By Phil Anastasia
There's a new No. 1 in the new Top 25 rankings in South Jersey football.
Holy Spirit moves from No. 2 to No. 1. Even though the Spartans didn't play this weekend, they rose in the rankings based on the quality of their first two performances -- beating Hammonton (30-0) and St. Joseph (31-28).
Williamstown dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 even though the Braves beat then-No. 3 Cherokee 13-10 on Friday night. Williamstown certainly looked like a good team on Friday, but after seeing both squads, Holy Spirit is a little more impressive.
In late September, anyway -- which won't mean much come late October, late November and the final ranking in mid-December.
Here's the new Top 25, with previous rankings in parenthese:
1. Holy Spirit (2) 2-0
The Spartans' wins over Hammonton and St. Joe look better every week. Hammonton took apart EHT and St. Joe beat a very talented and impressive Millville team. Holy Spirit doesn't have much depth, so an injury or two could hurt the Spartans over the long course of the season. But right now, they are the best in South Jersey. Next: at Mainland (1-2) Friday at 7.
2. Williamstown (1) 3-0
The Braves showed some resiliency in rallying from a 10-0 deficit to beat Cherokee. They did the same thing the previous week in rallying from a 14-0 deficit to beat Shawnee. And make no mistake: Cherokee and Shawnee are good teams. But Williamstown is a bit of a work in progress, with a young and almost completely rebuilt front line. They might be No. 1 again by the end. They certainly have the schedule that will allow them to prove they belong back on top. Right now, they are No. 2. Next: Home vs. No. 4 Timber Creek (3-0) Friday at 7.
3. Eastern (4) 3-0
The Vikings are averaging 50.3 points. Senior all-purpose back T.J. Gardner, the brother of Oregon sprinter star English Gardner, has been racking up major yardage and starring in highlight reels. Big test Saturday against a tough RV team. Next: At No. 9 Rancocas Valley (2-0) Saturday at 3:30.
4. Timber Creek (5) 2-1
The Chargers are operating an an unprecedented level on offense, with guys such as QB Dan Williams and WR Adonis Jennings on pace to shatter SJ records. Sop WR Cameron Chambers is blowing up, too. The key Friday will be the ability of the TC defense to prevent Williamstown from controlling the football and the clock. That's what the Braves will try to do behind FB John Chamberlin. Next: At. No. 2 Williamstown (3-0) Friday at 7.
5. St. Joseph (6) 2-1
The Wildcats got a big game from junior C.J. LaFragola and beat a very solid Millville team by 21-14. Don't say this too loud in front of coach Paul Sacco, but St. Joe could have started a very long winning streak on Saturday. In fact, whisper this: The Wildcats will be favored in every game the rest of this season, in every game next season and probably in every game in 2015. That's the next 30. But they take them one game at a time in Hammonton. Next: at EHT (1-2) Friday at 7.
6. Cherokee (3) 2-1
The Chiefs were kicking themselves a little on Friday night, figuring they let a big one get away in a 13-10 loss at Williamstown. This is a tough, talented team that will get more opportunities to push back into elite territory. Here's Williamstown FB John Chamberlin on the Cherokee defense: "Those are some tough kids. They hit. They beat me up." Next: at No. 25 Washington Twp. (2-1) Oct. 12 at TBD.
7. West Deptford (7) 3-0
The Eagles have outscored their first three opponents, 205-8. Their first three opponents (Gateway, Lindenwold and Overbrook) are a combined 1-8. Their next three opponents (Collingswood, Sterling and Haddonfield) are a combined 9-0. Next: at Collingswood (3-0) Oct. 11 at 7.
8. Millville (8) 2-1
Senior LB Ed Shockley was all over the field in a 21-14 loss to St. Joe. Junior RB Rob Ellis is a big-time player, with a serious burst and a good understanding of the sport. These guys will be in the mix in SJ 5. Next: At No. 23 Absegami (2-1) Friday at 7.
