Monday, April 27, 2015

Football: 12 picks for this weekend's games

Football: 12 picks for this weekend's games

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Here's a closer look, with predictions, at 12 of this weekend's best games in South Jersey football:

Friday at 6
Wildwood (2-1) at Maple Shade (3-0): When the WFL decided to realign some divisions and create some new inter-division games after the end of the first two-year scheduling cycle, the first thing league officials did was look at some of the smaller Group 1 teams that have been struggling in recent years. They created matchups like this one, and also got programs such as Clayton and Riverside in the mix. It was good work, and gave these two teams a chance to play a meaningful game on the brink of October. Of course, the teams had something to do with it by playing well. This is clash of two of South Jersey's top running backs in Wildwood's Wesley Hills (65 carries, 610 yards) and Maple Shade's Tyler Nicolo (75, 448). MS looks to have a major edge in passing behind senior QB Steve Strobel (26 for 45, 451). Could be a shootout. The pick: Maple Shade, 33-26.

Friday at 7

No. 3 Williamstown (3-0) at No. 2 Timber Creek (2-1): The game of the week, the month and maybe both teams' regular seasons. But there will be a lot of football to be played after this one, so it's important not to overreact to the result. One thing is sure: This will be a heavy hitting game. You have to like both defenses. Key for TC will be health: Is Dajaun Drennon OK after sitting out two games following a minor auto accident? Is this the game Greg Webb makes his debut after sitting out following Feb. knee surgery? Williamstown's Wing T, with lots of misdirection and a great inside-outside combo in RBs John Chamberlin and Marques Little, will challenge TC's defense. On the other side, Williamstown's LB-heavy defense, led by Derek Lauria and Buddy Brown, has to stand up to TC's power-running game and be aware of the Chargers' ability to throw the football down the field. Games like this often come down to special teams and turnovers. Williasmtown's offense has been crisper through the first three games of the season. The pick: Williamstown, 20-14.

Absegami (2-1) at Millville (2-1): Absegami has a top running back combination in David Hood and Tyler Bing and this might be the week that Notre Dame-bound Rashad Kinlaw returns from a broken leg. He's been out since June. Millville has a top playmaker in senior quarterback Rashon Sorrell (30 for 50 for 468) and an emerging star in soph RB Rob Ennis (56, 378). One of these teams is going to be sitting pretty in the race for a SJ 5 playoff berth with a 3-1 record and some major power points. The other is going to be scrambling a bit. Lots of big plays in this one. The pick: Absegami, 24-20.

Cedar Creek (3-0) at Buena (3-0): This is a clash of unbeatens to determine which Group 2 team is the biggest threat to St. Augustine in the revamped Cape National. Cedar Creek has a top athlete in Georgia Tech-bound quarterback Damon Mitchell (28 for 42 passing for 489, 33 for 231 rushing) and a breakaway threat at RB in Gary Melton Jr. CC's Nolan Seward (9 catches, 213 yards) is a top receiver. Buena senior RB Rob Bunton, the leadoff hitter on the South Jersey Group 2 championship baseball team, scored five touchdowns last week. The pick: Cedar Creek, 26-17.

Kingsway (2-1) at No. 6 Delsea (2-1): There's a lot of history here dating to these teams' days in the Tri-County Royal. Actually, it's been two weeks in the way-back machine for Delsea as the Crusaders played Deptford last Friday. Kingsway is led by junior running back Ray Lawry (55, 624). The Dragons have played well since opening the season with a loss at Shawnee. Delsea features senior running back Tyrone Saud (35, 222) and senior quarterback Josh Awotunde, a run-pass threat. The pick: Delsea, 23-20.

Glassboro (1-1) at Gloucester (3-0): The defending South Jersey Group 1 champions have a tough battle at the resurgent Lions. Glassboro is led by running back Corey Clement (55, 366) while Gloucester has a running back combination in junior Ben Boyer (74, 429) and senior Larry Spann (25, 272). This a key game for Gloucester. If the Lions find a way to win this one, they'll be right in the mix in SJ 1 and the Bulldogs will be scrambling just to qualify. The pick: Glassboro, 24-22.

Mainland (1-2) at Holy Spirit (0-2): Mainland played some serious defense in losing to Absegami by a 14-7 score in overtime last week. Holy Spirit will make a quarterback change after the transfer of starter CJ LaFragola. Junior TJ Anderson is expected to get the nod. He was battling injuries in preseason. The Spartans have a top RB in junior Talib Gerald. Some folks think LaFragola's transfer could have a negative effect on the Spartans but it's possible the opposite will be true, creating an incentive for the remaining players to pull together. The pick: Holy Spirit, 17-13.

No. 9 West Deptford (3-0) at Sterling (2-1): This is the third of three straight games against what has been the Big 3 of the Colonial -- Paulsboro, Haddonfield and WD -- for the Silver Knights. Sterling beat Paulsboro and lost to Haddonfield on a last-second FG last week. But WD might be another level than those other two teams this season. Senior running back Khalil Howard (53, 307) leads Sterling. West Deptford is coming off as tough Saturday battle with Haddon Heights. Junior fullback Gerald Owens (63, 509) is the key to the Eagles' Wing T. Clyde Folsom's teams tend to get better as the season goes along. The pick: West Deptford, 27-13.

Pennsauken (1-2) at Washington Twp. (2-1): Pennsauken needs to spring an upset to revitalize a season that is threatening to slip away. Quarterback Deyon Edwards (29 for 56, 363) leads the offense. Washington Township might have found its stride in last week's win over Lenape. Senior QB Tom Hildebrand and versatile junior Andrew O'Neill set the pace for the Minutemen. The pick: Washington Twp., 20-13.

Hammonton (2-1) at Bridgeton (2-1): Veteran Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta goes for his 200th victory for the second week in a row. The Blue Devils were stunned by EHT on a late FG last week. Senior twins David and Dom Williams, both RBs and DBs, lead the way. Bridgeton has a top RB in Stefon Bowman (51 carries, 325 yards). The pick: Hammonton, 27-13.

Saturday at 11

Woodbury (2-1) at Paulsboro (2-1): These old rivals get together again in a game that likely will decide the Colonial Patriot race and will have a major impact on South Jersey Group 1 playoff seeding. The key could be Paulsboro's ability to contain Woodbury quarterback Anthony Averett (28, 315), an Alabama recruit. The Red Raiders' offense has labored a bit since the loss of RB Dimere Turner to injury in a scrimmage. If it comes down to kicking, Paulsboro has big edge with senior K/P Mike Maccarone. The pick: Woodbury, 19-17.

Saturday at noon

No. 7 EHT (2-1) at No. 1 St. Joseph (3-0): Another week, another challenge in the Cape American for the Wildcats. EHT is riding high after last week's last-second win over Hammonton. This is a classic big school vs. small school clash as EHT has more than six times as many students as SJ. Of course, that's not a completely fair comparison since SJ, like some other NPs, has a pretty high concentration of students who attend the school in large part to play a particular sport. So there's definitely two ways to look at the disparity in school size. SJ's offense features junior RB Cody Sampson (32, 303) while seniors Charles Cade and Kevin Goldsmith lead the defense. The pick: St. Joseph, 23-17.

-- 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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