Tag: Strength Index

Who are the Big Central’s most improved teams this season? Week 5 winners? The Strength Index tells all

The Strength Index New Jersey uses to determine OSI – Opponent Strength Index – which accounts for 60% of the state playoff formula is calculated on a weekly basis.

And it can give us a pretty good idea of who’s having a good season, as well as who has improved.

The SI formula is simple. Each team is calculated on their results every week. Compare the two numbers of a pair of opponents, and how each of them does compared to the difference in that number determines how much a team’s Strength Index goes up or down.

If Team A is rated 87, and Team B is rated 80, the difference is 7. The expected result is that team A is 7 points better than Team B.

If Team A wins by 7, both teams stay the same.

If Team A wins by 12, they go up by 1/5 the difference against the expected result. The difference is 5, so Team A goes up by 1 point, and Team B goes down the opposite.

If Team B wins by 3, that’s a 10-point swing. They would go up by 2, and Team A would go down by two.

Knowing that, we can see who has made the biggest gains since the beginning of the year.

The Strength Index says St. Thomas Aquinas (4-0) has made the biggest gain, almost 20 points higher than it started the year. That means the Trojans have improved, and they certainly have. In three league games, they’re averaging 49.3 points per game, and they’ve won all four of their games by shutout. They’re coming off a 4-3 season last year.

Colonia also has gained a lot, 17.39 points to be exact. The Patriots were 2-6 last year, but are 4-1 heading into Week 6, their only loss coming in their opener, 21-14 to Woodbridge, one of the top teams in the league.

Here’s a look at the most improved teams in the Big Central in 2021, using Strength Index:

The top gainer from Week 5 to Week 6 with South Brunswick, picking up 7.01 points after handing Monroe its second loss of the season.

Roselle gained after a 42-point home win over Johnson, and Bridgewater-Raritan climbed after a road win at Phillipsburg, its first at Maloney Stadium since 2016.

Here’s the rest of the list:

Week 5 statewide Strength Index Numbers: Somerville leads BCC but drops in overall rankings

Once again, Somerville is the highest rated team in the Big Central, according to the Week 5 Strength Index numbers published by Gridiron New Jersey, the NJSIAA’s official playoff qualification calculator.

But the Pioneers dropped one more spot, from 15th to 16th in the statewide rankings.

While Gridiron does not release the full list, Central Jersey Sports Radio will continue to compile the numbers each week.

There’s also a new team atop the rankings, as Bergen Catholic (98.73) leapfrogged St. Peter’s Prep (91.61), which lost to Don Bosco this weekend, while the Crusaders blanked Pope John 41-0. BC will play the Marauders at Caven Point on October 30th. Rounding out the top five are Red Bank Catholic (94.46), Cedar Creek (94.14) – the highest rated public school – and St. Joseph-Hammonton (92.85).

Shawnee (92.54) is sixth, followed by Holy Spirit (92.52), DePaul (92.22), Donovan Catholic (92.13) and St. Joseph-Montvale (91.69).

Somerville is the sixth highest rated public school in the state. Cedar Creek and Shawnee are followed by Ramapo (12th statewide, 90.04), Rumson-Fair Haven (13th, 89.97), NOrthern Highlands (15th, 88.71) and the Pioneers (87.41).

Somerville lost to Northern Highlands earlier this year.

Click below to download a PDF of all the teams in New Jersey ranked by Strength Index values.

Here are the rankings for all 60 teams in the Big Central Conference:

Week 4 statewide Strength Index Numbers: Somerville leads BCC; Who were the biggest gainers?

Somerville remains the highest rated team in the Big Central, according to the Week 4 Strength Index numbers published by Gridiron New Jersey, the NJSIAA’s official playoff qualification calculator.

While Gridiron does not release the full list, Central Jersey Sports Radio will continue to compile the numbers each week.

The top team overall in the state was St. Peter’s Prep, with an SI of 97.75. The Marauders are followed by Bergen Catholic (96.76), Cedar Creek (94.35), Red Bank Catholic (91.95) and DePaul (92.52) to round out the top five.

Holy Spirit is 6th at 92.31, followed by St. Augustine (92.06), Seton Hall Prep (91.95), Rumson-Fair Haven (90.36) and Donovan Catholic (89.78)

Idle Somerville (87.54) dropped from 11th to 15th as teams behind them last week passed them in Week 4.

Click below to download a PDF of all the teams in New Jersey ranked by Strength Index values. Big Central teams are highlighted in yellow. Independent area teams are in blue.

Here are the rankings for all 60 teams in the Big Central Conference:

Below are the top ten gainers in Strength Index for Week 4:

Somerville is top Big Central team in Week Three Strength Index rankings

While OSI – Opponent Strength Index – is 60 percent of New Jersey’s UPR formula to determine playoff qualification, that index gets its data from each team’s Strength Index, how strong a team is considered to be. The SI has nothing to do with wins or losses, but how each team performs based on its own rating relative to its opponent’s rating, and the final score.

