Kickoff weekend ofers several key matchups in SJ football.
Topping the list is the Camden Catholic at Timber Creek game, a WJFL Constitution Division clash between the No. 3 Irish and the No. 1 Chargers.
But there's quite of few other big games as well. Here's a closer lot at a dozen openers:
CC at TC: This game likely will decide the division race and the result will hover over the Top 10 for the rest of the season. TC is coming off a 12-0 season and features 5 D-1 commits, although DT Greg Webb is expected to miss the first month of the season while recovering from knee surgery. TC's defense still could be dominant with DEs Dajaun Drennon and Myles Nash, LB Justice Davila, CB Eric Church and S Kareem Ali, among many others. The key for CC will be in creating some field position with its offense and limiting turnovers. That's easier said than done against TC's D. CC should have a strong running game with RBs Jarred Alwan (a Templke recruit as a LB) and T.J Blyden, a highly regarded junior transfer from Avon Grobe (Pa.). CC has a tough defense led by LBs Alwan, Sean Collins and Will Jackson, and a big-play man in WR/DB Tom Wescott. Tough debut game for new CC quarterback Ryan Ziegler, a junior. Pick: TC by a TD.
Holy Spirit at Hammonton: The new Cape American will feature good games every weekend. This should be a great one, with both teams angling for the high ground in the division race. Hammonton returns QB Christian Mortellite, RBs David Williams and Dom Williams and WR/DB Alex Padovani from a 9-3 team. Blue Devils have a strong OL led by juniors Bob Frederico and Brandon Alfonso. HS has a new coach in John Iannucci, who specializes in the triple option. HS lost most of OL that led the way to NP 2 state title last year as well as RBs Nigel Jones and Donta Pollack. But OL Steve Domonoski is back and the Spartans have a lot of young talent, especially in junior class. Pick: Hammonton by a TD.
Paulsboro at Haddonfield: The Red Raiders face a daunting schedule this year, facing strong Colonial Liberty teams such as Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Sterling and WD in cross-over games. Paulsboro has strong front lines led by Julien Davenport and Pop Little, and a veteran backfield with QB Zach Funk and RB Dimere Turner. The Red Raiders have a top K/P, too, in Mike Maccarone. Haddonfield is rebuilding a bit after going 32-4 the last three years. The Bulldogs have young talent and the program is humming at a high level. This will be a challenging first game for junior QB Mike McLaughlin. The pick: Paulsboro by 3.
Burlington Twp. at Willingboro: Key division battle between Burlco rivals. BT will featyure RB Mike Thomas, LB Joe Machado and a highly touted junior in RB Jahseim Rover. The Chimeras will be led by QB Anthony Robbins, who missed much of last season with a wrist injury but is hoping to bounce back with a big senior year. The pick: BT by a TD.
Delran at Holy Cross: Cross-town rivals who always get up for each other. This is quite the opener for both prograns. Delran has a top athlete in Justin McFadden. HC can move the ball with QB Logan Hill and RB Khalid Hendricks. This could be a shootout. The Pick: HC by a TD.
Penns Grove at Glassboro: This game likely will decide Diamond Division title and will have major SJ 1 tournament implications. But last year proved that one game means little, especially the opener. PG won that one, 54-0, but Glassboro was back 12 weeks later winning the SJ 1 title. PG has an edge with senioe QB Nick Elmer as well as WR Jabrail Murray and two-way lineman Sam Harvey. Glassboro will be led by RB Corey Clement, who went for a SJ record 2,510 yards last season. He's a Pitt recruit. The Pick: PG by a TD.
Moorestown at Seneca: Mtown will miss QB Drew Pederson, out for a month or so with a broken ankle. Junior Tyreek Robinson will run the Quakers' no huddle spread and look to playmakers Anthony Bonett and Sid Ruffin. Two-way lineman Shane Rafter is a Temple recruit. Seneca is looking to bounce back from a 3-win season. The Golden Eagles return several starters, include two-way end Will Flake and top RBs in Joe Pawlowski and Alec Flexon. The Pick: Seneca by 3.
Pennsauken at Triton: These teams met twice last season, with the Indians winning both behind Manny Cortez and Amar Williams. Triton matches up a little better with Pennsauken's offense this season, as the Indians are likely to run the football behind Marlin Finley. The key will be Triton RB Josh Woods, who is recovering from knee injury that cost him the last four games of last season. The Mustangs could have big trouble moving the ball against Pennsauken D led by ends Isaiah Ingram and Korey Mitchell as well as DT Hassan McDonald. The Pick: Pennsauken by 3.
Cherokee at Lenape: School districts rivals in an interesting opener for both teams. Lenape looking to build on solid start to new program under coach Tim McAneney. The Indians feature RB Arkemus Baskerville and FB Abdul Crowder. Cherokee was 7-3 in "rebuilding" year but the Chiefs still are young. They will be better in November than they are in September. The Pick: Lenape by 3.
Eastern at Washington Twp.: Could be a battle of QBs as Eastern features junior Tom Flacco, the brother of the Baltimore Raven's Joe Flacco, while WT will be led by Tom Hildebrand. WT has solid LB corps led by Joe Cotton, DJ Brown and Andrew O'Neil. Eastern's secondary features CB Eli Woodard, an Ohio State recruit. The Pick: WT by a TD.
Millville at AC: Two Cape rivals that made SJ 4 tournament last season. Millville lost a lot from 11-1 team but returns all-purpose back Rashon Sorrell and junior DT Antoine White, a Rutgers commit. AC is a big-play team with basketball star Dayshawn Reynolds leading the way. The Pick: Millville by a TD.
Absegami at St. Joe (Saturday): The new Cape American features all large schools expect for Non-Publics Holy Spirit and St. Joe's. The Wildcats are determined to prove they can excel in larger division. They get the chance to start making their case in opener against Absegami team that will be missing star QB/DB Rashad Kinlaw, a Notre Dame recruit who is out with a broken led. The Braves still have lots of talent, led by speedy junior RB David Hood. SJ will be led by QB/DB Anthony Giagunto, who is 17-0 as a starting QB. SJ defense should be tough to dent, led by DE Kevin Goldsmith and LB Miles Pease. The Pick: SJ by a TD.
-- Phil Anastasia