Football: New Top 10

The new Top 10 in football, as of Sunday, Oct. 2:

Previous ranking in parentheses

1. St. Joseph (2) 3-0

The Wildcats lost leading rusher Eli Pogue with a shoulder injury in the second quarter and still overwhelmed Holy Spirit by a 34-7 score. This  program never ceases to amaze me.  They wore down a bigger, stronger Holy Spirit team with mental and physical toughness. And there's talent, too. Junior wide receiver Robert Thompson's one-handed interception would make Plays of the Week (or Month) on Sports Center. Next: at St. Augustine (2-2) Friday at 7.

2. Pennsauken (3) 4-0
The Indians sturdy defense has been an unheralded aspect of their fast start. This team still lacks offensive balance but who can argue right now as Manny Cortez has 15 TD passes in his last three games. Any play that gets Amar Williams the football is a good one. But they are going to have to run the football sometime, right? Right? Next: Home vs Winslow Township (1-3) Saturday at noon.

3. Timber Creek (4) 4-0
Junior running back Khalil Pierce has six touchdowns for the Chargers. That's really all this team needs: A sturdy, dependable offense. Because that front seven, with junior linemen Dajuan Drennon and Greg Webb and senior LB Quanzell Lambert, might be the most imposing in South Jersey. Although St. Joseph's front seven looked awfully good against that vaunted Holy Spirit OL and ground game. Next: Home vs. Woodrow Wilson (3-0) Oct. 14 at 7.

4. Williamstown (5) 4-0
Sophomore running back Marque Little scored touchdowns of 30, 35 and 37 yards Friday against Moorestown. The Braves have a nice mix in a lot of ways: Speed and power, youth and experience. Little and FB John Chamberlin are top sophomores, and junior LB Buddy Brown will be a top recruit next season. But there are seniors such as RB/DB Chris Inge and QB Dan Collins and C/NG Mike Martucci who have paid their dues and need to win now. That dynamic between youth and experience is a lifeblood of a good program. Next: Home vs. Cherry Hill East (3-1) Oct. 14 at 7.

5. Holy Spirit (1) 2-2
Seven penalties for 70 yards in the first half killed the Spartans against St. Joseph. Three interceptions in the game didn't help. The worst part was the way the Spartans played in the second half. It was still a game at halftime, but St. Joseph kicked it up to another gear in the second half and Holy Spirit didn't really respond. It will be interesting to see how this team handles this adversity. There's a ton of talent on the roster, and those are tough kids who want to win every game. But they put so much stock in Saturday's game that they will be challenged to put it behind them and move on. Next: Home vs. Mainland (2-2) Oct. 14 at 7.

6. Hammonton (6) 3-0
The Blue Devils' young offensive line might be the best in South Jersey in 2012. And their backfield will be terrific, too. But that doesn't mean a whole lot to seniors such as RB Jordan Brown and WR/DB Bobby Barbieri. They want to win now. This team will be a factor in South Jersey Group 3. And look at the opportunities on that schedule: A shot at wounded Holy Spirit on Oct. 21, plus a showdown with No. 1 St. Joseph on Thanksgiving Day. Next: At Egg Harbor Township (2-2) Friday at 7.

7.  Shawnee (7) 3-1
The Renegades are the Wisconsin of South Jersey football: Big offensive line clearing the way for big ground game. That was pretty impressive, scoring 42 against a decent Seneca team right afer losing standout RB Kyle Wigley to a severe knee injury. And the Renegades haven't had sturdy OL Tom Smith all season because of a back injury. Will those injuries catch up to this team during a tough stretch that includes CH East, Cherokee, Williamstown and improved Washington Township? Maybe. But adversity can help a team too, forging mental toughness and determination. So far, that's what's happened with Shawnee. Next: at Cherry Hill East (3-1) Thursday at 3:45.

8. Haddonfield (10) 3-0
Senior Chris Dengler made plays on offense, defense and special teams against West Deptford. His 71-yard kickoff return was huge, and his hard tackle forced a key fumble. He also ran for two TDs. Beating West Deptford in the regular season was a big deal for the Bulldogs. Now they must handle the day-to-day, week-to-week details and avoid looking ahead to the South Jersey Group 2 tournament. Good senior leadership will mean a lot. Next: At Sterling (2-1) Friday at 7.

9. Camden Catholic (NR) 3-0
The Irish have outscored opponents, 131-12, but now they enter the meat of schedule: Seneca, Delsea, Pennsauken, Moorestown, Bishop Eustace. Junior RB/LB Jarred Alwan is a big-time player. He might be at Oregon in two years. There's lot of other players on this roster, plus a coach who knows how to win in Gil Brooks. But these guys are going to have to step up their play over the next few weeks. Next: At Seneca (2-2) Thursday at 7.

10. Millville (NR) 3-0
Senior tackle Nick Tyndal is a four-year starter and leader of the offensive line. Junior Alquann Jones is an explosive running back. I'm not sure about this team and I don't think anyone else is sure about the Thunderbolts, either. That big win over Oakcrest looks a little less impressive since the Falcons are really struggling. But when you look at the schedule -- at Ocean City, home vs. Absegami, at Lower Cape May, at St. Augustine -- it's not a huge stretch to see this team at 7-0 heading into the showdown with Atlantic City. But we'll know more if the Thunderbolts handle dangerous Absegami. That's a big test for a team on the rise. Next: At Ocean City (0-3) Friday at 7.

Under Consideration (listed alphabetically): Burlington Township (4-0), Woodrow Wilson (3-0).

Dropped out (listed alphabetically): Cherokee (2-2), Moorestown (2-2).

-- Phil Anastasia