ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. — A proposal to classify non-public football programs by North Jersey and South Jersey cleared its first hurdle Wednesday, as it was approved by the NJSIAA Advisory Committee. .
The proposal, which was presented by the South Jersey-based West Jersey Football League, would classify the NJSIAA’s 37 non-public football members into either North Jersey Non-Public A or B or South Jersey Non-Public A or B, like it was through 1992 and is in most every other sport the NJSIAA sponsors.
The NJSIAA had four statewide Non-Public Groups I-IV from 1993-2014 and had Non-Pulblic Groups II-IV last season after it combined Non-Public Group I and II.
The advisory committee approved the proposal 17-3. The proposal will now be presented to the NJSIAA’s Executive Committee in May. If the executive committee endorses the proposal, it will go before the NJSIAA membership in December.
If the proposal clears all hurdles, it would go into effect for the 2017 season with four non-public sectional champions – North A and B and South A and B. The non-public playoffs, like the 20 public school sections would end at the sectional level.
The WJFL’s proposal to classify non-public schools for football by North and South is a by-product of the executive committee’s vote in February to allow automatic entry into the football playoffs for North Jersey Non-Public schools Don Bosco Prep, Bergen Catholic, St. Joseph (Montvale), St. Peter’s Prep, Paramus Cathlolic, DePaul, Delbarton, Pope John and Seton Hall Prep regardless of where they finished in the power points in their respective groups.
Each non-public playoff bracket would still consist of just eight teams, so there was the possibility a South Jersey non-public school could have finished in top eight in the power points in their respective section and get bumped out by one of those nine schools if they were not in the top eight.
“Our group did not (think) that was a very fair way to look at the problem,” said Bud Kowal, WJFL president and Ewing athletic director, about the problems several of the North Jersey Non-Public powers have getting New Jersey teams to play them.
If the automatic entry plan had been in effect last year, Paramus Catholic, which finished ninth in the power rankings in Non-Public Group IV, would have been in the playoffs and seventh-placed Paul VI would have been out.
Travel was also a driving force behind the proposal, Kowal said. Paul VI athletic director Tony Mitchell said last season, it cost his school $3,000 last year to travel to Don Bosco Prep for a first-round game.
Last season, the proposal would have classified non-public schools South of the Raritan River into South Jersey A and B last season.
Last year, under this proposal, South A would have consisted of Bishop Ahr, St. Joseph (Metuchen), St. John Vianney, Red Bank Catholic, Notre Dame, Donovan Catholic, Bishop Eustace, Camden Catholic, Paul VI and St. Augustine and South B would have consisted of Hudson Catholic, Marist (Bayonne), Immaculata, Mater Dei Prep, Holy Cross, Gloucester Catholic, St. Joseph (Hammonton) and Holy Spirit.
If this proposal had been in effect last year, Don Bosco Prep, Bergen Catholic, St. Joseph (Montvale), St. Peter’s Prep, Paramus Catholic, DePaul, Delbarton, Pope John and Seton Hal Prep would have all been in North A.
Where non-public schools are classified would be done by the NJSIAA, Kowal said.
“I think most of the schools in our affiliation, the West Jersey Football League, are going to say yes,” Kowal said. “I talked to some of the people in the Shore Conference and they’re on board, too. I think it’s got a good chance.” .