Allentown wins protest; will play Robbinsville in state football play-in game

Allentown High School quarterback Dan Merkle looks to throw a pass down the field during a game against Hightstown High School earlier this season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School quarterback Dan Merkle looks to throw a pass down the field during a game against Hightstown High School earlier this season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

ALLENTOWN – The Allentown High School football team got its wish and will have a shot at making into the Central Jersey, Group 3 state sectional playoffs.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced on Nov. 4 that it will expand the Central Jersey, Group 3 bracket by adding a “play-in” game between Allentown and Robbinsville High School on Nov. 6.

After not making into the state playoffs initially, Allentown athletic director Phil Ricci filed a protest on behalf of the team to the NJSIAA on Monday, Nov. 5, challenging the state’s football regulations.

Allentown (4-4) finished the regular season ranked No. 16 in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 3 power rankings. The top 16 teams qualify for the playoffs.

However, Allentown was bumped out in favor of Robbinsville, which finished 17th in the power rankings with a perfect record of 9-0. Regulations state that if a team finishes the regular season at 8-0 or 9-0, that team is eligible for the state playoffs.

The NJSIAA assistant director, Jack DuBois, said that the NJSIAA felt a “play-in” game was an equitable way to resolve the situation.

The two teams will play at Allentown on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The winner will face top-seeded Wall in the first round of the sectional tournament on Sunday.

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports.