Sunday, April 20, 2014
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UPDATED: Big changes in WJFL realignment

UPDATED: Big changes in WJFL realignment

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By Phil Anastasia

Success came with a price for newly-crowned South Jersey football champions Shawnee and Delsea.

The Renegades and Crusaders both are projected to move up to play in divisions with larger schools in a re-aligned West Jersey Football League.

Shawnee, which won the South Jersey Group 4 title, would move up from the National Division to the American Division. The Renegades would be the only Group 4 team in an otherwise-Group 5 division.

Delsea, which won its second consecutive South Jersey Group 3 title, would jump two rungs from the Royal Division to the National Division. The Crusaders would be the only Group 3 team in an otherwise-Group 4 division.

"I like it," Delsea coach Sal Marchese Jr. said. "It's challenging. It will battle-test you."

Shawnee coach Tim Gushue reacted the same way.

"Bring them on," Gushue said of American Division opponents. "I don't mean that to sound cocky but if you want to be the best you have to play the best. We know those schools and look forward to playing them."

The re-alignment is not official as schools have a week to appeal, according to WJFL president Bud Kowal, the athletic director at Ewing.

Cherry Hill East and Pennsauken are believed to have appealed the new divisional format.

Under the projected alignment, Cherry Hill East, which went 0-10 last season and was outscored by a combined 446-49, would remain in the American Division while Lenape would move from the American Division to the Colonial Division.

Lenape, which went 4-6 last season, would be in a division with Mercer County schools Allentown, Notre Dame, Nottingham and Trenton as well as Rancocas Valley.

"We'll take who they put on our schedule," Lenape coach Tim McAneney said. "You only play 10 games and you need to be excited about playing every one."

A couple of sources close to the situation have indicated that it's possible that Lenape and Cherry Hill East could swap positions, which would move the Cougars into the Colonial and keep the Indians in the American.

Kowal said the decision to move Lenape into the Colonial was based on "strength of program," but also on geography as Lenape is farther north than Cherry Hill East.

"The travel (from Mercer County) is easier," to Medford than Cherry Hill, Kowal said.

The 66-team league announced its new divisions on Wednesday.

The league will have 11 divisions with six teams each. Kowal said each team will be given a full, nine-game schedule but that cross-over games will be not announced until after the new year.

Timber Creek, which won the South Jersey Group 3 title in 2011 and the South Jersey Group 4 title in 2012 and finished second in Group 4 this past season, will move up to the National Division from the Constitution.

Another member of the new National Division will be Hammonton, which will join the WJFL next season.

Hammonton and Timber Creek will be in the re-vamped National Division along with fellow newcomer Delsea and holdovers Kingsway, Clearview and Pennsauken.

"We're excited," Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta said. "It's going to be tough competition but we're looking forward to it."

The re-worked Constitution Division will include Triton and Winslow, which moved down from the National Division to replace Timber Creek and Camden Catholic, which moved down to the Royal Divison and effectively took Delsea's place.

Kowal said many of the moves were made because of the "strength of program" component of the WJFL's list of criteria for alignment.

In another change, Deptford and Highland effectively switched positions as the Spartans moved to the Diamond Division and the Tartans moved to the Royal Division.

With Timber Creek and Hammonton in the same division, the schools would not be scheduled to play a cross-over game out of which that they both could have opted -- a scenario proposed by Timber Creek to allow the Chargers to play an out-of-state game and the Blue Devils to keep their traditional rivalry with Cape Atlantic League team St. Joseph.

Kowal said Timber Creek wanted to opt out of a Week One game and the WJFL plays division games in Weeks 1-3-5-7.

Kowal said any team can opt out of a cross-over game if its mutually agreed by both schools.

WJFL DIVISION ALIGNMENTS

Here are the new projected division alignments for the West Jersey Football League for the 2014 and 2015 seasons:

Freedom: Burlington City, Florence, Maple Shade, New Egypt, Palmyra, Riverside

Liberty: Bordentown, Cinnaminson, Delran, Holy Cross, Pemberton, Robbinsville

Patriot: Burlington Township, Ewing, Hopewell, Lawrence, Northern Burlington, Willingboro

Valley: Hamilton West, Highstown, Princeton, