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Morristown, one of the tradition-laden teams in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference, has been placed in North 1, Group 5 for this season following the release of new classifications for schools in football for 2015. The Colonials are one of the NJAC schools expected be included in the new North Jersey Super Football Conference scheduled to be unveiled in 2016. All that is needed now is rubber stamp of the NJAC school principals on Sept. 16. (Photo by Todd Mundt)
The Barringer Blue Bears are moving down to North 2, Group 3. (photo courtesy of Barringer)
NJSFC Looks Like A Reality For 2016
“We’re hopeful and confident that the NJAC will come aboard,” said John Porcelli, the retired Montclair assistant principal in charge of athletics, who is director in charge of football for the Super Essex Conference. “But, if for some reason they do not get the necessary approval of the their ‘Board of Control’ (high school principals) then we still plan to go ahead with the three conferences we already have on board (SEC, Big North and Hudson Interscholastic), which would still give us 79 schools.”
Also waiting in the wings for 2017, since it still has a series of votes to get through to make their entry in the NJSFC come to fruition, is the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference which is comprised of mainly small Bergen County schools.
The groundswell had been there weeks before the NJAC ADs had achieved the necessary two-thirds majority vote (28-10) to become part of the NJSFC in 2016.
“The great thing about the NJAC is that we all get along and try and take care of each other,” said Sean Dowling, the athletic director at Madison and president of the NJAC. “While we are pleased with what we have now in the NJAC it is hard not to support the idea of a North Jersey Super Conference for football, what with what it can mean for North Jersey football across the board moving forward.
“For Madison I don’t think the changes would be too much at all with a new conference and I’m behind it because as far as any safety issue involved with the sport, I believe that it is always better to play ‘like schools’ or in our case, Group 2’s vs. Group 2’s, plus keeping the travel reasonable for our jayvee and freshman teams, and I think that is being addressed with the plans in place.”
Porcelli has been working with a group of athletic directors, headed by Nutley’s Joe Piro and River Dell’s Denis Nelson, who have been doing a great deal of the leg work in helping to organize the NJSFC while also lobbying with the political factions that have to be appeased.
The most talked-about division in the proposed NJSFC is the United’s Division A with super powers Paramus Catholic, Don Bosco Prep, St. Peter’s Prep, Bergen Catholic and St. Joe’s of Montvale.
The Division B in the United would be comprised of Delbarton, DePaul, Pope John and Seton Hall Prep.
‘B’ Non-Public schools such as SHP would only have to play two of the super power schools from the Division A over the course of a season, according to Porcelli.
“(Executive Director) Steve Timko and the NJSIAA are behind us, and they would love to see this new North Jersey Football Conference take off,” said the former highly-successful Morristown coach and AD before becoming the Montclair assistant principal. “This would solve a lot of the problems that public schools are facing in not wanting to face some of the Non-Publics, but it’s also a good remedy for small Non-Publics, such as Montclair Immaculate or Montclair Kimberley Academy (currently situated in United Division C along with Hudson Catholic, Marist, Morris Catholic, Morristown-Beard, Newark Academy and St. Anthony), who are simply trying to find an equitable schedule.”
With a proposed separation of publics and non-publics discussed for a potential statewide vote in December – but most likely never to even come to fruition – the NJSFC would also solve some of the issues that do seem to center around the “Big 6” that includes the aforementioned Bergen County parochial titans plus St. Peter’s and Division B member DePaul, which has been upgrading its talent quotient in recent years with some of the top players from North Jersey.
Three of the very influential athletic directors from the ‘Big 6’ are at the forefront of being full behind the NJSFC.
“Jack McGovern (Bergen Catholic), Rich Hansen (St. Peter’s Prep) and Tony Karcich (St. Joe’s) are all with us in this thing, and I think it’s a ‘win-win’ for the Non-Publics and publics a like,” continued Porcelli. “A public school will not be forced to play a Non-Public, although there are schools, like Montclair, Morristown and Columbia who have already indicated that they would want to play Seton Hall Prep, and those schools have long-standing relationships in football.
“I firmly believe the NJSFC will turn out to be very beneficial for so many football playing schools in North Jersey, and I just hope that the NJAC will be a part of it,” said Porcelli. “It’s been a long road to bring about a commonsense proposal that really helps just about everyone in terms of equitable scheduling in the sport, and we’re excited about the future when this conference gets underway with games in 2016.”
The following are preliminary divisions for the new NJSFC in 2016. There are expected to be some more changes; however, since at least 20 schools have changed sections with the new classifications for football recently released by the NJSIAA including Morristown jumping up to North 1, Group 5 and Barringer down to North 2, Group 3.
*PROPOSED NORTH JERSEY SUPER FOOTBALL CONFERENCE:
*NJSFC divisions were put together before the publication of the newest state sections based on the most current school size in 2015 football classifcations released by the NJSIAA
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