Road Trip! Here are the longest bus rides for Big Central teams in the first round of the playoffs

Dunellen could be in for a more than two hour drive down to Woodstown for its opening round playoff game this Friday night, highlighting the absurdities of the current high school football playoff formula. (Source: Google Maps)

If the dizzying machinations that go into the NJSIAA’s complicated UPR formular for seeding the playoffs don’t have you throwing up your hands, tossing all your papers into the air, yelling “I GIVE UP!” then we’ve got more for you.

Full disclosure: This is my favorite story to write every year, simply due to the sheer absurdity.

If you’re on the Dunellen, Johnson, or Carteret football teams, better bring a DVD player and a good movie along with your uniform, pads and helmet.

All three have trips of well over an hour, in some cases closer to two, according to Google Maps.

Let’s look at the “shortest” of the three: 6th-seed Carteret’s trip to play 3rd-seed Camden Saturday afternoon in Central Jersey Group 3 first round action. By distance, it’s only 72 miles. On a Saturday morning with no traffic, expect that ride to take an hour and 16 minutes.

Even longer is 8th-seed Dunellen’s trip to face top-seed Woodstown in South Jersey Group One opening round play Friday night. That’s a whopping 92.4 miles, and with no traffic, is an hour and 42 minute ride. Friday, leaving the fieldhouse at Columbia Park at 3 pm, it could take anywhere from an hour and 45 minutes to two-and-a-half hours. You could almost finish The Godfather on that trip.

And then there’s 6th-seed AL Johnson’s trip down to face 3rd-seed Pleasantville Friday night in Central Jersey Group 2 opening round action.

For those not familiar, Pleasantville is down near Atlantic City. The Crusaders can jump on the Parkway pretty easily, but good luck getting over the Driscoll Bridge at rush hour.

It’s a 103 mile drive that would take about 92 minutes with no traffic. Leaving the fieldhouse at The Pit at 3:30 on a Friday? Google Maps says expect a drive of anywhere from an hour and 40 minutes to two hours and 40 minutes. At least they’re not going there on Memorial Day Weekend!

Can we please go back to geographical sections where the top eight teams make it and that’s the end of the story? Is there any juice to Dunellen-Woodstown? What about the trips others have to make here?

Kingsway at Hunterdon Central is over almost 80 miles and could be a two-hour trip in Friday traffic. Cinnaminson to New Providence is over 90 miles and could take two hours and 20 minutes. Salem at South Hunterdon is about the same.

In the new world of the NJSIAA where there are concerns about mental health of student-athletes, letting them have time to decompress between seasons, these drives certainly can’t be in their best interest, can they?

P.S. – The shortest trip for a Big Central team? Glad you asked. It’s easily 8th-seed Governor Livingston at top-seed Summit in North 2, Group 3 first round action. Their fields are less than 3.9 miles away, or nine minutes, with no traffic. Shoot, they could walk that!

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