As we head down the home stretch of the high school football season in New Jersey, attention begins to turn to the postseason, and where everyone’s favorite team will fall.
Central Jersey Sports Radio has you covered the next three weeks, with our playoff analysis brought to you by My Family Appliances, Route One South in the Wick Plaza in Edison. They’re also the presenting sponsor of our “Playoff Projection Show” on Saturday, October 21 at 5 pm, and will be giving away three $100 gift cards to some lucky listeners!
In the meantime, a lot can happen between now and Cutoff Weekend, but here’s out team-by-team breakdown of where every Big Central Conference team in contention for the playoffs could end up. Click the supersection header to be taken to the official UPR standings heading into Week 6, as calculated for the NJSIAA by Gridrion New Jersey:
2. Summit (4-1): The Hilltoppers are rolling, their only loss coming to undefeated St. Thomas Aquinas in between a pair of wins their first two weeks, and two straight victories since. We think Summit pretty much controls its own fate. If they can take care of business in their last three games, they should be able to at least hold onto one of the top two seeds. Summit already is first in power points – by a lot – by virtue of having played Aquinas, a multiplier, for which they received 24 points for a loss. And their OSI is third, at 58.09. So there’s not much room for them to go up. But the nearest team behind them in OSI is Parsippany Hills at 54.64, then Vernon, Pascack Valley, and West Essex all around 52. Summit’s next three opponents all have SI values that should bring their OSI up: that’s Linden this week at Tatlock Field, then road trips to Colonia and St. Joseph-Metuchen. If Summit keeps doing what it has been doing, the Hilltoppers will be in fine shape for a top two finish and a No. 1 seed in whatever section they end up.
6. Cranford (3-2): The good news is the Cougars are in the top eight, with a UPR of a pure 6 (which is sixth in both power points and OSI) and the next team – Pascack Valley – is two full OSI points behind them. After 1-5 Scotch Plains on the road this week, things get a little tougher: Linden at home next week, then at North Brunswick the Friday night of Cutoff Weekend. Two wins – including SPF – should be enough to keep a hold on a top eight finish, which would give the Cougars at least a guaranteed first round home game in the playoffs.
9. Hillside (3-2): The Comets are squarely on the “first round home game bubble,” if you will. They’ve got a 9.2 UPR, while 8th place Passaic Valley has an 8.8 UPR. Their remaining schedule is not easy, with Johnson at home this week, then road games at Delaware Valley and Carteret, all of whom have winning records. That’s something very few teams have here in the last few weeks. Most have at least one winless or one- or two-win team. Barris Grant’s team will be challenged, but it’s also an opportunity to lock down a first-round home game at Conant Street Park. We’re not sure if two will do it, but three very well should. Check back again next week; we’ll have a better idea then!
15. Governor Livingston (5-1): The Highlanders are having a tremendous season, Owen Chait just won the Bellamy & Son Paving Player of the Week award for Week Five, and yet they’re in 15th place, on the bubble. It’s a 2.8 UPR point lead for GL over the 17th place team, 1-4 Sparta. Our take is that sub.-500 teams don’t belong in the playoffs, but that’s a debate for another time. The remaining schedule is a two-fold challenge for Governor Livingston. On the one hand, they have very tough games this week against Carteret, and in two weeks against Bernards; those two teams are a combined 11-1. Both are at home. In between is South River, a game that could very well hurt their standing, even with a win. It’s possible they may need to sweep, but they might be able to get away with two wins, since one of those victories would have to come over a very good team. Let’s see what happens against the Ramblers, and what everyone else does. We should have a much clearer picture by then.
21. Voorhees (3-3): Though the Vikings are .500 on the year, they have a 21 UPR, 5.2 points out of a playoff spot. We think they’re out regardless of how they finish, since their last three opponents are a combined 3-14 between South Plainfield, JFK and North Hunterdon, and the Tigers own all three of those wins. It’s too much ground to make up with a schedule that isn’t strong enough.
8. Somerville (4-2): The Pioneers are the highest-ranked BCC team in the supersection, and they have Camden and Ocean Township both 1.6 UPR points behind, nipping at their heels. Their losses have come to the best two teams they’ve played so far: Montgomery and Union, both top ten teams. They’re at Westfield Saturday, Hillsborough next week, then back home for South Brunswick at Brooks Field Friday night of Cutoff Weekend. The teams behind them have a mixed bag of a schedule. For example, Camden has a 5-0 team and an 0-5 team to face. Wins in both could cancel out. Ocean Township has an ok schedule, too. We think Ville’s is tougher, so we’re thinking two wins in their final three games might lock up a top eight finish, and a first round home game.
12. Carteret (5-1): The Ramblers are having a great season, and while we won’t exactly place them on the bubble here, we think it’s a good probability the Ramblers get in. Our thinking is they win at least one if not two of their remaining games. Either should be enough to keep them in. But it won’t be easy. This week, it’s Governor Livingston on the road – a game they may well need, too – and then home to Rahway and Hillside the last two weeks. Both should be fun matchups! Can the Ramblers reach No. 8? Well, that may require a sweep. Let’s see how things shake out this week against GL – and with the teams ahead of them and behind them – and we’ll have a clearer picture.