Tag: Plainfield

Mid-Season Playoff Analysis: More than half-dozen BCC “big boys” have legitimate shot at top seeds

At the mid-way point of the high school season, with four more weeks of football until the playoffs are seeded, there are seven large – Group 5 or 4 schools – with a realistic shot at earning a top seed when the sectional playoffs begin the weekend of October 27th.

This is our first week of playoff projection analysis on cjsportsradio.com, presented by My Family Appliances in Edison, and we begin with a look at North and South Group 5 and 4 supersections..

With still a lot of football to be played, the analysis will be a bit more general in nature this week, but will get increasingly detailed with each passing week as the numbers come into better focus.

Playoff Qualification Primer

The NJSIAA uses the United Power Ranking (UPR) to determine where teams are seeded. Without getting into all the behind the scenes calculations and caveats, each team’s UPR is based on two factors: their rank in the supersection based on power points and on OSI.

Power points are an average and based on the traditional formula that’s been used – albeit altered from time-to-time – over the years. Teams get six points for every win, group points based on the group of the opponent, and residuals – 3 for every win by a team you beat, 1 for every win by a team you lost to.

OSI is the Opponent Strength Index, and average of all the opponents played. Teams get the full value of a team’s Strength Index for a win, half for a loss. A win over an opponent with an SI of 80 gets and 80, a loss gets you 40 points. SI varies based on results throughout the year.

Teams are ranked in each category. OSI values are worth 60 percent of the formula, power points 40 percent. That added number makes the UPR, with lower numbers better. The best UPR a team can have is a 1, which is first in both power points and OSI.

The UPR is calculated for the NJSIAA by the website Gridiron New Jersey. Central Jersey Sports Radio also does its own unofficial calculations throughout the season, and will unveil its playoff projections in our annual special broadcast, this year on Saturday, October 21 from 5-7 pm, presented by My Family Appliances in Edison.

North Group 5

There are three area teams in the top five at the moment. After Passaic Tech in first, there’s Watchung Hills second, Union third, then Union City, and Phillipsburg in fourth.

The Warriors (5-0) have a big clash at home Saturday night with Montgomery (5-0) so that could boost their power point average. Union also has a huge game at Cooke Field with Hillsborough, which just knocked off previously-undefeated P’burg Sunday in the Rumble on the Raritan at Rutgers. The Stateliners try to get back on the horse Friday against Hunterdon Central, which just took its first loss of the season Friday to Ridge.

After that, there’s a chance for a home game for Plainfield, which is 3-1 at the moment and sitting in seventh. They go out of conference Friday night with a trip to North Bergen (2-2), and have a big one with Watchung Hills next week at home before closing at Monroe and home to Franklin, two very winnable games. The Cards look like the have a shot here.

Next, you have to go down to 12th to find Westfield, whose victory over winless Scotch Plains-Fanwood Friday probably did them no favors. The good news is, they Blue Devils are 2-2 after an 0-2 start, so they’re trending in the right direction. Westfield is at St. Joseph-Metuchen Saturday afternoon.

Though they’re on the right side of it at this point, we’ll call Piscataway and Bridgewater-Raritan bubble teams for now. The Chiefs (2-3) are in 14th, while the Panthers (1-4) are in 15th. This is a danger zone, because any team with one or two wins will make big jumps if they win a third or fourth game. So, they’ll have to watch teams behind them.

Of course, winning themselves will help.

The last four games for the Chiefs are winnable, starting with Old Bridge on the road this week, then East Brunswick home on Friday, October 6th – a game you can hear on CJSR at 6 pm from Kenny Armwood Stadium. Sayreville and New Brunswick close out their schedule.

Bridgewater-Raritan has a much more difficult schedule. They’re at Ridge this week, and home to Phillipsburg the next, before Elizabeth and a road game at Old Bridge round out the slate.

