Friday, July 25, 2014
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Football: New Top 10

Not a whole lot of movement over Thanksgiving weekend. The top eight spots remained the same, with Hammonton holding on to No. 7 over Holy Spirit based on a head-to-head victory.

Football: New Top 10

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Not a whole lot of movement over Thanksgiving weekend. The top eight spots remained the same, with Hammonton holding on to No. 7 over Holy Spirit based on a head-to-head victory.

West Deptford moves up, Washington Township moves out, and Williamstown grabs the No. 10 spot. Watch out for those Braves next season.

Here's the new Top 10, as of Sunday, Nov. 27:

Previous ranking in parentheses

1. St. Joseph (1) 9-0

Defensive stars Max Valles and Kaiwan Lewis are threats as receivers in the passing game. Vales caught a 41 pass and Lewis went 35 with a screen pass for a TD in a 32-3 victory over Hammonton. The Wildcats really controlled things against the Blue Devils. Hammonton went 61 yards on the first play -- great adjustment and catch by Bobby Barbieri, by the way -- and managed minus-one the rest of the first half. I'm thinking the title game might be 60-0, just because these guys are angry with the state for having them in a group in which three teams qualified and the second-best team might be the 40th best team in South Jersey. But coach Paul Sacco is a class act, too, so he's going to have a hard time keeping his foot on the pedal when it gets out of hand in the second half. Or second quarter. Next: Vs. St. Mary of Rutherford (6-3) in the Non-Public title game Saturday at 1 p.m. at The College of New Jersey.

2. Timber Creek (2) 11-0
The return of linebacker Quanzell Lambert, who has sat out the last two games with a high ankle sprain, should provide a big boost to the defense. The Chargers think Lambert will be OK. He probably could have played in a 13-3 win over Triton on Thanksgiving. But high ankle sprains are tricky. Here's hoping Lambert is OK because he's a great player who has had a great career and deserves to be healthy for his last game. Coach Rob Hinson calls senior QB Calvin Lowe "an enigma." Although TC wins with defense, they are going to need a few plays on offense to beat a solid Hammonton team. So Lowe will have to build on a great fourth quarter against Triton. This team is on the verge of 12-0 and that's as good as it gets. Next: Vs. No. 7 Hammonton (9-2) in the South Jersey Group 3 title game Saturday at 4 p.m. at Rowan.

3. Camden Catholic (3) 10-0
Junior Tom Wescott is a big-play man at wide receiver and defensive back for the Irish. This team has met every challenge this season. Now that sturdy defense will be tested by Holy Spirit's powerful ground game. That's the battle inside the battle -- CC's linebackers against HS's OL and RBs. Should be good stuff. The Irish are on the verge of 11-0 and the first state title in the history of a program with a lot of history and tradition. I'm seeing a lot of green in those stands at TCNJ on Friday night. Next: Vs. No. 8 Holy Spirit (7-3) in the Non-Public 2 title game Friday at 7 p.m. at The College of New Jersey.

4. Pennsauken (4) 10-1
If it's rainy and windy, as forecast for Friday night, the Indians might rely a little more on running back Tyrik Thomas in the sectional title game. I think the Indians can win under any conditions. But bad weather could be a bit of an equalizer since Pennsauken relies so much on its passing game. On a dry, fast track, I like Pennsauken by a couple of touchdowns in this game. I just think Millville is one of those teams that doesn't see a lot of passing attacks and could struggle to contain all those receivers. Pennsauken has a lot of top seniors who have been pointing toward this game. And I'm seeing a lot of red in the stands at Rowan on Friday night. This is a program and a town with a ton of football tradition. A team like this one and and game like this one brings them out in force. Next: Vs. No. 5 Millville (11-0) in the South Jersey Group 4 title game Friday at 7 p.m. at Rowan.

5. Millville (5) 11-0
Star running back Alquann Jones sat out most of the second half of the Thanksgiving Day game against Vineland. This team has put together a sensational year. I'm not sure this was an up year for the bigger schools in the Cape -- based, non-scientifically, on the results of some of those consolation games -- but Millville is the real deal. That's a legitimiate OL and Jones is a terrific back. Plus, there's a lot of other good players. If Pennsauken is not playing its 'A' game, Millville can walk away with the title. But I have the Thunderbolts as the underdog in this game. Still, bad weather would favors a team that runs the football as well the Millville. Next: Vs. No. 4 Pennsauken (10-1) in the South Jersey Group 4 title game Friday at 7 p.m. at Rowan.

6. Haddonfield (6) 11-0
The Bulldogs have won 20 in a row and 28 of 30. This might be the best era in the long, long history of this program. But that's probably only true if the Bulldogs close the deal with a win over West Deptford. Senior TE/DE Alex Walter has been an underrated star for Haddonfield. These guys have been on a mission all season. I'm not sure they've played a bad quarter, much less a bad game. But West Deptford will present a big-time challenge. It's funny -- we saw this matchup in August and nothing that's happened over the last three months has derailed these two teams' drive to this collision. Next: Vs. No. 9 West Deptford (10-1) in the South Jersey Group 2 title game Satursday at 2 p.m. at Rowan.

7. Hammonton (7) 9-2
The Blue Devils are seeking their sixth sectional title and second in the last three seasons. Coach Pete Lancetta didn't seem to have any regrets about pulling his starters at halftime of that 32-3 loss to St. Joe. It was 26-3 and Lancetta said his team had "bigger fish to fry," in reference to the Timber Creek title game. Was it "disrespect," as some SJ people claimed? I don't see it that way. I thought it was just the opposite -- acknowledgement that his team wasn't going to hang with SJ this season. It's a sticky, tricky situation, typical of that passionate but strange rivalry. Hammonton has a chance against TC, although I make the Chargers the favorite. The Blue Devils are battled-tested from a tough, tough schedule and they know how to make football plays to win games. Next: Vs. No. 2 Timber Creek (11-0) in the South Jersey Group 3 title game Saturday at 4 p.m. at Rowan.

8. Holy Spirit (8) 7-3
Senior quarterback Tom Hehre could be the key to the Spartans' hopes' for a second consecutive state title. HS will run the ball. We know that. But the Spartans might need to make a play or three in the passing game against CC's sturdy defense. It's been a weird year for HS but they've won four in a row and controlled the Thanksgiving Day against at a good AC team. That's another in a series of positive signs. This team will not give up a state title without a fight. It's been Camden Catholic's year and I make the Irish a slight favorite in thsi game. But the Spartans have a lot of guys who were on the field at Rutgers last year. They will battle. Next: Vs. No. 3 Camden Catholic (10-0) in the Non-Public 2 title game Friday at 7 p.m. at The College of New Jersey.

9. West Deptford (10) 10-1
The Eagles have won eight in a row by a combined score of 370-30. What a great rivalry between these guys and Haddonfield. They meet for the sixth time in three years on Saturday. The twist is that in the past two years, WD won in the regular season and Haddonfield won in the tournament. This year, Haddonfield won in the regular season and WD is trying to flip the script in the tournament. The Eagles are playing well. They are healthy, they have momentum and they get to play as the slight underdog. That can be liberating. There are no secrets between these teams. They will just line up and pound away at each other. I have to make Haddonfield the favorite based on the first meeting and the way the Bulldogs have played this season. But WD might be the most dangerous underdog this weekend. This has a chance to be a classic. Next: Vs. No. 6 Haddonfield (11-0) in the South Jersey Group 2 title game Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rowan.

10. Williamstown (NR) 8-2
Sophomore running backs John Chamberlin and Marquis Little combined for 1,605 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. The Braves bounce back in the Top 10 thanks to that impressive win over Washington Township. Williamstown is 15-5 and 7-1 in the WJFL American in two years in the new league. That's impressive. This team will be tough next season, with so many returning players. The playoffs remain a bridge to cross for this program. But all they can do between now and next season is prepare to play their best over the first eight games and give themselves another shot the first weekend of next November. Next: Season over.

-- 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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