9. Rancocas Valley (9) 2-0
The Red Devils got a huge play from senior DB Alex Finelli, who returned an intercveption 25 yards for a TD with 0:01 remaining in the half, in a 36-14 win over Notre Dame. Junior QB Jordan Sadusky, who has a big arm, threw three TD passes. Could be a shootout Saturday at home vs. Eastern. Next: Home vs. No. 3 Eastern (3-0) Saturday at 3:30.
10. Shawnee (10) 2-1
Junior defensive back Jake Parola had three interceptions in a 20-0 win over Triton. Senior RB Anthony DiOrio, who was nursing a groin injury all week, ran for 100 yards and three TDs. Next: Home vs. Seneca (0-3) Friday at 7.
11. Haddonfield (11) 3-0
Junior LB Mark Walker is playing at a high level, according to coach Frank DeLano. Big game at Sterling after the bye. Next: at Sterling (3-0) Oct. 11 at 7.
12. Camden (12) 2-0
The Panthers are on the road for one more week, then debut their new field at Farnham Park on Oct. 11. Next: at Willingboro (0-2) Friday at 7.
13. Delsea (13) 2-1
Senior QB Rob Rolle has a TD from distance in each of the first three games. Next: at No. 14 Kingsway (2-1) Friday at 7.
14. Kingsway (14) 2-1
The Dragons are used to welcoming the Crusaders to town from the old Tri-County Royal days. Next: Home vs. No. 13 Delsea (2-1) Friday at 7.
15. Atlantic City (16) 1-1
The Vikings are a young team that could create some major waves in the CAL American this season. Next: at Oakcrest (0-3) Friday at 7.
16. Hammonton (16) 2-1
The Blue Devils have bounced back from 30-0 loss to Holy Spirit in the opener in impressive fashion. Big test in a CAL crossover game at Bridgeton on Friday. Next: at No. 20 Bridgeton (3-0) Friday at 7.
17. Penns Grove (15) 2-0
The Red Devils have won 15 in a row, nine by shutout. Next: Home vs. Salem (1-1) Saturday at noon.
18. St. Augustine Prep (18) 3-0
The Hermits' schedule will turn much more challenging after their bye the weekend of Oct. 11-12. Next: at Ocean City (0-3) Friday at 7.
19. Cherry Hill West (19) 2-1
Behind senior QB Rodney Williams, the Lions hung in there for a while against high-powered Timber Creek. Next: at Seneca (0-3) Oct. 11 at 7.
20. Bridgeton (21) 3-0
Junior Cappadonna Miller has returned two interceptions and a fumble recovery for touchdowns. Big power points on the table as Group 4 Hammonton comes to town. Next: Home vs. Hammonton (2-1) Friday at 7.
21. Burlington Twp. (20) 2-1
Junior QB Khalil Trotman threw a pair of TD passes in a loss to powerful Lawrence. Next: at Pemberton (1-1) Oct. 12 at 1.
22. Paul VI (23) 2-1
Senior QB Alec Vignola is racking up some big numbers. Next: at Winslow Twp. (0-3) Saturday at noon.
23. Absegami (24) 2-1
Like Hammonton, Absegami has recovered nicely from tough opening night. Next: Home vs. No. 8 Millville (2-1) Friday at 7.
24. Woodstown (25) 3-0
Led by lineman Nathan Prus and linebackers Mario Catalano and Levi Simpkins, the Woodstown defense has allowed 16 points all season. Next: Home vs. No. 17 Penns Grove (2-0) Oct. 11 at 7.
25. Washington Twp. (NR) 2-1
Senior all-purpose player Andrew O'Neill scored five TDs in wild win over Lenape in the annual Pink Game. Next: at Pennsauken (1-2) Saturday at noon.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Clearview (2-1), Pennsville (2-0), Sterling (3-0), Woodbury (2-1).
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