Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Football: New Top 10

Football: New Top 10

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By Phil Anastasia

Cedar Creek enters the Top 10 this week as the Pirates are coming off an imposing victory over a pretty solid Willingboro team in the SJ 2 playoffs.

Penns Grove continues to impress, climbing a spot to No. 7 after another big win, this time over Paulsboro.

Kingsway moves up as well, as the new No. 8 Dragons scored an impressive victory over previously unbeaten Lacey in SJ 4 semifinals.

Eastern dropped out after losing to Southern in the SJ 5 semifinals.

Here's a look at the new Top 10, as of Sunday Dec. 2, with previous ranking in parentheses:

1. Williamstown (1) 11-0
The Braves are 45-7 since the start of the 2008 season. But those numbers look so much better when reflected in the light of playoff success. That's what has happened so far this season. The Braves can finish a dream season and fully validate their status as one of the best programs in South Jersey by securing the school's first sectional title in football. Next: Vs. Southern (9-2) in S.J. 5 title game Friday at 7 at Rowan.

2. Timber Creek (2) 9-2
The Chargers were 3-0 in October and 4-0 in November after going 2-2 in September. This team has gained momentum and strength during the course of the season. But the potential absence of DT Greg Webb, who missed Friday's victory over Shawnee with an ankle injury, could be a factor against a run-heavy opponent such as Kingsway. Webb could be a game-time decision. It probably helps that the game is a full day later than these guys usually play -- Saturday at 7 instead of Friday at 7. Next: Vs. No. 8 Kingsway in S.J. 4 title game Saturday at 7 at Rowan.

3. St. Joseph (3) 9-1
The Wildcats tied the state playoff record for points in a game in a 72-0 victory over Hudson Catholic on Saturday. These guys must have been taking out some frustration from that Thanksgiving Eve loss to Hammonton. SJ is heavy favorite in title game. SJ beat SM in the 2010 and 2011 title games by a combined 91-0. Senior QB Anthony Giagunto can finish his career with a 28-1 record as a starter. Next: Vs. St. Mary (11-0) in N.P. 1 title game Saturday at 4 at the College of New Jersey.

4. Delsea (4) 10-1
The Crusaders have won nine in a row and have outscored their last five opponents by 190-38. The offense kicked into gear in 26-0 win over Bridgeton, and the defense continued trend of big plays as cousins Bryan and Dylan Dobzanski each scored return TDs. The Crusaders haven't played the most challenging of schedules -- the same could be said for some other ranked teams -- but that victory over Kingsway looks more and more impressive every week. Next: Vs. Northern Burlington (7-4) in S.J. 3 title game Saturday at 4 at Rowan.

5. Atlantic City (5) 8-3
Wide receivers Dayshawn Reynolds finished with 50 catches for 907 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Vikings. AC gave No. 1 Williamstown a big-time battle on Friday night. They had the football with a chance to tie the score late in the game. QB Jarren McBryde made several strong tackles as a DB. Next: Season over.

6. West Deptford (6) 11-0
Junior running back Gerald Owens (1,485 yards), who sat out Friday with a concussion, should be cleared to play in the sectional final. Seniors Josh Cornelius and Connor Smith picked up the slack in a semifinal win over Woodstown. The Eagles defense will face big challenge in trying to contain playmakers from Cedar Creek. WD has won 20 in a row and is seeking sixth sectional title since 2002, including second in a row. Next: Vs. No. 10 Cedar Creek (10-1) in S.J. 2 title game Saturday at 1 at Rowan.

7. Penns Grove (8) 11-0
Senior quarterback Nick Elmer ran for three touchdowns and passed for two in a 53-6 victory over Paulsboro on Saturday. The Red Devils are on the brink of all kinds of history. They can become the program's first 12-0 team and first SJ champion. They also can set the SJ record for average points in a game (they are at 53.7 right now) and also can break the state record for points in a season (they are at 591; mark is 599 by Bergen Catholic in 1998). It's been an incredible season for coach Kemp Carr and the Red Devils. But they still have to finish by beating a battled-tested Woodbury team that has the best athlete in South Jersey on its side in Alabama-bound Anthony Averett. Next: Vs. Woodbury (10-1) in S.J. 1 title game Saturday at 10 at Rowan.

8. Kingsway (9) 8-3
The Dragons have been getting great work from senior offensive lineman Matt Mullen. That OL has been clearing the way for remarkable numbers by junior Ray Lawry (2,053 rushing yards) and senior Emilio Irving (1,272). Those guys combined for 451 in 42-28 win over previously undefeated Lacey on Saturday. Kingsway is playing with a lot of confidence and with an edge. The battle with TC for the title could be a classic. Next: Vs. No. 2 Timber Creek (9-2) in S.J. 4 title game Saturday at 7 at Rowan.

9. Holy Spirit (10) 7-4
Junior running back Taalib Gerald has 942 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Spartans. This team has been hardened by a tough schedule in the Cape American. That showed in first two rounds of NP 2 tournament. Immaculata is legit but so is HS. Here's the thing, too: HS has won two state titles in a row. With so many juniors in key roles, HS could be looking at a four-year run if the Spartans can find a way to win this one. Next: Vs. Immaculata (10-1) in N.P. 2 title game Saturday at 7 at the College of New Jersey.

10. Cedar Creek (NR) 10-1
Senior running back Gary Melton has 17 rushing touchdowns and nine receiving touchdowns. Senior quarterback Damon Mitchell continues to make plays. These guys are averaging 40.2 points. West Deptford is averaging 40.9. That title game has the makings of a major shootout on Rowan's artifical turf, if the weather cooperates. Last team to have the ball wins? Next: Vs. No. 6 West Deptford (11-0) in S.J. 2 title game Saturday at 1 at Rowan.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically):
Eastern (7-4): Junior QB Tom Flacco passed for more than 300 yards (jacking his season total above 2,900) and 4 TDs in heart-breaking 30-27 loss to Southern in SJ 5 semifinals on Friday night.

St. Augustine Prep (8-2): Junior Mike McGrath is a top OL who could be a major recruit next season.

In the mix:

Woodbury (10-1): The Thundering Herd found a way to win a tough battle with Glassboro by 14-13 score on Saturday. But Anthony Averett and Co. are underdogs against Penns Grove in the finals.

Northern Burlington (7-4): That was a bit of a revenge win for the Greyhounds over Burlington Twp. in SJ 3 semifinals. Senior LB/FB L.J. Terry sets a physical tone for NBC.

Shawnee (6-5): The Renegades might have found their QB of the future as frosh Mike Welsh threw three TD passes in 32-22 loss to Timber Creek in SJ 4 semifinals.

Paul VI (6-4): All-purpose player Sterling Sheffield will be one of the top juniors in SJ next season.

Cherokee (6-4): Like rival Shawnee, Cherokee has a top freshman in Wildcat QB Evan Powell.

Glassboro (9-2): Senior RB Corey Clement finished illustrious career with 6,250 yards, best in SJ history and the No. 4 state mark.


Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

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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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