Tag: Spotswood

Spotswood squeaks by JP Stevens to clinch first playoff berth since 2015

It was a close one, yet again, but the one thing the NJSIAA playoff formula doesn’t factor in are style points.

If that were the case, it could be a different story in Spotswood Saturday afternoon. Then again, the Chargers have never been about style, and more about toughness, grit and embracing an underdog mentality.

They may not have been the underdogs either in their game against JP Stevens, even though the Hawks are a Group 5 school; after all, they had lost 38 straight games coming into Chargers Stadium.

But the two played each other tight last year – Spotswood won 18-7 a year ago – and this Saturday was no different, a 22-18 win, but with one major difference: this one got them in the playoffs.

The Chargers had six wins at last year’s cutoff, but a weak schedule kept them out. It almost did this year, but they made it – at 8-1, and needing a win on the final weekend – but they made it, and entirely on merit.

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

In like Flynn? CJSR projections say 30 Big Central publics will qualify for playoffs, as 5 of 7 “bubble teams” appear to make it, with one more to go

Heading into Cutoff Weekend, 25 of the 57 Big Central Conference public schools appeared to have a playoff bid locked up, with six more teams on the bubble. Now, after Friday’s games, it looks like at least five of those seven bubble teams will make the tournament, with one more looking to punch its ticket Saturday afternoon.

That team is in South 2, where Spotswood has done about all it could this season, and has one more thing to do: beat JP Stevens today. Yes, the Hawks are winless and haven’t put a W on the board since 2018, but the Chargers only won this game 18-7 last year. They had to get some breaks to get here. Last week, everyone around them lost, allowing them another lease on playoff life despite a 48-0 loss at home to AL Johnson in the rain last week. We thought they’d be out with a loss, but other results vaulted Johnson up before they even played it, and allowed Spotswood to hang in there. Now, a win clinches a playoff berth at No. 16, with a trip to Point Pleasant Boro likely looming in the first round.

In North 5, Bridgewater-Raritan got a little help Thursday night when Paterson Eastside lost to Passaic Tech, but they might not have needed it. Not after a 49-21 win at Old Bridge Friday night by the Panthers themselves moved them up to No. 14 in the standings. That looks likely to hold and we think B-R will visit Union City in the opening round of the North 2 section.

In North 4, it looks like both bubble teams – Rahway and Colonia – are in. The Indians lost to Colonia, 35-7, Friday night, but Rahway is still ahead of the Patriots in the standings. Regardless of No. 16 Orange’s game result today against Lincoln in Jersey City (4 pm at Caven Point) we think the Patriots are in because Rahway would drop down to 16 and with Colonia at 17, they’d get in based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

That would be the second year in a row one Big Central Conference team has ousted another from the 17th spot in the playoff standings. Last year, Old Bridge got in on Cutoff Weekend thanks to a head-to-head victory over South Brunswick early in the season, which was a wacky one in itself. The Knights had missed a field goal and were trailing late when the Vikings, trying to run out the clock, fumbled. Old Bridge recovered, scored the go-ahead touchdown, then held off South for the win.

In North 3, it appears Governor Livingston will be in regardless of its result at home against Bernards today, mainly because of how strong an opponent the Mountaineers are in terms of power points (they’re 8-0) and OSI (they have a 79.69 Strength Index value). If they hold in 16th, they’ll be in the North 2 section and face top-seed Summit on the road in the opening round.

The only bubble team not to make it in on Cutoff Weekend so far looks to be Brearley, which was eliminated with a loss at Dunellen Thursday night.

FRIDAY Cutoff Weekend Playoff Analysis: Group 2

It’s Cutoff Weekend, and we’re the place to get all the updated playoff standings all week long, with our coverage brought to you by My Family Appliances on Route 1 South in the Wick Plaza, Edison.

We’ll have more analysis throughout the day Saturday as scores roll in. And don’t forget to join us for our “Playoff Projection Show” on Saturday at 6:00 pm as Mike Pavlichko brings you all the playoff projections, with analysis and commentary by Marcus Borden, live in studio!

Here’s an updated look at the Group 2 supersections based on Friday night results as reported to Gridiron New Jersey.


