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Postseason Outlook at the Halfway Mark

Since we are at the midpoint of the 2012 football season, Morris Sussex Football thought it would be appropriate to take a deep dive into each playoff section to evaluate where teams are in their journey to the postseason.

But before we break down the nitty gritty, lets delve into the qualifications for the State Tournament so everyone is on the same page. I’ll try to explain it in layman’s terms so its easy to follow. But I’ll so provide a link to the official rules so you can read all the nuances.

In the state of NJ, the NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) rules breaks down the state’s playoff tournament into five sections. These sections are North 1, North 2, Central, South and Non-Public. In each section there are five groups (except in Non-Public there are four) based on school size. It’s set up so Group 1 has the smallest schools and it scales up with Group 5 being the biggest (Group 4 is the biggest for Non-Public). At the end of the tournament there will be twenty four New Jersey state football champions.

Rules: To qualify for the playoffs, a team needs to be one of the top eight teams in their respective sections. A team also has to have at least a 50% winning percentage. However, teams with less than a 50% winning percentage can be included in the tournament if the top eight teams of the section do not all have a .500 record or above (pay attention Mendham, this rule might be meaningful to you in a few weeks).

What really drives teams to rank in the top eight of each section is a system of credits called Power Points. Teams are awarded Power Points based three criteria: 1) wins and ties 2) group size of opponents (more points are awarded for wins against schools in bigger groups) and 3) residual points based on who opponents haven beaten. Readers can review the official playoff rules by clicking HERE.

So with that outline as our backdrop, let’s delve into each section that concern Morris Sussex schools and see what their postseason realities look like at the halfway mark. Remember, finishing in the top eight of each section is what secures state playoff spot.

NJSIAA POWER POINT RANKINGS

North 1, Group 1
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

Butler 4 0 0 57
Saddle Brook 4 0 0 56
Hasbrouck Heights 4 0 0 47
Pompton Lakes 4 0 0 44
Cedar Grove 3 1 0 43
Verona 2 1 0 33
Belvidere 2 2 0 29
Becton 2 2 0 28
Cresskill 2 2 0 25
Emerson 2 2 0 23
Bogota 2 2 0 22
Boonton 2 2 0 22
Sussex Tech 2 2 0 19
Park Ridge 1 3 0 15
Wallington 1 3 0 8
Wood-Ridge 0 4 0 5

Analysis
Butler will really need fall off the map to not make into the postseason. The way they are buzz-sawing through their division, the worst I see them after 8 games is 7-1. | This week’s loss to Hopatcong could have lasting repercussions for the Boonton Bombers. Going 2-2 in the second half will make them .500 at the playoff cutoff. But if they can go 3-1 in the next four games, which will require a win over North Warren or Mt. Lakes, then they should be totally fine. But that’s easier said than done. | The good news for Sussex Tech is that the Techies could actually win the next 3 of 4 games. The bad part, that due to the lack of Power Points those opponents bring, they could still be out of the top eight. If that is the case, perhaps its time Sussex Tech start looking for a conference to jump into instead of being an independent. This would be a good thing for their program. Schools generally opt to be independent because their program needs time to mature. If Sussex Tech finishes with a winning record and doesn’t qualify for the postseason, then it might be time for them to join a conference.

North 1, Group 2
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

New Milford 4 0 0 47
Hawthorne 3 1 0 36
North Warren 3 1 0 36
Elmwood Park 3 1 0 32
Waldwick 2 2 0 29
Hopatcong 2 2 0 26
Kinnelon 2 2 0 26
Glen Rock 2 2 0 25
Westwood 2 2 0 25
Kittatinny 2 2 0 22
Pascack Hills 1 3 0 14
Wallkill Valley 1 3 0 12
Newton 0 4 0 7
Pequannock 0 4 0 6
Dumont 0 4 0 2
Manchester Regional 0 4 0 2

Analysis
North Warren is in the postseason for sure…unless they completely trip all over themselves. | Kittatinny and Hopatcong should be focusing on finishing north of .500. | Kittatinny is in an interesting situation because they play in a division with bigger schools. This rewards them with a lot of Power Points for wins and doesn’t negatively impact them that much as much for losses. Kittatinny could actually sneak in with a 4-4 record. I hate to say it but Wallkill, Newton and Pequannock all have their work cut out for them. Each one pretty much needs to win out the next four games and also has to have a little help from some of the other folks in this section to get a playoff bid.

North 1, Group 3
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

River Dell 4 0 0 64
Sparta 4 0 0 61
Ramapo 4 0 0 58
Lakeland 4 0 0 47
West Essex 3 1 0 45
Mahwah 3 1 0 44
Ramsey 3 1 0 44
Jefferson 3 1 0 28
Bergenfield 2 2 0 27
Morris Hills 1 3 0 20
Demarest 1 3 0 17
Garfield 1 3 0 11
Tenafly 0 3 0 6
High Point 0 4 0 4
Indian Hills 0 4 0 4

Analysis
I don’t see Sparta having any trouble from here on out. | Jefferson has a very tough schedule which doesn’t help them (who’s great idea was it to put Hoboken as Jefferson’s eighth game of the year?). As insurance, Jefferson needs to go 3-1 the rest of the way to seal a playoff bid. | Morris Hills has an uphill battle. They basically need to win out the next four games which should give them enough Power Points to secure a playoff spot. There is not much margin of error for them. | As for High Point, it’s not looking great…however, if they can manage a four game win streak the Power Points they would earn would likely get them in the top eight of the section.

North 1, Group 4
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

Roxbury 4 0 0 63
Pascack Valley 4 0 0 59
Wayne Valley 4 0 0 56
Mount Olive 3 1 0 40
Old Tappan 3 1 0 34
Hackensack 2 2 0 32
Vernon 2 2 0 29
Passaic Valley 2 2 0 28
Wayne Hills 2 2 0 27
Paramus 2 2 0 26
West Milford 1 3 0 20
Nutley 1 3 0 19
Fair Lawn 1 3 0 14
Northern Highlands 1 3 0 14
Montville 1 3 0 13
Teaneck 0 4 0 5

Analysis
Roxbury has nothing to worry about as they were in before the season started. | Mount Olive will need to fall off the planet to not get in. The fact that their Roxbury game is their ninth game only makes their life easier. | Look at Vernon sitting at the 7th spot right now! Considering their next three games consist of Mount Olive, Pope John and a scrappy MoHills team that will be fighting for a playoff spot themselves, the Vikings don’t have an easy road ahead. But their own destiny is in their hands. | Montville is actually more than capable of winning the next three of four games. Problem is, they won’t get many Power Points because of the low credits those smaller group opponents bring. The odds are not in the Mustangs favor.

North 1, Group 5
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

Montclair 4 0 0 52
Bloomfield 3 0 0 50
Randolph 3 1 0 45
Passaic County Tech 3 1 0 43
Union City 3 1 0 42
Kennedy 3 1 0 39
Ridgewood 2 2 0 38
North Bergen 2 2 0 35
West Orange 2 2 0 25
Eastside 1 3 0 23
Clifton 1 3 0 20
Morris Knolls 1 3 0 13
Bergen Tech 1 3 0 10
Livingston 0 4 0 8
East Orange Campus 0 3 0 7
Passaic 0 4 0 7

Analysis
Randolph is sitting pretty at 3-1. The negative for them is the next four games are against smaller Group 3 and 4 teams. So wins don’t provide much security and losses sting extra hard. Winning three of the next four would be ideal to secure a playoff spot. But finishing at 5-3 will likely do the trick too. | Knolls has the chips stacked against them. They basically need to win out but their lower Group opponents are not shelling out many Power Points. One more loss will likely be fatal for the Golden Eagles’ playoff hopes.

North 2, Group 1
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

Hoboken 3 1 0 40
New Providence 4 0 0 37
Roselle Park 3 1 0 32
Weehawken 3 1 0 31
Secaucus 3 1 0 27
Bound Brook 3 1 0 26
Dunellen 2 2 0 22
Whippany Park 2 2 0 22
North Arlington 1 3 0 16
Dayton 1 3 0 15
Glen Ridge 1 3 0 15
Metuchen 1 3 0 15
Middlesex 1 3 0 12
Ridgefield 0 4 0 9
Brearley 0 4 0 7
Harrison 0 4 0 7

Analysis
Oh, for a second I thought I saw Whippany Park sitting in the eighth spot of this bracket. Wait, they are! Good for you Wildcats, look at where you are! Look guys, here is the deal…because the next three games are against Group 2 teams that helps you out. If you win two of the next four games, you could be in the postseason! When was the last time that happened…when Brian Saxton was playing there???