Somerville is the highest ranked team in the Big Central, according to the official Week Three Strength index values, updated by Gridiron New Jersey, the website that calculates such values for the NJSIAA. This means the Pioneers are considered – by the formula – the top team in the Big Central Conference.

While Gridiron does not publish the numbers directly, Central Jersey Sports Radio compiled the values for all 339 schools playing football in New Jersey in 2021, and will continue to do so all season long.

The top team overall in the state was St. Peter’s Prep, with an SI of 98.49. The Marauders are followed by Bergen Catholic (96.33), Cedar Creek (94.51), Seton Hall Prep (92.34) and DePaul (91.77).

Rumson-Fair Haven is 6th at 91.14, followed by St. Augustine (89.86), Ramapo (88.47), Holy Spirit (87.89) and Red Bank Catholic (87.69) to round out the Top Ten.

Somerville is right behind at 87.54.

OSI works so that a winning team gets the full value of its opponent calculated into its average. If it beats a team with an SI of 80 and a team with an SI of 60, it’s OSI is 70 (the average of 60 and 80).

Losing teams get half the value of its opponent. A loss to an 80 team is worth 40, for example. A tie garners three-quarters of the SI value (an 80 would be worth a 60).

Click below to download a PDF of all the teams in New Jersey ranked by Strength Index values. Big Central teams are highlighted in yellow. Independent area teams are in blue.

Here are the rankings for all 60 teams in the Big Central Conference:

10Delaware Valley71.98
12North Brunswick69.57
13Warren Hills69.37
14Old Bridge68.84
15St. Thomas Aquinas68.72
17East Brunswick66.90
22Watchung Hills65.12
25New Providence62.49
26North Hunterdon62.30
28St. Joseph-Metuchen61.05
32New Brunswick58.37
33South Brunswick57.44
35North Plainfield54.89
37Bound Brook53.20
38Scotch Plains-Fanwood53.19
40South River50.76
42South Hunterdon50.41
43Hunterdon Central50.22
46South Plainfield47.66
48Governor Livingston46.89
49Roselle Park46.09
50Perth Amboy45.89
57JP Stevens25.60
60Highland Park13.46

OPINION: What if the Big Central created divisions solely on Strength Index?

The Strength Index is a good calculator and way to rate opponents, and the way it’s used to create the Opponent Strength Index – where it doesn’t reward teams for running up the score – is a big improvement over using the pure numbers of the similar Born Power Index.

It’s also a good tool to tell how tough a team’s schedule is, and to track their progress throughout the year. Are they just skating by? Are they challenging themselves? Is their schedule too difficult?

We’ve already looked at some of that this year, including the fact that top teams often have to “play down” because they have no equivalent in their division. That can make it difficult to make the playoffs – as often is the case for a school like Bernards – or to get a top seed, as happened to Somerville a couple of years ago.

On the flip side, it can also be a detriment to a team playing way above its station. Should a struggling program have to play really tough schools just because they happen to be the same size.

The Big Central Conference was created a couple of years ago to alleviate some of those scheduling concerns, but the inequities still exist. As a superconference – a merge of the Skyland and the GMC – it’s still relatively small.

There are 60 teams in the Big Central. Compare that to the North Jersey Super Football Conference with 113 and the West Jersey Football League with 94.

But there’s such a wide range of teams in the Big Central that the groupings – still mainly based on geography and longtime rivals – often have teams that don’t belong because they’re too good, or not good enough.

And while the league realigns its divisions every two years (or plans to, since it’s only in its second year of existence) it allows one to wonder: What if the Big Central adopted a scheme that would base divisions on Strength Index numbers, and nothing more?

Similar to what’s done in football (soccer) in Europe, teams can move up or down based on their results. And the Big Central does that in a way, too.

The NJSFC also did something like that, creating a division with struggling programs to allow they to play each other rather than getting whooped by someone much better who just happened to be local and an old-time rival.

We took a look at a couple of sets of numbers, keeping in mind the data is limited because Strength Index has only been used for two seasons, and last year was not a typical or full season. But for our purposes, we used a two-year average of starting Strength Index: the preseason 2021 and preseason 2022 values.

Since the league has 60 teams and ten divisions (mostly with six teams each, but one with eight and a couple with five) we decided to make ten even divisions of six teams each. Since geography and rivals weren’t a factor – we went strictly by math here – we figured this would give each team five divisional games, with a chance to schedule three or four more games against traditional rivals or more local teams.

Here’s what we came up with:

Division 1: Somerville (81.67), Hillside (79.54), Phillpsburg (79.32), Union (76.12), Hillsborough (73.26) and Ridge (72.48).

In this division, we’ve got four Group 5 schools, a Group 3 in Somerville and a Group 2 in Hillside. All are excellent teams. They went a combined 31-12 last season in a wacky year. Somerville finished 7-0 and beat Woodbridge in a highly anticipated matchup, though we never got to see the next game – ‘Ville-Phillipsburg – due to COVID. This division would see some really good games.

One might suggest from a numbers standpoint that Hillside is playing way out of its league. But minus its season-opening 14-9 win over Bernards, they romped through Roselle, Johnson and Middlesex by a combined 141-14, including a shutout over the Rams.