This one’s real simple for the only Big Central Conference team in North 2: Bernards holds the fourth spot with a win, and falls to seventh with a loss. The Mountaineers are 8-0, and would be favored over Governor Livingston, even on the road. Regardless, their opponent will be up in the air until after Saturday action is complete.

Key Saturday Games to Watch:

  • #4 Bernards at Governor Livingston
  • #13 Pompton Lakes vs. #16 Glen Rock


The top four all stayed the same here, with only Willingboro among them (at No. 3) yet to play this weekend. New Providence got lost 9-7 at Middlesex Friday night, and dropped from 5th to 8th place, but we think they stay there, as the closest team behind them yet to play is 11th place Haddon Heights (Saturday vs. West Deptford) at 2.6 UPR points behind. That’s a lot to make up when no one else around you plays.

Johnson fell from 9th to an 11th place tie with Haddon Heights with a win over a lowly-rated South River team, and they’re also waiting to see what Haddon does Saturday.

Delaware Valley beat North Plainfield Friday night, but dropped from 12 to 15, 0.4 UPR points ahead of Spotswood, which fell to 16. The Chargers (7-1) play JP Stevens (0-8) Saturday at home. The good news here is 14th place Delran lost Friday night and dropped to 17, and the only team that has a crack at the playoffs outside the top 16 with a game still to play is Lower Cape May (6-1) hosting Gateway (1-6)


We think Del Val is in and locked as the 15-seed, and we think Spotswood has a win-and-get-in game Saturday against the Hawks, which are a Group 5, but have lost 38 straight games, the second-longest active losing streak in the state.

A win or loss by Lower Cape May against lowly-regarded Gateway is going to push them from 18th to 21st place, so we call them out. A win by Spotswood in either event keeps them at 16, while a loss drops them to 20, and Delran (2-7) would jump in at the last playoff spot. The Chargers control their own fate.

Key Saturday Games to Watch:

  • #3 Willlingboro at Burlington Township
  • #6 Cinnaminson at Pemberton
  • #11 Haddon Heights vs. West Deptford
  • #16 Spotswood vs JP Stevens

Cutoff Weekend Playoff Analysis: Group 2

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 the Group 2 supersections, 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:


4. Bernards (8-0, 4.2 UPR): The Mountaineers are the only Big Central Conference team in this supersection. Even with a win over Governor Livingston (6-2) Saturday afternoon, and losses by the three teams above them (Westwood, Caldwell, and Rutherford), and then the three directly behind them, we think they top out at three, but most likely end up a No. 4. Should they lose to the Highlanders, the lowest they could drop is six, and that’s probably the extreme. Our best guess is a fourth or fifth place overall finish, but that’s a big difference: between a semifinal home game or a road game.


5. New Providence (4-4, 5.2 UPR): The Pioneers can bump up as high as a four-seed overall, but they need to win first on Friday night at Middlesex (6-1). Then, they’ll need a little help from Haddonfield and Pleasantville in the way of losses. The other teams in the top nine won’t matter; we think those are the only ones that can potentially jump them into fourth if others lose. With a defeat, however, they could drop as low as ninth if everything foes the wrong way for them with other teams behind them winning. Watch the Pleasantville (6-1) game at Middle Township (7-1), because they play each other, and a Middle loss keeps New Providence from dropping to ninth – and losing a first round home game – in the Pioneers’ doomsday scenario; that would leave them no lower than eighth. A Greyhounds loss and New Prov drops back to ninth.

9. Johnson (5-2, 8.8 UPR): The Crusaders’ meteoric rise was well-documented by us last week, and surprised us. The gist: On Friday, without even playing, everyone around them lost but one (Lower Cape May, which beat winless Buena) and ALJ skyrocketed from 17th to ninth place. That’s how bunched up teams were. By the time they scored a 48-0 road win over previously-undefeated Spotswood, they had jumped all the way to eighth, only to settle in ninth after the other scores came in. They jumped a grand total of eight places in one weekend, and now are firmly in the playoff picture. The Crusaders will beat winless South River (0-7) this week, so assuming that, we don’t think Johnson can move up. In fact, the best they can probably do is finish tenth. A loss, and the worst they can do is probably 13th. Basically, they played themselves in – and got some help – last week. Count Johnson in.

