Football: New Top 10
Football: New Top 10
By Phil Anastasia
It was an odd week for football with a handful of games on Friday, a few more on Saturday, and a lot of teams still home in an unexpected "bye" week because of Hurricane Sandy.
The week ahead will be even stranger, with a bunch of key games on Wednesday and somesignificant action on Friday, too.
But the teams that played this weekend will be off next weekend, creating a "bye" for them -- real value for those squads that are headed to the playoffs.
The only movement in the Top 10 involved Eastern dropping out after an upset by Lenape and Penns Grove jumping in at No. 10.
The Red Devils are a tough team to gauge because of the strength of their schedule as it compares to some of the larger schools in the area. But 262-0 over the last five games is 262-0 over the last five games.
Here's a look at the new Top 10, as of Sunday Nov. 4, with previous ranking in parentheses
1. St. Joseph (1) 8-0
Miles Pease's interception and 50-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter sparked the Wildcats to their 26th victory in a row, a 28-0 triumph over Mainland on Friday. Coach Paul Sacco still wasn't sure Sunday if his team will play a first round game in the NP 1 tournament. If they do, it will be against a 1-7 No. 8 seed. It could be 50-0 at halftime. Don't see the value in that but the Wildcats would like to be able to play 12 games one of these seasons. Next: Home in Non-Public 1 first round Nov. 17 or at Hammonton (4-3) Nov. 21 at 7.
2. Williamstown (2) 8-0
The Braves clinched the No. 1 seed in South Jersey Group 5 with a 20-16 victory over old rival Kingsway on Saturday night. Boy, Kingsway gave Williamstown a major scare. The Dragons dominated the third quarter and twice held leads in the second half. The Braves found a way, though, keeping their perfect season alive. Not every win is going to be a pretty. Next: Home Nov. 16 in first round of S.J. 5 tournament.
3. Timber Creek (3) 6-2
Senior running back Zaire Williams scored two touchdowns as Chargers clinched a share of WJFL Constitution title as well as the top seed in SJ 4 with a 19-6 victory over Seneca on Friday night. Williams has come on strong in the second half of the season, just like in 2011 when he was a junior at Cherokee. DT Greg Webb saw his first action since last season on Friday night. His return to health will make the Chargers the team to beat in SJ 4. Next: Home Nov. 16 in first round of S.J. 4 tournament.
4. Delsea (4) 7-1
The Crusaders can clinch the WJFL Royal Division title with a victory over Cumberland. The Colts will be a challenge. They've played better lately and are still alive for a playoff berth. Burlington Twp. passed Delsea for the top seed in SJ 3 with a victory over NBC on Saturday. But there isn't much difference between No. 1 and No. 2 since the title game is on a neutral field. "The only difference is whether you want to wear white uniforms that day," BT coach Tom Maderia said. Next: Home vs. Cumberland (3-4) Friday at 7.
5. Absegami (5) 5-2
The Braves could earn the No. 2 seed in South Jersey Group 5 with a victory over Atlantic City. It's impossible to tell how some of these shore schools -- and others that have been without power -- will react to coming back to football after Sandy. Many of Absegami's players and coaches have been dealing with a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with fun and games in recent days. Football could be an escape. Or they could be distracted. Time will tell. Next: Home vs. No. 6 Atlantic City (5-2) Friday at 7.
6. Atlantic City (6) 5-2
Quarterback Jarren McBryde said "senior leadership and our coaches" will help the Vikings fight through the problems created by Hurricane Sandy. Coach Thomas Kelly got his team together for its first practice since an Oct. 26 game against Mainland on Saturday. AC coaches and players are in same boat -- no pun intended -- as Absegami players and coaches. Hard to imagine this team won't struggle to find its footing over the next couple of weeks but sports can be funny. Odd circumstances can rally teams at times. Next: At No. 5 Absegami (5-2) Friday at 7.
7. West Deptford (7) 7-0
The Eagles have won 29 of their last 31, with both losses to Haddonfield. WD has beaten Haddonfield three times in that span. The rivalry renews again this week, after a delay because of Sandy. WD has been playing a much higher level this season but Haddonfield will be desperate and the Bulldogs have been tough at home. This game will be a challenge for WD. Next: At Haddonfield (5-2) Friday at 7.
8. Washington Township (9) 6-1
The Minutemen have won six in a row and have scored 97 points in their last three games. WT is a darkhorse in SJ 5. But a win over Clearview will likely earn the Minutemen a home game. That would be a big deal. Next: Home vs. Clearview (5-2) Wednesday at 7.
9. Camden Catholic (10) 6-2
The Irish project as the No. 5 seed in Non-Public 3 and likely will visit undefeated Red Bank Catholic in the first round. RBC is not St. Joe Montvale. CC could win that game. But the top three in NP 3 -- Montvale, Pope John and Delbarton -- are pretty good. CC answered challenge against desperate CH West on Saturday night. That was a good sign at this time of the season for a team that's been a little up and down. Next: First round of N.P. 3 tournament, weekend of Nov. 16-17.
10. Penns Grove (NR) 8-0
The Red Devils have six shutouts this season and 15 shutouts in their last 26 games. Hard to get a good read on this team but you probably could say the same thing every year about West Deptford. And PG is winning its games in the WJFL Diamond just as convincingly -- if not more so -- than WD wins its games in the Colonial. Senior QB Nick Elmer, senior NG Sam Harvey, junior RB Anthony Robertson and senior WR Jabrail Murray would be key players on any team in SJ. Next: Home Nov. 17 in first round of S.J. Group 1 tournament.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically):
Holy Spirit (4-3): Spartans match up with every team in NP 2 except maybe Immaculata. And maybe Immaculata, too. Next: Home vs. Oakcrest (0-7) Friday at 7.
Kingsway (5-3): Dragons defense was open for business against No. 2 Williamstown on Saturday night. Don't count this team out in SJ 4. Next: First round of SJ 4 tournament Nov. 16-17.
Millville (4-3): The Thunderbolts could beat anybody in SJ 5. But they might need to beat Hammonton Wednesday to get in. Next: Home vs. Hammonton (4-3) Wednesday at 7.
In the mix:
Burlington Twp. (7-1): Senior all-purpose player Mike Thomas is the real deal and sophomore QB Khalil Trotman has a world of potential. Next: Home in first round of SJ 3 tournament Nov. 16-17.
Cedar Creek (8-0): Senior RB Gary Melton scored 4 TDs in first quarter Saturday against LCM. Next: Home in first round of SJ 2 tournament Nov. 16-17.
Eastern (6-3): Missed extra points cost the Vikings in 19-18 loss to a Lenape team is a lot better than its 2-6 record. Eastern still should get a home game in SJ 5. Next: First round of SJ 5 tournament weekend of Nov. 16-17.
Shawnee (4-3): Return of senior QB Andrew Bertolino could make Renegades a much tougher out in SJ 4 tournament. Next: Home vs. Pennsauken (2-5) Wednesday at 6.
Delran (7-0): Bears are looking at 8-0 for first time since 1990. Next: Home vs. Ewing (1-6) Friday at 7.
Clearview (5-2): Big opportunity Wednesday at WT. Major power points plus Gloucester County bragging rights. Next: At Washington Twp. (6-1) Wednesday at 7.
St. Augustine Prep (6-1): Hermits are looking at tough game in first round of NP 4 tourney. Next: Home vs. Pleasantville (0-7) Friday at 7.
Paul VI (5-2): Same deal as SAP in first round of NP 4 tourney. Next: At Moorestown (5-3) Friday at 6.
Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.