By TOM WILLIAMS
Twelve high school football teams from Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties have qualified for the NJSIAA playoffs according to brackets released today.
The most interesting pairing is a re-match of last Friday’s game between Ocean City (6-2) and Mainland (8-0) in Group 4. The two rivals will play in Linwood Friday night in the South Bracket. Mainland won, 21-6, last Friday to clinch the Independence Division championship of the West Jersey Football League.
In the initial United Power Ratings posted late last night, Ocean City would have traveled to Highland (6-2) and Mainland would have hosted Colts Neck (7-2). But the ratings were corrected an hour or so later.
This will mark the fifth time that the Raiders and Mustangs have played twice in one season, the last time in 2000. Mainland has never played the same team in back-to-back weeks but the last time Ocean City did it was in 1975 when the Raiders lost to Pleasantville in the Group 2 playoffs, then beat them five days later on Thanksgiving.
The Ocean City-Mainland game will be part of the South Bracket in Group 4. The winner will play the winner between Highland and Long Branch (3-5) in the semi-finals. Mainland’s last football playoff win was in 2008, Ocean City’s in 2001.
Millville (4-4) will travel to Clearview (7-2) and two-time defending champion Shawnee (6-2) will host Neptune (5-3) in the other two South Group 4 first round games. The winners of those games will play in a semi-final. Hammonton (7-2) will play in the Group 4 Central Bracket and will host Brick Township (3-5) in the first round.
In Group 5 South, Vineland (4-4) will travel to Southern Regional (7-2) in the first round. The winner will play the winner between Williamstown (8-1) and Hunterdon Central (2-7). Atlantic City (2-7) dropped out of the playoff picture with its loss to Timber Creek last Friday. The Vikings finished No. 19 in Group 5. The top 16 qualify.
Absegami, on the other hand, qualified by defeating Egg Harbor Township last Friday. The Braves (3-4) will travel to Somerville (8-1) in South Group 3. The winner will play the Ocean Township-Seneca winner.
Both Cedar Creek (7-2) and Pleasantville (7-1) will play in the Central Bracket in Group 2. Cedar Creek had a higher power rating than Pleasantville but since the Greyhounds defeated the Pirates, Pleasantville moves ahead to the higher seed. That also applied to four other teams in Group 2.
Cedar Creek will host Point Pleasant Boro (3-5) and the Greyhounds will host Collingswood (5-4) in Central Group 2.
In Group 1, Buena (7-2) will play in the Central Bracket and host Burlington City (6-2) in the first round.
In Non-Public 2, St. Joseph (8-1) is seeded No. 1 and will get a first round bye. The Wildcats will play the winner between Immaculate Concepcion (6-2) and Morris Catholic (6-3). Holy Spirit (4-4) will host St. Mary (4-5) on Friday, Nov. 15 in the first round.
Non-Public 4 was seeded by a committee and St. Augustine Prep (6-3) will get a first round bye and will play at Seton Hall Prep (8-1) on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Most teams that did not qualify for the playoffs will be awarded consolation games this week by the NJSIAA. Most of those games will be played on Thursday.
None of these pairings will be official until approved by the NJSIAA tomorrow.