Saturday, February 28, 2015

Football: New Top 10

Nothing has changed in the Top 10 for two weeks in a row.

Football: New Top 10

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Nothing has changed in the Top 10 for two weeks in a row.

But this is a big week, with No. 2 Pennsauken facing No. 9 Camden Catholic and No. 5 Holy Spirit meeting No. 6 Hammonton.

Plus, No. 7 Shawnee has to tangle with Cherokee and No. 8 Haddonfield visits undefeated Paulsboro.

I suspect the Top 10 will be different next week.

Here's the new Top 10, as of Sunday, Oct. 16:

1. St. Joseph (1) 5-0
Man, the Wildcats really had a hard time avoiding a letdown after that big win over Holy Spirit, didn't they? I mean, they've only outscored the next two opponents they've played by 108-0. Max Valles and Anthony Giagunto returned interceptions for touchdowns in 70-0 win over Lower Cape May. This team might score 70 again this week.  But that Nov. 4 visit to EHT now looms as a challenge since EHT handled previous undefeated Atlantic City. Next: Home vs. Pleaantville (0-5) Saturday at noon.

2. Pennsauken (2) 5-0
Senior running back Tyrik Thomas has six touchdowns, three rushing and three receiving. Manny Cortez has 18 TD passes, which is great. He also has two interceptions, which is better. The Indians will face a serious challenge from Camden Catholic, which plays terrific defense. But I'm interested to see Pennsauken's high-powered, spread offense on that fast, artificial track on the Irish field. Lots of connections between these two programs, which makes a great game even better. Next: At No. 9 Camden Catholic (5-0) Friday at 7.

3. Timber Creek (3) 5-0
Junior Eric Church looked like top-shelf cornerback in 34-13 victory over Woodrow Wilson. He ran step for step with WW wideout TJ Chambliss all night. In fairness tio Chambliss, Wilson QB Aaron Spencer didn't have much time to throw the ball with any accuracy. Timber Creek's defense is carrying this team. But I was impressed with the speed of QB Calvin Lowe, who ran for 133 yards, and the toughness of jiunior RB Khalil Pierce. And junior Dajaun Drennon could emerge as a big-time weapon as a WR/TE. Next: At Eastern (2-4) Friday at 7.

4. Williamstown (4) 5-0
Sophomore running backs John Chamberlin and Marques Little have combined for 18 touchdowns, including four in 37-21 win over Cherry Hill East. The Braves should roll over Kingsway, their old Tri-County Royal rivals, as the Dragons are reeling from a tough loss to Moorestown. But next week, Williamstown is looking at a big challenge in a visit to Shawnee. If the Renegades get past Cherokee -- no sure thing -- that looms as a monster matchup. It's still going to be huge in terms of SJ Group 4 seedings. Next: At Kingsway (3-3) Friday at 7.

5. Holy Spirit (5) 3-2
Donta Pollock (252) and Nigel Jones (150) combined for 402 yards as Spartans pulled away late in 28-14 victory over Mainland. This team is not right. The Spartans were tied with Mainland in the fourth quarter. Mainland is a solid team but the old Holy Spirit wins that game by three touchdowns and is comfortable in the fourth quarter, not struggling to avoid an upset. Still, this visit to Hammonton might be just what Holy Spirit needs. It's funny how a team can go from "overrated" to "underrated" in a hurry. That might be the case with the Spartans. Everybody thinks they're vulnerable after that St. Joe's loss. But they are dangerous now, too. Next: At No. 6 Hammonton (5-0) Friday at 7.

6. Hammonton (6) 5-0
Junior Christian Mortellite threw three touchdown passes in 44-13 victory over Ocean City. What an opportunity the schedule provides for these guys: Holy Spirit this week, and St. Joseph on Thanksgiving. Plus, solid Group 4 teams in Atlantic City and Absegami, and then a Group 3 tournament with potential battles with Timber Creek and Moorestown. The Blue Devils likey would be No. 1 in SJ if they ran the table. But that's a lot to ask from a team that might be a year away from its full potential. Next: Home vs. No. 5 Holy Spirit (3-2) Friday at 7.

7.  Shawnee (7) 4-1
The Renegades are averaging 289 yards on the ground behind offensive line led by Tulane recruit Bob Bradley. Big game against rival Cherokee this Friday. Shawnee has a chance to effectively knock the two-time champs out of the SJ Group 4 tournament. It won't be easy. These teams battle it out under any circumstances. But Cherokee will be desperate, and Shawnee's not the kind of team that will make a ton of big plays. So it's going to be 7-7 or 14-14 in the fourth quarrter and somebody has to make a play. Next: Home vs. Cherokee (3-2) Friday at 7.

8. Haddonfield (8) 5-0
Senior Dan Ciemniecki ran for one touchdown, threw two touchdown passes and returned an interception for another score in 44-0 win over Lindenwold. The Bulldogs will get a challenge in Paulsboro this week. But this is a big, strong team by Group 2 standards. They might have too much size and strength for a good but not great Group 1 team. That's the early call, anyway. Next: At Paulsboro (5-0) Saturday at 11.

9. Camden Catholic (9) 5-0
Mike Blandon's second touchdown run of the game broke a 7-7 tie in the fourth quarter of a 14-7 win over Delsea. I wasn't surprised Delsea battled Camden Catholic to the end. That's a proud program and that was a must-win game. But the Irish found a way. That's the most important thing. Plus, hard wins can help a team a lot more than easy wins. These guys have a big chance Friday against Pennsauken. Just six weeks in, new coach Gil Brooks has the Irish playing the game of the week before what's likely to be a huge home crowd. That's why he's there. Next: Home vs. No. 2 Pennsauken (5-0) Friday at 7.

10. Millville (10) 5-0
Alquann Jones ran for 192 yards and a score as Thunderbolts went to 5-0 for first time since 1991 with 49-34 victory over Absegami. I know Absegami isn't a great team. But still. Fortry-nine points? I'm convinced now. Millville is the real deal. And I think this team can enter the SJ Group 4 tournament at 8-0, although Atlantic City will be a big challenge on Nov. 4. Next: At Lower Cape May (1-3) Friday at 7.

Under Consideration (listed alphabetically):

Moorestown (4-2): Quakers have it going right now. It's the same "overated" to "underrated" thing. I think people are overlooking this team after early losses to Timber Creek and Williamstown.

Triton (4-1): The Mustangs will be challenged by tough Bishop Eustace on Friday.

Washington Township (5-1): Minutemen are averaging 30 points. But they've still got Pennsauken and Shawnee after a bye but before the cutoff.

Almost (listed alphabetically):

Paulsboro (5-0): Big opportunity against Group 2 power Haddonfield this Saturday on the Red Raiders' field.

West Deptford (4-1): Need to play better than first 30 minutes against Woodbury.

Woodrow Wilson (4-1): Strong effort in second half against Timber Creek.

-- Phil Anastasia

 

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About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

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