By Phil Anastasia
Here's a closer look, with predictions, at a dozen games of note in South Jersey football this weekend:
No. 3 Timber Creek (2-2) at No. 5 Moorestown (3-1): This is a WJFL Constitution clash of teams coming off tough losses. One of the more interesting matchups will involve Mooestown OT Shane Rafter against TC DEs Dajaun Drennon and Myles Nash. Rafter is a Temple recruit. Drennon is a North Carolina recruit and Nash a Rutgers recruit. Rafter and senior LB Shayne Lawless have given this Motown team a little edge, which has helped. So have the big plays by Tyreek Robinson, Sidney Ruffin and Anthony Bonett. TC will look to bounce back in a big way from a 26-18 loss to Williamstown last weekend. Moorestown suffered a 26-25 loss to CH East. But the Quakers have a little more margin for error after a 3-0 start so I suspect the Chargers might be a little more desperate. TC has to settle its QB position. The pick: Timber Creek, 27-20.
Holy Spirit (1-2) at Absegami (3-1): This game could mark the debut of Absegami quarterback/defensive back Rashad Kinlaw, a Notre Dame recruit who has been out since June with a broken leg. Gami has won three in a row after opening the season with a competitive loss at No. 1 St. Joe. Junior RB David Hood has been terrific for the Braves. They could be a real factor in SJ 5, and a win here would solidify their position the jockeying for a berth. But the reality of the Cape American schedule is that a good team is not going to qualify for the SJ 5 tourney. Absegami, EHT, AC and Millville -- none of them want to be that team without a chair when the music stops. HS won its first game last week. The Spartans need another win to stay a factor in the Cape American race. A win also would likely work wonders for the climate around the team under new coach John Iannucci. Junior TJ Anderson made his debut at QB last week. He's a key for a team that runs the triple option. The pick: Absegami, 17-13.
No. 6 Hammonton (3-1) at Atlantic City (2-1): Atlantic City's Dayshawn Reynolds, a senior wide receiver, returned a kickoff for touchdown last season to spark an upset of Hammonton. Reynolds is back and the Vikings have lots of other playmakers, too. Like Gami, AC could be a team to watch in SJ 5. Like Gami, the Vikings need a win here to stay in the thick of the race. Hammonton needs a win to keep pace with cross-town rival SJ, which is threatening to run away with the Cape American race. The Blue Devils want to be even, or a game back of the Wildcats, when they meet on Thanksgiving Rocking Eve. Hammy senior QB Christian Mortellite could be poised for a big game. The pick: Hammonton, 20-14.
Washington Twp. (3-1) at Cherokee (1-2): The Chiefs need a win or risk missing the playoffs for the second year in a row. They were 5-3 at the cutoff last year and missed the SJ 4 field. SJ 5 will be tough to crack this season with a 5-3 mark, so they don't have much margin for error. Cherokee has been off since a competitive loss to No. 2 Williamstown. That's a lot of time to rest and prepare for coach PJ Mehigan and his staff. Junior running back/linebacker Andrew O'Neill has led Washington Township, which has won three in a row to move into the conversation in the WJFL American and SJ 5 races. The pick: Cherokee, 24-23.
No. 8 Shawnee (3-1) at Clearview (3-1): Sole possession of first place in the WJFL National is on the line as both teams are 2-0 in division play. Senior quarterback Luke Snyder makes his debut for Shawnee, which has bounced back well from tough loss at Williamstown. He replaces senior Andrew Bertolino, out for the year with a torn ACL. Senior RB Rob DiOrio could be set to have a big game for the Renegades. Senior quarterback Mitch Harbaugh leads Clearview, a bit of a surprise team with designs on a signature win on their home field. The pick: Shawnee, 20-10.
