Matawan, Brick Memorial and Southern are among the Shore Conference football teams on the bubble entering the final week before the cutoff for qualification for the NJSIAA playoffs. Saturday is the cutoff.
A total of 21 Shore Conference schools appear to have clinched playoff berths. At least nine other Shore Conference teams have a chance to qualify.
The top eight teams in the power points in each section through eight games qualify for the playoffs. In a rule instituted this season by the NJSIAA, each school’s worst power point game through its first eight will be dropped from its power point total.
The following is a brief look at each of the sections involving Shore Conference teams.
CENTRAL GROUP V: Manalapan (7-0, 120 power points), which has been in a sectional final the last two seasons and is trying to win its first sectional title, will likely be the No. 2 seed behind Old Bridge (6-1, 134).
Brick Memorial (5-3, 91), currently 10th, will sneak in if it earns enough residual points this weekend. Residual points are earned based on how each team’s opponents fare. Brick Memorial could get as many as 10 residual points this weekend, which would enable it to pass Montgomery and Hillsborough.
It is also possible the Mustangs may get only three residual points this weekend, which would leave them on the outside looking in.
CENTRAL GROUP IV: There is a lot of uncertainty in this group after the No. 1 seed, which will belong to Brick (6-2, 128).
The winner of the Colts Neck (6-1, 89)-Middletown South (4-3, 88) will have the inside track for the No. 2 seed. The loser still has a good chance to be as high as the No. 3 seed and host a first-round game, but could also drop as low as No. 5, depending on how Nottingham (5-2, 84) and Burlington Township (5-2, 83) fare in their games against Hopewell Valley (7-0) and Northern Burlington respectively.
Neptune (3-4, 64) would be no worse than the No. 6 seed if wins at Wall (3-4) Friday night. The Scarlet Fliers will likely qualify even with a loss.
Middletown North (2-5, 54) clinches a berth with a win at Freehold Township (1-6) on Friday night. The Lions can still qualify even they lose. Middletown North has not qualified for the playoffs since 2009.
Jackson Liberty (3-4, 48) will earn its second straight berth if it defeats Monsignor Donovan (3-4) Friday night and either Steinert (2-5, 48) loses at Rancocas Valley (4-3) on Saturday or Middletown North loses at Freehold Township.
CENTRAL GROUP III: Ocean (7-0, 122) will likely be no worse than the No. 2 seed behind Lawrence (7-0, 126) with an outside chance at being the top seed with a win at Freehold (1-6) on Saturday.
Long Branch (6-2, 104) will likely be the No. 4 seed and have a first-round home game against Ewing (5-3, 98) if Carteret (5-2, 90) loses to JFK-Iselin (4-4). If Carteret loses, the Green Wave will likely be the No. 5 seed and play at Carteret.
The real intrigue comes at the bottom.
Matawan (4-3, 71), currently in ninth, would move into a tie with No. 8 Allentown (4-4, 81) with a win at 0-7 New Brunswick Friday night. The Huskies and Redbirds and possibly Raritan (2-5, 61) would then be in a residual point battle. Allentown appears to have the slightly better residual point potential.
Raritan will likely come up just short even with a win at St. John Vianney (3-4) on Saturday.
CENTRAL GROUP II: Rumson-Fair Haven (7-0, 102) will likely be the No. 1 seed with a win over Manasquan (6-1) on Friday night.
A loss could drop Rumson-Fair Haven to the No. 4 slot and perhaps put it in the same semifinal bracket as Weequahic (7-0, 104) depending on how Rahway (5-2, 102) and Delran (6-1, 96) fare in their games against Roselle and Ewing. Weequahic defeated Rumson-Fair Haven, 13-10, last year in a first-round game.
Lakewood (5-2, 90) will have a good chance to be at least the No. 5 seed with win at Point Boro (0-8) on Friday night. Lakewood has qualified for the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in the 40-season history of the playoffs.
It appears Keyport (5-3, 71) will not qualify even though it is in eighth place because Bordentown (4-3, 68) will get enough residual points to pass the Red Raiders even if loses at Cinnaminson on Friday.
CENTRAL GROUP I: Shore (6-1, 104) will be the No. 1 seed if defeats Keyport on Friday night.
There is a solid chance Florence (5-2, 76), which defeated Shore, 23-17, in double overtime last year in the sectional final, could be in Shore’s semifinal bracket.
Point Beach (7-1, 107) will likely be the No. 3 seed and host Asbury Park (5-2, 82) in the first round. The Garnet Gulls defeated the Blue Bishops, 10-7, on Oct. 11.
SOUTH GROUP V: Southern (3-4, 63), currently eighth, needs to beat Toms River East (2-5) on Saturday to even have a chance to qualify because ninth and 10th-place Absegami and Atlantic City (both 3-4, 60) are playing each other.
If Southern wins, it will then be a residual point race with the Absegami-Atlantic City winner and Washington Township (5-2, 75), if loses at Clearview (4-3). Lenape (3-4, 60) would pass Southern and the Absegami-Atlantic City winner if it upends 7-1 Eastern.
Jackson Memorial (5-2, 104) will be the No. 3 seed if it wins at Brick Friday night in the Shore Conference Class A South championship game. If it loses, it could still have a home game, but could fall to the No. 5 seed.
SOUTH GROUP IV: Toms River South (5-2, 117) will be no worse than the No. 3 seed with a win at Toms River North (0-7) on Friday night. The Indians will be the No. 2 seed with a win and a Hammonton (6-1, 108) loss to Millville (5-2).
Toms River South has not had a home playoff game since 2003. There is a solid chance the Indians will host Lacey (5-3, 88) in the first round in a rematch of Lacey’s 32-24 win at Toms River South on Oct. 4. Lacey will likely be seeded anywhere from 5-7.
Toms River East (2-5, 65) needs to beat Southern and then one of the following three — Shawnee, Cherry Hill West or Clearview — to lose.
SOUTH GROUP III: It appears Manasquan (6-1, 109) will be the No. 1 seed, even if it loses at Rumson-Fair Haven.
Barnegat (6-1, 95) could be the No. 2 seed with a win at Red Bank (1-6) on Friday and a Northern Burlington )5-2, 85) loss to Burlington Township (5-2). Barnegat will likely be no worse then the No. 3 seed with a win. A loss could possibly drop Barnegat to the No. 4 slot and result in a first-round matchup with Central. The two are currently tied for the Class B South lead.
Central (5-2, 84) could earn a first-round home game with a win over Manchester (2-5, 39) and a Northern Burlington loss. The Golden Eagles will be no worse than the No. 5 seed, regardless Central has never hosted a playoff game.
Wall is the No. 6 seed with a win over Neptune. If the Crimson Knights lose, Manchester could catch them with a win.
NON-PUBLIC GROUP III: It looks like Red Bank Catholic (7-0, 107) will be the No. 4 seed and host Immaculata (5-3, 104) in the first round.
That would put the Caseys in the same semifinal bracket with St. Joseph (Montvale) (7-0, 160), the consensus No. 1-ranked team in the state. St. Joseph (Montvale) routed Red Bank Catholic, 42-7, last year in the semifinals.
Because there are only eight teams in the group, St. John Vianney (3-4, 62) and Monsignor Donovan (3-4, 58) have both qualified.
NON-PUBLIC GROUP I: Mater Dei (4-4), which has recorded its most wins since 2006, will be the No. 7 seed and play at No. 2 Morristown-Beard (5-3, 102) in the first round.