Tag: South Brunswick

INSTANT REPLAY: Somerville 41, South Brunswick 28

Somerville clinches a playoff berth with its second win in a row, a 41-28 defeat of South Brunswick on the road, behind 190 yards rushing and a touchdown from sophomore Terrell Mitchell.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the action from Mike Elko Field in South Brunswick on October 28, 2022:

1st Half

2nd Half

Somerville fends off South Brunswick to clinch playoff berth

It was a game that looked like it would be a rout at halftime, but turned out to be an old-fashioned Donnybrook.

That is, until Somerville finally decided to eat the clock before scoring its final touchdown in a 41-28 win over South Brunswick, a victory that appears to have locked up a playoff spot for the Pioneers, avoiding a miss for the first time since 2015.

On touchdowns from runningbacks Terrell Mitchel and Hashym Hobbs-Harris, and a touchdown catch by Quinn Carran that opened the scoring, Somerville led South Brunswick on the road 21-0 in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio Friday night.

But South Brunswick came out angry in the second half, with Jacob Brokaw leading the way on his Senior Night.

Brokaw had a five-yard touchdown run to pull the Vikings withing 21-7. But Julian Finger’s touchdown pass answered right back for the Pioneers.

Then quarterback Braden Paulmenn finished off a drive led by Brokaw to make it 28-14, but Hobbs-Harris came back with a 54-yard score.

Paulmenn added another one-yard run, but QB Mike Miller of the Pioneers got it back to a three-schore lead at 41-21.

South Brunswick would add another touchdown from Brokaw with 1:19 left, but that would be all they’d get as Somerville came away with a 41-28 road win that should clinch a playoff berth.

Official state playoff pairings will be out Sunday from the NJSIAA, but Central Jersey Sports Radio will have a live Playoff Update Saturday morning at 11 (click here to listen) followed by a live Twitter Spaces at noon for a Q&A with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko. Then, at 6, Mike is back with a full Playoff Projection Show, with a live look at the likely matchups.

Click below for postgame reaction from Somerville’s playoff berth-clinching win over South Brunswick Friday night:

Somerville sophomore RB Terrell Mitchell (13 carries, 192 yards, 1 TD)

Somerville head coach Matt Bloom

South Brunswick hosts Somerville with playoff berth on the line

When Joe Goerge left South Brunswick in January 2019, the last game he coached for the Vikings was a playoff game, a windy affair at Mike Elko Field that saw Edison – on a great game by receiver Noah Stansbury – head back up Route One with a win.

After a couple of seasons on Staten Island, George is back in Monmouth Junction, and has a chance to do something that he did every year during his first go around: take the Vikings to the postseason.

Currently 3-4 and 15th in the South Group 5 United Power Rankings heading into Cutoff Weekend, South Brunswick hosts Somerville (3-5) Friday night in a unique “win and in” scenario. Should they come out on top on their home field, the playoffs await. Lose, and the Vikings will be forced to rely on outcomes across the state.

“I think now-a-days, these kids actually know the power points situation better than I do,” George said. “They’re on it. They were the first ones that said it’s coming down to this one game. You can’t phony up motivation. We approach it very honestly with them.”

Junior quarterback Braden Paulmenn made his first career start in last week’s loss to Edison and showed plenty of promise. He’ll be flanked in the backfield by two talented senior backs, Khiri Summers and Jacob Brokaw. Both have run for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns this season and will set the tone for the Vikings’ triple-option offense.

You can hear Friday night’s game with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling the play-by-play starting with pregame at 6:15, and kickoff at 6:30 pm from Mike Elko Field in Monmouth Junction. Click here to listen.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk with South Brunswick head coach Joe Goerge:

Somerville looking to finish strong, facing a “Win and In” game at South Brunswick Friday night

At 2-5, having a season-opening victory taken off the board, and going through the gauntlet of a mostly Group 5 schedule for Group 3 Somerville, the Pioneers season had come down to two games. But one at a time.

In rolled Hillsborough, ranked No. 3 in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten. Banged up to be sure, with its first two quarterbacks out due to injury, but a team whose only loss came at the hands of Phillipsburg, the top-ranked team in the league.

And with a coaching change less than 48 hours before kickoff at Brooks Field, Must-Win Game No. 1 could have gone a lot of different ways.

