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 1 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 11:30 pm on October 10. For full standings, click on each supersection’s header below:
18. Brearley (3-3, 17.4): The Bears are the definition of a bubble team. They’re .500 on the year, one UPR spot out of a playoff spot. It essentially means they have to move up two notches in either OSI or power point rank, or one of each. Ahead of them are Boonton (17th, 16.6 UPR) and Glen Ridge (16th, 16.4 UPR). They probably can’t catch 15th place Shabazz with a UPR of 14. They have a solid schedule, with 9 residuals currently available between Middlesex at home Friday, then a tough trip to Columbia Park to take on the Blue Jays. A sweep by Brearley would put them as high as 10th without anyone else playing, so we think they would get in. A split would leave it out of their hands, but they still could get in. Two losses may not end their hopes, but it sure would lean that way.
4. South Hunterdon (6-1, 45.68): A win for the Eagles last weekend over Dunellen helped move them up two places into fourth, and a top four finish is not out of the question. They just might need some help. They visit Dayton (1-5) this week, which already doesn’t help matters. But then, next week, they visit New Hope-Solebury (PA) for their annual rivalry game. But that doesn’t count toward power points or OSI, so it’s up to the Dayton game. A win would let them tread water, but they’ll be at the mercy of the three teams behind them, and maybe even others – like Audubon, who’s way back, but right behind them in OSI. If they jump them, they won’t in the UPR standings, but they will knock the Eagles down one notch in OSI, tying them with Florence. And then what happens with the Flashes (5-0, 0.6 UPR behind) and Shore (4-2, 0.8 UPR behind)? Toby Jefferis and his team may be doing a lot of scoreboard watching the next two weeks.
7. Middlesex (5-1, 8.4): The Blue Jays are on the right side of the top eight bubble. And they have a decent schedule that can help them – at Brearley Friday night and home to New Providence next Friday. Pulling off a sweep should assure them they’ll be at Mountainview Park to open the playoffs. A split or two losses make it hard and harder. Still maybe too early to tell.
16. Dunellen (4-2, 16.6): On paper, it’s a simple proposition for the Destroyers. Win both their remaining games – at Roselle Park Friday and home to Brearley next Thursday – and we think they’re in. A split, and they may need some help, we’ll know more next week. A loss would make it really difficult, but we’re not sure it would be impossible. The thing is, the closest team to them is Salem with a 1-6 record and a 17 UPR. So, even though they’re 0.4 UPR points behind, if Salem doesn’t get a second win (neither of their opponents is over .500) they won’t make it, per NJSIAA rule; two is the minimum. Dunellen may not have to worry about them, or 19th place Maple Shade. But…
18. Manville (2-5, 20.8): The Mustangs’ chances are slim thanks to closing with Highland Park on the road this Friday, and Bound Brook at home next Friday; they’re a combined 1-11 on the season. Ready for a roller coaster ride? Even a sweep won’t move the needle here. But if Salem can’t win one of its last two games, they’re out of the equation, which means Manville only has to get to 17 to make it. Can they? Tough to say. But put this in your back pocket: If by some residual miracle they make it to 17 and Dunellen is 16, or vice versa, the Destroyers get the head-to-head tiebreaker.