Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Football: New Top 10

Triton drops out, Washington Township stays puts and Holy Spirit jumps in -- that's the news on this week's Top 10.

Football: New Top 10

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Triton drops out, Washington Township stays puts and Holy Spirit jumps in -- that's the news on this week's Top 10.

Triton has lost just two games, both to Pennsauken. It's a serious matchup problem for the Mustangs. But even though they battled like crazy, it was tough to keep them in the Top 10 after they gave up 52 points.

WT's situation was a little different as the Minutemen lost 42-41 to Millville. Nothing about that game changed my opinion that WT is one of the surprise teams -- maybe THE surprise team -- of the season.

Holy Spirit moves in after scoring 62 in the NP-2 semifinals.

Here's the new Top 10, as of Sunday, Nov. 20:

Previous ranking in parentheses

1. St. Joseph (1) 8-0
The Wildcats will play for the first time in 22 days when they take the field against rival Hammonton. Then they'll face St. Mary's, which beat Immaculate Conception by 36-6, in the NP-1 state finals Derc. 3 at TCNJ. I'm thinking the line on that game is 39 1/2/. The clash with Hammonton should be a great as both teams are playing for championships next week. One big question is how St Joe's handles the layoff. I mean, 22 days off in November is just ridiculous. Next: Home vs. No. 7 Hammonton (9-1) Saturday at noon.

2. Timber Creek (2) 10-0
Junior tight end Dajuan Drennon caught two touchdown passes in 21-12 victory over Woodrow Wilson in South Jersey Group 3 semifinals. The Chargers are a little banged up. Star LB Quanzell Lambert didn't play against WW and probably won't play against Triton with a high ankle sprain and shin splints. Coach Rob Hinson said a couple other regulars could be held out of the Triton game, too, as TC tries to save its bullets for the SJ 3 title game against Hammonton Dec. 3 at Rowan. Interesting thing about the Triton game is that it's for the WJFL Royal title. Both teams are 4-0 in the division. The Mustangs have injury issues, too. I wouldn't be surprise if they held out junior RB Josh Woods, who has been nursing a sore knee for three weeks. He's got too much at stake in the future. Next: Home vs. Triton (8-2) Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

3. Camden Catholic (3) 9-0
Pete Galiano ran for two touchdowns and passed for 142 yards in 41-7 victory over Holy Cross in Non-Public 2 semifinals. Irish have to be careful not overlook PVI as Eagles could make their season with an upset on Thanksgiving morning. Don't see that happening as this team is focused with great senior leadership and driven direction from the coaching staff. As expected, this team will face Holy Spirit in the NP-2 final, likely to be Dec. 2 at TCNJ. That's got a chance to be a classic. Next: Home vs. Paul VI (2-7) Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

4. Pennsauken (4) 9-1
Juniors Korey Mitchell and Isaiah Ingram lead an active defensive line. Indians are in the sectional finals for the first time since they lost the SJ 3 finals to Mainland by a 14-7 score in 1996. They are in SJ 4 final for the first time since they beat TR South by 29-6 in 1986. That was the third of three straight appearances by coach Vince McAneney's team. The legendary coach was at Saturday's 52-23 victory over Triton, cheering his old team in the stadium that bears his name. Times change and it's a different era in football, but these guys are starting to look like they compare favorably with some of McAneney's best teams. QB Manny Cortez is approaching SJ record for TD passes. He has 36. The mark is 40 set by Holy Cross' Jason Amer in 1999. State record is 43 by Ryan Carty of Somerville in 2001. WR/DB Amar Williams has 16 TDs and makes plays every week that have folks shaking their heads. More and more people are thinking Williams has a chance to play on Sundays in a few years. Next: At Bishop Eustace (4-5) Wednesday at 6 p.m.

5. Millville (5) 10-0
The Thunderbolts are home at Wheaton Field for the fourth game in a row in Thursday's clash with their archrivals. Amazing thing about RB Alquann Jones isn't just that he has 2,036 yards with a good chance to finish with around 2,500. It's that he carries the football so much for a guy who is 5-8, 165 pounds. This guy gets 35-40 carries in an average game. This team should roll over Vineland, assuming they can avoid a major letdown after that draining 42-41 win over WT in Friday's sectional semifinals. I'll take a close look at the SJ finals next week but my early sense is that these guys could have a real problem stopping Pennsauken's passing attack. Atlantic City's passing game made a ton of plays against Millville a couple of weeks ago. Next: Home vs. Vineland (3-6) Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