That kickoff was the difference. Terrell Mitchell took it to the house, and before Hillsborough could blink, the Pioneers were up 14-0, en route to a 35-14 win.

Now, the second of those two must-win games, as Somerville (3-5) visits South Brunswick (3-4) in a game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, where the winner will make the playoffs, and the loser may have to do some scoreboard watching.

You can hear Friday night’s game with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling the play-by-play starting with pregame at 6:15, and kickoff at 6:30 pm from Mike Elko Field in Monmouth Junction. Click here to listen.

Somerville appears to have a new fire in its belly since offensive line coach Matt Bloom – the only holdover from the Dallas Whitaker/Jeff Vanderbeek era – was handed the reins, with Ian Pace no longer coaching the team. School administrators have not publicly commented on the change.

It wasn’t a distraction last week, and you can bet it won’t be this week.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Somerville head coach Matt Bloom:

South Group 5 Playoff Analysis: North Brunswick controls its own fate, but everything else is up in the air

With Cutoff Weekend just a few days away, Central Jersey Sports Radio is taking a look at every team in the Big Central to see where we think they’ll end up in the playoffs.

We’re not looking at tiebreakers just yet, and even adding the few residuals to be had can make for infinitely more possibilities, so we’re not doing those either (they have very little impact right now). But we are looking at where we think teams will fall in the top 16. Tune in to our Playoff Projection show Saturday at 6 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio for all our unofficial pairings.

Below is our analysis, with each team’s current ranking in the UPR standings noted.

(Click here for official standings on Gridiron New Jersey)

#1 North Brunswick: The Raiders control their own destiny here in, in a way. We believe they are guaranteed at least a top two finish, if they win at Cranford Friday night, which will be no easy task. Even if “everyone else” wins – that being all the teams a reasonable distance behind them: Lenape, Hillsboroough, Toms River North, Cherokee, and Kingsway – the worst North Brunswick seemingly could do is second overall, which still would give them the top seed in Central Jersey Group 5, as Lenape would be first overall and get the top seed in its natural section, South Jersey Group 5. Lenape has its second multiplier in as many weeks – St. Augustine – after a crushing late defeat to St. Joe’s-Hammonton last week. Should North Brunswick win, and everyone else but Lenape win, North Brunswick should finish first.

Where it gets dicey is if North Brunswick loses, which is not out of the realm of possibility. Then again, neither is a top two finish and a top seed.

  • If North Brunswick and “everyone else” loses – even Lenape with the multiplier – we project North Brunswick to finish second overall, and take the top seed in CJ5.
  • If North Brunswick loses and Lenape wins, as long as Cherokee, Kingsway, Toms River North and Hillsborough lose, they can still finish second overall. (TRN losing may be the least likely of the bunch, for what it’s worth.)
  • If North Brunswick loses and Hillsorough wins, they would need Cherokee, Kingsway and Toms River North all to lose in order to stay in the top four, which would guarantee home field advantage through at least the sectional semifinals.

#3 Hillsborough: We think the Raiders have a chance at a top two seed – meaning they’d get the top seed in Central Jersey Group 5 – if they beat Westfield Saturday afternoon at 2 pm at Kehler Stadium, one of the later games on the schedule this weekend, and clearly one we’ll be watching closely no matter what happens Friday night. With a Hillsborough win and losses by North Brunswick, Toms River North, Kingsway and Cherokee – regardless of what Lenape does – we think Hillsborough would get the second overall seed, with Lenape first and North Brunswick third.

With a Hillsborough loss, the Raiders could finish anywhere down to No. 6, but that would at least give them a top eight finish, and a guarantee of at least a first-round playoff game.

#12 Edison: The Eagles are in the playoffs regardless of what happens this Friday night just up the road at St. Thomas Aquinas. But they have a pretty wide range of where they could end up, win or lose. Should the Eagles beat the Trojans – who are on the longest active Big Central winning streak at the moment, 15 games – they could finish as high as seventh, if at least Hillsborough, Kingsway and Marlboro lose, and even if Washington Township, Atlantic City and Rancocas Valley win. With a loss, if everything breaks the wrong way – although it probably won’t; this is just the extreme case – they could end up as low as 13th, a range of seven places.

