With the high school playoffs a week away from being “somewhat” seeded the naysayers are still skeptical of the new system.  As we know the system was tweaked quite a bit over previous years and I believe it has been for the better...and while I think they are getting it right,  I’ll try and help explain the 2019 version of the NJ State Playoffs.

The overall system is good.  The confusion to most of us, including the coaches, lies in the point system being used to get teams ranked in their sections.  I’ll speak specifically of the sections the Shore teams are traditionally in, the Central and the South.

Those sections are now gone this year and all Shore teams have been consolidated to one section, the South. The teams are still divided into groups by size (Groups 1-5).

After next weekend the top 16 of each group will be seeded into the playoffs with 8 teams will put into two separate sections (Central and South).  They will be “snaked” into their sections, meaning the #1 team will go into their traditional section and #2&3 will go into the opposite section.  For example, let’s take Wall, who looks like the top seed in South Group 3.  They will be seeded #1 in the Central section (that is their traditional section). The 2/3 teams will go into the South section, with the 4/5 teams going to the Central, and so on...all the way to #16.  The #16 has the task of playing the #1 team in the Central bracket because that’s where Wall would be.  If however, the top seed is in the South bracket, then #16 would snake to the South.  Other than the original breakdown, there is no geographic thought as to which team gets placed into a section. You may have teams from the far South possibly traveling to a game in Central NJ or vice versa.

The playoffs will be played on the weekends of Nov 8/9 (1st round), Nov 15/16 (semi-finals) and Nov 22/23 (sectional finals).  All three rounds will be at the home field of the higher seed.  So again if Wall continues to win they would play all 3 games at home.  That is a distinct advantage and I believe rightfully earned as the #1 seed.  We would then have a champion in each sectional bracket in each group.  10 champs.  Remember this is only half of the state as North 1 and 2 are combined and are doing the same thing.  So that is 20 Public Champions plus 3 Non-Public Champions.  The weekend of Nov 29/30 and  DEC 6/7 we would then have another round, in what the NJSIAA is referencing as Bowl games where the South winner plays the Central winner.  Those games would be played at either Met Life Stadium or Rutgers University along with the Non-Public Championships. That is as far as this year’s playoffs will go.  Talk is that eventually (and what I would hope to see) there will be an overall Group Championship played which would require one more round. 5 winners plus 3 Non-Public winners.

Hopefully, I have explained it clear enough for you to understand. If not, you can call me and I will gladly not answer the phone.  But in all seriousness, as the seeds become official nextMonday you will see team names, and not numbers which will make it much clearer and it will hopefully make more sense!  Have a good week and good luck with your school’s playoff hopes.

This Wednesday we will feature the Donovan Catholic Griffins on the Asylum Sports Center Coaches Corner from the Office Lounge in Toms  River.  The show runs from 7-8 pm. Joining us will be HC Dan Curcione along with standout seniors Chris Aldrich and Nasir Calhoun. Listen on 105.7FM The Hawk or watch it streamed live at shoresportsnetwork.com. Our Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week Friday will be the annual “Civil War” matchup between TR North and TR South.  Throw the records out and get ready for a battle.  North is having a great season while South is playing very competitive football and bragging rights for the year are on the line.  The Indians-Mariners contest will be streamed live at shoresportsnetwork.com

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