North 2, Group 2
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

Lenape Valley 4 0 0 62
Newark Central 4 0 0 50
Mountain Lakes 4 0 0 43
Lincoln 4 0 0 40
Ridgefield Park 3 1 0 39
Bernards 4 0 0 37
Hackettstown 3 1 0 34
Madison 3 0 0 34
Rutherford 2 2 0 34
Lodi 2 2 0 31
Caldwell 2 1 0 28
Hanover Park 3 1 0 27
Englewood 2 2 0 25
Orange 1 3 0 20
Lyndhurst 1 3 0 14
Dover 0 4 0 9

Analysis
Lenape, Mt. Lakes and Madison are in…trust me, they’re in. | Its possible for Hackettstown to get in with two more wins but their next games are against Madison, Dover, Jefferson and Hanover Park. So that is easier said than done. | Hanover Park is in a similar dilemma in that going 4-4 just may not cut it. The fact that they have Jefferson, Riverdale NY (who makes these schedules???), Kittatinny and Hackettstown next up doesn’t help. It could likely come down to the eighth game between Hackettstown and Hanover Park to see which of those teams slips in. That also depends how the rest of the section shakes out. | As for Dover, they need to win the next four games period. They are capable of winning the next three but their eighth game is against Lenape Valley…or as they are also known the 1985 Chicago Bears.

North 2, Group 3
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

Summit 4 0 0 55
Rahway 3 1 0 38
Cranford 3 1 0 37
Palisades Park 2 2 0 37
Parsippany Hills 3 1 0 34
Voorhees 2 2 0 29
Newark West Side 2 2 0 26
Somerville 1 3 0 19
Fort Lee 1 3 0 16
South Plainfield 1 2 0 15
Cliffside Park 1 2 0 10
Raritan 0 4 0 9
Parsippany 0 4 0 8
Governor Livingston 0 4 0 6
Chatham 0 4 0 4

Analysis
Par Hills is in very good shape. Not only will they likely advance to the postseason, but their regular season schedule will prep them nicely for this section. | Crazier things have happened, but considering Parsippany and Chatham have combined for 18 points of offense through four games the postseason is definitely a distance away. But that doesn’t mean you quit by any means.

North 2, Group 4
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

Scotch Plains-Fanwood 3 1 0 34
West Morris 2 2 0 32
Irvington 2 1 0 27
Millburn 2 1 0 27
Barringer 2 1 0 26
Ferris 2 2 0 24
Warren Hills 2 2 0 18
Linden 1 3 0 17
Morristown 1 3 0 16
Memorial 1 3 0 13
Mendham 0 4 0 8
Kearny 0 4 0 6
Plainfield 0 4 0 6
Belleville 0 4 0 5
Newark East Side 0 4 0 5

Analysis
Believe it or not, all three Morris Sussex teams could make it to the postseason this year, some even with losing records. | West Morris should get in easy with a .500 record. | Believe it or not, a win over Morristown and Chatham could likely give Mendham a playoff berth with a 2-6 record. | Motown can also make it if they can stop the bleeding (losing) and get a few Ws under their belts. | This is just a weak section so unless something shifts, Mendham and Motown still have hope.

Non-Public, Group 1
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

St. Joseph (Hamm.) 4 0 0 65
St. Mary 4 0 0 43
St. Anthony 4 0 0 41
Morristown-Beard 2 2 0 29
Hudson Catholic 2 2 0 26
Dwight-Englewood 2 1 0 15
Queen of Peace 1 3 0 15
Cardinal McCarrick 1 3 0 12
Mater Dei 0 4 0 6
Newark Academy 0 3 0 3
Immaculate Conception 0 4 0 2

Analysis
MoBeard is still very much in it. They are good enough to win the rest of the games and be in control of their own fate.

Non-Public, Group 2
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

Immaculata 3 1 0 44
Montclair Kimberley 3 1 0 32
Holy Cross 2 2 0 27
Marist 2 2 0 25
Bishop Eustace 2 1 0 20
Holy Spirit 1 2 0 18
Gloucester Catholic 1 3 0 10
Pingry 0 4 0 9
Morris Catholic 0 4 0 6

Analysis
Morris Catholic has an uphill battle for sure. Winning the next four games is really the goal for them. But that is not easy considering their next game is against Butler who has scored 295 points in four games.

Non-Public, Group 3
(team / wins / losses / ties / Power Points)

St. Joseph (Mont.) 3 1 0 48
Red Bank Catholic 4 0 0 45
Delbarton 3 1 0 42
Camden Catholic 3 1 0 36
Pope John 3 1 0 36
Monsignor Donovan 2 1 0 34
St. John Vianney 2 2 0 33
Bishop Ahr 2 2 0 24
DePaul 1 3 0 24

Analysis
Both Delby and Pope John do not have it easy. The good news for both teams is they both get good Power Points for each win in their regular season divisions. Both could lose two of the next four and still get in. But going at least 3-1 from here on out should get them in without any riff raff.

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The 2012 Week 4 Scoreboard is sponsored by Football University, JointCare Physical Therapy, StopExercising.com, Mendham Creative, RT Sports Photography and Nuzzi & Mason.

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George Muha has been covering high school sports since 2006. He feels high school scholar-athletes are the most important part of the community and highlighting their achievements on the field, in the classroom and within the community is his personal mission.

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