#15 South Brunswick, #16 Hunterdon Central, #17 Old Bridge: We’re looking at these teams together because they are inextricably connected, and there could even be a tie-breaker in the equation. If all three teams win this weekend (South Brunswick home against Somerville, Old Bridge at Bridgewater-Raritan, Hunterdon Central in Perth Amboy) we think all three get in provided Southern (4-3) loses to Lacey (2-5); if not, the Red Devils would appear to be the odd man out. So, we don’t think they control their own fate, as we do when it comes to the Vikings and Knights.

Here are the scenarios if two out of the three teams win:

  • If only Old Bridge and Hunterdon Central win, the most likely scenario is the Knights finish 15h and the Red Devils 16th.
  • If only South Brunswick and Hunterdon Central win, we think South Brunswick is the 15th team and Hunterdon Central would need help, such as Marlboro (4-3) losing to Colts Neck (6-1), which is fairly likely.
  • If only Old Bridge and South Brunswick win, it looks like the Vikings finish 15th and the Knights 16th. But hold the phone, the rules state a team can’t finish below a team it beat in the regular season. Old Bridge won at South Brunswick 27-22 on September 9th. So they’d flip flop, with Old Bridge getting the 15 seed.

What if only one of the three teams win this weekend? Plugging in wins for Old Bridge (and losses for Hunterdon Central and South Brunswick) or Hunterdon Central (and losses for Old Bridge and South Brunswick, we get a range of 13 to 15th place. That means if everyone else in the immediate vicinity of those teams won, we think the lowest they could finish is 15th, and if everyone else nearby lost, we think 13 is the best they can do.

But the most intriguing one is South Brunswick. Their bottom end appears to be 15 as well. But if everyone around the Vikings lose – we plugged in defeats for Atlantic City, Edison, Marlboro, Rancocas Valley, Southern and Williamstown – we think the Vikings could finish as high as eighth place overall and earn a first-round home game.

We’ll have live play-by-play of South Brunswick’s game against Somerville Friday night at 6:30 pm, with pregame at 6:15. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe have the call, with live updates from Chris Tsakonas after the 7 pm kickoff of Edison at St. Thomas Aquinas. Click here to listen.

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 7: Cutoff Weekend is Here!

On this week’s trek around “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” we get veteran sportscaster Mike Pavlichko’s take on the coaching situation at Somerville, Piscataway being a contender again, and a winner take all game in Monmouth Junction Friday night!

Click below to listen to the Week Seven edition of “The Big Central in 2 Minutes”:

UNOFFICIAL: South Group 5 Playoff Standings Update

North Brunswick held onto a top seed, but Hillsborough dropped after Week 7 play on Friday night. Here are the unofficial standings in South Group 5 as calculated after Friday night action by Central Jersey Sports Radio:

North Brunswick remains No. 1 overall in the section, and the Raiders’ UPR stays at 1.6 after their Friday night win over East Brunswick. And Lenape, which lost to St. Joe’s-Hammonton Friday night, climbed from 5th to 11th due to the multiplier. However, their UPR is higher than that of HIllsborough last week. That means there’s a bit more distance between them and North Brunswick, than there was with Hillsborough.

The big shakeup was Friday night’s upset of Hillsborough by Somerville, which knocked the Raiders from No. 2 – which would have given them the other top seed in the sectionals after North Brunswick – to No. 4, with unbeaten 7-0 Toms River North now in third. They’re just 0.4 UPR behind Lenape, but they’ll probably continue to climb in power points with another multiplier – St. Augustine – next week.

Edison moved into 8th, which would give the Eagles their first home playoff game since 2000, when they beat Steinert. Edison could lock that up with a win at St. Thomas Aquinas Friday, which hasn’t lost a Big Central game since falling to Bernards in November of 2020 – a streak of 15 straight, the best in the league.

And then there are three teams bunched up fighting for the last playoff spots: South Brunswick in 15th, Old Bridge in 16th and Hunterdon Central in 17th. The Vikings dropped four places with Friday night’s loss to Edison, while the Knights held steady with a win against New Brunswick. And the Red Devils gained big, jumping two spots after their Friday night win over Franklin. These teams are going to slug it out, and we’ll have to see if Cherry Hill East is a factor. They play a weak 2-5 Cherry Hill West today. If they don’t make up any ground there, they’re a good distance behind Hunterdon Central.

