By Phil Anastasia
Here’s a closer look, with predictions, at 12 games this weekend in South Jersey football:
Friday at 7
Haddon Heights (5-2) at Collingswood (2-5): Offensive lineman Alex Thompson leads the way for the Garnets, who could earn the No. 3 seed in the South Jersey Group 2 tournament with a victory over their long-time rivals. HH has been clicking on offense behind QB Dante Pinckney and WR Kashif Miller. The Garnets are banged up at RB with Brandon Joyner and Brandon Smith both nursing injuries. Collingswood could make its season with an upset of its old rival. The pick: Haddon Heights, 32-13.
No. 1 St. Joseph (7-0) at Mainland (2-5): Defensive linemen Charles Cade and Kevin Goldsmith have been standouts for the Wildcats, who are shooting for their 25th victory in a row. SJ will clinch the Cape American title with a victory as they would improve to 7-0 in the division with just one game to play – Thanksgiving Eve at Hammonton – while every other team has at least two losses. It’s tough to imagine this team not finishing 11-0 or 12-0 (depending on whether they play a first-round NP 1 game) but this isn’t a physically overpowering team. The Wildcats need to play well to win. They just always seem to. The pick: St. Joseph, 35-10.
Penns Grove (7-0) at Highland (4-4): Nose tackle Sam Harvey is a disruptive force on defense for the Red Devils, who have pitched four straight shutouts. PG has scored 60, 60 and 68 in shutout victories this season. Has that every happened? They’ve beaten their last four opponents by 211-0. QB Nick Elmer, RB Anthony Robertson and WR Jabrail Murray are playing at a high level. PG will clinch the WJFL Diamond title with a win. The pick: Penns Grove, 26-6.
Lindenwold (0-7) at Gateway (0-7): Lindenwold coach Derryl Sellers says “Somebody’s ‘0’ must go,” in this game. The Lions have a talented young QB in soph Malik Muldrow and a potential star in frosh RB Chris Randle. Gateway has been getting good work from senior two-way lineman Ed Michaelchuck. The pick: Lindenwold, 26-18.
Saturday at 2
Haddon Township (4-3) at Woodbury (6-1): Quarterback Jake Campbell leads the way for the Hawks, who could earn a South Jersey Group 1 playoff berth with an upset. HT has put together a solid season but could have trouble containing Woodbury’s speed. The Thundering Herd get fvie big plays a game from QB/DB/Returner Anthony Averett, the Alabama recruit who will receive his game jersey to play in the Semper Fidelis All American Bowl Jan. 4 in Carson, Cal., during a pep rally Friday afternoon. The pick: Woodbury, 27-13.
Northern Burlington (4-3) at Burlington Township (6-1): The Greyhounds have won two in a row behind running back Kenyatta Greene and quarterback Colin Fitzpatrick. BT has played well all season – save for one letdown against WWPS – behind senior all-purpose Mike Thomas. BT can clinch the WJFL Patriot title with a victory. The pick: Burlington Township, 27-20.
Willingboro (4-3) at Lawrence (4-3): The Chimeras have won three in a row and four of five behind Robert Cleveland and Rajahan Sams as well as senior QB Anthony Robbins. Willingboro will be a tough out in SJ 2 if the Chimeras get in, and they will get in with a victory in this game. The pick: Willingboro, 20-19.
Sterling (3-4) at Overbrook (1-6): The Silver Knights need to win and get some help to qualify for South Jersey Group 2 tournament. Senior RB/LB Khalil Howard leads Sterling, which gave Haddon Heights a battle last Friday night. Overbrook, like Collingswood, is looking for a season-making upset. The pick: Sterling, 19-12.
Saturday at 3
No. 8 Eastern (6-2) at Lenape (1-6): Running back Arkemus Baskerville has 718 yards for Lenape, which won its first game last week. After the Indians battled No. 2 Williamstown two weeks ago, a Braves assistant called them “the best 0-6 team in the country.” Lenape is no typical 1-6 team, that’s for sure. Eastern’s offense is a tough matchup. The Vikings have been getting great work from junior QB Tom Flacco as well as receivers Keyshawn Seegers, Eli Woodard and Ryan Delaney, among others. Eastern already has played its first eight games, so this game has no bearing on the Vikings’ playoff position. They likely will get a home game in SJ 5. The pick: Eastern, 27-17.
Saturday at 7
Gloucester (6-1) at Pennsville (4-3): The winner of this game will clinch the WJFL Classic title as both teams enter with 4-0 records. Running backs Ben Boyer and Larry Spann have Gloucester on the verge of the No. 4 seed in the South Jersey Group 1 tournament. The Lions are coming off a nice win over Woodstown, which could get a home game in SJ 2. Pennsville is led by junior QB Dylan Cummings, a run-pass threat. Junior WR Drew Burdsall leads SJ in receptions and receiving yards. This is a clash of the spread, no-huddle Eagles and the ground-oriented, clock-controlling Lions. The pick: Gloucester, 27-22.
Cherry Hill West (4-3) at No. 10 Camden Catholic (5-2): Junior Jaquan Gonzales-Pratt is a playmaker for the Lions, who are looking for the first tournament berth in the history of the program. CHW likely would clinch a SJ 4 berth with a win but the Lions could use a little help as well. CC has been a little up and down this season. But the Irish can get to 6-2 heading into the NP 3 tournament. They likely will be on the road against some serious North Jersey competition in that group. The pick: Camden Catholic, 20-14.
No. 2 Williamstown (7-0) at Kingsway (5-2): The Braves are coming off a bye and angling for the No. 1 seed in the South Jersey Group 5 tournament. Junior RB/DB Marques Little has been nursing a groin injury but could be close to full health. Senior RB/DB Kali Boyce is putting together a strong all-around season and senior QB Doug Banks is developing into a dependable passer. Kingsway has a top 1-2 punch at RB in senior Emilio Irving and junior Ray Lawry. The Dragons will need a big game from LBs Myles Matthews and Brian Morrow to contain Williamstown’s potent ground game. The pick: Williamstown, 29-14.
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.