12. Delaware Valley (4-3, 14 UPR): At North Plainfield on Friday night, the Terriers should win that one over the 1-7 Canucks, even on the road. Looking at teams ahead of them, Monmouth (5-3) at Pinelands (5-2) is a toss-up, but we’ll give a win to the Falcons, Haddon Heights should beat a bad West Deptford team, and Johnson will beat South River. We think Del Val is going to end up around the 15th seed.

13. Spotswood (7-1, 14.4 UPR): Spotswood also benefitted from all those teams losing last week. That’s always a worst- or best-case scenario, but it never (or rarely) actually happens. But this time it did. And losing by 48 when Spotswood had an SI three points higher than Johnson also helped. The Crusaders’ SI value rose more than 10 points, so Spotswood got about five more points for a loss than they would have if they’d lost a one-point game. We’re going to try and find the best case scenario for the Chargers, but who knows if it will be enough? Certainly a loss against winless JP Stevens leaves them out, so we’ll assume a win. Delaware Valley should win at North Plainfield. If other games break wrong, Spotswood could end up in the 17 slot, but they could make it, too, barring a wacky residual showing up somewhere. Bottom line, they’re going to need some help somewhere along the way. If their luck continues and they get a smidgen of the help they got last week, they just might make it.

OUT: Roselle (18th, 18.8 UPR) looks to be out. Looks like a case of too little, too late for the Rams, who started 0-4, but have won three straight since. The problem is this week’s opponent – Belvidere – isn’t enough to move the needle into the top 16.

Johnson blows out Spotswood, hands Chargers first loss, skyrockets in South 2 playoff chase with 48-0 road win

The AL Johnson Crusader football team woke up Saturday to a lot of good playoff news. Residuals from Friday night helped push them from 17th place all the way up to 11th.

Then, with a convincing 48-0 win at Spotswood – played in a nearly constant downpour – they moved up even more.

Without factoring in any other area games or residuals from Saturday, ALJ (5-2) rose all the way to eighth in the current playoff projections from Central Jersey Sports Radio, and we believe they’ve wrapped up a playoff berth, regardless of whether they host or go on the road in the first round.

But in what we figured might have been a must-win game for both schools to get in the playoffs, it looks like the Chargers (7-1) may still have a chance to make it, even by beating a JP Stevens team next week that will either have one or no wins after this Saturday’s contest at Metuchen.

Our unofficial playoff calculations peg Spotswood at 14, thanks to losses by teams that were behind them, namely Delran, Oakcrest and Monmouth, who are in 15th, 16th and 17th. Ahead of them, 13th place Raritan and 12th place Delaware Valley also lost Friday night. Collingswood also lost last night, and Lower Cape May won, but over a weak Buena team.

Regardless, Johnson dominated the Chargers right from the start, en route to a 42-0 lead and a running clock to start the second half.

Joshua Maltez-Torres returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Ryan George got a seven-yard touchdown run, then a six-yarder with just over a minute to go in the first half to make it 21-0 Crusaders.

The second quarter began just as the first one ended, with another Johnson score, this time a 44-yard touchdown pass from Robert Gallagher to Maltez-Torres, then another went to George midway through the quarter to make it 35-0. George ran in a second score with under three minutes to go before the break for a 42-0 Crusader lead.

Dylan Mulroy added a fourth quarter TD run to make the final 48-0

Week 7 Playoff Analysis: Group 2

With just two weeks of play left before the state playoffs are seeded, things are heating up in the playoff chase. Here’s our look at the Big Central Conference teams in playoff contention in Group 2 as we head into Week 7 of high school football around the state.

And, of course, don’t miss our “Playoff Projection Show,” scheduled for 5 pm on Saturday, October 21st, when we’ll reveal our predicted matchups and seeds for the postseason. It’s all presented by My Family Appliances of Edison, which will be giving away three $100 gift cards during the show to lucky listeners!

