However, the old system of having a “Week Zero” where only a handful of teams open the season came back this year – thus pushing the 2013 campaign back a week.
That means that this is the cutoff date weekend, with some teams done with their eight playoff qualifying games and some prepping for their eighth.
Here’s a look at the UnionCounty teams that would be in the playoffs if they started this weekend:
NORTH 2, GROUP 5: Union (5-2) is presently the sixth seed and Linden (4-3) the seventh. Westfield (4-3) is the ninth and six points behind eighth-seeded Edison (4-3). Union and Linden appear to have clinched spots, with Union hosting Hunterdon Central (5-3) tomorrow and Linden playing at Bridgewater-Raritan (2-6). Westfield should win at home against Scotch Plains (2-6) Saturday, while Edison should win at Marlboro Saturday, so it should be close who gets the eighth and final seed.
NORTH 2, GROUP 4: Right now Scotch Plains has an 11-point power points lead on Woodbridge for the eighth and final seed, which should be good enough for the Raiders to qualify. Woodbridge is also done with their eight games and is also 2-6. If Scotch Plains loses at Westfield as predicted on Saturday, the Raiders will be taking a long bus ride – with a 2-7 record, a four-game losing streak and no home wins – to top-seeded and undefeated Phillipsburg, which should move to 8-0 with a win Friday night in Somerville at Immaculata.
Remember, for the second straight season teams do not need to have a record of at least .500 to qualify. Also, everyone’s best seven of their eight qualifying games count, which is a new twist this year. Everyone’s game where they picked up the least amount of power points among their first eight is eliminated from their final count of power points.
NORTH 2, GROUP 3: It appears that Summit (No. 2) is locked in as the No. 2 seed and Cranford (5-3) as the No. 6 seed. That would mean that in the quarterfinals next weekend, Summit will most likely host the present seventh seed Voorhees (5-3), with an outside chance at hosting present eighth seed Orange (4-4) if Orange passes Voorhees with residual points this weekend.
NORTH 2, GROUP 1:New Providence (6-1), presently the fourth seed; Brearley (4-4), the fifth seed; and RosellePark (5-2), the seventh seed; have all clinched spots. The big game this weekend as far as determining final seeding positioning is New Providence at RosellePark tomorrow night.
New Providence made the playoffs for a Union County-leading 12th straight year, Brearley for the ninth time in the last 12 seasons and for the first time since 2009 and RosellePark for the second consecutive year.
CENTRAL JERSEY, GROUP 2:Rahway (5-2) is presently tied with Rumson-Fair Haven (7-0) for second place with 102 points. Weequahic (7-0) is the leader with 104, so the top seed could be up for grabs this weekend.
Rahway has now qualified in CJ, G2 in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013.
To sum up, these UnionCounty teams have clinched playoff berths: Union, Linden, Scotch Plains, Summit, Cranford, New Providence, Brearley, RosellePark and Rahway.
Westfield is the only other UnionCounty team that is on the outside but has a chance to qualify. However, the Blue Devils are not only going t need to beat arch rival Scotch Plains at home, but will most likely also need Edison to lose at Marlboro, which may not happen.
If that’s the case, then, ironically, Westfield – after beating Scotch Plains – will not make it in North 2, Group 5 at 5-3, while Scotch Plains will make it in North 2, Group 4 and enter with an overall record of 2-7.
That might be the best case for going back to not allowing teams to qualify with records under .500.