South Group 5

Two area teams are in the top six here, and you need to finish in the top two to get a top seed in one of the sections, South or Central 5. North Brunswick (4-0) currently sits in fourth, with a 3.4 UPR, just one UPR point behind second-place Toms River North (4-1).

The problem for the Raiders is their schedule is not conducive to climbing up the rankings. Of the four teams remaining, two are winless (New Brunswick and East Brunswick) and Franklin (this week) and Cranford (Cutoff Weekend) each have just two wins at the moment. As far as a top-seed is concerned, there’s zero margin for error here.

Hillsborough sits in sixth at 4-1, and got a big boost with its upset win over previously-unbeaten Phillipsburg. That was 20 power points for the win, as opposed to four for a loss. They’ll have similar opportunities the next two weeks – both on the road – against Union and Hunterdon Central. And their last two home games against Somerville and Westfield won’t hurt them either. Running the table could give them a really good shot.

Hunterdon Central currently sits in eighth, and should be able to get a first round home game. Their remaining four games are a mixed bag. They should beat both Franklin and Perth Amboy to end the regular season, so a first-round playoff game (top 8 finish in the supersection) could ride on getting at least one win in the next two weeks, which includes a trip to Phillipsburg this Friday night, and a home game against Hillsborough next weekend.

South Brunswick sits in 11th, well enough inside the bubble, but also fairly likely a bottom eight finish.

On the bubble are Edison and Franklin. The Eagles are the defending Central Jersey Group 5 champs, and 2-3 at the moment. There are some winnable games on the schedule for the Eagles, including a home game with New Brunswick this Friday night.

The Warriors, however, are another story. While 2-3, their wins have come against East Brunswick and New Brunswick, opponents who are a combined 0-10. Their next three opponents – North Brunswick on the road this week and Sayreville and Hunterdon Central are a combined 11-3. So, we’ll not only see how much Franklin has improved this year, but whether a must-have win against at least one of those teams can get them in the playoffs.

North Group 4

In the top four are two Big Central teams from very competitive divisions, which explains why they’re there. Montgomery sits in third at 5-0, with a 4 UPR, two points behind second place Mount Olive. Then Ridge is right behind them – literally – with a 4.2 UPR. Northern Highlands is right behind the Red Devils with a 4.4 UPR.

This is very bunched up right now, and with a lot of football to be played, too close to call. Bottom line: Montgomery and Ridge will need to keep on winning. A loss by either team might make too high a mountain to climb to get into the top two.

Linden (4-1) has looked very good this year, and the Tigers claim seventh place this week in the UPR standings. They’ve got a reasonable schedule the rest of the way with JFK at home this week, then at Summit and Cranford before finishing at Montgomery in what could be a critical game to clinch at least a first-round home game.

Woodbridge looks like a pretty good playoff bet. The Barrons are tenth and 3-2 on the season, and Rahway – also 3-2 on the year – is right behind them. Woodbridge could have a legit shot at a top eight finish and a first round home game, Rahway a little less so, but they still have a chance with four weeks left and a good enough schedule that could give them a boost. They may have to go 3-1 the rest of the way to do it, though.

Sayreville sits in 13th, and while I wouldn’t call them a bubble team yet, the 3-2 Bombers can’t get complacent. Granted, their losses have come to Phillipsburg and North Brunswick, the only two teams that have occupied the top spot in the CJSR rankings. If Sayreville is as good as their preseason hype, they should do no worse than 3-1 the rest of the way.

Outside the bubble and a longshot to make the field is Scotch Plains-Fanwood, which is 1-4 and in 19th place. But more interesting is Colonia. The Patriots are 2-3, but all the way down in 21st place. They have a 20.2 UPR, 4.8 points out of a playoff spot. The schedule is favorable with winless North Hunterdon coming to the blue turf this week, and then a visit to 2-3 Perth Amboy next week. It could come down to the last two weeks – with home games against Summit and Rahway, two teams in the playoff field – to decide Colonia’s playoff fate.

