Sunday Conversation: New Elizabeth coach Fiore on playoff system, joining the Big Central, and the future of high school football

Elizabeth coach John Fiore, (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

John Fiore – who was instrumental in the overhaul of the NJSIAA football playoff system – has a lot of opinions, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

It may end up displeasing some people, but he’s OK with that, and there’s
nothing wrong with that either.

In 2018, the NJSIAA moved forward with the “United Power Ranking” system, 40-percent traditional power points and 60-percent Born Power Index, a strength rating of every team in New Jersey. And though the plan backfired when it was discovered larger margins of victory gave teams better playoff position, and some coaches ran up the score as a result, it led to the current system using a similar calculation, but in reverse, using the Opponent Strength Index.

Confusing? You betcha. Accurate? It’s done a pretty good job in the two years it’s been used: 2019 and 2021 (there were no playoffs in 2020 due to COVID-19).

Fiore took a leave of absence last year from Montclair, and left for good in the off-season when he took the job at Elizabeth, bringing him back to Central Jersey, where he coached at Marlboro, his alma mater Neptune, and Spotswood many years ago.

So we thought – while we also caught up with him about his team – we’d ask
him for his take on the state playoffs as they look today, what changes may
come down the road, his thoughts on being in the Big Central Conference, and
the future of high school football in the state.

Click below to hear Part Two of Mike Pavlichko’s interview with John Fiore:

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