Would the Comets like that challenge? Maybe, maybe not. But it would be interesting to think of.

What about Somerville? They have challenged themselves in non-divisional games over the years. They played at Delbarton in 2018 and won 35-7, and this year will play at St. Joseph-Metuchen.

Division 2: Rahway (72.45), Woodbridge (72.19), North Brunswick (71.09), Cranford (70.21), Bernards (68.51), Piscataway (68.50).

Woodbridge, North Brunswick and Piscataway are the largest schools here, in Group 5. Cranford is in Group 4, Rahway in Group 3 and Bernards in Group 2. The Mountaineers might be the most interesting, as Jon Simoneau loves to challenge his group, too.

They’ve also been among the teams battling for playoff position, in such a weak division that they often need to win 6 or 7 games to just sniff the playoffs, while other teams skate in with a tougher schedule but three wins. The problem for Bernards is there are few similar size schools worth a lot of power points or with high enough SI values to get them in. The answer may be playing the big boys.

But are their opponents too strong?

Before we get to the rest of the list, you could also have an appeal process, or come up with some algorithm that says you can’t be in a division where the average of the other group sizes is over X amount. Take Bernards for example. The average Group size of the other five teams is 4.4. So, maybe that average can’t be more than two full numbers above your Group size. Since Bernards is a Group 2, the average of the other teams couldn’t be more than 4. That could be achieved with one Group 5, two Group 4s, and two Group 3s (5+4+4+3+3=20, 20/5=4).

Or maybe teams could be allowed to move down a couple of divisions if they aren’t happy, much like the appeal process that currently exists.

But remember, with only six teams per division, you would have five divisional games, that means an opportunity to schedule three or four other opponents that maybe aren’t as strong. Or just as strong, depending on what you prefer.

And remember, if you had a couple of rough years, your SI will go down, and you’ll naturally fall into a division that’s more even. You can play your way up or down every couple of seasons.

The middle divsions will be a little more even in terms of Group size, so let’s jump for a moment to the last hypothetical division.

Division 10: Dayton (41.64), Dunellen (39.59), Roselle Park (38.29), JP Stevens (34.84), Metuchen (30.98), Highland Park (20.31).

Of course, the one that jumps out at you is JP Stevens. But again, maybe a safeguard works in the opposite direction to keep a Group 5 team out of a division where the rest of the teams all average more than two whole numbers lower. (These five division-mates average a 1.2. Group value.) Or maybe you can’t be in with any teams that are more than two or three groups above you.

But for the rest of the teams based on recent results, it’s right about spot on.

Here are the hypothetical Big Central Conference divisions, marked by color, using the two-year average of 2020 and 2021 preseason Strength Index Values:

Here are the divisions using just the 2021 preseason Strength Index values:

While it’s far from a perfect system and not one I’m advocating, it’s an interesting jumping off point. Perhaps with some tweaks and safeguards, it could be a good guide to divisions and scheduling in the future.

Who’s the “strongest” team in the Big Central? Here are the league’s SI ratings heading into 2021

Now that the NJSIAA has released its official starting Strength Index numbers for the 2021 high school football season, who’s the strongest team in the Big Central?

Well, to be honest, not much changed since the end of the 2021 season.

At least at the top, Phillipsburg has the highest 2021 preseason Strength Index in the league, followed by Somerville.

Continue reading “Who’s the “strongest” team in the Big Central? Here are the league’s SI ratings heading into 2021″

Who’s got the toughest road in the Big Central? Updated rankings based on revised slate

by Mike Pavlichko

Even though the NJSIAA state playoffs in 2020 won’t look anything like normal – if they’re even held at all – it’s still an interesting exercise to look at some of the numbers they use, like Strength Index, and what we are calling the “Preseason OSI.”

Meanwhile, the revised schedules created by the Big Central Football Conference have in some cases created big changes in the strength of schedule for some teams.

The key stats are:

  • Preseason OSI: This is the average of the Strength Index of all a team’s opponents. During the season, OSI is calculated by using the full value for a win and half for a loss. In the preseason, we use full values for all opponents to keep the numbers evenly proportioned.
  • Play Up or Down: This is how much higher or lower a team’s OSI is compared to their own Strength Index. If a team’s OSI is higher than its own SI, that means they are playing stronger opponents, or “playing up.” In a normal playoff year, playing up by a lot could get you in the postseason even with a sub-.500 record. Playing down too much might keep you out, like happened to South River in a 6-3 campaign last year. This stats says scheduling is important.
  • Change in Preseason OSI: We thought it would be good to look at OSI values we calculated back in February when the regular season was 9 games long as opposed to 6 (and an even shorter 5 for those who had Carteret or Piscataway on their schedules, unless they find replacements).

We’ll give you some of the highlights here. For a full list of rankings of Preseason OSI, Play Up or Down, and Change in Preseason OSI, scroll to the bottom of each section and download the posted PDF files.

Continue reading “Who’s got the toughest road in the Big Central? Updated rankings based on revised slate”