The new football classifications affect five Union County schools.
Cranford, Rahway and Summit are back in North 2, Group 3. In the past three years Rahway was in Central Jersey, Group 3 and in the past two Summit was in North 2, Group 4 – both for the first time. Cranford was situated in CJ, G3 last year for the first time after being in North 2, Group 3 every year from 2011-2015.
Cranford won North 2, Group 3 in 2011 and 2015 and also reached the final in 2014.
Summit won North 2, Group 3 in 1976, 1980, 2012 and 2013.
New Providence is back in North 2, Group 1 after being in Central Jersey, Group 2 the past two seasons for the first time. New Providence won N2, G1 in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 2010.
Linden is back in North 2, Group 4 after being in North 2, Group 5 the past four seasons for the first time. Linden has won two state championships in the playoff era, capturing North 2, Group 3 in 1985 and North 2, Group 5 in 2014.
Defending North 2, Group 3 champion Morris Hills moved over to North 1, Group 4.
Defending Central Jersey, Group 5 champ Piscataway moved back to North 2, Group 5. Piscataway has never won N2, G5, with its previous state championship before last year coming in N2, G4 in 2011.
UNION COUNTY FOOTBALL CLASSIFICATIONS FOR 2017:
NORTH 2, GROUP 5 (4 schools): Elizabeth, Plainfield, Union, Westfield.
NORTH 2, GROUP 4 (2 schools): Linden, Scotch Plains.
NORTH 2, GROUP 3 (4 schools): Cranford, Gov. Livingston, Rahway, Summit.
NORTH 2, GROUP 1 (4 schools): Brearley, Dayton, New Providence, Roselle Park.
CENTRAL JERSEY, GROUP 2 (3 schools): Hillside, Johnson, Roselle.
CHANGES FROM 2016 TO 2017:
Linden from N2, G5 back to N2, G4.
Summit from N2, G4 back to N2, G3.
Cranford and Rahway from CJ, G3 back to N2, G3.
New Providence from CJ, G2 back to N2, G1.
SHOULD HILLSIDE, JOHNSON AND ROSELLE BE IN CENTRAL JERSEY?
When you think of the central part of the state – geographically – you pretty much begin with Middlesex County.
Should Hillside, Johnson and Roselle still be situated in a Central Jersey section – CJ, G2 – once again?
Since the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) went to its revamped, spread out, football re-classification in 2003, no Union County school has won a state championship in a Central Jersey section.
For example, of the above three schools still situated in a CJ section, only Johnson has reached a championship game – and just one at that.
Hillside, Johnson and Roselle had their better playoff years when they were situated in North 2, Group 2. Hillside won the section for the only time in 1985 and Roselle for the only time in 1989. Johnson won the section twice, for the first time in 1995 before the sections were expanded to eight teams in 1998, and for the second and last time in 2002.
Last year Hudson County school Harrison made the playoffs in Central Jersey, Group 2. In 2006 Newark school Weequahic won CJ, G2. I guess if the NJSIAA considers Harrison and Newark to be in the central part of the state, anything is possible.
HOW CAN SCHOOLS SUCH AS BREARLEY, GLEN RIDGE AND ROSELLE PARK
EVER HOIST THE NORTH 2, GROUP 1 CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY AGAIN?
As long as at one time bigger group size schools such as Hoboken, Shabazz and Weequahic continue to be situated in North 2, Group 1 – can traditional N2, G1 schools such as Brearley, Glen Ridge and Roselle Park ever be able to hoist the section’s state championship trophy again?
Dayton, which has never won the section or even reached the section’s championship game, is in the same boat.
Not too long ago Hoboken was winning North 1, Group 3 and Shabazz was making the North 2, Group 3 playoffs. Weequahic won Central Jersey, Group 2 in 2006.
Now it seems like those schools have a stranglehold on the Group 1 section.
Last 5 North 2, Group 1 champions:
2016: Weequahic over Shabazz 18-8
2015: Hoboken over Brearley 34-12
2014: Shabazz over Dunellen 14-6
2013: Hoboken over Shabazz 13-7
2012: Hoboken over Roselle Park 39-9
Hoboken first won N2, G1 in 2005 with a perfect 12-0 record.
To further illustrate the point, in last year’s first round of the North 2, Group 1 playoffs you had Hoboken easily downing Brearley 32-14, top-seeded and eventual champion Weequahic 44-18 over Roselle Park and Shabazz 34-10 over Glen Ridge.
Brearley, Roselle Park and Glen Ridge all made the playoffs, which was great for those programs. However, none of the three had a real shot to win first round road games in Essex and Hudson counties.
Second round scores included Weequahic over visiting Hoboken 32-8 and Shabazz over host Bound Brook 67-16. That’s how much better Weequahic and Shabazz were than their semifinal opponents!
Brearley last won North 2, Group 1 in 2006, which was for the first time since 1991.
Roselle Park last won N2, G1 in 1993 and has only reached the final once since then when it was defeated by Hoboken 39-9 in the 2012 game at MetLife.
Glen Ridge last won the section way back in 1982, which was also the last year the Ridgers reached the championship game.
Dayton made it as far as the section’s semifinals once in 2010.
“How is that safe with those schools (Weequahic, Hoboken and Shabazz) drawing from other schools and other towns,” Roselle Park head coach Terry Hanratty said. “We need to play freshmen and sophomores at the varsity level and the state is always talking about safety.
“How is that a safe thing when you can draw kids from a larger pool? The state has so many (safety) guidelines, but lets that happen.”
More to come.