By TOM WILLIAMS
We are two weekends into October in New Jersey high school football and, according to the current ratings, there are now 10 teams at Cape-Atlantic League schools (plus Hammonton) who are in the NJSIAA playoff picture.
In Group 5, Vineland (2-4) is currently No. 11 (the top 16 qualify) and would travel to Old Bridge (5-0). Atlantic City (1-5) was No. 16 last week, right on the edge, but dropped to No. 18 this week and is not currently in the playoff picture. Toms River North (5-1) remains No. 1 in Group 5.
In Group 4, No. 13-Ocean City (4-1) would be at No. 4 Hammonton (4-2), Middletown North (3-3) at No. 5 Millville (2-4) and Clearview (4-2) @ No. 7 Mainland (6-0). Mainland, by the way, defeated Clearview, 14-7, two weeks ago. Despite its one-sided loss on Friday, two-time defending champion Shawnee (5-1) remains No. 1 in Group 4.
In Group 3 there are no area teams in the picture. Oakcrest (2-4) is within reach at No. 19, one notch down from last week. Wall Township (6-0) is No. 1 in Group 3.
In Group 2, Haddon Heights (3-3) would play at No. 2-Cedar Creek (4-2) and Lincoln (3-3) from Jersey City would visit No. 7 Pleasantville (5-1). West Deptford (5-0) is No. 1.
In Group 1, Buena (5-1) has moved up to No. 6 and would host Florence (3-3) in the first round. Penns Grove (6-0) is No. 1.
Among the Non-Public schools, No. 7 St. Augustine Prep (3-3) would host Paramus Catholic (3-3) in Non-Public 4, with the winner facing St. Joseph-Montvale (5-1). St. Peter’s Prep (6-0) is No. 1 in Non-Public 4.
In Non-Public 2, No. 1 St. Joseph (5-1) would host the winner between Gloucester Catholic (0-5) and Holy Cross (3-3) and No. 2 Holy Spirit (3-2) would host the winner of the game between Hudson Catholic (1-5) and Newark Academy (3-1).
Though all games are important to the playoff candidates because of the mathematical system that determines seedings and qualifiers, some of the key games this week include St. Augustine at Holy Spirit, St. Joseph at West Deptford, Woodrow Wilson at Delsea, Glassboro at Gateway, Washington Township at Williamstown, Shawnee at Union City, Eastern at Trenton and Toms River North at Long Branch.
A lot could change over the next three weeks because of game results and also because schools that do not wish to play in the playoffs can indicate their intent by Oct. 28. But it looks like we should have some post-season excitement again this year.
After all, at least one CAL school has won an NJSIAA playoff football championship each of the last 32 seasons.