South Group 4

While there are no Big Central teams in this section, it’s worth mentioning briefly since New Jersey now plays all the way to group champs. For now, we’ll just point out that the top two teams are Mainland (5-0) and Millville (3-1), followed by WInslow (4-1) and Brick Memorial (5-0).

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 4: Rumbling on the Raritan, Top Defenses

It’s Week Four – yes we’re almost halfway through the regular season for most teams – and time for another episode of “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” as veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko shares notes, stats, and observations on area high school football.

This week, we look at Sunday’s Rumble on the Raritan, Big Play Ray, the Phillipsburg/Montgomery game with almost four dozen penalties, top defenses, and a nearly 100-year-old rivalry played under the lights for the very first time.

Click below to listen to the Week Four edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes”:

Plainfield shakes off Williams’ absence to upset undefeated Carteret

Off the field, the Plainfield football team made the news this week for asking the NJSIAA to investigate – which they will – allegations of bias in the officiating of the Cardinal’s loss last week to Montgomery.

In that game, out of 44 accepted penalties, 36 were called on Plainfield, according to a report on MyCentralJersey.com. Williams was thrown out of the game for arguing, and as a result had to sit this week’s game out.

Assistant Al-Majid Hutchins took his place, not that you would have noticed it.

That’s because on the field Saturday, the Cardinals were all business as usual, and improved to 2-1 with a 35-7 win over previously unbeaten Carteret, which fell to 3-1.

Plainfield’s defense did the job. They had seven sacks, and four interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns by Keiwan Kirkland, Joel Cordoba and Ethan Perry. Cordoba also had a touchdown catch, and E.J. Brown added a three-yard run in the win.

What happens in the NJSIAA investigation may be of consolation to Plainfield or not, but clearly the team put it behind them when they got to Hub Stine Field on a Saturday afternoon where, this time, everything seemed to go their way.

Click below for postgame reaction from Marcus Borden, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

2023 Big Central Preview: Liberty Silver Division

The smallest division in the Big Central Conference may be one of its most competitive in 2023.

The Liberty Silver only has four teams, but all can pack a punch. North Hunterdon graduated a ton of seniors from a squad that won not only the division last year, but the North 2 Group 4 title. While all their biggest statistical contributors are gone, the Lions still should be competitive, even with a new head coach in C.J. Robinson.

Watchung Hills is always a tough out, and hasn’t had a sub-.500 season since his Rich Seubert’s third season in 2017, when the Warriors were winless. Montgomery was right there with them last season; both were 7-3.

The wild card may be Plainfield. James Williams’ squad has put together back-to-back five-win seasons for eleven victories in a span of two years, something that hasn’t been done since they won five in 2004, and six the following year in 2005 for an 11-win two-year run.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko’s preview of the Liberty Silver Division from the Big Central Conference’s inaugural Media Days:

Plainfield aiming to build off best season in a decade

It’s been a decade since Plainfield won more than two games in a season, and as long since they last beat Westfield in their annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry.

They didn’t beat the Blue Devils last year, but they did something else big, going .500 for the first time since 2005.

James Williams, now in his second year as head coach, didn’t reinvent the wheel. he worked with what he had. A bunch of kids who don’t get enough credit for their grades, or skill on the field. He put them in different positions to give them the best chance to succeed.

The result was a 5-5 season that has the Cardinals who didn’t graduate believing in themselves heading into 2022. And believe, they should.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Plainfield head coach James Williams about the Cardinals’ success in 2021, and their goals for 2022:

Plainfield’s Ellis feels like he helped start something for the Cardinals, as he heads to Delaware State

When Tahmir Ellis – a wide receiver and defensive back at Plainfield – signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday to play at Delaware State, it was more than just the end of his high school career, and the beginning of his college career.

He also hopes it’s the start of something good for the Cardinals.

James Williams – his head coach – hopes his encore can be just as good as his debut, after going 5-5 in 2021, the team’s best record in almost a decade.

