By Phil Anastasia
Here's a look at the new Top 10 in South Jersey football, as of Sunday Oct. 27:
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Holy Spirit (1) 6-0
Thanks to heavy rain and a forfeit, the Spartans have not played a home game since Sept. 20. That's a long time. Holy Spirit officials still are smarting from Lower Cape May's decision to forfeit on Friday, along with the Cape Atlantic League's tentative plan to move the Spartans to the National Division next season. That likely won't happen now. The CAL likely will come up with a three-tier setup, putting all its Group 2 public teams in the lowest division and working out something with the larger schools and non-publics in the upper two. As much as HS probably hated the bye, this team lacks depth and likely will be healthy and well-rested for the November push. Next: Home vs. EHT (1-5) Friday at 7.
2. St. Joseph (4) 5-1
The Wildcats move up thanks to an impressive showing in a 41-8 victory over Atlantic City. You know a team is pretty good when they can beat a solid opponent by 33 and still feel like they left a few plays on the field and made some costly mental mistakes. Junior FB C.J. LaFragola is starting to assert himself. He scored 4 TDs Saturday and also played a strong game on D. Next: At. No. 12 St. Augustine (6-0) Friday at 7.
3. Cherokee (5) 5-1
The Chiefs are 9-1 in their last 10 games. The 28-21 victory over Eastern wasn't much of an upset -- Cherokee was playing quality football and Eastern wasn't going to finish 12-0 with that schedule. Big game for senior RB Matt Stickney, who ran for 123 and scored 3 TDs. Right now, at the end of October, Cherokee is the favorite in SJ 5. But a lot can happen over the next six weeks. Next: At Pennsauken (2-4) Saturday at 2.
4. Eastern (2) 6-1
The Vikings might have been due for a loss as they play such a demanding schedule and they had been living a little dangerously in recent weeks. Cherokee seized command, taking a 21-0 lead, and while Eastern battled back, it was the Chiefs' night. The Vikings should get to 7-1 in their first eight games for playoff-seeding purposes. They still are a serious threat in SJ 5. Next: At Winslow Twp. (0-7) Saturday at 230.
5. Timber Creek (3) 6-1
The Chargers have won 28 of their last 31 games. The Chargers played strong defense on Friday in an 8-7 win over Paul VI. Their D even recorded a safety that turned out to be the margin of victory. But the TC offense has been inconsistent, with just one touchdown in two of the last three games (also a 7-6 win over Moorestown) on Oct. 11. A few injuries have slowed this team down a bit but the Chargers remain the team to beat in SJ 4. Next: at Seneca (1-5) Nov. 8 at 7.
6. West Deptford (6) 6-0
Gerald Owens, Devin Bates and Joe Diaco have combined for 25 touchdowns. That's at the halfway point of a 12-game season. West Deptford has won 27 in a row and recorded their third straight win over rival Haddonfield by a 31-14 score on Friday night. In a similar scenario to their 35-7 win over Sterling, WD seized command after halftime behind a powerful ground game and a defense that seems to tighten down in the third quarter. Hard not to see this team at 8-0 heading into the SJ 2 tournament, although the Eagles might not be the No. 1 seed if Camden beats Kingsway this Friday. Next: Home vs. Haddon Heights (1-5) Friday at 7.
7. Williamstown (7) 5-2
Senior Marques Little scored the game's first three TDs on runs of 6, 66, and 77 yards in a 33-13 win over Lenape on Friday. The Braves are locked in an effective three-way tie at the top of the WJFL American with Cherokee and Eastern. It's one of those A beat B, B beat C and C beat A deals. Williamstown beat Cherokee. Cherokee beat Eastern. Eastern beat Williamstown. The Braves dropped a little under the radar with consecutive losses a couple weeks ago, but this team should not be counted out when it comes to SJ 5. Behind Little and John Chamberlin, the Braves know how to win in the playoffs. Next: Home vs. No. 10 Kingsway (5-1) Nov. 8 at 7.
8. Millville (8) 4-2
Senior Ryquell Armstead ripped off two 91-yard TD runs on consecutive carries in a 42-13 win over EHT. That's probably never been done before. Armstead was subbing for junior Rob Ennis, who was resting a leg injury. This is another team to watch in SJ 5. The Thunderbolts' two losses were to the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the rankings, and they were competitive in both games. Next: At Oakcrest (1-5) Friday at 7.