6. Haddonfield (6) 10-0
The Bulldogs' current streak of eight wins over Haddon Heights is longest in the 109-year-old rivalry since 1912. Haddonfield has won 19 in a row. The Bulldogs have not lost since Oct. 1, 2010 by a 31-28 score to West Deptford. That streak includes a 5-0 mark in the SJ Group 2 tournament. On paper, Haddonfield looks too big and strong for Haddon Heights. But this is a rivalry game, and likely to draw a huge crowd, so the Garnets should be geared up. I think the Bulldogs will look at it as another opportunity to showcase one of the best -- if not THE best -- teams in the rich history of the program. Next: At Haddon Heights (8-2) Thursday at 11.

7. Hammonton (7) 9-1
The Blue Devils' battle with cross-town rival St. Joseph will be the 50th in the annual series. Hammonton showed something in that 33-21 victory over Moorestown in Friday night's SJ 3 semifinals. They fell behind 14-0, which can be a major jolt in a do-or-die game. But they stablilzed, thanks to a goal-line stand, and took command of the game. Even when Moorestown rallied to retake the lead in the third quarter, Hammonton answered with two TDs. With No. 1 SJ and No. 3 Timber Creek remaining on the schedule, Hammonton has two games against teams with a combined 18-0 record. That's some challenge. That's some opportunity, too. Next: At No. 1 St. Joseph (8-0) Saturday at noon.

8. Holy Spirit (NR) 6-3
The Spartans have won six in a row in a Thanksgiving series that began in 1926. This team remains an enigma but my sense is the Spartans they have settled down and are playing their best football. I know the competition hasn't been the best but they've outscored their last three opponents by 135-19. And a lot of teams in the Top 10 can be accused of not playing the most challenging of competition in a three-game stretch, or longer. I think we'll learn a lot more about this team in the Thanksgiving game. AC is a tough, Group 4 team and this is the last game on the Vikings' schedule. They should be geared up. If HS handles AC, that will set the stage for a big-time battle with Camden Catholic in the NP 2 final. Next: At Atlantic City (6-3) Thursday at 10 a.m.

9. Washington Township (9) 7-3
Junior quarterback Tom Hildebrand ran for two touchdowns and passed for 265 yards in a 42-41 loss to Millville in South Jersey Group 4 semifinals. What an amazing season for WT. They did it again Friday night, rallying from a 35-7 deficit to the brink of another upset victory over a higher seeded opponent. Fact: WT recovered TWO onsides kicks in the final 2:20. The first led to the touchdown that pulled them within 42-41. The second was after a failed two-point conversion. Coach Mark Wechter said he knew he was going for two during the while drive. The Thanksgiving matchup with Williamstown is fascinating because you have to wonder how both teams will react to their rematch. The WJFL American Division is on the line as both are 3-0 in American play. Williamstown was devastated by that 42-23 los to WT in the SJ 4 opener. Can the Braves bounce back? Can WT bounce back from that emotional, draining loss last Friday? These are high school kids. I think both teams bounce back. Next: At Williamstown (7-2) Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

10. West Deptford (10) 9-1
Sophomore Gerald Towns has 22 touchdowns after scoring four times in 49-10 victory over Barnegat in South Jersey Group 2 semifinals. This team gets its rematch with Haddonfield in a table-turning from the previous two seasons. In 2009 and 2010, WD won in the regular season and Haddonfield won in the SJ 2 tournament. This season, Haddonfield won in the regular season. Can WD return the favor in the playoffs? First the Eagles must deal with a rested rival in Paulsboro. The Red Raiders might not be big and strong enough to deal with a Group 2 power this season but this is a rivalry game and Glenn Howard will have Paulsboro ready to go. WD needs to bring it A game down Crown Point Road. Next: at Paulsboro (7-2) Saturday at 11 a.m.

Under Consideration:

Triton (8-2): Mustangs have lost two games this season, both to Pennsauken. It's just a bad matchup. They battled on Saturday but were doomed by a couple of turnovers and an inability to limit the Indians' big plays. Hey, nobody has limited the Indians' big plays, including Camden Catholic. Huge game on Thursday at Timber Creek -- school-district bragging rights, the WJFL Royal title on the line, a chance to really cap what has been a special season. TC remembers last year, too, when Triton won big in an upset that spring-boarded the Mustangs into this season.

  -- 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.

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
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