Cutoff Weekend Playoff Analysis: Group 2

Senior QB Connor Laverty runs four yards for a touchdown against Hillside in a Big Central game on September 2, 2023 at Conant Street Park in Hillside. (Source: Marcus Borden)

It’s down to the final weekend of the regular season in high school football, and Cutoff Weekend is just days away. This week, Central Jersey Sports Radio will bring you exclusive, team-by-team analysis of all the playoff scenarios for the 57 public schools in the Big Central Conference.

It’s all brought to you by My Family Appliances on Route 1 South in the Wick Plaza, Edison.

And don’t forget to join us for our “Playoff Projection Show” on Saturday at 6 pm (moved to an hour later) as Mike Pavlichko brings you all the playoff projections, with analysis and commentary by Marcus Borden, live in studio!

With that, here’s a look at the Group 2 supersections, with all scores and playoff standings based on Gridiron New Jersey’s official calculations as of Sunday, October 15, 2023. Click on the heading to see the standings at Gridiron New Jersey:


4. Bernards (8-0, 4.2 UPR): The Mountaineers are the only Big Central Conference team in this supersection. Even with a win over Governor Livingston (6-2) Saturday afternoon, and losses by the three teams above them (Westwood, Caldwell, and Rutherford), and then the three directly behind them, we think they top out at three, but most likely end up a No. 4. Should they lose to the Highlanders, the lowest they could drop is six, and that’s probably the extreme. Our best guess is a fourth or fifth place overall finish, but that’s a big difference: between a semifinal home game or a road game.


5. New Providence (4-4, 5.2 UPR): The Pioneers can bump up as high as a four-seed overall, but they need to win first on Friday night at Middlesex (6-1). Then, they’ll need a little help from Haddonfield and Pleasantville in the way of losses. The other teams in the top nine won’t matter; we think those are the only ones that can potentially jump them into fourth if others lose. With a defeat, however, they could drop as low as ninth if everything foes the wrong way for them with other teams behind them winning. Watch the Pleasantville (6-1) game at Middle Township (7-1), because they play each other, and a Middle loss keeps New Providence from dropping to ninth – and losing a first round home game – in the Pioneers’ doomsday scenario; that would leave them no lower than eighth. A Greyhounds loss and New Prov drops back to ninth.

9. Johnson (5-2, 8.8 UPR): The Crusaders’ meteoric rise was well-documented by us last week, and surprised us. The gist: On Friday, without even playing, everyone around them lost but one (Lower Cape May, which beat winless Buena) and ALJ skyrocketed from 17th to ninth place. That’s how bunched up teams were. By the time they scored a 48-0 road win over previously-undefeated Spotswood, they had jumped all the way to eighth, only to settle in ninth after the other scores came in. They jumped a grand total of eight places in one weekend, and now are firmly in the playoff picture. The Crusaders will beat winless South River (0-7) this week, so assuming that, we don’t think Johnson can move up. In fact, the best they can probably do is finish tenth. A loss, and the worst they can do is probably 13th. Basically, they played themselves in – and got some help – last week. Count Johnson in.

12. Delaware Valley (4-3, 14 UPR): At North Plainfield on Friday night, the Terriers should win that one over the 1-7 Canucks, even on the road. Looking at teams ahead of them, Monmouth (5-3) at Pinelands (5-2) is a toss-up, but we’ll give a win to the Falcons, Haddon Heights should beat a bad West Deptford team, and Johnson will beat South River. We think Del Val is going to end up around the 15th seed.

13. Spotswood (7-1, 14.4 UPR): Spotswood also benefitted from all those teams losing last week. That’s always a worst- or best-case scenario, but it never (or rarely) actually happens. But this time it did. And losing by 48 when Spotswood had an SI three points higher than Johnson also helped. The Crusaders’ SI value rose more than 10 points, so Spotswood got about five more points for a loss than they would have if they’d lost a one-point game. We’re going to try and find the best case scenario for the Chargers, but who knows if it will be enough? Certainly a loss against winless JP Stevens leaves them out, so we’ll assume a win. Delaware Valley should win at North Plainfield. If other games break wrong, Spotswood could end up in the 17 slot, but they could make it, too, barring a wacky residual showing up somewhere. Bottom line, they’re going to need some help somewhere along the way. If their luck continues and they get a smidgen of the help they got last week, they just might make it.

OUT: Roselle (18th, 18.8 UPR) looks to be out. Looks like a case of too little, too late for the Rams, who started 0-4, but have won three straight since. The problem is this week’s opponent – Belvidere – isn’t enough to move the needle into the top 16.

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