Seneca (1-3) at CH West (1-2): Seneca's offenses misses senior running back Joey Pawlowski, out for the season with heel injury. Senior RB Alex Flexon will become more of a factor in the offense. The Golden Eagles played strong defense in a 13-0 loss to Shawnee last weekend. Cherry Hill West could get big boost from return of junior quarterback/defensive back Rodney Williams, out since August with hamstring injury. The Lions will be rested as they have been off since a Sept. 21 loss to TC. The pick: Seneca, 13-6.
No. 2 Williamstown (4-0) at Eastern (3-1): The Braves have to be mindful of a letdown after that emotional victory over TC. They were celebratining big time after that win on the Chargers' field. Eastern junior quarterback Tom Flacco has battled through a couple of nagging injuries and is starting to find the range with wide receivers Eli Woodard and Keyshawn Seegers. Junior scatback TJ Gardner is a playmaker for the Vikings. This game could be a big challenge for Willytown's pass defense, especially if junior DB Marques Little, who has a groin injury, is out or limited. Eastern's chances for springing the upset could hinge on the Vikings' ability to contain the Braves' Wing T, no small task. Williamstown's FB John Chamberlin is coming off a huge game (41 carries, 189 yards, 2 TDs) against TC. The pick: Williamstown, 27-17.
Triton (2-1) at Kingsway (2-2): This is a pivotal game for both teams in the WJFL National and in SJ 4, too. Triton's Josh Woods ran for 314 yards and 4 TDs on just 14 carries in this game last year. He scored on runs of 81, 80, 64 and 38 yards in the Mustangs' 40-17 win. Woods and Kingsway junior RB Ray Lawry are two of South Jersey's top breakaway threats. Lawry has an unofficial visit set for Rutgers on Saturday and also plans to visit Pitt, Temple and Vanderbilt. This coud turn on which defense misses the fewest tackles. Triton has a top inside LB duo in Artie Flemming and Chance Negri. The pick: Triton, 20-14.
Bishop Eustace (2-1) at Deptford (2-2): Bishop Eustace is led by quarterback Connor Bor and wide receiver Sam Steele. The Crusaders are coming off a bye after a tough loss to Cumberland. Deptford has momentum after a strong win over Pemberton and a top RB in senior Jody Ellis. Both teams are 1-1 in the WJFL Royal and trying to stay a game behind Delsea. The pick: Bishop Eustace, 17-13.
Cinnaminson (3-1) at Holy Cross (2-2): The Pirates are trying to keep pace with unbeaten Delran in the WJFL Liberty. Senior Xavier Wilson leads the way for a team that has been sharing the load on offense in the absence of injured senior RB Tom Donnelly. HC junior RB Jimmy Hickey has helped the Lancers win two in a row after an 0-2 start. Senior QB Logan Hill and junior WR Junior Ajayi are a top pass-catch combo. These teams are neighbors and fierce rivals. This game has fourth-quarter drama written all over it. The pick: HC, 14-13.
Saturday at 2
Woodstown (2-1) at Penns Grove (3-0): Led by senior quarterback Nick Elmer and junior running back Anthony Robertson, the Red Devils are looking like the team to beat in SJ 1. Elmer is the real deal, a terrific runner, decent passer and great leader. He's got a lot of talent around him, too. I could see PG at 8-0 at the cutoff. Woodstown is led by senior running back Rashar Gray. The Wolverines have been off since a Sept. 21 loss to Glassboro. The pick: Penns Grove, 32-19.
Saturday at 3
Lenape (0-3) at CH East (1-3): Cougars are riding high after thrilling win over then-No. 4 Moorestown. Senior wide receiver/defensive back/punter Nick DiVito leads the way along with senior FB Daishi Goto. CHE would love to work itself into the SJ 5 playoff picture so the Cougars can't afford to lose this one. WT coach Mark Wechter said Lenape is the "best 0-3 team in South Jersey." The Indians were 0-4 last season and rallied with a strong finish. If they want to get to .500 this season, they probably need this one. The pick: Cherry Hill East, 14-13.
Reach Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.