New Jersey is inching closer to playing true football state championship games.
Only one of two states that does not currently play down to state championship games, the full membership of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Association (NJSIAA) voted to amend its constitution to allow for state championship games in its five public school groups for the first time by a vote of 318-12 with six abstentions.
“Our members have spoken and I applaud their decision,” NJSIAA chief operating officer Colleen Maguire said in a statement. “Now it is time to get to work on a plan that will bring a true state champion in high school football to reality.”
The vote removes a clause in the NJSIAA constitution that states that football state champions shall not be crowned, even though it does in every other sport it sponsors. Non-public programs have been going against the constitution and playing down to group state champions since 1974.
With the vote passed, the focus now shifts to adjusting the regular-season schedule to allow for state championship games to be played by 2022 at the earliest. The New Jersey Football Coaches Association (NJFCA)’s plan calls for an eight-game regular season with each group holding a 32-team playoff bracket divided into North and South regions.
The new playoff structure will also have to be submitted to the NJSIAA’s advisory committee for review and discussed at sectional meetings in the spring. The NJSIAA executive committee could approve the new plan in May.