, but one which has struggled to get higher seeds or top seeds in the South 3 supersection, now in its third season.
But with the Pioneers’ win at Warren Hills Friday night, they’ve edged into the top four, tied with Delsea with a 4.8 UPR. The move is significant because a top four seed guarantees home field advantage through at least the sectional semifinals.
Now 6-1, Somerville is knotted up with 8-0 Delsea, which thumped Mainland last night down the Shore, 42-14.
Not far behind is Wall (4-3, UPR 5), which got above .500 Friday night with a 42-14 home win over Middletown North.
That will be a fun battle to watch next week, to see if the Pioneers can keep the fourth spot, or perhaps edge higher to catch Woodrow Wilson (4-2) in thee third spot. That would be significant since being No. 3, when the brackets are snaked, would leave them in the bracket with the overall 2nd seed as opposed to the overall No. 1 seed, which is Rumson-Fair Haven. The Pioneers are 1-2 against Rumson in the Vanderbeek/Whitaker era, splitting two sectional finals – winning in 2017, losing in 2018 – and losing once in the 2016 sectional semis.
Somerville has Summit (5-2) next week at home (live at 7pm on CJSR). Delsea (8-0) hosts Steinert (1-5), a likely win, but it may not move the needle forward. And Wall (4-3) – which consistently plays one of the most challenging schedules in the state – has its third multiplier of the season in St. John Vianney (3-5), though only one can count per season. They’ve already lost to Red Bank Catholic and Donovan Catholic, and will get the best combination of power points.
As for Rahway, the Indians slippped from 12th to 13th despite a 35-28 win over South Plainfield. They don’t really have a chance at the top eight, 4.4 UPR points away, so at this point they’re just jockeying for position.