All our analysis is based on Gridiron New Jersey’s official playoff calculations performed for the NJSIAA and listed on their website as of 11:30 pm on October 10. For full standings, click on each supersection’s header below:


4. Bernards (7-0, 4.2): What a bear of a group! The top four teams in the standings are all undefeated, with Westwood (1 UPR), Caldwell (2) and Rutherford (3.4) all 6-0, followed by Bernards at 7-for-7. They still have some teams close behind them in Hanover Park, Lyndhurst and Newton, all within two UPR points. Even if the Mountaineers win out – they have road games at New Providence this Friday and Governor Livingston next Saturday – we’re not sure if they will finish in the top 5. Lyndhurst and Rutherford are in the NJIC playoffs, and we don’t know yet who they will play next week. They could play each other, win or lose. Rutherford could face Lyndhurst for the NJIC championship next weekend, or they could play each other in a consolation game, too.


7. New Providence (4-3, 6.4): The Pioneers have a little distance between themselves and the 8 and 9 teams, the ones they will have to stave off to finish in the top eight and get at least a first round home game. Tough one this weekend home to Bernards Friday night, then another good one at Middlesex next week. They might be okay with a split – specifically a loss to the Mountaineers and a win over the Blue Jays – but two wins should keep them on their home turf.

10. Delaware Valley (4-2, 13.2): It may be an uphill climb for the Terriers to a top eight finish, but it may not be impossible, depending how other teams around them fare and how the Strength Index values change this week. They host Hillside Friday, then visit North Plainfield next Friday. They need a sweep and some help, but we think it most likely they’ll be wearing road jerseys in the playoffs.

12. Spotswood (7-0, 13.6): Sitting in 12th sounds comfortable, but its not, due to the Chargers’ weak opponent in Week 8, JP Stevens, which is winless and has an SI value in the 20s. That makes Saturday afternoon’s home game against AL Johnson their play-in game. Assuming they beat JP Stevens, a loss to Johnson might leave them out of the playoffs. But a win should lock it up. It’s all on the line Saturday afternoon.

17. Johnson (4-2, 15): The Crusaders may be five spots behind Spotswood, but they also have a shot at the playoffs, and this one may be their playoff game, too. A loss this Saturday on the road against the Chargers puts them in the same position as Spotswood; ALJ visits South River. So, yeah, this might be it for Johnson, as well. Here are two more things to keep in mind: heavy rain is in the forecast this Saturday, and these last two weeks will be their only games on a natural grass surface all year.

Week 6 Playoff Analysis: Group 2

Just three more weeks of games remain until the NJSIAA seeds the state playoffs, and Central Jersey Sports Radio is well into its team-by-team analysis of all the scenarios for all the Big Central Conference schools still in contention for postseason play.

All our stories are sponsored by My Family Appliances in Edison, on Route One South in Wick Plaza, which will be presenting out third annual “Playoff Projection Show” on Saturday, October 21 from 5-7, hosted by Mike Pavlichko with analyst Marcus Borden. And, My Family Appliances will be giving away three $100 gift cards to lucky listeners that night!

Scroll down for our team-by-team look at Group 2 schools in the North and South supersections, and click on the supersection name to go to Gridiron New Jersey for the official standings, as calculated by the website for the NJSIAA.


4. Bernards (6-0): The top four teams in this supersection all have what we call “pure” UPRs of 1, 2, 3 and 4. That means first place Westwood (6-0) is first in power points and OSI, Caldwell (5-0) is second in both, Rutherford (5-0) third and Bernards fourth. So they are bunched close enough together. Strength Indexes will continue to change the next two weeks, and a lot can happen with those four teams’ opponents, but right now, they’re basically battling it out with each other. A top-seed would guarantee home field through the sectional finals, and – new this year – the No. 1 overall seed means a potential home game in the group semis. (Last year, those were played at neutral sites, but now they go to the higher seeded team.) This week will tell a lot, as the Mountaineers should beat Bound Brook; the question is how much a victory over a one-win team with an SI of 31.19 will hurt them. Bernard’s OSI is almost 54, so that will bring them down. And they’ll only get 11 power points, which would bring down their 14.50 average. But they do have two stronger teams the rest of the way, both on the road. New Providence (3-3, 58.10 UPR) is next Friday, and then they visit Governor Livingston (5-1, 57.18) on the Saturday of Cutoff Weekend. Of the teams above them: Rutherford has two left against above-.500 teams; Caldwell has a 1-4 team in there, too; and Westwood has a bye this week followed by two middle-of-the-road to good opponents. Anyone can slip here, and that could give Bernards a shot, if they don’t trip themselves.


