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.
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.