Bottom Line: North Brunswick has a good handle on a top seed. Edison will lock up a home game if they beat Aquinas Friday. South Brunswick, Old Bridge and Hunterdon Central have must win games next week. Whether all three can get in is up in the air right now.

You Choose! What will be our Big Central Game of the Week for Week 7??

Well, we’ve got two weeks left in the high school football season, and now we’re letting your voice be heard: What should be the Big Central Game of the Week for Week 7 this Friday night?

We’re giving you four options of games to choose from:

  • Westfield (5-1) at Ridge (4-2): A great Union-Somerset County Group 5 matchup
  • Piscataway (4-2) at Sayreville: A classic GMC matchup between longtime rivals
  • Hillsborough (5-1) at Somerville (2-5): Hillsborough is near the top of South 5, while Somerville is in a must-win for playoff contention
  • South Brunswick (3-3) at Edison (5-2): Another great Middlesex County and pasty GMC divisional matchup

All four games feature teams battling for the playoffs.

So here are the basic rules!

  • You can vote once every 12 hours.
  • Share the poll on social media with your friends on Facebook and your followers on Twitter.
  • The matchup with the most votes will be the game we broadcast Friday night on Central Jersey Sports Radio, complete with pregame coverage with the coaches from each team, a live broadcast, and postgame recap on the site with reaction from the winning team’s coach and a standout player.
  • Voting will close at 5 pm Monday, with the winner being announced Tuesday on Twitter. (Follow us at @CJSportsRadio on Twitter if you don’t already!)

Good luck to your favorite team – vote early and often!

Note: In the event a game turns out to be unavailable for broadcast or for other any reason, Central Jersey Sports Radio reserves the right to choose an alternate game, if necessary, regardless of the final vote.

Group 5 playoff analysis: Have Phillipsburg and North Brunswick weathered the storm?

There are only three Group 5 football teams in the entire state of New Jersey with unblemished records, and two of them are in the Big Central. Phillipsburg and North Brunswick both are 5-0, as is Toms River North.

On paper, both have made it through the toughest stretches of their schedules. But will they be able to hold off the teams behind them?

With just three weeks of play until the state playoffs are seeded, let’s take a closer look.

NORTH 5 (Click here for official standings)

We start with Phillipsburg, which is 5-0 with three games remaining. They have a UPR of 1, ahead of Ridgewood (2 UPR), and the goal is to get either one of these. There’s not much real difference being the one or two overall seed since each gets a top seed in their section. With the brackets snaked, the seeding is even. But it looks like the Stateliners have a good shot at No. 1 overall.

A closer look shows they’re significantly ahead in the power point category, with a 20.6 average, almost four points ahead of Ridgewood (17), followed by Clifton (16.6) and Passaic Tech (15.33). It’s tough to take a huge jump this late in the season.

Sure, P’burg could take a significant dip with winless East Brunswick on their schedule cutoff weekend, so if you’re a Liners’ fan, you want to root hard for their upcoming opponents – heck all of them throughout the season – these last three weeks. Beating good teams helps, because you know Hillsborough, North Hunterdon, Ridge and Sayreville will pick up some more wins along the way as well.

On the OSI side, they look pretty safe, too. They’re at 72.95, a nearly eight point advantage over Ridgewood, and more than 15 points higher than third-place Passaic Tech. This will be an even tougher hill to climb for anyone behind them. Not only is it the highest OSI in the state among public schools, but it’s easily the biggest gap from No. 1 to No. 3 in the any supersection in the state. Even with East Brunswick (53.75) on cutoff weekend, P’burg should be able to hold court. As long as they continue to win, we think the Liners will be the overall top-seed in this section.

Westfield (4-1) remains in fifth, but has improved its UPR from 5.8 to 5.2, climbing one more spot in the OSI category (each rank position is worth 0.6 UPR points as 60% of the formula). All three opponents coming up have a higher SI than their OSI average, which means winning them all would boost them even further. A sweep could put them in play for a top-four seed. Ridge would be the biggest win, but it could come down to Hillsborough, a 2:00 kick at home on Saturday afternoon of Cutoff Weekend.