8. New Providence (3-3): The Pioneers are the highest team in the supersection from the Big Central, and we’re not exactly sure how on the “top eight” bubble they are. That’s because the next team back – Overbrook (3-2) – is four full UPR points behind them. That’s a lot of ground to make up: ten places in power point rank or seven OSI places. They should beat Metuchen at home this week, and may beat Middlesex the final week at Mountainview Park. Should they lose to Bernards, that still may not hurt them much. The Pioneers have a 47.12 OSI and Bernards is worth 40 as a loss, and might even go up by beating New Providence. Granted, they can’t lose their last three games, but they shouldn’t. They’re a good bet to get a home game.

11. Spotswood (6-0): Yes, the Chargers are undefeated, but appear destined to start the playoffs in some other town. But the bigger concern is this: if they don’t sweep their last three games, will they get in? That’s a good question. Spotswood got snubbed last year with a 6-3 record at the cutoff. They lost to Brearley, Roselle Park and Johnson, the latter by a 44-0 score. Both teams are better this year. Now, Spotswood should beat 1-4 Dayton this weekend up in Springfield. Johnson (4-1) will be a tough task at home next Saturday. And they should beat JP Stevens (0-6) the final weekend. And if they finish 9-0, they’ll be in regardless; by NJSIAA rule, no unbeaten team can be left out of the playoffs. But 8-1? With a their only loss to Johnson? Will it be enough? It might be too early to tell yet. Stay tuned…

12. Johnson (4-1): We’re a little less concerned for the Crusaders missing the playoffs, with a stronger schedule. They have Hillside and Spotswood on the road the next two weeks, then South River. So if ALJ and the Chargers both go 2-1 the rest of the way, we’d expect Johnson to move past Spotswood. How far? Likely not far enough to pick up a first round home game. They close with South River, but a win there shouldn’t hurt them much. All things being equal, Johnson – despite being behind Spotswood – is on slightly firmer footing heading into the final three weeks of the regular season.

13. Delaware Valley (3-2): The Terriers’ schedule the rest of the way out is more like Spotswood’s, but a loss to the best remaining team they have on the schedule – Hillside – would be better than a Charger loss to Johnson. So, like the Crusaders, we think they’re on better ground. That home game against the Comets comes in the middle of two road games: this week at South River (0-5) and the final weekend against North Plainfield (0-6). Del Val may need to win out as well. It depends on what some of the teams behind them do.

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 6: Titan Tussle, Monty’s Monsters

Things are heating up in the Big Central Conference. It’s the last three weeks of the season and big games continue to abound. Montgomery won a big battle with Watchung Hills, led by the dynamic duo of QB Michael Schmelzer, Jr., and WR Matt D’Avino. There are five unbeaten teams left in the league, and Phillipsburg and Summit could be primed for top seeds come the playoffs.

CJSR veteran reporter Mike Pavlichko takes a closer look at all that and much more – on this week’s edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes!”

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

Perfect, so far: There are five undefeated teams in the Big Central, among 30 statewide

We’re coming into the home stretch of the high school football season in New Jersey, and five of the 59 teams in the Big Central are perfect so far.

And the good news is that none of them play each other – or could play each other – so all could run the table not only in the regular season but through the playoffs.

Of course, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. But here’s a look at all five teams, how they got here, and maybe where they’re going:

North Brunswick (5-0): They’re the only one of the bunch that hasn’t played six games yet this season, but the top-ranked Raiders have already gotten through the toughest part of the schedule, having beaten the likes of South Brunswick, Edison and Sayreville. Their defense has been stellar, allowing an average of 8.8 a game. That includes a 50-0 shutout of Franklin – their highest offensive output of the year – and a win at Old Bridge where the Raiders allowed only took a safety. New Brunswick and East Brunswick the next two weeks are a combined 0-12. Cranford in Week 8 is 3-2 at the moment, and likely to come in at 5-2 or 4-3 by then. The Raiders fell to the Cougars up in Union County last year, 34-14.

