Five local high school football teams - St. Joseph, Holy Spirit, Southern Regional, Hammonton and Barnegat - have clinched playoff spots.
Millville is all but assured of postseason berth. Atlantic City, Mainland Regional, Bridgeton, Absegami, Egg Harbor Township and Cedar Creek can boost their playoff chances with wins this weekend.
Oakcrest and Lacey Township would need help from other teams to make the postseason.
The playoffs start next weekend and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association will make the pairings official Monday. The eight teams with the most powers points and at least a .500 record in each enrollment group will qualify.
Teams earn power points based on their opponents' victories and enrollment.
Here's a preview of this weekend's games and their playoff ramifications.
St. Joseph (7-0) at Egg Harbor Township (4-3)
7 p.m. today 94.3 FM: St. Joe has clinched the top seed in the state Non-Public I playoffs. The Wildcats will get a first-round bye in the three-team field. They will play the winner of St. Mary vs. Immaculate Conception for the championship. St. Joe is No. 1 in The Press Elite 11 and in the midst of a dominant season. The Wildcats average 50.7 points per game and give up an average of only 2.3. EHT could make a run at the South Jersey Group IV playoffs with the upset.
St. Augustine Prep (2-5) at Holy Spirit (4-3)
7 p.m. today: Holy Spirit, No. 11 in the Elite 11, has clinched a state Non-Public II playoff berth. The Spartans would be at least a No. 3 seed with a win tonight. Spirit won the state Non-Public III championship last season but has struggled with turnovers and penalties this season.
Absegami (4-3) at Hammonton (6-1)
7 p.m. today: Hammonton, No. 9 in the Elite 11, is coming off a 13-9 loss to Atlantic City. The Blue Devils are assured of a home game in the first round of the S.J. Group III playoffs. Hammonton quarterback Christian Mortellite has thrown seven touchdown passes. Absegami, which has won two straight, needs a win to keep its slim S.J. Group IV playoff chances alive.
Mainland Regional (3-4) at Bridgeton (4-3)
7 p.m. today (1240-AM): Both teams need a win to have any chance at the playoffs - Mainland in Group III and Bridgeton in Group II. Mainland relies on defense and special teams. The Mustangs have allowed a touchdown or less in three of their last five games. Mainland kicker Jim Cooper has four field goals. Bridgeton had won three straight before last Friday's 48-0 loss to undefeated St. Joe.
Middle Township (1-6) at Vineland (2-5)
7 p.m. today: Vineland hasn't won since beating Pleasantville 42-12 on Sept. 16. Middle has dropped two straight.
Pleasantville (0-7) at Lower Cape May (3-4)
7 p.m. today: The Caper Tigers are eliminated from playoff contention but still have a chance at a winning season. Lower quarterback Mike Mulligan threw two touchdown passes in last week's 35-13 win over Buena Regional. Lower wide receiver Vance Matthews has three touchdown catches this season.
Cedar Creek (3-4) at Orange (6-2)
7 p.m. today: Cedar Creek, a first-year varsity program, probably would qualify for the S.J. Group I playoffs with a win. Pirates quarterback Damon Mitchell has run for eight touchdowns and thrown six touchdown passes. Orange, a Group II school in Essex County, has won five straight and scored at least 40 points in three of those wins.
Southern Regional (7-1) at Middletown North (4-3)
7 p.m. today: Southern, No. 4 in the Elite 11, will be no worse than a No. 5 seed in the S.J. Group IV playoffs and probably get a first-round home game. Their balanced offense features running back T. J. Bellissimo (883 rushing yards) and quarterback Dan Higgins (1,023 passing yards). Middletown North must win to have a chance at the Central Jersey Group IV playoffs.
Lacey Township (4-4) at Middletown South (5-2)
7 p.m. today: This game will not impact Lacey's playoff chances. The Lions are the defending S.J. Group III champions, but they'll need some help from other teams to make this year's field. Lacey is coming off a 16-3 loss to Neptune on Monday. Lacey running back Kyle Spatz has rushed for 1,197 yards and nine touchdowns.
Barnegat (4-3) at Holmdel (1-6)
7 p.m. today: Barnegat has clinched a S.J. Group II spot. The Bengals would put themselves in position for a first-round home game with a win. Barnegat has won 4-of-5 since starting the season 0-2. Bengals quarterback Mark McCoy has thrown for 997 yards and eight touchdowns.
Pinelands Regional (0-7) at Toms River South (1-6)
7 p.m. today: Pinelands most likely will face Camden in next weekend's consolation game.
West Jersey Football League
Cumberland Regional (2-5) at Clearview Reg.(1-6)
7 p.m. today: De'Hahn Milledge ran for two touchdowns in Cumberland's 41-30 loss to Woodrow Wilson on Monday. Cumberland beat Clearview 24-7 last year.
Gloucester City (2-5) at Wildwood (1-7)
7 p.m. today: Wildwood running back and linebacker Wesley Hills continues his standout season with 927 rushing yards, 50 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
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