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Montclair's outstanding junior running back-slot receiver Josh Crawford (4) recently accepted scholarship offer at Central Michigan. He will be one of the top players returning in Essex County in fall. (Photo by Richard Morris/SHP)

Veteran Montclair coach John Fiore has had busy off season as president of the N.J. Football Coaches Association as final approval nears for new playoff format in 2018 season. (Photo by Glenn Kross-glennkross photography.com

Fiore’s Busy Football Hot Stove
Includes Playoff Format Changes
By Steve Tober
For sidelinechatter.com

Montclair’s John Fiore is one busy high school football coach these days as the president of the N.J. Football Coaches Association had exited this past Monday’s (April 16) NJFCA meeting to further discuss the pending changes to the football playoff format for 2018, and he is also planning for the Mounties’ upcoming season while keeping up with the college recruiting process for several of his players.

“It’s a busy time, but I love it and the new playoff format will be great for New Jersey high school football,” said the Mounties’ ninth-year head coach, whose team won a fourth playoff championship last fall, the fourth in his first eight years at the helm. “And, we’re continuing to make sure our kids wind up with great college situations which always comes first for us.”

The latest Mountie to commit to a Football Bowl Subdivision (1-A) program is junior running back-slot receiver Josh Crawford, who recently announced he was making a verbal commitment while accepting a scholarship offer from Central Michigan.

Other key returning FBS recruits from last fall’s 12-0 MHS squad include wide receiver Charles Murphy (already offers from Rutgers, Buffalo, Kent State, Central Michigan and West Point with both Wake Forest and the University of North Carolina possibly next in line) and linebacker Willie Matthews (Rutgers, Buffalo, Kent State and West Point offers to date).

Murphy is slated to step in at quarterback for the Mounties next fall, a position he has experience at, but he is a big-time wide receiver recruit at the next level.

Other Mountie underclassmen sure to stir considerable college interest in the coming months include junior linebacker Keyshawn King (6-4, 215), sophomore center Sebastian Fortune (6-3, 280), junior defensive end Sean Collins (6-4, 215) and junior tackle-defensive end Gary Robinson Jr. (6-2, 220).

As far as the revised N.J. football playoff system is concerned, the second and final reading of approval before the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s executive committee is slated for their May meeting before all is finalized for a new terrain to decide sectional champions next fall.

The biggest addition to the new playoff format will be ‘Bowl Games’ or ‘Super Sectionals’ with the 20 public school sectional champs meeting to play down to 10 champs on the weekend of Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.

The regular season will have an optional ‘Week Zero’ (Thursday, Aug. 30-Saturday, Sept. 1) and teams can complete their eighth regular season game by Oct. 27 (assuming one bye week included).

While there is still some fine-tuning being done to complete the last opponent on the Mounties’ 9-game 2018 regular season schedule, it is known at the moment that the season is slated to open Thursday night, Aug. 30, at West Orange, with the first home game at Woodman Field on Saturday, Sept. 8 vs. Nutley. The Investor’s Cup game vs. Bloomfield is now in week 7 (Oct. 13 at Woodman) and a high-powered team added to the 2018 schedule will be Irvington, Oct. 26, in ‘Camptown.’

The playoffs will be the weekends of Nov. 2, 9 and 16th (when the public sectional finals and Non-Public semis will be contested).

In assembling the four playoff sections in five public school groups, the NJSIAA will use its ‘Northing’ numbers to seed the top 32 power point ‘earners’ in each group

Teams that do not qualify for the playoffs can play up to two consolation games, and teams that lose in the initial round of the playoffs (Oct. 26-27) can also add a consolation game if they so desire.

The new playoff power point system will include 60 % of a team’s rating determined through the Born Index (longtime power rating guru Bill Born’s time-honored system), while 40 % will be determined through power point tabulations compiled by Gridiron New Jersey, which has been the most accurate power-point calculator for many years now.

All eight of a team’s regular season games now count toward its power point formula. Before seven of the first eight games were used to determine a team’s total for determining playoff seeding.

NOTES- Senior wide receiver Colin Callahan, who had such a terrific 2017 season, will represent the Mounties in the upcoming Phil Simms N.J. North-South All-Star Football Classic, Monday night, June 25, at Kean University. Callahan appears likely headed for a post-graduate year at Valley Forge Military School…All from the Mountie football family are extending their thoughts and prayers for a continued recovery for longtime ‘quality control’ assistant coach Robert Ferraro, who is resting at home after suffering a stroke. Ferraro has been with Fiore for the past 18 years (4 years at Spotswood, 2 at Marlboro, 4 at Neptune and the past 8 at Montclair)…The North-South Media Day is this Sunday, April 22, at Piscataway High School where Callahan and his North teammates will join the South All-Stars in being introduced.

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Montclair senior wide receiver Colin Callahan will represent Mounties in annual Phil Simms N.J. North-South All-Star Classic set for Monday June 25th at Kean University's Alumni Field. (Photo by Glenn Kross)

Montclair's Fiore is strong proponent of the newly-revised playoff system to take effect in New Jersey in 2018. (Photo by Mustafa Hooten-D1MediaPro)

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