Fourteen teams remain alive in S.J. Group 4

Posted: November 02, 2011

Shawnee coach Tim Gushue won't be sending his scouts Friday night to check out possible first-round playoff opponents.

There are too many of them - potential opponents, that is.

"We would have to cover too many games," Gushue said.

Everybody in South Jersey Group 4 is in the same boat. With the playoff field set to be determined this weekend, 14 teams still are alive, creating countless potential permutations.

"I don't ever remember that much parity," Cherokee coach P.J. Mehigan said.

Cherokee, which won the last two sectional tournaments, will visit Cherry Hill East on Saturday afternoon in what really is a Group 4 playoff game the week before the start of the Group 4 playoffs.

The same goes for the Friday night game in which Shawnee will visit Washington Township.

"I have not seen Group 4 this crazy in some time," Gushue said. "The bottom line is we have to win to get in."

The top eight teams in power points will make up the field. The tournament will start the weekend of Nov. 11-12 and culminate with the South Jersey title game at Rowan University the weekend of Dec. 2-3.

Here's how the field stacks up on the brink of cutoff weekend:

Southern (7-1, 138 power points), Pennsauken (6-1, 134), Williamstown (6-1, 131) and Millville (7-0, 124) appear to have secured berths.

Atlantic City (6-1, 110) will play at Millville on Friday night in a game that will decide the Cape-Atlantic American title. But that game also will have a major impact on the Group 4 field, as Millville could earn the No. 1 or No. 2 seed with a win, and Atlantic City would clinch a berth with a win.

A Millville victory could eliminate Atlantic City, even with a 6-2 record, depending on what happens with a number of other teams.

Shawnee (5-2, 105) probably would clinch a berth with a victory over Washington Township (5-2, 96) since the win would be worth 25 power points. Washington Township would earn the same number of points with a victory, and likely would clinch a berth, but that's not a sure thing.

Triton (6-1, 106) would clinch a berth with a win over Group 3 Woodrow Wilson (5-2) on Saturday. But the Mustangs could be eliminated with a loss, even with a 6-2 record.

Rancocas Valley (5-2, 97) will play Group 3 Hamilton (5-2) on Saturday. A victory would earn the Red Devils 24 power points, which could be enough to secure a berth. Or not.

"I have us either eighth or ninth if we win," Rancocas Valley coach Dan Haussman said. "If we win and finish ninth in power points, it is what it is."

Cherokee (5-2, 94) likely would earn a berth with a win over Cherry Hill East (4-3, 83). But that's no sure thing.

"If we are able to win on Saturday, I have us anywhere from a sixth seed to a ninth seed depending on a lot of other games," Mehigan said. "It is completely possible that a 6-2 team may not get in."

Toms River North (4-3, 89) would jump into the mix with a win Friday night over Group 4 Manalapan (6-1). That would be worth 28 power points for the Mariners.

Egg Harbor Township (4-3, 94), Absegami (4-3, 86), and Cherry Hill East are still alive, although all three will need to win and hope for some help. Egg Harbor will play St. Joseph (7-0) and Absegami will face Hammonton (6-1), both on Friday.

Residual points could end up being the deciding factor. Teams earn residual points based on how their opponents fare over the first eight games of the schedule.

"Good luck trying to predict what will happen, let alone who will get matched up with who," Gushue said.


Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, panastasia@phillynews.com, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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