Who Has the Toughest Schedule?

By Jon Fass
Posted:  August, 25, 2021   11:15 am

With the start of the 2021 season now hours away rather than days or weeks, we thought we'd try something new and take a look at strength of schedule for all 339 teams in New Jersey.

By averaging the starting Strength Index of every team's opponents, we've crunched the numbers to determine who has, on paper, the toughest schedule.

But first, a few notes.

This is, essentially, a preseason strength of schedule rating.  It's important to remember that Strength Index changes throughout the year.  A team that has an SI of 75 could very well end up with a Strength Index of closer to 60 by season's end, while a team with a relatively low rating could obviously see that number increase dramatically.

There's also a caveat for teams that have an out-of-state opponent.  Due to the fact that MaxPreps has only ranked its Top 100 teams to start the year -- and not every team in the country, as they will later in the season -- we've taken some liberties in order to determine a starting Strength Index for most out-of-state teams.

There are 26 teams who are not members of the NJSIAA which are scheduled to play New Jersey teams this fall.  Only Archbishop Hoban (Bergen Catholic), St. John's College (Don Bosco Prep), Good Counsel (St. Joe's of Montvale) and St. Frances (St. Joe's of Montvale) are ranked in the MaxPreps national rankings.

For the rest of teams, we used their final ranking from the 2019 season to determine their New Jersey equivalent, so those rankings might not be as accurate.

And one more thing.  The Shore Conference and the NJIC regular season schedules are incomplete at this time.  The final two regular season games for those teams will be added as they crown conference champs.

Keep in mind, once again, that this is a way to measure strength of schedule in the preseason.  Once the games have been played and the Strength Index ratings have changed, we'll revisit this at the end of the season for, what we believe, is a much more accurate reading of who had the toughest road to the playoffs.

Non-Public Schools (average SI of opponents):
1.  Don Bosco Prep (82.15)
2.  St. Joseph (Mont.) (81.14)
3.  Pope John (78.96)
4.  St. Peter's Prep (78.6)
5.  DePaul (78.45)
6.  Bergen Catholic (78.42)
7.  St. Augustine Prep (78.25)
8.  Paramus Catholic (77.70)
9.  Delbarton (75.24)
10.  Seton Hall Prep (75.21)

Public Schools:
1.  Lenape (76.25)
2.  Shawnee (74.88)
3.  Woodrow Wilson (74.62)
4.  Toms River North (73.76)
5.  Wall (73.72)
6.  Williamstown (73.32)
7.  Winslow Township (73.26)
8.  Millville (73.22)
9.  Rumson-Fair Haven (72.84)
10.  Vineland (72.69)
11.  Rancocas Valley (72.64)
12.  Pleasantville (72.11)
13.  Irvington (71.82)
14.  Colts Neck (71.61)
15.  Kingsway (71.53)
16.  Washington Township (71.33)
17.  Cherokee (71.10)
18.  Manasquan (70.73)
19.  Cedar Creek (70.32)
20.  Wayne Hills (70.25)
21.  Ridgewood (70.11)
22.  Camden (69.99)
23.  Northern Highlands (69.84)
24.  Wayne Valley (69.77)
25.  West Deptford (69.60)

Jon Fass is the owner/operator of Gridiron New Jersey and can be reached by emailing jon@gridironnewjersey.com.