By Phil Anastasia
Here's the new Top 25 in South Jersey football, as of Sunday Nov. 24:
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Holy Spirit (1) 10-0
The Spartans have allowed a South Jersey-low 60 points. And 28 of them came in a 31-28 win over St. Joe. With a defense led by tackle Ray Ellis, LBs Jeff Steeb and Franco Rifici and CB A.J. Dawson, Hioly Spirit has pitched five shutouts. HS has won 10 playoff games in a row since the season finale in 2009 and will seek a school-record fourth straight state title against DePaul Dec. 8 at Rutgers. Next: At Atlantic City (4-5) Thursday at 10.
2. St. Joseph (2) 9-1
In an eight-game winning streak, the Wildcats have averaged 46.6 points. Their annual clash with Hammonton has added meaning this season as it could be the last game for a while in a series that began in 1962. With Hammonton joining the WJFL next season, it's not clear if the Blue Devils will have an open date on the schedule to keep alive the series with St. Joe. It's a bit of an odd rivalry in that in some ways it means more to alumni and old-timers in town than it does to the current teams. But it's a big part of SJ football history and it would leave a void if the series is discontinued. Next: Home vs. No. 14 Hammonton (6-3) Saturday at noon.
3. Cherokee (3) 9-1
The Chiefs have won 13 of 14. They are averaging 41.7 points during a seven-game winning streak. That followed a 13-10 loss to Williamstown and a bye week. Since then, Cherokee has played as well or better than any team in SJ. DB Matt Stickney and DE Troy Domenick have led a sturdy Cherokee defense. Next: At Seneca (2-7) Thursday at 11.
4. Eastern (4) 10-1
After playing 11 weeks in a row, the Vikings have a bye before the South Jersey Group 5 title game vs. Cherokee Dec. 6 at Rowan. That's an advantage. Eastern showed something in pulling away from a talented Millville team on Friday night. By the end of the game, the Thunderbolts were exhausted from chasing Eastern QB Tom Flacco. Next: Vs. No. 3 Cherokee (9-1) in the SJ 5 title game Dec. 6 at 7 at Rowan.
5. Timber Creek (5) 9-1
Senior QB Dan Williams has 26 TD passes and just 2 INTs. He also has 2,894 yards. With two games left, he's in good position to break the South Jersey record for passing yards in a season of 3,190, set in 1999 by Holy Cross' Jason Amer. That's what happens when you throw for a state record 532 yards in the second round of the playoffs. Next: Home vs. Triton (2-7) Thursday at 10.
6. Shawnee (9) 7-3
Senior RB Anthony DiOrio said he had "no doubt" the Renegades would rally from a 24-0 halftime deficit to TR South on Saturday. DiOrio ran for 125 yards and sophomore QB Mike Welsh passed for two TDs and ran for another as Shawnee rallied for a remarkable 28-24 victory, one of the best in the history of the program. As a No. 6 seed, Shawnee will be the lowest seed playing in a South Jersey title game. But first, the Renegades face a major challenge in rival Lenape, a tough and tested team that will be looking to get to .500. Next: At Lenape (4-5) Thursday at 10.
7. Delsea (11) 9-2
Like Eastern, Delsea has played 11 weeks in a row. Like Eastern, Delsea gets a bye week at an ideal time -- before the South Jersey title game. The Crusaders have been getting great work from senior QB/DB Rob Rolle and two-way senior lineman Dakota Brovero. Next: Vs. Barnegat (9-1) in the SJ 3 title game Dec. 7 at Rowan.
8. Haddonfield (12) 8-2
The Bulldogs' last four games have been against teams with a combined record of 29-1 -- 5 -1 Collingswood, 7-0 Paulsboro, 8-0 West Deptford and 9-0 Camden. This team starts just two seniors on defense, so this is the start of a run that will still be going at this time next season. Haddonfield's game with Haddon Heights Thursday will renew a rivalry that began in 1902. Next: At Haddon Heights (3-6) Thursday at 11.
9. St. Augustine (8) 8-2
The Hermits are 15-0 against public-school teams in the last two seasons. They can clinch their second straight Cape National title with a win over Cedar Creek. A win by the Pirates will create a three-way tie that includes Bridgeton. Next: Home vs. Cedar Creek (7-2) Thursday at 10.