Watchung Hills (4-2) sits in 7th, dropping slightly this week even after handing then 5-0 Montgomery its first loss of the season. But it has nothing to do with that. Union City had a bigger gain with a win over Irvington, which has a stronger SI that Montgomery coming into the weekend; the Blue Knights are still over 80 in that department – they’re worth a lot. It happens. But if the Warriors keep winning – Plainfield, at St. Joe’s, Elizabeth – they should at least keep one of the top eight seeds, and at least earn a first-round home game.

Piscataway (3-2) continues its climb up the standings: 16th last week, 11 this week. When you have a couple of losses, as they do, every win gets magnified, and that’s what’s happening with the Chiefs. Road games at East Brunswick and Sayreville, then home to New Brunswick is how they close the regular season. A clean sweep could even put them in the top eight. Take two of the three – even if they come against the Bears and Zebras – and they should have a playoff spot locked up, their first since 2019.

Right behind the Chiefs is Bridgewater-Raritan. The Panthers are 2-4, one of six sub-.500 teams currently in the top 16 (two are tied for 16th). They play a mighty strong schedule, with – guess who? – Phillipsburg up next at Maloney Stadium Friday night. A loss, though wouldn’t hurt them that much, dropping their OSI and power point averages a bit.

Of course, the Panthers won there last year, 17-7, but this is a different Liners’ team, so it’s a tall task. To stay firmly in the playoff chance, Bridgewater would at least have to win at Elizabeth next week, and at home against Old Bridge on cutoff weekend.

Elizbaeth (2-3) is right behind Bridgewater, with an increasingly challenging stretch ahead: at Union Friday, home to the Panthers next Saturday, and at Watchung Hills Friday night of Cutoff Weekend. Two of three for the Minutemen also should do them well, but one loss would hurt them a bit more than Bridgewater, since there’s no one as strong as Phillipsburg on the schedule.

On the bubble, we’ve got Union at 1-4. The Farmers have a 16.4 UPR, tied with 2-3 Bloomfield, and 3-2 Dickinson is on their tail with a 17 UPR. The NJSIAA has a new rule this year that teams have to have a minimum two wins to qualify for the playoffs, so Union has to at least win one more, and can’t skate in on the weakness of other teams, so that’s the first step. The schedule isn’t easy. After Elizabeth this Friday night at home, the Famrers visit Phillipsburg then host Ridge on cutoff weekend. This Friday night may be their best chance for a win, so let’s call this a must-win, a play-in game – even though more may be needed – for Union.

SOUTH 5 (Click here for official standings)

As mentioned above, North Brunswick (5-0) sits atop the standings, but the Raiders’ lead is a bit more precarious than Phillipsburg’s. They actually have a greater lead, though, in the UPR over Cherokee, the next team back, at 2.8 compared to North Brunswick’s 1.4 UPR. But their lead over third-place Hillsborough (4-1) is a bit slimmer: a 2.4 advantage compared to a 1.8 edge.

This is a wonky section because of the double-multiplier, which has already been completed by Cherokee; that’s the good news. Toms River North (6-0) in fourth doesn’t have any, nor Hillsborough.

In power points, Cherokee is already ahead of North Brunswick, with a 20.8 average, while North Brunswick is at 18.6, and Marlboro is next with a 15.2, then Toms River North at 15 and Hillsborough at 13.2. The point is, even though Cherokee is behind North Brunswick, there’s nowhere to go with power points. They certainly could climb in OSI, which currently at 57.65 has them fourth. That’s if they sweep their next three opponents, all of whom are very good. They have Lenape (75.58), Kingsway (77.78) and Millville (82.42). That would do some damage. But with a loss, factor a 37-41 SI in there somewhere and they will drop, or at least negate any gains made by the other two wins.

In short, North Brunswick may not have the top-seed locked up even if they win-out, considering their schedule of a road game at New Brunswick this week and a home game against East Brunswick next week (they’re a combined 1-10), though 3-2 Cranford on cutoff weekend up in Union County could be a big win. But they should be good for a top-two seed, thus guaranteeing one of the top seeds in either section, and home field through the sectional finals.

Does Hillsborough have a shot at one of the two No. 1 seeds? We like their schedule, with Hunterdon Central this week, at Somerville next week, and the aforementioned Saturday Cutoff Weekend late kickoff at Westfield. But they still may need some help from the teams above.

