In the South Group 5 supersection, four teams appear to be in the playoffs, with one more on the bubble. Here’s the team-by-team breakdown of scenarios heading into Week 9:
Hillsborough: The undefeated Raiders (8-0) have one more obstacle to claim one of the two top seeds here. A win at home Friday night over North Brunswick (6-2) would give them the overall top seed if Washington Twp. (6-2) loses to St. Joseph of Hammonton (7-2). If the Minutemen beat Joe’s, they get the overall No. 1 and Hillsborough would be No. 2, but still get a top seed in their respective supersection. Should the Raiders lose, however, what Washington Twp. does is likely irrelevant. But it could bump the Raiders all the way out of the top four, depending on what Manalapan does at Central Friday night. A win for the Braves would bump the Raiders to fifth, but a loss would keep them at least in the top four, but move them into the South Jersey section with Washington Twp. Bottom line: Hillsborough has a lot more to lose than in this game that to gain. This is as close to a must-win as it gets if they want a top seed.
North Brunswick: We ran the numbers a few different ways, and it doesn’t appear there’s a scenario where North Brunswick could get one of the top two seeds – and thus a top seed in the sectionals – even with a win over Hillsborough. It certainly had looked like the two were heading for that collision course a couple of weeks ago with this matchup looming at Noonan Field in Week 9. But any way you slice it, we think the best North Brunswick can do is finish third. The issue is they’re already first in power points, so there’s nowhere to gain there in UPR. They don’t catch Cherokee in OSI with a win, but Cherokee is done playing, with no game this week, so there’s no way for them to drop. But should North Brunswick lose to Hillsborough, they could drop out of the top four. Their only way back in would appear to be with a Manalapan (5-2) loss to Central (6-2).
Old Bridge: The Knights (6-2) sit in 8th in the playoff standings, but it’s going to be a bit precarious unless they beat Sayreville (6-2) in the Battle of Route 9. If they do that, it doesn’t look like anyone can knock them from the top eight and prevent them from getting a first-round home game. A loss, and yes, the Knights can get caught from behind.
East Brunswick: The Bears (7-1) are having a great year; their only loss was to the Knights by a field goal in Week One. They’re in 11th, and it appears they won’t be able to make up enough ground this week to get into the top eight, as they host Franklin (1-7) at Jay Doyle Field.
Edison: The Eagles (5-3) are in the same boat as East Brunswick, albeit a bit further back in the standings. They’re in the playoffs, no doubt, but have Watchung Hills (1-7) at the Eagles’ Nest Friday night, so they won’t make a jump even with a victory.
New Brunswick: The Zebras (3-5) still have a shot at this thing, seeking their first playoff berth since 2016. How do they get in? It starts with a 4-4 win at Monroe Friday night, which may be a toss-up. That alone gets them from 18th to 17th, so that’s going to require some help. They need at least a loss by Marlboro (5-3) at home against Jackson (2-6) Saturday, and we’ll see what else. So, it could come down to some scoreboard watching for the Zebras, provided they beat the Falcons first.