Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

More Trophies Could Be Coming

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

More Trophies Could Be Coming

Article excerpt

ROBBINSVILLE -- Faced with unhappy high school football programs in South Jersey and a couple of matters in North Jersey still left unresolved, the NJSIAA decided the best course of action was to buy another trophy.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association's Executive Committee gave preliminary approval to a proposal to switch to sectional champions in non-public football.

If passed, that would mean 24 sectional champions this fall -- including public schools -- and no real state champions at all. New Jersey remains the only state with such a football format.

This proposal, it must be noted, came from the NJSIAA's Advisory Committee, not its Football Committee. The legislation still has to be approved again by the Executive Committee at its next meeting June 1. If so, it will be fast-tracked and put in place for this fall.

If the Executive Committee does not pass the proposal, it will be voted on by the full NJSIAA membership in December.

The plan was proposed by West Jersey Football League officials in response to the automatic playoff bids awarded to the nine teams in the newly formed North Jersey Super Football Conference's United Division A and Division B.

In 2015, New Jersey crowned 20 public school sectional champions - - four in each of the five groups. It also had three non-public state champions: one each in Non-Public Groups 2, 3 and 4.

It's not supposed to have any state champions at all. Article IX of the NJSIAA constitution reads "no state championships, however, shall be declared in football."

The reasoning behind this clause predates every member of the Executive Committee. The reason for switching to sectional championships in non-public football is simple.

No one wants to play the large non-public schools in North Jersey, not even in the playoffs.

Sound familiar?

In the past month, Delbarton has sought relief from its North Jersey Super Football Conference schedule, which has it playing Don Bosco and St. Joseph. The NJSIAA's Leagues and Conferences committee struck down Delbarton's case, although the school could appeal at the next Executive Committee meeting.

On Monday, Pope John announced its intention to play a schedule it had formed itself, not the one given by the NJSFC. Essentially, it does not want to play St. Joseph or St. Peter's Prep.

Delbarton has not filed an appeal with the Executive Committee -- at least not yet -- and Pope John did not approach the NJSIAA to seek a hearing like Delbarton received, according to executive director Steve Timko.

"From everything I understand, [Pope John] was a full participant in everything that transpired with the Super Conference," Timko said. "That's a different argument than Delbarton presented. It seems to me that they don't like how strong their schedule is, and they're trying to opt out of a couple of games. They haven't come to us formally. …

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