With two weeks left before we add all the numbers up to see what teams may get a chance to play for a State Championship, let’s take a tentative look at who might get in.   Keep in mind that 8 schools will fill out the brackets in the 12 groups that Shore area schools play in and overall there are 23 sections that divide all the high schools in New Jersey. North Jersey is divided into 2 sections (North and South), that’s 10 groups. Central Jersey and South Jersey are divided into 5 groups each, that’s 10 more groups (20 total). Non-Public (Prep and Catholic schools) are divided into 4 groups, although group 1 (smallest) doesn’t have anyone in it that plays football. That’s  a total of 23 sectional groups.  

Now for the unique way they determine the numbers when setting up the 8 team bracket in each group:

By the weekend of Nov. 3/4 (cutoff date), most teams will have played 8 games. You take your best 7 games (you may drop 1) to calculate your power point number. Add up the numbers and rate the teams in each individual group to get a 8 team bracket. I won’t get into how the power point numbers are attained, that’s much too complicated for the written word. We would have to be face to face because questions would definitely arise, but if you are that interested, you can look it up on the NJSIAA website.

The week of Nov. 10/11 we begin. 1 plays 8, 2 plays 7, 3 plays 6, and 4 plays 5. Winners meet the next weekend (Nov. 17/18) in the semifinals and after those games, we are now down to 2 teams in each group. Here’s where it gets crazy as in some cases we break for Thanksgiving Day games (some schools would have completed their schedule) and then play the championship round the first weekend of December when we crown the 23 champions. That’s when the real debate begins as to who’s better, the North 5 winner or the South 5 winner. Why we don’t play it out is something I’ll never understand. That’s your New Jersey playoff system.

The Shore is always very competitive in all the groups they play in. Let’s break down this year’s possible champions:

Central 1: Point Beach, Shore, Keansburg.  Asbury Park has an outside shot to get in.

Central 2: Point Boro, Manasquan, and Holmdel.

Central 3: Monmouth, Rumson, and Wall.

Central 4: Brick Memorial, Brick, Long Branch, Jackson, Freehold.  Both Middletown South and Middletown North have a shot to get in.

Central 5: Manalapan and Freehold Twp.

South 2: Barnegat has a chance to get in.

South 3: Lacey. Lakewood and Pinelands also have a chance to get in.

South 4: Central and TR East.

South 5: Howell.

Non-Public 2: Mater Dei Prep.

Non- Public 3: St. John Vianney and Red Bank Catholic.  Donovan Catholic has a chance to get in.

This and that from last week:

The three unbeaten teams that were defeated last week all bounced back with wins this week. Long Branch (5-1), Rumson (5-1), and Howell (6-1) all won and keep their playoff hopes alive.

4 teams have already clinched at least a tie for division championships. Point Boro (7-0) in B-South, Mater Dei Prep (5-0) in B-Central, Manalapan (7-0) in A-North, and RBC (6-1) in B-North. Congratulations to the four champions.

Teams that are playing great right now after slow starts:

Lakewood (2-4)-beat Brick 27-7 as Zyheir Jones threw for 135 and 3 TDs and ran for another 103 and a TD. A very dangerous team to play now.

Jackson (5-2) has won 4 in a row after a 1-2 start. A.J. Tolmachewich completed 8 of 10 passes for 187 yds and 3 TDs.  

Brick Memorial (6-1) has won 6 in a row after an opening loss to Brick. Tyler Sindel has handled the flexbone offense great and gets better each week. He threw 3 TD passes, and ran for 126 yds and 2TDs vs. Southern as the Mustangs put up 55 points and over 425 yds of offense. 

We can’t mention hot teams and leave SJV (7-0) out. They have now won 36 in a row against Shore conference teams over the last 4 years. They will be looking for their 1st State Championship in 37 years when the playoffs begin. 

Our Jersey Mike’s Friday Night Football broadcast takes us to Brick, where the Central Regional Eagles enter the Dragon Den in a big Class A-South matchup. It'll be a 7 p.m. start on 92.7 WOBM, 1160/1310AM or streamed on the Shore Sports Network.

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