The next team down the standings is South Brunswick (3-2) in tenth place. The Vikings have a tough final three games, but that’s the good news. Sweeping those would give them a big boost; inotherwords, a top eight seed and a first-round home game is certainly within their reach, and South controls its own destiny. They have Ridge this Friday night, visit Edison next Friday, and close with Somerville at home on the Friday night of Cutoff Weekend.

Edison (4-2) is in 13th, and save for a two-game hiccup have been very good. QB Matt Yasco and receiver Malcolm Stansbury are back in the lineup, so the Eagles just need to do what they do.

A top-eight seed may be out of reach, but remember: last year’s Edison squad was a 7-seed in South 5 and went on the road in the opening round, coming back across the Driscoll Bridge with a 23-20 upset win over 2-seed Manalapan. They won a huge game against Cedar Creek in the Battle at the Beach in Ocean CIty this year in front of a hostile crowd. Point is, just point them in the right direction, this team can go win a ballgame, if healthy, with so many three-year starters (and a fourth-year at QB).

Edison has a good schedule to get it done: this Friday at St. Joseph-Metuchen (7 pm on CJSR), then next Friday home to South Brunswick, and – perhaps the biggest challenge of all – Friday of Cutoff Weekend at St. Thomas Aquinas, which on the strength of two solid campaigns back-to-back has an 80.97 Strength Index value. (For what it’s worth, Aquinas has won 14 of its last 16 games going back to the start of last season.)

A promising season for Hunterdon Central (2-4) has slowed, with the Red Devils on a three-game skid since a 2-1 start that included a season-opening loss to North Hunterdon. They’ve lost to Bridgewater-Raritan, at Ridge, and home to Phillipsburg. Those are no cupcakes, but they need wins. At Hillsborough this weekend will be a tough one, so to prove they’re a playoff-worthy team, they’ll probably at least need to beat Franklin next Friday and win at Perth Amboy on Friday night of Cutoff Weekend.

They may also have to worry about the teams behind them. With a 16.4 UPR, Cherry Hill East (3-2) is right behind them at 16.6 (any move up in either power points or OSI by one position would jump Central) and Old Bridge (3-3). The Knights have a 17.6 UPR and are in 18th, but have a chance. It’s been win, loss, win, loss, win, loss for Old Bridge, but they close with home games against Monroe and New Brunswick – which have three wins combined – this week and next, then visit Bridgewater-Raritan Friday night of Cutoff Weekend. They will likely have to win all three. Time to put the brakes on the skid!

Group 5 playoff analysis: Phillipsburg and North Brunswick hold top spots overall in North and South, but will it hold?

With the second half of the high school football season officially kicking off this weekend, it’s time to examine the playoff races with a closer eye. Here’s a look at where the Big Central teams in Group 5 North and South stand, using official standings calculated by Gridiron New Jersey.

NORTH 5 (Click here for official standings)

There’s little surprise here that Phillipsburg, which has established itself as one of the top teams in the state this year, is leading the pack in the supersection. In fact, they have the top OSI in all of Group 5. Only Cherokee has a better power point average, but that’s because they have played two multipliers already, Holy Spirit and St. Augustine. (More on that when we get to South 5).

The Stateliners are 4-0 with a UPR of 1, OSI 74.01 and an 18.5 power point average. Right behind them is Ridgewood, also 4-0, UPR 2, OSI 70.13 and an 18.25 power point average. Should they keep winning, P’burg should be able to hold on to at least one of the top two spots. The ‘Liners and Maroons are the only undefeated teams in the section. The schedule is favorable, having played their first four games all against ranked teams (Sayreville is 8th, Ridge has been previously ranked, North Hunterdon is 10th and Hillsborough is 5th). The last four are at Hunterdon Central, home to Bridgewater-Raritan and Union, before closing at East Brunswick on the Friday of Cutoff Weekend.

That’s could be a good news/bad news scenario for the Stateliners – or maybe not – when it comes to the overall No. 1 seed. Ridgewood’s first four games were weaker than P’burg’s. Their next three opponents (Eastside Paterson, Wayne Hills and Montclair) are all 2-2, while Ramapo is 4-0. If both teams win out, it’ll come down to who has the stronger schedule the rest of the way.