Plainfield last had five wins in a season all the way back in 2004, when they also split ten games.

A big reason this year was Tahmir Ellis.

Ellis was the Cardinals’ top receiver in 2021; he had 38 catches for 567 yards and seven touchdowns on a team where a half-dozen different receivers all had had 150 yards or more each. Then on defense, he led the team with 81 tackles, 51 solo, adding one sack and one interception.

Click below to head Tahmir Ellis talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his decision to go to Delaware State University, and this past season with the Cardinals:

North Group 5 Week 9 Breakdown: Four teams in, one on the bubble, and is Union a top seed?

In the North Group 5 supersection, Central Jersey Sports Radio projects five Big Central teams already have qualified for the playoffs. Here’s a breakdown of their scenarios heading into the weekend:

Union: The Farmers are sitting at Number One overall in the section heading into Week Nine. They are almost assuredly going to get the overall Number One seed. While we never like to pick one team we cover over another, Union (7-1) travels to Flemington Friday night to play Hunterdon Central (1-7), and should the Farmers lose that game, it would be the upset of the year to date in the Big Central. Our guess – if you want to call it that – is Union wins, officially locking up the No. 1 seed. Should they get upset, and things break the wrong way, there’s a chance Union ends up third overall. Beating the Red Devils would make that a moot point.

Phillipsburg: The Stateliners (5-3) sit in 5th heading into their Week 9 home game against Westfield, no gimme by any stretch of the imagination. The Blue Devils (3-4) are solid defensively, the only team to hold Union this year to under 20 points. Even Millville – which beat the Farmers in Week Zero – allowed 28 to Union. Westfield lost to Union 14-3 on October 1 at Kehler Stadium. They appear to be in play for a top four seed, which would guarantee home field through the sectional finals, with a win over Westfield, and either a Ridgewood or East Orange loss. Should the Stateliners lose, they could drop out of the top eight, if both Bridgewater-Raritan and Montclair are winners this weekend.

MORE CUTOFF WEEKEND COVERAGE: A team-by-team breakdown of every Big Central team’s postseason standing and chances heading into Week 9

Bridgewater-Raritan: The Panthers (5-4) currently sit in 8th. The top eight teams get at least a first-round home game. Win or lose at South Brunswick (4-4) Friday, on their own, they appear to stay there. But with a win, they jump up in UPR enough that it appears no one would be able to catch them from behind. If they lose to the Vikings, it appears Westfield would be the only team that could catch them, if the Blue Devils are able to beat Phillipsburg at Maloney Stadium.

Westfield: You’ve got the Blue Devils’ story now. (If not, see Bridgewater-Raritan and Phillipsburg above.) Should Westfield win at P’burg, and Bridgwater-Raritan lose to South Brunswick, that’s Westfield’s path to a top eight seed. Otherwise, it looks like they’ll begin the postseason away from home.

Elizabeth: It appears Elizabeth is in the playoffs, and will finish in one of the final two spots, but where they end up will depend on last-minute jockeying by the teams at the bottom of the pack. The Minutemen (3-5) are looking like they’re in the 13-15 range, depending on what the teams around them do this weekend.

Plainfield: The Cardinals (3-4) host 3-5 Perth Amboy at Hub Stine Field Saturday afternoon. If the Cardinals win, there’s a chance they could sneak into the playoffs, but they would need a lot of help. North Bergen, Bayonne, Livingston and Watchung Hills would all have to lose for Plainfield to qualify. Even if they beat the Panthers, if any one of those four win this weekend, Plainfield would be out. All play Friday night, so it would appear the Cardinals would know well before kickoff Saturday, whether they’re out of the race, or still have a fighting chance.

Union widens the gap slightly in North 5; Plainfield doesn’t suffer much despite upset by Franklin

Union has extended its lead for one of the top two seeds by 0.2 UPR points over Clifton, in the unofficial Week 8 UPR standings calculated by Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The Farmers weren’t damaged much by a 42-7 blowout win over one-win Watchung Hills, since Clifton lost Friday night.