9. Camden (9) 6-0
The Panthers have scored 31 or more in every game. Junior Khalil Williams threw 5 TDs passes in a 42-18 win over Deptford on Friday. He has 19 TD passes this season. Sophomore Brad Hawkins caught 2 TD passes. He has 8 TD catches this season. The Panthers' second home game on their new field, Friday vs. Kingsway, should be a great one. Next: Home vs. No. 10 Kingsway (5-1) Friday at 7.
10. Kingsway (10) 5-1
Seniors Ray Lawry and Justin Morrison have combined for 11 TDs in the last two games. Those guys might just be SJ's top 1-2 punch. Kingsway's defense has gathered strength in recent weeks but faces two very different but difficult challenges the next two weeks: Camden's passing attack Friday and Williamstown's ground game on Nov. 8. Next: At No. 9 Camden (6-0) Friday at 7.
11. Hammonton (11) 5-1
The Blue Devils have won five in a row. Senior Dylan Rosu has been leading the way in recent weeks. Next: Home vs. Absegami (3-3) Friday at 7.
12. St. Augustine (12) 6-0
The host Hermits have lost one game to a CAL opponent in the last two years. That was 42-14 to St. Joseph in 2012. The Wildcats come to town this weekend in a game that the Richland Rowdies have circled on the calendar. Next: Home vs. No. 2 St. Joseph (5-1) Friday at 7.
13. Delsea (13) 5-2
Senior FB Rob Hooks has six TDs in the last three games, all wins. This team is gaining steam. Next: At Highland (3-4) Friday at 7.
14. Paul VI (15) 4-2
The Eagles played some serious defense in an 8-7 loss to Timber Creek on Friday. Their front 7 will face a challenge from Triton's power running game. Next: at Triton (2-4) Friday at 7.
15. Rancocas Valley (16) 4-2
The Red Devils clinched the WJFL Colonial title with a 21-19 win over previously undefeated Trenton. RV scored twice on special teams. Next: Home vs. Lenape (2-4) Saturday at 2.
16. Burlington Twp. (21) 5-1
Jahseim Rover scored three TDs as the Falcons put 62 on the board in a win over Princeton. Next: Home vs. Hopewell Valley (6-0) Friday at 7.
17. Shawnee (24) 4-3
The Renegades might be getting healthy in time for a serious playoff push. Next: At Pennsauken (2-4) Nov. 8 at 2.
18. Sterling (18) 5-1
The Silver Knights bounced back from their first loss with a 28-20 win over Overbrook. Assuming they beat Gateway, their Nov. 9 game at Woodbury will go a long way toward determining whether they can secure a home playoff game in the SJ 2 tournament. Next: At Gateway (0-6) Friday at 7.
19. Woodstown (20) 6-0
The Wolverines have allowed a South Jersey-low 30 points. Next: At Gloucester (3-3) Friday at 7.
20. Haddonfield (19) 4-2
The Bulldogs can earn a lot of power points with a win over Collingswood this weekend. So can the visiting Panthers. This might as well be called a playoff game, since the winner likely will qualify for the SJ 2 tournament and the loser likely will miss the field. Next: Home vs. Collingswood (5-1) Friday at 7.
21. Cinnaminson (23) 5-1
The Pirates are hoping to have senior RB Brad Hawthorne back from a leg injury after their bye week. Next: at Willingboro (1-5) Friday at 7.
22. Northern Burlington (NR) 5-1
The Greyhounds have been getting strong work from senior RB Kenyatta Greene. Next: At Lawrence (6-0) Saturday at 2.
23. Atlantic City (22) 3-3
The Vikings have a potential star in sophomore quarterback Jamir Prevard (12 TD passes, 3 INTs). Next: At Mainland (1-5) Friday at 7.
24. Penns Grove (25) 5-1
The Red Devils have allowed a TD or less in 14 of their last 18 games. Next: At Deptford (1-5) Friday at 7.
25. Paulsboro (NR) 6-0
Junior RB De'Shaun Burgess has 6 TDs in the last two games. Next: at Audubon (2-4) Saturday at 2.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Absegami (3-3), Cherry Hill West (4-2), Collingswood (5-1), Delran (5-1), Pennsville (5-1), Washington Twp. (4-2)
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