Sports

West Essex High School Coach Reacts to NJSIAA/Football Schedule Changes

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CALDWELL, NJ — The powerhouse football programs from the new North Jersey Super Football Conference received the biggest vote of confidence from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Executive Committee on Wednesday.

According to NJ Advance Media, members of the conference’s United Red (Don Bosco, Bergen Catholic, Paramus Catholic, St. Peter’s Prep and St. Joseph Regional Montvale) and White Division (Pope John, Delbarton, Seton Hall and DePaul) were granted scheduling relief by way of two proposals passed by the committee.

“It’s incentive for other schools to come up and play people in those divisions,” NJSIAA Executive Director Steve Timko told NJ Advanced Media on the power points proposal. “As I’ve noticed over the course of the last few years it’s difficult for them to obtain games. Hopefully it won’t take long for a couple of the people to realize the benefit of doing it.”

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Beginning this Fall, NJSIAA member schools who agree to play United Red division teams will be awarded two-times the amount of power points generally awarded for these games, while opponents of the White division will get one-and-a-half times the past totals. Additionally, all eight teams will automatically qualify for state playoffs in their section.

The Executive Committee’s decision greatly affects teams in the non-public classifications. Of the eight openings in the Non-Public, Group 4 state football tournament, six of those spots will be automatically awarded to North Jersey Super Football Conference members. Strong central and southern programs like St. Joseph Regional High School (Metuchen) and St. Augustine Prep, who both competed for state titles in 2015, would have to fight for the final two spots.

Chris Benacquista, Head Football Coach at West Essex HS, says the changes are good for high school football in the state, and for his school. "I feel the changes will have a positive effect on NJ high school football, especially for schools like West Essex that over the last few years were forced to play in conferences with schools that have more than twice our student enrollment,” he said. 

Addressing the physical challenges his team has faced, Benacquista added, “The physical toll playing those teams has had was very difficult to overcome. While our new conference alignment is very challenging, our competition comes from schools of relatively equal size. With injury prevention such a concern for parents & coaches, I hope this will limit our injury rate and give our players a better chance to stay on the field."

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