Once again, come Sunday afternoon, the website Gridiron New Jersey posted its Week 3 UPR standings, updating how the race for the playoffs looks after three or four weeks of play – depending on who began Week Zero.
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.
It’s still pretty early, as this year’s wins, losses and scoring margins are giving the current year more of an effect than previous years, but we’ve got a look at what’s going on around the state and how it affects teams in the Big Central Conference.
Remember, Gridiron New Jersey’s standings – including wins and losses – don’t include what happened against out-of-state opponents. A 3-0 team with a win over a squad from New York is shown as 2-0 in the standings. Those games also don’t get added to power point or OSI averages.
Right off the bat, South Group 5 is being affected by the multiplier; to be exact, the double multiplier. In previous years, if a team played two multiplier teams, only the higher value would be counted. The NJSIAA this year allowed teams to get credit for as many as two multipliers.
Cherokee lost to Holy Spirit (24 points) but beat St. Augustine (42), so their power point average is a whopping 22.25, which is 6.25 points higher then the next best power point team, North Brunswick. Were it not for the multiplier, the Raiders would be first. And they’d be first in UPR as well, all by themselves. Instead, they’re tied with Toms River North, and while they’d still be a top seed, Hillsborough and Cherokee are tied for third. Hillsborough would be the second seed in North Brunswick’s section (by tiebreaker, which after no head-to-head game and no common opponents would be OSI).
But we don’t think that’s fair. To begin with, our position on the multiplier is well-known. But secondly, why should a team in fourth in the UPR affect a team above them? That’s what’s happening here, and overall it’s just not a good look, and both inexplicable and incomprehensible to the average observer.
That’s not how playoff seeding should work, and we’ll keep a close eye on this as time goes on.
Hunterdon Central, after falling to 2-2 with a tough loss this week to Bridgewater by a touchdown, drops to 11th, with Edison also taking a dive after a loss to Sayreville. The Eagles are 15th, while Old Bridge checks in in 17th. Both are also 2-2. South Brunswick got on the board with a win this week at East Brunswick, and the Vikings – who check in at 19th – can pull up with a win over a two-victory Piscataway team this Friday night.
In North 5, Phillipsburg continues to hold the top spot, with a 1.4 UPR. Passaic Tech is a quarter-point better in power point average, but the Stateliners have a strong 72.5 OSI, which will only get better if they take care of business Friday night at Maloney Stadium. It’s a huge game for both teams, in fact. As one of the strongest games on each team’s schedule, we don’t want to say it’s a make-or-break for a top-seed, but it very well could end up that way.
Westfield has pulled up to seventh, with the Blue Devils at 2-1 and now on a two-game winning streak, with Watchung Hills right behind them in 8th, and Bridgewater-Raritan in 9th.
We told you Piscataway would be better this season, and they’ve also won two straight after dropping their opener to old Mid-State rival Hunterdon Central. The Chiefs have won two in a row as well, and find themselves in eleventh. They’ll continue to rise if they keep winning.
Elizabeth, despite being 1-2, is a bubble team, but on the right side of it at 16th. Union, a favorite to win it all last year, but 0-3 in 2022, sits at No. 21. Plainfield, 5-5 a year ago, is off to an 0-3 start, sitting at No. 24, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Cardinals.
It’s Morris Knolls and Irvington in the top two spots here, with North Hunterdon‘s loss to Phillipsburg Friday night dropping them from the top spot to fifth. (Remember we mentioned P’burg/Boro this week being a key game?)
Undefeated Colonia (4-0) is in eighth, a victim of power points and a weaker OSI. They rank 8th in that category and 7th in power point average.
And it’s the same story for Montgomery, which is 4-0 and in 11th, behind 2-1 Sayreville, which is in 10th. The Bombers have the better OSI, but the Cougars have the better point point average, by a slim 0.17 points. Ridge and Linden, both 1-2, check in at 14 and 15, with Woodbridge and Scotch Plains-Fanwood in 17th and 18th.
Timber Creek and Delsea hold the two top spots in South 3, with the highest area team being South Plainfield (3-0). The Tigers actually are tied for the third-best power point average in the section, but are 8th in OSI, which means their schedule has been weaker than the teams above them, and even a couple below them. With JP Stevens and Governor Livingston the next two weeks, the schedule makers have done South Plainfield no favors.
Wall is hurting them, too. Just at 2-0, they have a double multiplier that hasn’t even gone into affect yet. So even though they’re “behind” South Plainfield in 7th place, they have the highest power point average in the section at 14.50. And they have another yet to play. They got 28 for losing to Red Bank Catholic in their first game, and play at Donovan Catholic in October, which will give them 42 for a win or 28 for a loss. The point is, even behind South Plainfield, they will affect the Tigers in the rankings.
Rumson, Manalapan and Middletown South also have two multipliers each on the schedule, and that could affect other sections, too.
Carteret – off to a great 3-1 start – is in 12th, and despite their loss to Montgomery Friday night, Somerville (1-3) remains in 19th, most likely because no one behind them has many wins either. But with a 20.2 UPR, they are 4.6 points out of the 16th spot, which will be a long hill to climb if the Pioneers can’t string some wins together. Luckily for them, wins will give them a dramatic boost. We’ll see how it shakes out. They have a tough schedule, so wins will help even more.
In North 3, Hillside is in third, at 3-0, behind Old Tappan (3-0) and West Morris (4-0). Those are some very good football teams at the top. West Morris is the defending North 3 regional champion, having beaten Cranford in the title game at Met Life Stadium, while Old Tappan has won seven of its last nine going back to last season.
Speaking of Cranford, the Cougars are now 2-1 and in 6th, while Voorhees is on the outside looking in at 18th, almost a full 5 UPR points behind River Dell, in 16th.
Bernards is the only team in North 2, and the Mountaineers sit in 8th at 3-1, with Westwood and Rutherford the to two teams here. Bernards has a big game at Del Val Friday on the Big Central Game of the Week, with kickoff at 7:00.
In South 2, Raritan and Rumson-Fair Haven lead the pack. The Bulldogs have played one multiplier already, and play Red Bank Catholic on cutoff weekend. I could tell you right now, they might just get the No. 1 seed. If they’re as close as they are now, regardless of he outcome against the Caseys, just showing up for that game may very well vault them into first. Again: the double multiplier.
Delaware Valley (3-0) is in third, and a win over Bernards would be huge, not to mention likely decide the Patriot Gold Division in the BCC. Johnson (3-0) sits in 13th, solid bottom half of the field, with New Providence (2-2) at 15 and Dayton (2-1) in 17th, with South River (2-1) right behind them.
In North 1, it’s Mountain Lakes and Wood-Ridge at the top, and Brearley (3-0) in fourth. They have the highest power point average in the section at 13.33, but their OSI (45.43) is lower than eight other teams, for above them and four below them in the standings. With a better schedule, they could be in the hunt for a top-seed.
The current playoff system is all about scheduling.
South Hunterdon could use the game, too. They stand in 8th, and Manville’s SI is a 59. And that could grow when they inevitably beat up on the rest of the schedule.
Middlesex, at 1-2, is in 17th, just on the wrong side of the bubble.
And in South 1, we’re watching Manville. They beat Dayton this week and rose to fourth. A win over South Hunterdon this weekend – with an SI value near 70 – would boost their 43.22 OSI tremendously. The game is critical since the rest of their schedule is a bit softer in OSI. Dunellen is after the Eagles with an SI value around 45, but with Highland Park, Belvidere and Bound Brook all after that and trending downward, the Mustangs can go nowhere but down. A win over South Hunterdon could give them the cushion they need to survive the weak schedule the last four weeks.