Montgomery (6-0): The 5th-ranked Cougars have been on fire all year long, thanks in large part to the combo of quarterback Michael Schmelzer, Jr., and his top receiving target Matt D’Avino, who have eight TD hookups this year, and have connected on 5 of their last eight touchdowns over the past two games. Like North Brunswick, they will be favored to win their next two games over North Hunterdon and Scotch Plains-Fanwood, who are a combined 1-11. But Linden on the road should be a real test. The Tigers are 5-1, with their lone loss to Woodbridge. They’ve won three straight since then, and have an immensely tough last three weeks. They’re at Summit Friday, and at Cranford next week before hosting the Montgomery on Cutoff Weekend.

St. Thomas Aquinas (6-0): The No. 6 Trojans again are doing it with a potent offense, and a nearly lockdown defense. They have posted four shutouts on the season, two years after tying a playoff-era Middlesex County record with seven. They have four more regular season games to play, since non-publics have an extra week before their playoffs start. Three of the next four are on the road, starting with Rahway this week. Then they host North Plainfield and visit Edison, followed by a trip to Somerville to play Immaculata. The way they’re playing, it’s definitely doable.

Bernards (6-0): The 8th-ranked Mountaineers are doing it the same way Aquinas is. They’re averaging 36 points a game while allowing 6.2 points a contest. That includes shutouts in their last two games. Their best win was a second half rally at Conant Street Park over HIllside, a 28-12 victory. This week they host Bound Brook, then two tougher matchups: at New Providence in Week Seven and at Governor Livingston on Cutoff Weekend. The Pioneers are 3-3, while the Highlanders are 5-1, and have picked up all those wins in a row since dropping their opener… to New Providence, 14-7.

Spotswood (6-0): The Chargers occasionally have broken out offensively, but they’ve been really good on defense, allowing just 22 points all season, with dour of their six victories coming via shutout. It hasn’t been the most challenging of schedules, which could hurt them on Cutoff Weekend. Their strongest remaining opponent is Johnson, which is 4-1 with a 61.12 Strength Index value. But the Chargers – who sit 11th in the current South Group 2 standings – may not be able to withstand a loss in that game because the other two opponents – Dayton (1-4) and winless JP Stevens – are going to bring their numbers down even with wins. They may need to finish 9-0 to get in the playoffs.

Here’s a breakdown of the remaining undefeated teams in the state, listed by conference, heading into Week 6:

Shore Conference (5):

  • 5-0: Point Pleasant Boro, Holmdel, Jackson Memorial, Marlboro
  • 6-0: Brick Memorial

West Jersey Football League (7):

  • 4-0: Florence
  • 5-0: Haddonfield, Timber Creek
  • 6-0: Notre Dame, Mainland, Cinnaminson, Schalick

Super Football Conference (10):

  • 4-0: Fair Lawn, Newark East Side
  • 5-0: Caldwell, Ramapo, Weequahic, Old Tappan
  • 6-0: Westwood, Passaic Tech, Roxbury, Cedar Grove

NJIC (3):

  • 4-0: Weehawken
  • 5-0: Rutherford, Park Ridge

Mid-Season Playoff Analysis: A look at the small schools heading into Week 5

We’ve reached the middle of the high school football season in New Jersey, and it’s time to start thinking about the playoff races.

Presented by sponsor My Family Appliances on Route One South in the Wick Plaza in Edison, here’s our look at where the smaller schools stand – Groups 1 and 2 – in the chase for the postseason heading into Week Five.

But first….

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 2

The only Big Central Conference school in the North Group 2 supersection in Bernards, and the Mountaineers are in really good shape. They’re in second place overall, which means if the playoffs started today, they would be the top seed in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2.

Westwood is the overall No. 1 team at the moment, and they’d be the top seed in North 1, Group 1. Both teams are 5-0.

Caldwell (4-0) – which is on the state’s longest active winning streak, currently at 32 games – is not far behind Bernards, just 6/10 of a UPR point in back of them, while Hanover Park (4-0) in fourth is just one full point off the mark.

The Mounties’ schedule is about average for the last four games, with North Plainfield, Bound Brook, New Providence and Governor Livingston. Sure, they might have to win out to retain a top seed, but with that schedule, they should.

