By Phil Anastasia
Here's the new Top 25 in South Jersey football, as of Sunday Oct. 6.
Previous ranking in parenthese:
1. Holy Spirit (1) 3-0
The Spartans have held opponents to a touchdown or less in 11 of their last 14 games. They beat Mainland 41-0 on Friday as senior quarterback T.J. Anderson ran for two TDs and passes for another. Anderson has four touchdowns in the last two games and seems to be getting better at running the triple option every week. Holy Spirit has a huge game Oct. 18 at No. 8 Millville but can't get caught looking ahead this weekend. Next: at Absegami (2-2) Friday at 7.
2. Eastern (3) 4-0
The Vikings won a wild game Saturday at then-No. 9 RV by 31-28. I think the weather (hot, humid) and start time (330) had something to do with the fact that both teams looked a little sluggish early on and the game seemed disjointed all afternoon. Senior QB Tom Flacco played perhaps the most mistake-prone game of his career with 5 INTs and a lost fumble. But Flacco rallied the Vikings from a 28-21 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter. Eastern got strong games from senior WRs Keshawn Segers and Jared Levincoff as well as junior RB Eric Sawyer. Senior LB/DE Kingsley Ayeni was all over the field on defense. But Eastern also suffered a big loss when senior all-purpose TJ Gardner went down with a knee injury that coach Dan Spittal said, "looks pretty bad." Gardner will undergo further testing this week to determine the extent of the injury. He will be a big loss on offense, defense and special teams. Next: at No. 4 Williamstown (3-1) Friday at 7.
3. Timber Creek (4) 3-1
The Chargers move up a spot after beating then-No. 2 Williamstown 25-18 on Friday night. Senior RB Isaiah Austin has a nose for the end zone. He scored 2 TDs on Friday night and has 5 for the season. Senior QB Dan Williams calmly led a go-ahead drive, completing 6 of 7, after Williamstown rallied to tie the score at 18-18. Senior WR Adonis Jennings, a Rutgers recruit, made a spectacular catch for a TD. This team could follow the blueprint from 2012, gaining strength and momentum in October. Next: Home vs. Moorestown (2-2) Friday at 7.
4. Williamstown (2) 3-1
The Braves have rallied to take the lead or tie after trailing by double digits in each of the last three games. That's the mark of a tough team. Before the 25-18 loss to Timber Creek on Friday, Williamstown had won 16 in a row and had not lost in 679 days -- since 11/11/11. Williamstown is reaching the end of a brutal four-game stretch that included battles with No. 9 Shawnee (17-14 win), No. 6 Cherokee (13-10) and No. 3 Timber Creek (25-18 loss) and concludes with Friday's clash with No. 2 Eastern. If the Braves beat the Vikings and come out of this period with a 3-1 record, that would be pretty impressive. Next: Home vs. No. 2 Eastern (4-0) Friday at 7.
5. St. Joseph (5) 3-1
The Wildcats overwhelmed EHT, 69-6. That's a 63-point win over a school with six times the enrollment. Sophomore Salaam Horne returned a punt for a touchdown for third time in four games. Said it last week and will say it again: This team could be at the start of a long, multi-season winning streak. They are that good and that young. Next: at Oakcrest (0-4) Friday at 7.
6. Cherokee (6) 2-1
The Chiefs have won six of seven dating back to a four-game winning strak at the end of last season. They were off last week, giving them a chance to kick themselves pretty good for what they surely thought was a missed opportunity in a 13-10 loss at Williamstown on Sept. 27. They face a tough challenge Saturday at a Washington Township team that has won three in a row and has played four games in which there has been an amazing total of 292 points. That's 73 points per game. Next: At No. 22 Washington Township (3-1) Saturday at 4.
7. West Deptford (7) 3-0
The Eagles should get Michigan State-bound RB Gerald Owens back for a three-game stretch of games against teams with a combined 9-0 record: Collingswood, Sterling and Haddonfield. Owens has been resting a minor leg injury. WD has scored an astounding 200 points in three games. That's an average of 66.6 points per game. That would work out to 800 in a 12-game season. That can't happen, right? Next: At Collingwood (3-0) Friday at 7.
8. Millville (8) 3-1
The Thunderbolts handled Absegami, winning 42-6 in a game that matched 2-1 teams. Junior RB Rob Ennis, who is emerging as one of South Jersey's best all-around players, ran for 272 yards and four touchdowns. Millville has things set up pretty good: They get a bye week to rest up and heal some bumps and bruises, then host No. 1 Holy Spirit in what should be a supercharged night at historic Wheaton Field on Oct. 18. Millville beat HS last season, 27-20. Next: Home vs. No. 1 Holy Spirit (3-0) Oct. 18 at 7.