Meanwhile, Bridgewater-Raritan and Phillipsburg flip-flopped in the standings, with the Panthers jumping two spots to seventh, thanks to a 31-14 win at Elizabeth. The Stateliners fell two to ninth, despite a 42-0 home win over Capital Prep Harbor (CT).

Westfield, which hosts Ridge tomorrow, remains between them in 8th.

Elizabeth dropped two places after its lost to Bridgewater-Raritan, falling to 15th, but the Minutemen still are a likely playoff team.

And Plainfield didn’t take as much of a hit as you’d think, despite a surprising road loss to Franklin, 34-27.

True, they dropped from 17th – two full UPR points behind 16th place Bayonne – to 18th. But they actually trail the Bees – who lost Friday night, too – by 0.8 UPR points. The problem is, there’s another team between them now: North Bergen is 0.2 UPR points ahead of Plainfield. They visit Newark West Side tomorrow.

Week 8 Analysis: Phillipsburg sees biggest gain in North 5 standings, and could jump more; Union still holding one of top seeds

A win Friday night against a solid Ridge team with a good Strength Index value helped propel Phillipsburg in the latest North Jersey Group 5 playoff standings, with the Stateliners jumping from 15th all the way to 12th.

Already with three losses, any win – and this is a good P’burg team, maybe one of the best three-loss teams in the state – will give the ‘Liners a huge boost, as they are double the value of losses in the OSI column. With an out-of-state home game against Capitol Prep Harbor (CT) this weekend, and Westfield at home the next, a couple of wins should solidify at least one playoff game at Maloney Stadium.

Meanwhile, Union holds at No. 2 in the standings, in line to get one of the top seeds in the playoffs. Whether they can stay there is another story.

After blanking a solid North Brunswick team last Friday night, the Farmers – whose only loss is to South Jersey power Millville – the next two weeks bring teams that have just one win a piece: Watchung Hills, then Hunterdon Central. Union ranks second in power points (22.29) and UPR (61.08). But the Warriors and Red Devils are only worth 14 power points each, which will bring down the Farmers’ average, even with a win. Watchung Hills has a 65.77 OSI value, while Hunterdon Central is worth just 55.3 OSI points. That might balance out in the long run, so the question remains: Will it be enough to keep Union in one of the top two spots?

That depends on the teams around them. Could West Orange (6-0), ahead of them, drop, too? Maybe. They rank first in both power points and OSI, and have a weak Bloomfield team but a good Irvington team ahead on the schedule

Clifton (6-1) is next in third, and has multiplier Delbarton this week (the Green Wave are only 3-4, so it could be a win) but then a weak Kennedy-Paterson team (0-6) the week after. Might the two balance out? Who knows.

One note is that our numbers differ a bit from Gridiron New Jersey’s. The site – which calculates the official power points, OSI and UPR for the NJSIAA – had announced after Week Five the updates to SI values for out of state teams and that it would use them going forward. As of the time of this post, it has not. Those values will change one more time anyway, next week, once SI values for all teams are locked in. Until then. we’ll continue to use the updated numbers.

The differences don’t affect the standings this week, as they didn’t result in an OSI rank change either for Clifton or Morristown, which both have played out-of-state teams this season –

Fourth is Passaic Tech (5-2), but they don’t stand to gain a whole lot by beating either Old Tappan (2-5) or Columbia (4-3) the next two weeks, either in power points or OSI.

Westfield and Bridgewater -Raritan stand 8th and 9th in the playoff chase this week. The Blue Devils are up one place, while the Panthers are down two, falling a bit after defeating winless Franklin, which brought only 11 power points (no residuals) and dropped their OSI, too. Like Phillipsburg, which propelled itself into the first round home game conversation with the win over Ridge, it’s too close to call as to whether they’ll be able to lock one up. They’re all in the game, and should all be in the playoffs, but whether they start on the road or at home is too early to tell right now.

