Sunday, September 21, 2014
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Football: New Top 10

Football: New Top 10

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When No. 3 beats No. 1 on opening night, you can expect some shuffling in the Top 10 rankings.

But it wasn't a massive re-make. I moved St. Joe and Camden Catholic up a spot and dropped Timber Creek to No. 3. The other change of note involved moving Triton into the Top 10 (the Mustangs were 15 in the preseason rankings) to replace  No. 7 Pennsauken based on Friday night's result.

The week ahead has a lot of big games, so next Sunday's rankings could feature some big changes.

Here's the first live Top 10 of the season, as of Sunday, September 9:

(Previous ranking in parentheses)

1. St. Joseph (2) 1-0
Junior running back Cody Sampson scored two touchdowns as the Wildcats rallied from their first halftime deficit in 19 games to beat Absegami, 37-29. The game was a major challenge for the Wildcats, who didn't tackle in the first half and were behind 20-14. They gave up 19 points during the entire 2011 season. But they battled back, getting great work from senior QB Anthony Giagunto and a big KOR for touchdown from Robert Thompson, the Old Dominion-bound wideout. It will be interesting to see how this team's depth holds up over them grinding course of the American Division schedule. This week is a classic example. After that tough, emotional, exhausting game, St. Joe has to gear up to face Holy Spirit. Next: Home vs. No. 9 Holy Spirit (0-1) Saturday at noon.

2. Camden Catholic (3) 1-0
The Irish's young secondary features playmakers in junior J.T. Blyden, sophomore Carl Garnes and freshman Benny Walls, who looks like a future star. It was no secret formula that made the difference in that big win over Timber Creek. CC just played conservative offense --"Almost like keep-away," coach Gil Brooks said -- and banked on the defense making a play. Or three. That's what happened. Big game for Temple-bound Jarred Alwan. For what it's worth, he's the leading candidate for Player of Year after one game. Next: Home vs. Camden (0-1) Friday at 7.

3. Timber Creek (1) 0-1
Coach Rob Hinson said the Chargers need to develop a "go-to" on offense, which likely will mean more emphasis on the ground game and sturdy senior running backs Zaire Williams and Khalil Pierce. TC hurt itself with those five INTs. One was a Hail Mary at the end of the half, so that doesn't really count. But the other four were killers, especially the two that led directly to CC's two TDs. With that defense, TC probably could just play ball-control offense, especially with those RBs. But it's got to be tempting to try to get the ball to talented guys on the edges of the offense such as Adonis Jennings and Dajaun Drennon. I expect this team to bounce back in a big way. Next: At Eastern (1-0) Thursday at 6.
 
4. Williamstown (4) 1-0
Picking up where they left off as sophomores, junior running backs Marques Little and John Chamberlin combined for five touchdowns in a 54-7 victory over Cherry Hill East. In just two seasons (and one game) in the WJFL, Williamstown has developed nice rivalries with Lenape schools such as Cherokee and Shawnee. That's what the Braves wanted when they pushed for the formation of the WJFL. Next: Home vs. No. 7 Shawnee (1-0) Friday at 7.

5. Hammonton (5) 1-0
The Blue Devils suffered a big loss when junior wide receiver/defensive back/kicker Alex Padovani, who might be their best all-around player, sustained a serious knee injury in the first quarter of a 22-20 overtime victory over Holy Spirit. These guys will play defense, run the football and battle every week. But they're going to miss Padovani a lot. Next: Home vs. Oakcrest (0-1)

6. Delsea (6) 1-0
Junior wide receiver Bryan Dobzanski isn't going to be a secret weapon for long. He scored on touchdown catches of 50 and 46 yards in his first high school football game in a 45-17 victory over Camden. The Crusaders travel to Moorestown for an interesting clash of styles and an opponent that, on paper, is one of the toughest on their schedule. In a twist, I wouldn't be surprised if Delsea threw the ball more than expected (especially with Dobzanski) and Moorestown ran the ball more than expected. Next: At Moorestown (1-0) Friday at 7.

7. Shawnee (8) 1-0
The Renegades took to the air as senior quarterback Andrew Bertolino threw three touchdown passes and senior wide receiver Zach McHale caught six passes for 170 yards and two scores in a 37-14 win over Kingsway. Shawnee handed Williamstown one of its two losses last season in Medford. The Renegades run defense will be seriously challenged by Williamstown's Wing T with those perfectly complementary backs in Little to the outside and Chamberlin up the middle. Next: at No. 4 Williamstown (1-0) Friday at 7.

8. Triton (NR) 1-0
The Mustangs defense pitched a shutout over the last three quarters in a 22-14 comeback victory over then-No. 7 Pennsauken. Triton is 9-3 since the start of the 2011 season, with wins over Delsea, Southern Regional and Pennsauken. Senior RB Josh Woods looked recovered from knee surgery in the opener, with 187 yards on 27 carries. Big chance to make a statement against one of the power programs in SJ this Friday at home against Cherokee. Next: Home vs. Cherokee (1-0) Friday at 7.

9. Holy Spirit (9) 0-1
The Spartans could be a gathering storm with a loaded junior class led by running back Talib Gerald and an emerging sophomore quarterback in C.J. LaFragola. These guys could be a great team in 2013. They might be a great team by November of 2012. But there are still likely to be some kinks to work out with a sophomore running that complicated triple option offense. Next: at No. 1 St. Joseph (1-0) Saturday at noon.

10. West Deptford (10) 0-0
The Eagles play two games in five nights, thanks to Saturday's postponement. The Woodbury game is a great natural rivalry of schools representing neighboring towns. And it matches SJ 2 (West Deptford) and SJ 1 (Woodbury) title contenders as well as Colonial Conference inter-division foes. Next: at Lindenwold (0-0) Monday at 6 and home vs. Woodbury (1-0) Friday at 7.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically):

Burlington Township (1-0): Big game for senior Mike Thomas in an impressive season-opening win over a Willingboro team that could contend in SJ 2. Next: home vs. Holy Cross (0-1) Friday at 7.

Cherokee (1-0): Sturdy defense and just enough offense on a stormy night against rival Lenape. Next: at No. 8 Triton (1-0) Friday at 7.

Egg Harbor Township (1-0): Lot of buzz about the Eagles down the shore this season. Next: Home vs. Atlantic City (0-1) Friday at 7.

Almost:

Absegami (0-1): Watch out for this team when Notre Dame recruit Rashad Kinlaw is back from a leg injury. Next: Home vs. Middle Twp. (0-1) Friday at 7.

Moorestown (1-0): Junior Tyreek Robinson made quite the debut in his first game at QB. Next: Home vs. No. 6 Delsea (1-0) Friday at 7.

Rancocas Valley (1-0): With a stacked junior class, Red Devils might be a year away. Or maybe they'll arrive early. Next: Home vs. Notre Dame (1-0), Sept. 22 at 1.

-- 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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