Phillipsburg is the No. 1 team in the latest Central Jersey Sports Radio and Big Central Media polls, which won’t be conducted again until the season is over for every league team, but in unofficial Strength Index numbers calculated by CJSR, the Stateliners are No. 2.
Who’s at the top of the list?
It’s Ridge, and if you’ve been sleeping on the Red Devils, apparently you should do so at your own peril.
While P’burg has gotten a lot of ink this year – and deservedly so – as has North Brunswick’s defense and St. Thomas Aquinas continuing to win (17 Big Central games and counting) despite a big bump up in quality of schedule, Ridge has done well, but it may have been the way they started.
The Red Devils’ first win was over Monroe, 48-0 in the season opener. The Falcons ended up the year 2-7. Ridge then lost to Phillipsburg – as everyone has this year – and Hillsborough, before they ended up on their third string quarterback. So, they were 1-2, with good losses, but unclear how good they may have actually been.
Since then, they’ve won six straight, including a playoff-opening win over Roxbury, and in that span have allowed a grand total of 24 points, with two shutouts, and never more than seven points in a game against Hunterdon Central, Bridgewater-Raritan, South Brunswick, Westfield, Union and Roxbury last weekend.
This Friday night, 3rd-seed Ridge travels to 2nd-seed Ramapo for a North 1, Group 4 semifinal game. Both teams are 7-2.
Phillipsburg is second in the current Big Central Strength Index rankings, followed by Cranford third and St. Thomas Aquinas fourth. Statewide, the Trojans are third among Non-Public South B teams, but seeded fifth, behind Holy Spirit and DePaul, which are behind Aquinas in Strength Index. The Trojans also finished first in power points and fourth in OSI.
North Hunterdon is fifth in the Big Central in Strength Index, followed by Hillside, Watchung Hills, Edison, Westfield and North Brunswick to round out the top ten.
All but Watchung Hills remain alive in the playoffs, while Aquinas opens the postseason this weekend at 4th-seed Holy Spirit.
The only Big Central playoff teams not in the top ten in league Strength Index are Brearley and St. Joseph-Metuchen.
The Bears are 11th, while the Falcons are 18th.
Below are the complete, current, and unofficial rankings based on SI value, as calculated by Central Jersey Sports Radio: