By TOM WILLIAMS
Under the new United Power Ratings being used this season by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to determine its football playoff participants this year, Ocean City would be one of 12 football teams from Cape-Atlantic League schools to qualify under the complicated new system.
According to Will Morris, the master of statistics and mathematics who makes his home in Gloucester County, if the season ended this weekend, Ocean City would be the No. 4 seed in South Jersey Group 4 and would host No. 5 Hammonton at Carey Stadium in the first round.
This season the NJSIAA is combining its own power rating, traditionally based on the group size and record of a team’s opponents, with the Born Index Ratings that evaluate a team’s season through a different mathematical system.
Public schools are divided into North One-Two and South-Central within each group. At the end of this month, the 16 schools with the highest united ranking among the South-Central schools will qualify for the playoffs. Once they are determined, the 16 schools will be divided based on geography into eight teams who play for the South Jersey title and eight who play in Central Jersey.
On Friday, Ocean City received 28 power points for losing to St. Augustine Prep. That is more than double the number of points they got for winning any of the first three games. The reason is that the NJSIAA has a special rule covering 17 Non-Public schools. If a public school plays any one of these schools, that public school gets a large number of points, win or lose. The purpose is to encourage New Jersey public schools to play these traditionally strong Non-Public teams so they won’t have to travel around the country to get games.
So, Ocean City dropped a 38-6 decision to The Prep on Friday but moved up in the NJSIAA power rating system.
The Raiders are currently No. 4 in South Jersey Group 4. Millville is the top seed in that group and Mainland is No. 8. If the playoffs were next weekend in would be Hammonton at Ocean City, Mainland at Millville, Winslow Township at Shawnee and Clearview at Highland in Group 4.
Nine other CAL teams are also currently among the teams that are currently in the playoff picture.
In South Jersey Group 5, Vineland is currently No. 3 and would host Cherokee.
In Group 3, No. 7 Oakcrest would play at Timber Creek.
In Group 2, No. 8 Middle Township would play at Haddonfield and, in a rematch of Saturday’s game, No. 5 Cedar Creek would play at No. 4 Pleasantville.
In Group 1, No. 4 Buena would play at Gateway.
In Non-Public 4, No. 6 St. Augustine would play at Bergen Catholic.
And, in Non-Public 2, No. 1 St. Joseph would host the St. Mary-Gloucester Catholic winner and No. 3 Holy Spirit would host Morris Catholic.
The playoffs will begin the first weekend in November and the South Jersey public champions will be determined the weekend before Thanksgiving. Teams that do not qualify for the playoffs will again be assigned consolation games and teams that lose in the first round of the playoffs can also get a consolation game.
That is where area teams stand in the NJSIAA playoff picture after the September games.
But the games played in the next month could lead to significant changes.