By Phil Anastasia
Fifteen games to watch this season in South Jersey football:
Shawnee at Kingsway: This pivotal game in the WJFL National Division between two South Jersey Group 4 playoff contenders will feature explosive Kingsway running back Ray Lawry and sturdy Shawnee linebacker Anthony DiOrio.
Glassboro at Penns Grove: Never mind the Group 1 label. Glassboro junior wide receiver/defensive back Juwan Johnson and Penns Grove senior defensive end Isaiah Coppage are among the best players in South Jersey. Big question: Will Penns Grove quarterback/linebacker Anthony Robertson be available after suffering knee injury the other day in practice?
Moorestown at Delsea: The Quakers handed the Crusaders their only loss last season, setting the stage for a rematch that will feature a clash of offensive styles. If Moorestown really is going to change it's a identity into more of a physical team under new coach Beau Sherry, this would be a good place to make a statement.
St. Joseph at Holy Spirit: The Wildcats and Spartans are old rivals, top contenders for the Cape American crown, multiple-time defending state champions and teams with legitimate designs on the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Other than that, it's just another game.
Cherokee at Williamstown: The Chiefs could see the Braves again in the S.J. 5 playoffs. So this game could have a major bearing on seeding as well the WJFL American race. It's funny how things change, too. Not so long ago, Williamstown was looking for validation by proving it could play with Cherokee. Now Cherokee is looking to prove that this year's team belongs in the Top 5 conversation with Williamstown.
Timber Creek at Williamstown: The top two teams in the preseason rankings clash in what figures to be one of the hardest-hitting games of the season. These teams aren't old rivals, just fierce ones. The Braves defense must contain TC wide receiver Adonis Jennings (pictured), a Rutgers recruit.
Eastern at Rancocas Valley: A WJFL inter-division clash of S.J. Group 5 playoff contenders. Nice to see the Red Devils playing traditional S.J. opponents. Lots of power points on the line as senior RB/LB Isaiah Gibson leads RV.
Haddonfield at Sterling: The Bulldogs beats the Silver Knights last season. But the Silver Knights edged the Bulldogs for a playoff berth. So both teams have an ax to grind.
Paulsboro at Woodbury: These old rivals get together again in a game that, like so many others in recent seasons, likely will decide the Colonial Patriot race. SJ Group 1 playoff seeding will be impacted by this game as well.
Holy Spirit at Millville: Expect a great scene at historic Wheaton Field -- with Mike Trout somewhere in the home stands -- when these Cape American contenders clash in a game likely loaded with power points. Two strong defenses, with Millville featuring tackle Antoine White, a Penn State recruit.
Eastern at Cherokee: Quarterback Tom Flacco rallied the Vikings past the Chiefs in a 2012 game that turned two teams' seasons. Both these teams have designs on the WJFL American and SJ 5 titles. They could meet again in the playoffs.
Haddonfield at West Deptford: These rivals tend to clash twice a year: In the a Colonial Liberty and SJ 2. WD has won the last two meetings behind fullback Gerald Owens, a Michigan State recruit. Haddonfield might be the biggest challenge to another 12-0 season for WD.
Burlington Township at Northern Burlington: These WJFL Patriot rivals split in 2012, with the Falcons winning in the regular season and the Greyhounds turning the tables in the S.J. Group 3 tournament.
Pennsville at Gloucester: As juniors, Lions' running back Ben Boyer and Eagles' quarterback Dylan Cummings put on a highlight show in a 2012 game won by Gloucester by a 48-42 score. Encore?
Paul VI at Camden Catholic: These private-school rivals gauge their seasons by how they do on Thanksgiving when all those alumni fill the stands.
Hammonton at St. Joseph: This is the last game with division-title implications in the history of this old rivalry as Hammonton is moving from the Cape Atlantic League to the West Jersey Football League next season. We're assuming these teams still will play starting next year, when Hammonton moves to the Tri-County Conference and WJFL. But that's no sure thing as the Blue Devils are going need a waiver from the WJFL, which is looking to give every team full, nine-game schedule within the WJFL starting next season. If Hammonton gets out of a WJFL game to keep its series with St. Joe, another WJFL team will have to agree to find another game out of the league as well (That's Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson raising his hand).
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