By Phil Anastasia
Here's a closer look at a dozen games this weekend in South Jersey football:
FRIDAY NIGHT (All at 7)
-- No. 2 Eastern (4-0) at No. 4 Williamstown (3-1): This West Jersey American clash could be a South Jersey Group 5 playoff preview, too. There will be major power points in the line at the Braves' field.
Eastern's no-huddle, spread attack features quarterback Tom Flacco and wide receiver Keshawn Segers but will miss all-purpose back T.J. Gardner, who is out with a knee injury. The Vikings have been getting some great two-way work from senior lineman Mike Montemurro, who was a big factor in the team's final defensive stand in a 31-28 win over No. 10 Rancocas Valley last Saturday.
Williamstown is ending a grueling four-game stretch that has included a 17-14 win over No. 9 Shawnee, a 13-10 win over No. 6 Cherokee and and 25-18 loss to No. 3 Timber Creek. The Braves have rallied from double-digit deficits to tie or take the field's in the last three games.
Williamstown's wing T with running backs John Chamberlin and Marques Little might be more suited to the soggy conditions on grass field on a rainy night. That's the reason for this pick; if this game was on Eastern's artificial turf on a dry night, I'd go with the Vikings.
The pick: Williamstown, 20-17.
-- Clearview (3-1) at No. 9 Shawnee (3-1): The winner of this game takes sole possession of first place in the West Jersey National.
Clearview has a potent ground game based in its triple-option attack. The Pioneers beat the Renegades in the regular season in 2012; that's how they grabbed a share of the division title with Shawnee and Kingsway.
Clearview should get a big boost from the eligibility of junior Sterling Sheffield, a transfer from Paul VI. He's a versatile player who can make an impact at multiple positions on both sides of the football.
Shawnee's defense has pitched two straight shutouts and the Renegades' ground game has been gathering steam behind a strong OL and tough running by senior Anthony DiOrio and others.
The pick: Shawnee, 14-7.
-- No. 18 Penns Grove (3-0) at No. 24 Woodstown (3-0): The winner of this game likely will earn the West Jersey Diamond crown.
Woodstown has allowed just 16 points behind senior tackle Nathan Prus as well LBs Levi Simpkins and Mario Catalano. The Wolverines have a big-play man on offense in senior RB Semaj Thomas, who has eight touchdowns.
Penns Grove has won 16 in a row and features a sturdy defense led by ends Raequan Norman and Isaiah Coppage. Senior all-purpose Dahkim Seals has been the team's leader on the offensive side.
The pick: Woodstown, 13-12.
-- Cumberland (1-3) at No. 12 Camden (3-0): This game will mark the debut of Camden's new artifical turf at the field at Farnham Park.
The Panthers should flourish on that fast track with their spread offensive attack featuring junior twins Khalil Williams at quaretrback and Khalif Williams at running back as well as senior Sean Chandler and sophomore Brad Hawkins at wide receiver.
Bad weather could make it tougher for Camden to move the football through the air but that's likely to be more inconvenience than hindrance on this night.
Cumberland has a top back in senior De'Hahn Milledge.
The pick: Camden, 26-13.
-- No. 14 Atlantic City (2-1) at No. 15 Hammonton (3-1): In bad weather, this could be a game decided by defense, special teams and field position.
Both teams have moved the football through the air, with AC featuring soph QB Jamir Prevard and Hammonton getting good work from junior QB Jon Triboletti and senior WR Alex Padovani.
But the Blue Devils' Wing T-based ground game likely will be more of a factor on a rainy night on a grass field.
The pick: Hammonton, 16-13.
-- No. 11 Haddonfield (3-0) at Sterling (3-0): The visiting Bulldogs won last season by a 16-13 margin on a score in the final 30 seconds.
This game between Colonial Liberty and South Jersey Group 2 contenders could be just as close this season. Sterling hasn't beaten Haddonfield since 2005 and the Silver Knights will look to continue their push into conference and Group 2 prominence with a victory over the Bulldogs.
Haddonfield has played strong defense behind junior LB Mark Walker while the offense has been balanced with good work from senior QB Mike McLaughlin, junior RB Mike DeFeo and junior WR Jake Robinson, among others.
The pick: Haddonfield, 20-19.
-- No. 7 West Deptford (3-0) at Collingswood (3-0): The visiting Eagles have won 24 in a row and are averaging 66.7 points per game this season. They should get back senior RB Gerald Owens, who sat out the last game -- a 63-7 win over Overbrook -- with a leg injury.
Collingswood has led by junior QB Jordan Wallace (7 TD passes) and senior WR Steve Copeland (a TD catch in each game).
The pick: West Deptford, 41-14.
-- Holy Cross (3-1) at No. 25 Cinnaminson (3-1): The visiting Lancers' Jimmy Hickey (600) and the Pirates' Brad Hawthorne (597) are third and fourth, respectively, in South Jersey in rushing yards.
They both figure to get a lot of work in a game that will go a long way toward deciding the WJFL Liberty Division title.
The pick: Cinnaminson, 19-13.
-- No. 19 Cherry Hill West (2-1) at Seneca (0-4): The Lions are averaging 30.3 points behind senior QB Rodney Williams, who has run for 4 TDs and passed for 4 TDs. Senior RB JaQuan Gonzalez-Pratt has been a threat in the ground game.
CH West is looking to qualify for the state tournament for the first time in the history of the program. With a win over PVI that should be a big boost in power points, the Lions can see their way to the post-season with a remaining schedule before the cutoff of Seneca, Woodrow Wilson, Moorestown, Bishop Eustace and Camden Catholic.
But the Lions haven't advanced to the point where they can afford to overlook any team, and that includes Seneca on Friday night.
The pick: CH West, 20-13.
-- Paulsboro (3-0) at Woodbury(2-1), 10:30: These old rivals always seem to collide with the Colonial Patriot division on the line, and this season is no different.
The visiting Red Raiders play sturdy defense, having allowed just 33 points, and feature a strong running game behind De'shaun Burgess and Leon Rone.
The Thundering Herd have top playmakers in Jeray Demby and Daevon Ayers The winner of this game not only will have the inside track on the Patriot title but also will be in good position for a high seed in what is shaping up as a wide-open SJ Group 1 tournament.
The pick: Woodbury, 19-13.
-- No. 21 Burlington Township (2-1) at Pemberton (2-1), noon: If the weather cooperates, this could be a high scoring game as both teams have potent passing attacks.
The host Hornets are led by quarterback Dennis Clark and have a dangerous playmaker in Quincey Lambert. The Falcons have a dual threat at quarterback in Khalil Trotman.
The pick: Burlington Township, 27-20.
-- No. 6 Cherokee (2-1) at No. 22 Washington Township (3-1), 4: The visiting Chiefs have been off since a 13-10 loss to Williamstown on Sept. 27.
The Minutemen have won three shootouts in a row, beating Winslow Township 33-27 in overtime; Lenape by 41-35 and Pennsauken by 40-34. They can jump right into the WJFL American race and the hunt for a high berth in the SJ 5 tournament with a victory over Cherokee.
Washington Township has a top all-purpose player in Andrew O'Neill, who is tied for the South Jersey lead in touchdowns with 13. Junior QB Christian Maiden is among SJ's leaders in passing yards.
Cherokee's defense has been strong. The group is led by ends Jake Powell and Troy Domenick and backs Rob Agnoni and Anthony Gambone. On offense, the Chiefs are led by senior QB Trevor Osler and senior RB Matt Stickney.
Cherokee also should get a boost from the return of two-way junior lineman Dan Iannone, who has been out with an ankle injury.
The pick: Cherokee, 21-14.
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