The decision marks a dramatic reversal from the NJSIAA's position last spring, when the advisory committee recommended changing the non-public playoff system to match the public-school playoff system - and also to adhere to the organization's constitution.
At the time, NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko noted that the non-public playoff system, instituted in 1993, was in violation of the organization's constitution, which prohibits football teams from playing for state championships.
The executive committee "decided to overrule that," Timko said Wednesday of the organization's decision to contradict its own constitution.
NJSIAA associate director Jack DuBois, who oversees football, said that the football committee recommended against sectional play for the non-publics because only 37 schools play the sport.
"With 37 teams in four groups, you really need statewide competition," DuBois said.
Timko said there also was concern that the creation of sectional brackets such as South A and B and North A and B would create fields with too much disparity in group size.
"You might have a Group 1 playing against a Group 3 or a Group 2 playing against a Group 4," Timko said.
Public-school football is the only NJSIAA sport that doesn't compete for state championships. NJSIAA officials, none of whom were with the organization when the football playoff system was introduced in 1974, believe that a ban on state-championship play was added as a constitutional amendment at that time because of concerns that state-title games would marginalize Thanksgiving Day games.
A proposal to change the constitution to allow for state finals in public-school football was defeated by the general membership in December 2010.
Camden Catholic coach Gil Brooks said he was a supporter of state championships for non-public teams. His team reached the Non-Public 2 state final in 2011, and is regarded as a strong contender in Non-Public 3 this season.
Wednesday's move will have a major impact on South Jersey programs such as Paul VI and St. Augustine Prep, since they are classified in Non-Public 4 with national powers such as Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic.
Under the rejected proposal for sectional tournaments for non-publics, Paul VI and St. Augustine would have competed in South A and not competed against North Jersey powerhouses such as Don Bosco and Bergen Catholic.
"It's a good thing," St. Augustine coach Mark Reardon said of the continuation of state championships for non-public programs.
Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports