According to the NJSIAA football classifications released to the public on its website, five Big Central Conference football teams will compete for a playoff spot in new sections this coming season, with three of them moving up to a larger group size.
Rahway will move up to the North Group 4 playoff supersection, which will feature 31 teams in all. Last year, the Indians played in South 3 with the likes of Carteret, Somerville and South Plainfield. Now, they’re in a supersection with nine other Big Central teams, all with larger populations, including Colonia, JFK, Linden, Montgomery, North Hunterdon, Ridge, Sayreville, Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Woodbridge.
Only one of those schools – Scotch Plains – is in their Big Central division, which also includes Cranford, Summit and St. Thomas Aquinas. Linden, however, is on Rahway’s schedule as an early season divisional crossover.
Hillside also moved up, with the Comets jumping from South Group 2 to North Group 3. They’re in with fellow Big Central schools Cranford, Governor Livingston, North Plainfield and Summit. None of those teams are in their division, however, nor on their schedule as a crossover. The Comets are in a BCC division with New Providence, Roselle, Metuchen and Johnson. With a weaker schedule than the teams they’ll be competing with for playoff spots, such a move at this late date would likely hurt their playoff positioning later in the year.
Dayton makes a move up from North Group 1 to North Group 2, and will join fellow Big Central members on Johnson, Bound Brook, Delaware Valley Roselle, Metuchen, New Providence, South River and Spotswood. The Bulldogs and Chargers are also in Dayton’s as-yet-unnamed Big Central division.
Bernards and Dunellen made lateral moves.
The Mountaineers shift over from South Group 2 – where they were previously the second Northern-most school (Newark Central being the furtherst North) – to North Group 2, where they are geographically the Southern-most team. Not only that, they are the only Big Central team in North 2, which is heavy on Bergen County teams and has others from northwest Jersey like Sussex Tech and Newton.
The Destroyers bounce over from North Group 1 to South Group 1, leaving BCC schools like Brearley, Belvidere and Roselle Park, and rejoin former GMC mates like Highland Park and Middlesex, as well as Big Central foes South Hunterdon and Manville. Those two and Middlesex all are in Dunellen’s league division with the Owls also on their schedule.
In the non-public realm, St. Joseph-Metuchen will remain in Non-Public Group A, while St. Thomas Aquinas is in Non-Public Group B again. For the Non-Public Equivalency, the Falcons are a Group 3, while the Trojans are a Group 1, the same as last year. Neither team is a multiplier again this year for power point purposes.
For a complete look at the NJSIAA football classifications for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, click here for a downloadable PDF.
Here’s a list of all the Big Central teams and their NJSIAA classification:
- North 5: Bridgewater-Raritan, Elizabeth, JP Stevens, Phillipsburg, Piscataway, Plainfield, Union, Watchung Hills, Westfield
- South 5: East Brunswick, Edison, Franklin, Hillsborough, Hunterdon Central, Monroe, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, South Brunswick
- North 4: Colonia, JFK, Linden, Montgomery, North Hunterdon, Rahway, Ridge, Sayreville, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Woodbridge
- South 4: none
- North 3: Cranford, Governor Livingston, Hillside, North Plainfield, Summit, Voorhees
- South 3: Carteret, Somerville, South Plainfield
- North 2: Bernards
- South 2: Roselle, Johnson, Bound Brook, Delaware Valley, Dayton, Metuchen, New Providence, South River, Spotswood
- North 1: Belvidere, Brearley, Roselle Park
- South 1: Dunellen, Highland Park, Manville, Middlesex, South Hunterdon
- Non-Public A: St. Joseph-Metuchen
- Non-Public B: St. Thomas Aquinas
Locally speaking, outside the Big Central Conference, Immaculata and Pingry both will are classified in Non-Public B again, and are a Group 1 public equivalency. Neither will be a multiplier for power point purposes.