HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Well, everyone who hated last year’s system for ranking teams, how do you feel about this year’s model?
Sure, how the Opponent Strength Index is calculated is transparent, while the Born Index was not (well not until Mike Pavlichko of WRSU/WCTC reverse engineered it and shared his results with the Twitter world). But it requires a computer program to calculate the results, and there have been bugs in the program that have been discovered and fixed as the season moved along.
Maybe at the end of the year, it will produce the right results. Maybe the way it works it is not meant to be tracked week to week, that in our age of instant analysis, and advanced analytics, conflicts with our need to micro-manage. Maybe it will all work out in the end.
That is too many maybes for most football coaches, who are successful because of their (and their team’s) attention to details.
So, as we head into Week 7, what do we have to look forward to?
Hasbrouck Heights is off, but they will probably continue their slide down the poll, as Emerson should jump in front irregardless of the outcome of their game with Park Ridge. Playing a quality opponent will give them a boost in Opponent Strength Index regardless of result.
The Wood-Ridge at Wallington game, which appears to have been moved to Saturday at 1 pm in Wallington, has a great importance as the winner of the game will finish in third place in Patriot Division with a 4-2 division record. The Panthers sit one spot ahead of Wood-Ridge, at 17th in the latest North 1 rankings, just out of a state playoff spot. It may very well be a play-in game for both teams.
The winner either way, will travel to Hasbrouck Heights in the second cross-over game, while hosting Butler in the first game. The end of the season has become a mini-season, with a berth in the state playoffs on the line.
Historically, the NJIC crossover bowl games have had a large impact on where teams have been ranked in the state. The difference can lead to who and where you play your state playoff game.
What we see in the rankings is that Hasbrouck Heights dropped three spots after beating North Arlington, 47-0 on Friday night. (Yes, you read that right, the team that won dropped and the team that lost went up.) Wallington and Wood-Ridge are 17-18 as we already established.
The other game which has huge implications is Becton (ranked 16th) and Butler (ranked 13th). The Bulldogs, who are 4-2, but have lost two straight to top-ranked Cresskill and Hasbrouck Heights (5th), and are one of the teams that appear to be ranked lower than they should if you look at their Strength Index Number. If Becton, who has bounced back with two solid wins following a loss to Hasbrouck Heights, wins, they can send Butler tumbling out of the top 16, causing the North 1 Champion to possibly miss the playoffs. (Remember Hasbrouck Heights won North 2, Group 1 a season ago.)
Butler would finish fourth in the division, behind Becton, and be forced to play the loser of Wallington/Wood-Ridge and the winner of Bogota and St. Mary (who will finish fifth in the Patriot). Two winnable games, but two games that would put Butler in Opponent Strength Index hell.
There is one other odd thing to remember as you try to predict what the state playoff rankings will be, power points come into play as well. And in power points, late in the year, enemies become friends, as you need the team you have played, and beaten to win as many games as you can, as you get more points each time they win.
Below are the rankings. Please note we have added a few columns to the published chart, Last Week’s Rank, Opening Rank, and Strength Index. Gridiron New Jersey, the official site of the NJSIAA Football Rankings, lists all three numbers, but not on the same page.
|Rank||School||Wins||Loss||Ave Power points||Opponent Strength Index||UPR||Last Week's rank||Opening Rank||Strength Index|
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