Elizabeth held steady in 13th this week, and at 3-4 is likely to open the playoffs on the road. Like anyone else, opponents are a wide possibility right now, especially with the snaking system used for seeding. A move up or down one place could put a team in an entirely different bracket.

Plainfield made a jump, after the Cardinals improved to 3-3 Saturday afternoon with a home win over winless JP Stevens. They get another winless club in Franklin this weekend, so their only chance may be to beat Perth Amboy (4-3) next weekend. We’ll have to see how this week sets up Cutoff Weekend to let you know if they have a chance to make the playoffs.

Week 6 North 5 Playoff Analysis: Union holds one of the top seeds… for now

A look at the Week 6 UPR standings has Union currently occupying one of the top two positions, meaning if they season ended today, they would get the top seed in either the North 1 or North 2 section.

But it remains to be seen if they’ll hold on to it, and it may be out of their control.

While the Farmers sit second overall in the supersection, the teams right above and below them – East Orange and Clifton, respectively – both have yet to play multipliers, while Union has already played theirs, St. Joseph.

Should all three teams win out – factoring in no other games – Union could very well end up with the overall number one seed. But there could be a scenario where they fall to third, depending on what other teams do.

Right now East Orange – which plays at Pope John Saturday – is ranked first in power points. Union is ranked second. Clifton is fifth, with Delbarton at home next weekend. Wins against those multipliers would give those teams 42 power points, a huge boost to their current power point averages (19.4 for East Orange, 16.83 for Clifton).

The fourth and fifth teams in the power point standings – Passaic Tech and West Orange – also have already played their multipliers.

The point is: there are still three more weeks to play, and nothing is set in stone necessarily, even if Union keeps winning.

The rest…

Bridgewater-Raritan currently sits in 7th in the UPR standings, good enough for at least a first-round home game. But with a UPR of 8.2, they have Union City and Westfield right behind them, both at 8.8. Any jump in OSI rank sheds 0.6 UPR points, and could catch Bridgewater.

But here’s the real “catch.” Westfield is ahead of the Panthers by three places in power point rank, behind them by three in OSI rank. But the Blue Devils don’t have to catch them in OSI to get closer. Bridgewater is 5th, Westfield is 8th, but they only have to pass the 7th team to move up, and that’s only from 48.72 to 49.80, which isn’t much.

Likewise, even though Westfield (13.4 avg.) is ahead of Bridgewater in power points already, ranking 10th while B-R is 13th, they just have to pass the 9th place team (Ridgewood, 13.6) and 8th place team (Phillipsburg, 14) to shed 0.8 UPR points and move ahead of Bridgewater.

Confusing? You betcha.

Phillipsburg sits in 12th place currently, and even though there’s three weeks to play, they probably have four games to count, including a forfeit win against Somerville. But they have a tough way, with a road game at Ridge Friday, a home game against out-of-state Capitol Harbor Prep in Connecticut next weekend, and Westfield at home for their finale.

While Gridiron New Jersey has Plainfield at 2-3 in 17th, just 0.2 UPR points out of a playoff spot, we have them 18th. The reason is Morristown, which is in 21st place.

Why would they affect it?

Well, the Colonials are ranked 21 in OSI, in my book. I used the updated Week 5 SI for out of state teams published by Gridiron. For some reason, they haven’t used those yet. They’ll get updated again at the end of the season, so it still may change, but right now I have Morristown 21; Gridiron has them 18. That affects everyone else’s rank, too.

We’re going with what we’ve got for now.

Finally, does Piscataway have a shot? The Chiefs are 0-5. From the way they’ve been playing, probably not. If they could reel off three wins, it’s possible, especially since they have Edison, Sayreville and Hillsborough on the schedule. But the likelihood of a 3-0 finish for a program that’s had a year away from the field and weight room isn’t good.