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 2 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:
4. Bernards (7-0, 4.2): What a bear of a group! The top four teams in the standings are all undefeated, with Westwood (1 UPR), Caldwell (2) and Rutherford (3.4) all 6-0, followed by Bernards at 7-for-7. They still have some teams close behind them in Hanover Park, Lyndhurst and Newton, all within two UPR points. Even if the Mountaineers win out – they have road games at New Providence this Friday and Governor Livingston next Saturday – we’re not sure if they will finish in the top 5. Lyndhurst and Rutherford are in the NJIC playoffs, and we don’t know yet who they will play next week. They could play each other, win or lose. Rutherford could face Lyndhurst for the NJIC championship next weekend, or they could play each other in a consolation game, too.
7. New Providence (4-3, 6.4): The Pioneers have a little distance between themselves and the 8 and 9 teams, the ones they will have to stave off to finish in the top eight and get at least a first round home game. Tough one this weekend home to Bernards Friday night, then another good one at Middlesex next week. They might be okay with a split – specifically a loss to the Mountaineers and a win over the Blue Jays – but two wins should keep them on their home turf.
10. Delaware Valley (4-2, 13.2): It may be an uphill climb for the Terriers to a top eight finish, but it may not be impossible, depending how other teams around them fare and how the Strength Index values change this week. They host Hillside Friday, then visit North Plainfield next Friday. They need a sweep and some help, but we think it most likely they’ll be wearing road jerseys in the playoffs.
12. Spotswood (7-0, 13.6): Sitting in 12th sounds comfortable, but its not, due to the Chargers’ weak opponent in Week 8, JP Stevens, which is winless and has an SI value in the 20s. That makes Saturday afternoon’s home game against AL Johnson their play-in game. Assuming they beat JP Stevens, a loss to Johnson might leave them out of the playoffs. But a win should lock it up. It’s all on the line Saturday afternoon.
17. Johnson (4-2, 15): The Crusaders may be five spots behind Spotswood, but they also have a shot at the playoffs, and this one may be their playoff game, too. A loss this Saturday on the road against the Chargers puts them in the same position as Spotswood; ALJ visits South River. So, yeah, this might be it for Johnson, as well. Here are two more things to keep in mind: heavy rain is in the forecast this Saturday, and these last two weeks will be their only games on a natural grass surface all year.