By TOM WILLIAMS
Eleven Cape-Atlantic League football teams playing in the West Jersey Football League seem to have qualified for the NJSIAA football playoffs that begin on Friday.
According to the tabulations of Will Morris, the Malaga Math Master, a pair of CAL teams – St. Joseph and Millville – are No. 1 seeds in their groups.
St. Joe has won 26 NJSIAA football championships and has qualified 36 straight years. It will host Immaculate Conception in the first round of Non-Public 2 on Saturday. If they win, the Wildcats will host the Immaculata-Holy Cross winner the following Saturday. Holy Spirit, qualifying for the 16th straight year and winners of 14 total NJSIAA football championships, including nine in the playoff era, is the No. 2 seed in Non-Public 2 and will host Morris Catholic on Friday. The winner will take on the Hudson Catholic-Gloucester Catholic winner. St. Joe and Holy Spirit could only meet in the Non-Public 2 championship game.
Millville is the No. 1 seed in Group 4 and will host Winslow Township. The Thunderbolts have qualified nine straight years and won a total of 10 NJSIAA titles, two in the playoffs. If Millville wins it will host either Highland or Ocean City. The Raiders, who have qualified two straight years, have won nine championships, four of them in the playoff era. In the other half of the Group 4 bracket, Mainland will travel to Shawnee. The Mustangs, who last qualified in 2015, have won six NJSIAA football crowns, all in the playoff era. The Mainland-Shawnee winner will play the Clearview-Hammonton winner.
In Group 5, Vineland has been seeded No. 4 and will host Toms River North. This is the third straight year Vineland has qualified and the seventh time overall. But the Fighting Clan has never won a playoff game. If they win Friday’s game they will play the Williamstown-Washington Township winner in the South Jersey semifinals.
In Group 3, Oakcrest is seeded No. 8 and will travel to play the No. 1 seed – undefeated Burlington Township. Oakcrest last qualified in 2015 and has never won a playoff championship. If they win on Friday they will play the Wall-Timber Creek winner.
There is a CAL re-match in Group 2 – No. 5 seed Cedar Creek at No. 4 Pleasantville. The Greyhounds beat the Pirates, 38-22, earlier this season. Cedar Creek qualifies for the fourth straight year and fifth time in seven years. Pleasantville qualifies for the second straight year after a long drought. Each school has won one playoff championship. The winner of their game will play the Sterling-Haddonfield winner.
In Group 1, undefeated Buena was seeded No. 4 and will host Glassboro in the first round. The winner will take on the Penns Grove-Woodstown winner. Buena last qualified for the playoffs in 2015.
St. Augustine Prep qualified in Non-Public 4 but the seeding for that group is being done by a committee. In the United Power Rating that was used in all other groups, The Prep finished fourth among Non-Public 4 schools.
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 that includes strength of schedule and margins of victory.
Public schools are divided into North One-Two and South-Central within each group. Once the top 16 schools with the highest United ranking among the South-Central schools were determined, they were divided based on geography into eight teams who play for the South Jersey title and eight who play in Central Jersey.
In some unique results, Delran (7-1) did not qualify in Group 2; Cherokee (0-7) came very close to qualifying in Group 5; and Paulsboro, winners of 19 South Jersey Group 1 championships, including three of the last four, has wound up in Central Jersey for the first time. In fact, there are six schools from the seven traditional South Jersey counties who will be playing in the Central Jersey playoffs.
The first round of playoffs is next weekend (Nov. 2-3) with the semifinals the following weekend. South Jersey championship games will be played Nov. 16-18.
Teams that did not qualify for the playoffs will be assigned a consolation game that will be played either Thursday night or Saturday. In certain situations, teams can also be assigned consolation games on Nov. 8.
The playoff pairings will be made official by the NJSIAA on Monday, when the consolation schedule will also be announced.
South Group 5
8-Washington Township (3-5) @ 1-Williamstown (9-0)
5-Toms River North (6-2) @ 4-Vineland (3-5)
7-Eastern (6-2) @ 2-Rancocas Valley (6-2)
6-Kingsway (5-3) @ 3-Lenape (4-4)
South Group 4
8-Winslow Township (3-5) @ 1-Millville (5-3)
5-Mainland (6-2) @ 4-Shawnee (2-6)
7-Ocean City (3-4) @ 2-Highland (7-1)
6-Hammonton (3-6) @ 3-Clearview (5-2)
South Group 3
8-Oakcrest (4-3) @ 1-Burlington Township (8-0)
5-Timber Creek (3-5) @ 4-Wall (5-2)
7-Deptford (5-3) @ 2-Delsea (5-3)
6-Triton (5-3) @ 3-Woodrow Wilson (6-2)
South Group 2
8-Sterling (4-5) @ 1-Haddonfield (8-0)
5-Cedar Creek (4-4) @ 4-Pleasantville (6-2)
7-Collingswood (6-3) @ 2-Camden (7-1)
6-Barnegat (6-2) @ 3-West Deptford (6-2)
South Group 1
8-Woodstown (2-5) @ 1-Penns Grove (9-0)
5-Glassboro (4-3) @ 4-Buena (8-0)
7-Overbrook (2-7) @ 2-Salem (6-2)
6-Schalick (3-4) @ 3-Gateway (7-0)
8-Immaculate Conception (5-4) @ 1-St. Joseph (7-2)
5-Holy Cross (6-3) @ 4-Immaculata (4-4)
7-Morris Catholic (4-5) @ 2-Holy Spirit (5-3)
6-Gloucester Catholic (2-6) @ 3-Hudson Catholic (5-4)