As Gridiron New Jersey releases its first UPR standings of the year, we take an all-too-early look at what it means

We’re only halfway to the halfway point of the regular season in high school football, and the numbers are going to change a lot – trust us! – but Gridiron New Jersey is out with the state’s UPR standings after Week Two of play around the Garden State.

Gridiron is the official calculator of the playoff formula for the NJSIAA, and the process is much more streamlined this year with games against non-NJSIAA member schools (i.e., out-of-state, or prep schools) not counting toward win-loss record, power points or OSI as far as playoff qualification.

A full look at the UPR standings can be found here.

Keep in mind, the standings you see on Gridiron New Jersey don’t include those out-of-state games. So a 3-0 team with a win over a squad from Pennsylvania is shown as 2-0 in the standings.

That said, here are a few takes on the standings in the early going.

Big schools score big…

If the playoffs began next week – and we know they don’t – of the three playoff supersections in which there are Big Central teams, each has a team that would be a top seed. And others are close behind.

In South 5, North Brunswick is at the top of the pack overall, followed by Toms River North and Hillsborough. Using the state’s snaking system, with the overall top seed going in its natural geographic section, North Brunswick would be the top seed in Central 5, with the Mariners the top seed in South 5, and Hillsborough the No. 2 seed in their section. Hunterdon Central, Edison, Old Bridge, and Monroe are all in the mix here.

In North 5, Phillipsburg would be the top seed in North 2, Group 5, with overall top-seed Ridgewood getting the top-spot in its natural North 1, Group 5 section. Watchung Hills and Westfield would be potentially in the mix for home games, the Blue Devils helped by a big home win over Union Saturday. Bridgewater-Raritan and Piscataway are also in the mix, with Elizabeth at the tail end.

And in North 4, it’s North Hunterdon at 3-0 and in the overall top-spot over 3-0 Irvington by a hair, with a 1.6 UPR for the Lions and a 1.8 UPR for the Blue Knights, whose OSI is stronger, while North’s power point average is tops in the section. Yes, OSI is worth more, but power points has the Lions first and Irvington third; OSI has Irvington No. 1 but North Hunterdon second. Rahway is breathing right down their necks, as they dedicate their season to Ali Muhammad, a teammate who passed away suddenly in his sleep this week less than 48 hours before the Indians went to Jersey City and beat Lincoln High at Caven Point. Colonia, Montgomery, Linden, Sayreville, and Ridge are all bunched up in the bottom eight, with Woodbridge on the other side of the early proverbial bubble.

The effect of the “double multiplier”…

We wrote about this in the preseason, the decision to allow teams to claim two multipliers this season, and it has an early effect on the standings in South 5. Whether this holds remains to be seen. Cherokee lost to Holy Spirit in Week One and got 24 power points, then beat St. Augustine Friday night and got 42 more. The result is an early power point average of 23, the second highest of any team in the state.

Wall has only played one game so far, losing back on Friday night to Red Bank Catholic, so theire one-game “average” is a 28. They also play at Donovan Catholic in October, and will get 42 for a win or 28 for a loss. Rumson, Manalapan and Middletown South are in the same boat, as all play RBC and the Griffins, since they’re in the same American Division in the Shore Conference. It;s scheduling brilliance by the league, but could very well impact a number of other teams around the state. Something to keep an eye on.

Poor scheduling “hurts” teams…

The Big Central needs to do a better job of scheduling with its mid-size to smaller teams. Hillside and Metuchen have no business playing each other, a no-win for either side. Someone’s missing the boat.

What happened this weekend? The Bulldogs lost four starters to injury. Their status for next week is unclear. And Hillside, which won 45-0 Saturday? They dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the standings due to Metuchen’s Strength Index value.

No one wins, and regardless of Group size (Hillside and Metuchen were both Group 2s when the schedule was made after the 2021 season, but the Comets moved to Group 3 just before this season) those two teams are worlds apart. Metuchen is trying to get things going the right direction, while Hillside has size and monster runningbacks going to Syracuse and Army.

The Tigers, Oh My!

Don’t look now, but South Plainfield – which is 2-0 for the first time in five seasons – is fourth in the UPR standings, behind Camden, Delsea and Timber Creek. That would make them a No. 2 seed in Central 2 if the playoffs started today, in the same section as top-seed Camden.

Carteret is in the bottom half, with Somerville on the outside looking in at No. 19.

The Pioneers’ were hurt by scheduling low-ranked Mastery HS of Camden in Week Zero, a game which they won, but for which they would have received few power points and a low OSI value for. After it was determined they used an ineligible player in the game, it became a forfeit loss, further hurting the cause. They may have an uphill climb for the first time in a while after losing to St. Joseph-Metuchen at home Friday night.

Not counting the forfeit loss to Mastery in any of this, it was their first regular season “on-the-field” home loss since an falling 27-6 to Rahway on October 6, 2017 at Brooks Field. That’s a streak of 14 straight wins on the field, again, not counting Mastery.

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Del Val makes its push…

Delaware Valley is third in the South 2 section. (Why they’re in the South of anything is beyond us.) But there they are, the Terriers right behind overall top seed Raritan, and No. 2 Point Pleasant Boro. All three teams are 2-0 on the early season. New Providence and Dayton are in the middle of the pack.

Can the Mustangs make it?

Last year, Manville was the team that had a gripe, hitting the cutoff with a 6-2 record – albeit with an inexplicable loss to Metuchen – and missing the playoffs entirely.

Well, so far at 2-1, they’re firmly in the top half of the SOuth 2 supersection, and would be a third seed as they sit No. 5 overall behind Woodstown, Woodbury, Salem and Glassboro. South Hunterdon sits right behind them in 6th. The two teams will square off in two weeks at Ned Panfile Stadium in what will be a huge game for the playoff push for both sides.

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