Cutoff Weekend Playoff Analysis: Group 3

Summit players and cheerleaders celebrate the Hilltoppers’ first win of the year, 20-0 over Rahway, on Saturday, September 24 at Tatlock Field in Summit. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

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 Group 3 North and South, 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:


2. Summit (6-1, 1.6 UPR): Here’s one we’re not sure if we’ve ever seen before. We think Summit has a crack at the overall No. 1 seed, win or lose Saturday at St. Joseph-Metuchen (5-2). How? Giving everyone down to the No. 8 team in the section a win except Summit, we believe the Hilltoppers leapfrog current No. 1 Old Tappan (6-1, 1.4 UPR), which suffered its first loss of the year last week – and first in 13 games – to undefeated (in the eyes of the NJSIAA, since they opened with a loss to Somers-NY) Ramapo last week. Again, how? Well, the Golden Knights lead Summit by just 0.2 UPR points. Old Tappan is first in OSI, second in power points. Summit is first in power points, second in OSI. That’s the 0.2 difference. Even a win by Old Tappan and loss by Summit won’t change things because the Hilltoppers play a tougher opponent than the Golden Knights, who host 1-7 Demarest. Now, enter Hillside: seventh in OSI, but third in power points. Their UPR is irrelevant. If they beat Carteret (7-1) Friday night at the Pit, they should move to second in power point average, knocking Old Tappan down a spot, adding 0.4 to their UPR, and putting them behind Summit. One day – it may be sooner than later – I’ll have a rant on this. Bottom line: Summit appears locked in as the overall 2-seed, and a top-seed in whatever section they call it, but jumps to No. 1 overall if Hillside beats Carteret, all regardless of what Summit and Old Tappan do.

4. Hillside (5-2, 5.4 UPR): Weighing all the above, Hillside can’t catch Summit or Old Tappan, and that’s what makes the Hilltoppers’ scenario all the more wacky, that a team that can’t catch either of them can affect how they finish above them. (I promise I’ll save this rant for later!) That said, Hillside can indeed climb has high as third with a win, regardless what everyone else behind them does. Worst-case scenario, a loss to the Ramblers (7-1) on the road Friday night could drop them as low as seven, but that would require everyone else around them to win. So, we think their range is a more manageable 3-5 seed overall, which would give them a 2-3 seed in whatever section they land.

9. Cranford (4-3, 7.4 UPR): Just 0.2 UPR points behind 8th place West Essex (5-3, 7.2), we think if the Cougars win Friday night at North Brunswick (7-0), and everyone else does, they can land as high as six overall with a Hillside loss to Carteret, seven if the Comets beat the Ramblers. A win and a loss by all the teams around them could actually get them as high as third. Neither of those extremes will probably happen, though, so let’s call them a longshot for a four seed, likely a 5/6, with a win. A Cougar loss to the Raiders, and they probably end up an 8-10 seed overall in North 4, with a lot of variables in between.

16. Governor Livingston (6-2, 16.2): Well, it appears Spotswood still has a shot at the playoffs in South 2 if they beat JP Stevens this weekend. So we may not have a repeat of last year’s snub there, nor Manville’s from 2021. The 2023 edition might be Governor Livingston. Opponents South River, JFK, JP Stevens and North Plainfield are a combined 1-29 on the year! That’s why they’re four games above .500 and sit in 16th, sweating it out this weekend, just 06. UPR points ahead of 17th place Sparta, which is just 2-5. (Go ahead, explain how this is working? We’ll wait.) Now, here’s the good news for the Highlanders: Their opponent at home Saturday is Bernards, one of the two best teams on their schedule. (The Mountaineers and Carteret could be debated as to who’s 1a. and 1b.) A win, and if a ton broke right, they could vault all the way up to No. 11 overall in the supersection. But what if they lose? Unless there’s a surprise somewhere, we think they’re locked in at 16, especially because they have a 37.53 OSI and a Bernards’ loss is worth 39.85 OSI points. That will increase their average. And remember, SI values are locked this week. They are tracked through the end of a team’s season – including playoff purposes – but for seeding purposes, the values will not change as a result of this weekend’s games. GL is guaranteed to rise – albeit a tiny amount – in power point average even with a loss to Bernards. We’re calling Governor Livingston in at this point, but they should treat it like it matters. Why chance it?


9. Carteret (7-1, 9.2 UPR): The Ramblers also stand to benefit from having a strong Cutoff Weekend opponent in Hillside (5-2) with a good SI (81.85) as well. Seneca should beat Northern Burlington, while Cedar Creek and Winslow have identical records, so giving the Pirates a loss to Winslow, Carteret, we think, could get as high as seven with a win, but perhaps as low as 11 or worse with a loss, if things break all the wrong ways for the Ramblers. We think the truth lies somewhere in the middle, with a lot of variables around them.

11. Somerville (4-4, 10.6): It’s likely the Pioneers will end up right where they are, one spot higher, or one spot down. Those may not be the only scenarios, but they seem the most likely. The ten is within reach with a win at home over South Brunswick (5-3), but the Vikings are a strong enough opponent that a loss won’t kill the Pioneers’ either. They don’t have a shot at a top eight seed, so all we really know for sure is this will be The Ville’s last game on their home field this season unless they advance in the playoffs and someone else pulls of a major upset.

Leave a Reply