By Phil Anastasia
Here’s a closer look, with predictions, at 12 games this weekend in South Jersey football:
Friday at 7
No. 1 St. Joseph (5-0) at No. 6 Atlantic City (4-1): Coming off a bye, the Wildcats will follow quarterback Anthony Giagunto and running back Miles Pease into the start of the second half of their tour through the wilds of the Cape Atlantic American. SJ defense has allowed just 25 points in four games since winning shootout with Absegami on opening day. SJ has won 23 in a row. Another will tie mark of 24 straight set by Penns Grove from 1961-63, the 10th longest streak in SJ history. AC needs big plays from QB Jarren McBryde and WR Dayshawn Reynolds. AC defense has been solid, allowing just 12 points, total, the last two weeks. The pick: St. Joseph, 27-13.
Cherokee (2-3) at Eastern (4-2): Junior running back T.J. Gardner is coming off a 196-yard rushing game for the Vikings. Eastern looking to bolster its position for its first playoff berth since 2009. Vikings’ losses were to No. 2 Williamstown and No. 3 Timber Creek. Cherokee is coming off emotional 27-24 OT win over rival Shawnee. Chiefs need to win three in a row for a chance to qualify for SJ 5 tournament. Otherwise, they miss the post-season for second year in a row. The pick: Eastern, 24-20.
Highland (4-2) at Glassboro (4-1): The Bulldogs’ Corey Clement is chasing the South Jersey record for career rushing yards. He needs 217 to pass former Ocean City star Kevin Sinclair’s mark of 5,380, set in 1996. Highland was off to great start but stumbled last week against Cumberland. With Delsea and Penns Grove next, Tartans probably need an upset to keep alive hopes of SJ 3 playoff berth. The pick: Glassboro, 33-19.
Paul VI (4-1) at No. 3 Timber Creek (4-2): These WJFL Constitution teams are fierce rivals with lots of players who were together in youth football. PVI was riding high but fell hard in loss to CH East on Saturday. Eagles have chance to turn things right around against Chargers. PVI could use a big play or two from Temple-bound WR Zach Grant. TC seems to have settled down after slow start. The Chargers want to get to 5-2 at their bye. They might get North Carolina-bound DT Greg Webb (knee) back for Nov. 2 game at Seneca and then the stretch run. The pick: Timber Creek, 20-14.
Egg Harbor Twp. (2-3) at No. 9 Millville (3-2): It's going to be tough to make the South Jersey Group 5 tournament with three losses. But EHT, which has lost two in a row, has to hold out hope it can win out and make it at 5-3. Millville is coming of huge win over Holy Spirit. With winless Oakcrest next, the Thunderbolts could be 5-2 heading into playoff cutoff weekend showdown with Hammonton. The pick: Egg Harbor Twp., 23-20.
St. Augustine (5-0) at Buena (3-3): The Hermits want to get to 6-0 in advance of Oct. 27 visit to St. Joseph. The Hermits have scored 40 or more in every game, with a no-huddle offense led by QB Alex Hughes and RB Calvin Cass (23 TDs). Buena has lost three in a row. The pick: St. Augustine, 33-13.
Wildwood (4-2) at Gloucester (4-1): South Jersey Group 1 playoff berth could be on the line in clash of teams with top rushers in Warriors' Wesley Hills and Lions' Ben Boyer. Gloucester is coming off bye week. The Lions are averaging 28.4 points. WW has never made the post-season since the tournament was created in 1974. With winless Newark Academy next, the Warriors could all but clinch a berth with a win against the Lions. The pick: Gloucester, 32-27.
Woodbury (4-1) at Sterling (3-2): The host Silver Knights could strengthen their chances for a SJ 2 berth with a victory. Sterling has been led by senior RBs Khalil Howard and Quamir Mack. Woodbury is coming off good win over Haddonfield. With Audubon and Haddon Twp. next, the Thundering Herd could see their way to 7-1 and a top seed in SJ 1 tourney with a victory in this game. Sterling’s defense has been sturdy and will challenge Woodbury QB Anthony Averett, an Alabama recruit. The pick: Woodbury, 26-20.
Cherry Hill West (2-3) at No. 10 Moorestown (4-2): CHW is coming off big win over Woodrow Wilson. The Lions got a big boost with the return of junior QB/DB Rodney Williams, one of SJ’s most explosive players. CHW upset Moorestown by 38-35 score last season. Moorestown survived tough game at Camden, 20-15, when Anthony Bonett forced and recovered fumble at 3-yard line with 0:28 on the clock. The Quakers have been getting a lot of big plays from senior Sidney Ruffin. The pick: Moorestown, 33-23.
Saturday at 10:30
Haddon Heights (3-2) at Haddon Township (3-2): The Garnets' potent passing game, led by quarterback Dante Pinckney and wide receiver Kashif Miller, will present a major challenge for the Hawks' defense. HH has been averaging 37 points. HT has won two in a row and three of four. Hawks’ defense has allowed just six points the last two weeks. An upset would thrust HT into the thick of SJ 1 playoff race. HH can’t afford a slip to stay in SJ 2 race. The pick: Haddon Heights, 34-13.
Saturday at noon
Kingsway (3-2) at Pennsauken (2-3): Part of South Jersey Group 4 field likely will be determined by this clash that features top rushers in Kingsway junior Ray Lawry and Pennsauken senior Marlin Finley. Kingsway is coming off bye after strong win over Triton. Dragons’ losses were to Shawnee and Delsea. Pennsauken is the defending SJ 4 champ. Indians probably need to win out -- this game, then Cherokee and Shawnee – to make the field again. The pick: Kingsway, 19-18.
Saturday at 4
Cherry Hill East (3-3) at Washington Twp. (4-1): Running back Daishi Goto leads the red-hot Cougars against quarterback Tom Hildebrand and the Minutemen in a game with major South Jersey Group 5 playoff implications. CHE has won three in a row, including victories over then-Top 10 squads Moorestown and Paul VI. WT has won four in a row. Minutemen coming off bye after big win over Cherokee Oct. 5. The pick: Washington Twp., 20-14.
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at email@example.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.