With just two weeks of play left before the state playoffs are seeded, things are heating up in the playoff chase. Here’s our look at the Big Central Conference teams in playoff contention in Group 3 as we head into Week 7 of high school football around the state.
And, of course, don’t miss our “Playoff Projection Show,” scheduled for 5 pm on Saturday, October 21st, when we’ll reveal our predicted matchups and seeds for the postseason. It’s all presented by My Family Appliances of Edison, which will be giving away three $100 gift cards during the show to lucky listeners!
All our analysis is based on Gridiron New Jersey’s official playoff calculations performed for the NJSIAA and listed on their website as of 9:30 pm on October 10. For full standings, click on each supersection’s header below:
2. Summit (5-1, 1.6): The Hilltoppers are a pretty solid two two finisher at this point, wiht a 2.6 UPR lead over third-place Warren Hills (5-2, 4.2 UPR). They close with two challenging road games, this Friday night at Colonia and next Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph-Metuchen. It’s pretty simple for Summit. We think they at least split those, and that might lock it up. A sweep most assuredly does so.
6. Cranford (4-2, 6.0): The Cougars are not yet assured of a top eight finish, which would give them at least a first round home game. They close with two challenging games as well: Linden at home Friday night, and at North Brunswick next Friday night. The teams behind them are tightly-packed: Vernon (6.2 UPR), Hillside (6.6) and West Essex (7.6). They shouldn’t have to worry about West Essex in tenth at 10.2 UPR. In fact, even with a split, it looks like regardless of which team they beat, and irrespective of what Hillside and Vernon do, they would end up a top eight team. A sweep and they may finish in the top four depending how things shake out. Two losses, and it’s another story.
8. Hillside (4-2, 6.6): We think the Comets have a crack at a top eight finish if they can play their cards right and win their last two games. That could be easier said than done, though, with two road games: Delaware Valley this Friday and at Carteret next Friday night. Two wins keep them in the top eight. A split, and things could go either way. Two losses, it’s a first round road trip.
15. Governor Livingston (5-2, 16.2): The Highlanders are still on the bubble, but at least two spots on the right side of it. The good news is that 17th place Sparta and 18th place River Dell only have one win each. So they may not do much winning these last two weeks. Both play some good teams these final two weeks, and with the Spartans and Golden Hawks the first two teams out right now, GL may only have to worry about Mendham in 19th place, but they’re 2.2 UPR points behind. The schedule is what’s interesting for Governor Livingston, which has low-rated South River on the road Saturday, but undefeated Bernards next weekend. A win over South River may actually hurt them, but a loss to Bernards might actually help them. An interesting one to watch.
9. Somerville (4-3, 9.4): Let’s just say these last two games are huge for the Pioneers, who can make a huge jump with a win on their short road trip down Route 206 to play Hillsborough Friday night. They finish with South Brunswick at Brooks Field next Friday night. They’re a 50-50 at getting a first-round home game, via a top eight finish. Three teams from 8th to 9th are bunched up, with Manasquan at 9.2 UPR, Somerville at 9.4, and Seneca, with a 9.8 UPR. The ‘Ville may need a sweep to play another game at Brooks Field in the opening round.
12. Carteret (6-1, 12): Having six wins already and not being in the top eight means the Ramblers probably can’t make the move up unless the teams ahead of them all collapse down the stretch. Nice thought, but there’s no one ahead of them with only a couple of wins to catch. They’re all good. In fact, 13 of the top 16 teams here have reached three wins already. Carteret has two strong opponents here, Rahway and Hillside, and if they are to have a chance at opening the playoffs at the Pit, they’ll need to sweep, and probably need some help.