South Group 2

Currently, Pt. Pleasant Boro (4-0) and Rumson-Fair Haven (2-2) sit in the top two spots, with the highest-standing BCC team being New Providence checking in at No. 6. The Pioneers are 3-2 with a 6.4 UPR, and if they keep playing how they’ve been, have a really good shot at a first round home game in the playoffs. Their schedule is good, with three of the last four teams already having three or more wins (Johnson and Middlesex have three wins each, Bernards is 5-0).

Then, it’s down to 11th place for Spotswood, despite the fact the Chargers are 5-0. That’s partly a product of their schedule, which isn’t great throughout.

They already toughened up their schedule by dropping Bishop Eustace for their opener and adding Bordentown, but having Highland Park on the schedule hurt them, as does having JP Stevens on Cutoff Weekend.

Last year’s Chargers were 6-3 at the cutoff – missed the playoffs – and finished 7-3. Their losses were to Roselle Park, Johnson and Brearley. They’ve already beaten the Bears. The Panthers are this weekend and the Crusaders in two more weeks.

Win the games they should and Spotswood will be in the playoffs. Any loss along the road could make things dicey.

Delaware Valley (3-2) is right behind the Chargers, and is also a good bet to make the playoffs, though with their schedule, they should have a little more margin for error.

Can Johnson make the playoffs? Sure, why not. ALJ is 3-1, and out of the picture right now in 20th place, but they have three solid opponents the next few weeks before closing with winless South River. New Providence is this week and a road game at Spotswood comes in two weeks. Both are teams ahead of them in the standings at the moment, and even a split would do wonders for the Crusaders’ chances.

And even a loss to Hillside – which comes in the middle of those two games – would not be the end of the world. Johnson’s OSI is 36.43, and a loss to the Comets (76.25 SI) would get them 38.13 points. Inotherwords, a loss to Hillside is worth more than a win over South River.

North Group 1

Last year, Brearley held on to their standing enough to pick up a first-round home game, then hosted another thanks to a first-round upset by Kinnelon.

This year, it’s a different story for Brearley, which is 2-2, but finds itself in 15th place. There are a lot of .500 teams ahead of them, with the highest being in ninth. Again, we’re seeing the lack of small schools with quality records hurt the small schools that have playoff aspirations.

Their wins have come over Roselle Park and Dayton, a combined 2-6. The Bears might just need wins over two of their three strongest opponents remaining: South Hunterdon (4-1) this week, Middlesex and Dunellen (both 3-1) the last two weeks.

Roselle Park (2-2) is in an even worse situation than Brearley. They’re also .500, but stand in 21st place with a 21.2 UPR, 4.6 UPR points (not insurmountable) out of 16th place. Keep an eye on the Panthers here, who have an opportunity still with a huge game Friday night at home against unbeaten Spotswood (5-0), then go to Middlesex next week, and host Dunellen the week after.

South Group 1

The highest team in the standings heading into Week 5 is South Hunterdon (4-1). The Eagles are in good shape for making the playoffs, but not quite a lock for a first round home game yet.

They’ve only got three games left that count before the cutoff, with big rival New Hope-Solebury (PA) on the schedule for Cutoff Weekend. Out-of-state games don’t count for playoff calculations in either power points or OSI, so they will need to solidify their position.

One slip up the next three weeks could find the Eagles on the road in the first round of the postseason. Right behind them in eighth place is Middlesex (3-1). Their schedule is good after a home game with Belvidere this weekend, but they still will likely need to win out to clinch a top eight position and a first-round home game.

Go down to 13th place and you’ll find Manville, which is 2-3. Hard to believe that a couple of seasons ago, with six wins at the cutoff, they missed the playoffs. Here they are sub-.500 and well into the field.

We’d still consider them a bubble team for now, but at least they’re on the right side of it, with a 15.8 UPR, and 1.8 UPR points ahead of 17th place Pennsville.

A little further down is Dunellen (3-1). The Destroyers are having a nice season, and if they can stay healthy, could be a nudge in the playoffs – even more than they are to opponents in the regular season. And their schedule is strong enough that if they keep winning, they will do more than just tread water in the standings. A loss or two and they could be doing some scoreboard watching.