9. Shawnee (10) 3-1
The Renegades have won their last two games by a combined score of 58-0. This is a Coach Tim Gushue kind of team: Good running game led by senior Anthony DiOrio; strong defense with a lot of gang tackling and some defensive backs who can make plays on the ball in the air; and solid special teams. Shawnee has a test this week against a Clearview team that split with the Renegades last season. The winner takes sole possession of first place in the WJFL National. Next: Home vs. Clearview (3-1) Friday at 7.
10. Rancocas Valley (9) 2-1
The Red Devils showed some resiliency in rallying from a 21-0 deficit against No. 2 Eastern on Saturday. RV took a 28-21 lead into the fourth quarter behind senior all-purpose standout Alec Finelli, who scored all four touchdowns -- two on catches and two on short runs out of the Wildcat-like formation. RV coach Dan Haussman thought the game was a good test and that his team will "build" on the experience. RV could be a factor in SJ 5 if the Red Devils stay healthy and continue to improve. Next: at WW South (1-3) Friday at 7.
11. Haddonfield (11) 3-0
After a bye, the Colonial returns with a trio of key games this weekend, including Haddonfield at Sterling in a matchup of 3-0 Liberty Division and SJ Group 2 contenders. Haddonfield has played sturdy defense, allowing just 19 points. The Bulldogs beat the Silver Knights 16-13 on a score in the final 30 seconds last season. That didn't stop Sterling from earnning a SJ 2 playoff berth while Haddonfield was left out of the field. So both teams feel like they have a little bit of a score to settle. Next: At Sterling (3-0) Friday at 7.
12. Camden (12) 3-0
The Panthers got five TD passes from junior Khalil Williams and rolled to a 34-6 victory over Willingboro. Camden will debut its new artificial turf field at Farnham Park when Cumberland comes to Parkside on Friday night. Next: Home vs. Cumberland (1-3) Friday at 7.
13. Kingsway (14) 3-1
Gritty win over an old rival on Friday night as senior QB Rob Green led a late drive that Ray Lawry finished with a 15-yard TD run in a 15-9 triumph over then-No. 13 Delsea. Next: at Triton (1-3) Friday at 7.
14. Atlantic City (15) 2-1
The Vikings have scored 80 points in consecutive wins after a tough loss to No. 8 Millville in the opener. Next: at No. 15 Hammonton (3-1) Friday at 7.
15. Hammonton (16) 3-1
The Blue Devils are making a lot of plays in the passing game with junior QB Jon Triboletti finding senior WR Alex Padovani, a Villanova recruit, for six TDs. Next: Home vs. No. 14 Atlantic City (2-1) Friday at 7.
16. St. Augustine Prep (18) 4-0
Junior RB Lamont Harris is tied with Washington Twp. senior Andrew O'Neill for the SJ lead in touchdowns with 13. After a bye, the Hermits enter the teeth of their schedule with Bridgeton, Buena and St. Joseph. Next: At No. 23 Bridgeton (3-1) Oct. 18 at 7.
17. Delsea (13) 2-2
The Crusaders played strong defense in a 15-9 loss to Kingsway. Next: Home vs. Woodrow Wilson (1-2) Friday at 7.
18. Penns Grove (17) 3-0
The Red Devils have won 16 in a row. Next: at No. 24 Woodstown (3-0) Friday at 7.
19. Cherry Hill West (19) 2-1
Coming off their bye, the Lions are hoping to push themselves into position for the first playoff berth in the history of the program. Next: at Seneca (0-4) Friday at 7.
20. Paul VI (22) 3-1
The Eagles are averaging 33.7 points behind senior QB Alec Vignola and junior WR Ivin Charles. Next: Home vs. Cherry Hill East (0-4) Friday at 7.
21. Burlington Twp. (21) 2-1
The Falcons have scored 21 or more in every game behind junior QB Khalil Trotman. Next: at Pemberton (2-1) Saturday at noon.
22. Washington Twp. (25) 3-1
The Minutemen have won three straight shootouts: 33-27 over Winslow Twp. in overtime; 41-35 over Lenape; and 40-34 over Pennsauken. There has been at least 60 points scored in every one of their games. Next: Home vs. No. 6 Cherokee (2-1) Saturday at 4.
23. Bridgeton (20) 3-1
Turnovers in the red zone cost the Bulldogs big time in a 24-6 loss to No. 15 Hammonton on Friday. Next: at Buena (3-1) Friday at 7.
24. Woodstown (24) 3-0
The Wolverines beat Penns Grove 14-12 in the Red Devils' last visit to Woodstown in 2011. This week's game likely will decide the WJFL Diamond title. Next: Home vs. No. 18 Penns Grove (3-0) Friday at 7.
25. Cinnaminson (NR) 3-1
The Pirates have won three in a row and scored 88 points in their last two. Key game in the WJFL Liberty on Friday. Next: Home vs. Holy Cross (3-1) Friday at 7.
Under consideration (listed alphbetically): Clearview (3-1), Holy Cross (3-1), Pennsville (3-0), Sterling (3-0), Woodbury (2-1).
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