10. Millville (6) 7-3
The Thunderbolts' game with Vineland will mark their 142d battle with the Clan in a series that began in '93. That's 1893. Next: Home vs. Vineland (2-7) Thursday at 10:30.
11. Camden (7) 9-1
The Panthers have a chance to become the program's first team to finish with double-digit wins since the 1976 team went 11-0. Next: At Woodrow Wilson (4-5) Thursday at 11.
12. Kingsway (10) 7-3
The Dragons can grab a share of the WJFL National with a victory over Clearview on Thursday. Clearview also can grab a share of the division title with a win. Both teams are 3-1 in the division while Shawnee is 4-1. The key for the Dragons will be getting over loss to Timber Creek. Next: Home vs. Clearview (4-5) Thursday at 10:30.
13. West Deptford (13) 8-1
The Eagles haven't played on Thanksgiving in years as it's been the tradition for the annual game with Paulsboro to be on Friday night in West Deptford and Saturday morning in Paulsboro. But with both teams out of the playoffs in the first round (a real rarity), the game was switched to Thanksgiving morning. Next: At Paulsboro (7-2) Thursday at 10.
14. Hammonton (14) 6-3
Hammonton AD Marni Parks said the Blue Devils hope to keep the series with St. Joe when the program moves to the WJFL next season. But it's really up to the WJFL. Timber Creek has sent a letter to WJFL officials, with Hammonton's blessing, requesting that Hammonton and Timber Creek be placed in adjacent divisions and scheduled to play a cross-over game. In that scenario, the teams would mutually agree to opt out of the game, allowing Hammonton to schedule St. Joe and Timber Creek to arrange an out-of-state game. But WJFL officials are waiting on state enrollment numbers in December to create division alignments for the 2014-15 schedule cycle. Next: At No. 2 St. Joseph (9-1) Saturday at noon.
15. Paul VI (15) 6-3
The Eagles build some momentum for this season with a big win over their arch-rivals last year on Thanksgiving weekend. Next: At Camden Catholic (4-5) Thursday at 11.
16. Woodstown (17) 10-0
The Wolverines are hot in pursuit of the first 12-0 season in the history of the program. First comes a dangerous matchup with their long-time rivals. Next: Home vs. Salem (5-5) Thursday at 10:30.
17. Williamstown (16) 5-4
The Braves can grab a share of their third consecutive WJFL American title with a win over Washington Twp. Next: Home vs. No. 23 Washington Twp. (6-3) Thursday at 10:30.
18. Bridgeton (18) 8-3
The Bulldogs are scheduled to return much of their team next season, including junior standouts Cappadonna Miller and Stefon Bowman. Next: Season over.
19. NBC (19) 7-3
Senior RB Kenyatta Greene has put together a special season for the Greyhounds. Next: Home vs. Pemberton (4-5) Thursday at 10.
20. RV (20) 5-4
The Red Devils and Falcons both know Wednesday night's game will have a major impact on how each season is viewed. Next: At Burlington Twp. (6-4) Wednesday at 6.
21. Sterling (21) 7-2
The Silver Knights, like their traditional Thanksgiving weekend rivals, know there's a big difference between 8-2 and 7-3. Next: Home vs. Collingswood (7-2) Wednesday at 7.
22. Cinnaminson (22) 7-2
The Pirates can clinch the WJFL Liberty Division with a win Thursday. So can Delran. Both teams are 3-1 in the division and tied for the top spot. Next: At Delran (7-2) Thursday at 10.
23. Washington Twp. (23) 6-3
The Minutemen will be without senior star Andrew O'Neill, who suffered a season-ending injury early in Nov. 15 loss to Cherokee. Next: At No. 17 Williamstown (5-4) Thursday at 10:30.
24. Penns Grove (NR) 8-2
The Red Devils have won five tournament games in a row. Next: At Pennsville (8-2) Wednesday at 6.
25. Glassboro (NR) 5-5
After a Nov. 1 loss to Pennsville, Glassboro was 2-5. On Dec. 7, the Bulldogs will play in the SJ title game. "An absolute roller-coaster," coach Mark Maccarone said of this season. Next: At Deptford (1-8) Wednesday at 7.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Atlantic City (4-5), Burlington Twp. (6-4), Collingswood (7-2), Delran (7-2).
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