The next Big Central teams down the list, after Passaic Tech third and Clifton fourth are Westfield in fifth (3-2, 5.8 UPR) and Watchung Hills (3-2, 6.6 UPR) in sixth. With a decent gap between them and the number nine teams Morristown and Bridgewater-Raritan, with 10.6 UPRs – following Union City and West Orange – if the Blue Devils and Warriors keep winning, they will likely finish in the top eight, which would guarantee at least a first-round home game. A top-four seed could be in play as well, depending on how well they do down the stretch, and if any of the teams above them slip.

Bridgewater-Raritan is having the epitome of an up and down season; at 2-3 they’ve yet to win back-to-back games. To get to a first-round home game, they’d have to string a couple of wins together. They have Ridge, then visit Phillipsburg and Elizabeth, before a Cutoff Weekend home matchup with Old Bridge.

Speaking of which, Elizabeth – on the strength of Saturday’s massive win over St. Joseph-Metuchen – jumped from 16th to 11th in the standings, now with a UPR of 10.8. At 1-3, a few wins in a row would boost them even further. The Minutemen have a shot, with Somerville this weekend, then at Union, Bridgewater-Raritan home, then a Cutoff Weekend Friday night visit to Watchung Hills. All of those teams have Strength Index values well above their current OSI, so anything would be a big boost.

Union and Piscataway are in the last two playoff spots at the moment.

The Farmers are 15th at 1-3 with a 15.4 UPR. But, remember: a minimum two wins are needed to make the playoffs, so even if they finished there, they would still need to win one more game to even be eligible. Union has games at Hillsborough, home to Elizabeth, at Phillipsburg and home to Ridge – a tough slate.

The Chiefs are 2-2 and in 16th place. They have a decent schedule upcoming: Old Bridge this Friday, followed by road games at East Brunswick and Sayreville, then home to New Brunswick in a game originally scheduled for Friday night of cutoff weekend, but which has been moved to Saturday afternoon.

Both teams will have to win a few, and try to hold off the teams behind them.

SOUTH 5 (Click here for officials standings)

North Brunswick is now at the top of the pile in the supersection, breaking a previous tie with Toms River North, which – of all things – had at least something to do with Cherokee leading – by a wide margin – the power point rankings, due to the new double-multiplier rule this year; two are allowed by the NJSIAA, and the Chiefs took full advantage with Holy Spirit and St. Augustine on the schedule.

The Raiders are 4-0, with a 1.4 UPR, a full point ahead of Toms River North (5-0). But whether their strength of schedule is good enough the rest of the way to hold onto that spot is another story. Their next three opponents – Franklin, New Brunswick and East Brunswick, are a combined 1-12, which does no favors for their power point average. It’s an 18.25, but right now, Franklin and East Brunswick are only worth 11; New Brunswick is worth 14.

Cherokee – at just 2-2 – is in third (UPR 2.8) – with Hillsborough alone in fourth, despite a loss to Phillipsburg last Friday night. Those Raiders are still a pretty good bet for a top-four seed, which would guarantee home field through at least the sectional semifinals, as long as they get back to their winning ways. Their schedule is strong enough, at least from a Strength Index perspective, that they could make a push forward, with Union, Hunterdon Central, Somerville and Westfield ahead.

It’s a long trip down to the next Big Central team, with Washington Township in fifth, followed by Rancocas Valley, Kingsway, Atlantic City, Marlboro, Southern and Lenape. Then, three BCC teams: Edison 12th (3-2, UPR 13), South Brunswick 13th (2-2, UPR 13.6) and Old Bridge 14th (3-2, UPR 13.8). Those teams all could go truly any which way. A top-eight seed and a first-round playoff game would be a challenge; it’s highly unlikely all three could end up there, anyway. They could get close, but any of them could also miss the playoffs if they don’t win some games down the stretch.

And then there’s Hunterdon Central. The Red Devils are seeking their first playoff berth since 2018, when they bowed out in the opening round to 5th-seed Manalapan. At 2-3, they have a 16.4 UPR, one point behind the two teams tied for 15th – Cherry Hill East and Howell – with 15.4 UPRs each. Central is a bubble team right now, just on the outside looking in. If they could pick up a win the next two weeks – either this Friday night at Stewart Field against top-ranked Phillipsburg, or next Friday night at Hillsborough – then take care of business the last two weeks with wins at home against Franklin and at Perth Amboy, the Red Devils should be in. Going 2-2 with wins in those last two games may not be enough.