ad ad
ad ad
Stalled drive: push for state football championships in limbo
Written by Paul Mencher - Monday, August 18 2014  

As high school football camps get underway around New Jersey, one of the sport's biggest issues doesn't appear to be on anyone's radar.

The overwhelming rejection last December of a proposal to create true football state championships in the Garden State seems to have silenced the debate, at least for now. Members of the NJSIAA voted 183-95 against a change to the organization's constitution that would allow football teams to play for state titles.

high school sports image
Madison won three straight sectional titles from 2010 through 2012 but never got a chance to play for a true state title. (Photo by Staff)

That vote came two years after a similar proposal failed in 2011 by a much closer margin. That time, the bid to change the NJSIAA constitution got more "yes" votes than "no" votes, but did not achieve the needed two-thirds majority. In the aftermath, some of those who voted against the idea said they did so because there was no concrete plan for how a state football playoff might work.

So a group of Big North Conference athletic directors, led by Denis Nelson of River Dell, came up with such a plan. In a nutshell, the proposal added two rounds of playoffs to the current system, leaving the present league structure and sectional groupings untouched. But the plan would have caused several other changes that drew widespread opposition across much of New Jersey.

The lopsided vote, and the comments from athletic directors afterwards, made it clear that schools would not support several elements of the Big North plan:

Starting the season earlier -- Many AD's spoke out strongly against the idea of having football season begin a week earlier than it does now. Some bemoaned the potential impact on the Labor Day weekend if high school football games were to be played. Others spoke out against pushing the start of practice further into the summer, and some suggested that starting the schedule earlier would have significant financial costs.

Ending the season later -- The proposal also pushed the date of the public-school state football finals one weekend further into December than the current end of the season. While weather would be a concern, the real issue is impinging on the winter sports season. The transition time from football to winter sports is already short; under the rejected plan, 10 schools would have had less than a week to go from one to the other.

Playing too many games -- With the current concern about concussions and football injuries in general, some athletic directors opposed the idea of adding games. Under the Nelson plan, the ten public state finalists would have played 14 games, two more than any New Jersey high school football team plays now.

Two other issues, while not impacted directly by the rejected plan, may have also contributed to its demise:

Thanksgiving game fears -- The plan proposed by the Big North did not eliminate Thanksgiving Day games. In fact, it specifically made room for them, extending the season instead. But some South Jersey athletic directors voted "no" anyway because they feared the NJSIAA might come back at some future time and try to eliminate Turkey Day games in order to shorten the season by a week.

Nothing for non-public schools -- The Nelson plan was specifically geared toward public schools, but non-public schools also had a vote on changing the constitution. Perhaps if there was some incentive for the non-publics, more of them might have supported the change.

The result of the 2013 vote demonstrates that New Jersey schools and athletic departments don't want to significantly alter their schedules to accommodate a true football state playoff. But the 2011 vote suggests that schools would support a state playoff if it wouldn't greatly impact the schedule.

That leads to the big question: Is that possible? Is there a way to determine state championships in football while not extending the dates of the season, or eliminating Thanksgiving Day games?

It sounds nearly impossible. But Jersey Sports Now believes it can be done.

We have come up with the outline of a plan that fits into the tight constraints of the current schedule. It maintains the Thanksgiving Day games and even has something for the non-public schools.

Click here to read our plan that could bring state football championships to New Jersey!

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Recent Sports News

VIDEO: Pingry's big plays lead to victory over South Hunterdon

News image

In a game of big scoring plays, Pingry made one more than South Hunterdon to earn its first win of the football season. The Big Blue celebrated Homecoming with the 21-14 triumph. Obi Nnaeto raced 76 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter for what proved to be the ...

Read more

VIDEO: Salcfas guides Dayton past Pingry for first win

News image

For a while in their Week 4 football matchup, Pingry had the upper hand on Dayton. But then Antonio Salcfas took over for the Bulldogs. The junior quarterback made big plays with his feet and his arm as Dayton rallied for a 19-6 triumph. Salcfas ran for 165 yards and ...

Read more

VIDEO: Bound Brook gets bizarre win over Pingry

News image

It hardly came according to their script--or anyone else's, for that matter. But Bound Brook found a way to win its third straight football game to start the season. After only scoring two safeties in the first 45 minutes of the game, the Crusaders put up 10 points in the final ...

Read more

VIDEO: Caswell, Manville run past Pingry for first win

News image

T.J. Caswell ran for four touchdowns as Manville earned its first victory of the 2016 football season. After trailing briefly in the second quarter, the Mustangs dominated the rest of the game to secure a 34-13 win over Pingry. Caswell had 149 yards on 26 carries to lead the Manville rushing ...

Read more

VIDEO: DePaul holds on, barely, to avoid Immaculata upset bid

News image

After the opening 15 minutes of its football state semifinal, DePaul was well on its way to the expected big win over Immaculata. What transpired next was hard to believe, and for DePaul, surely seemed like a nightmare. Fortunately for DePaul, it woke up just in time to hold on for ...

Read more

VIDEO: Bernards rumbles to victory over Rahway

News image

Using a strong balance of running and passing, Bernards built an early lead and rolled to a 35-13 football victory over Rahway. Sebastian Sanchez scored four touchdowns to pace the Mountaineers. Sanchez rushed for 125 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground for Bernards. He also caught a touchdown ...

Read more

Access our story archives:

Select a month:

Select a year:

Select a sport: