Football preview: Pennsauken

Pennsauken shared the West Jersey National Division title with Shawnee last season.

This season, the Indians want the crown to themselves.

Pennsauken coach Clint Tabb knows his team has the skill-position players to compete with any squad in South Jersey. It's the big boys who will make the big difference.

At the top of the list is senior ER/DB Amar Williams, who is one of the top play-makers in the state. Williams caught 20 passes for 475 yards and 5 TDs last season, and also intercepted six passes and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns -- including one against Shawnee.

The Indians also return QB Manny Cortez, who can run and also passed for 1,200 yards and 10 TDs, and should get a big boost from the addition of WR Anthony Sweet, a Camden Catholic transfer who should make a major impact.

"The only player we lost who even scored a touchdown for us last year was (WR) Marcus Jones," Tabb said the other day. "We know we have players to can make plays for us. The key for us is going to be what we do up front."

Tabb wants the Indians to push into the upper echelons of South Jersey football. He wants his program to be mentioned with the likes of Cherokee and Holy Spirit and St. Joe's -- and Shawnee.

"I told our kids, it's one thing to beat the teams you are supposed to beat," Tabb said. "But if you want to be considered one of the best teams around, you have to beat the best teams. You have to step up and beat the teams that nobody expects you to beat."

Pennsauken and Shawnee loom as the co-favorites in the National one year after they were co-champions. Don't count out Winslow under new coach Calvin Thompson and Cherry Hill East and Clearview could be improved and dangerous, too.

But it looks like the Indians and the Renegades, two teams with vastly different strengths: Pennsauken has playmakers and needs to build its front lines, while Shawnee might have the best OL in South Jersey but needs to develop some consistent athletes in the so-called skill positions.

Guess what? The teams meet opening night, Sept. 9, at Shawnee.

"It's the challenge our guys are looking forward to," Tabb said.

-- Phil Anastasia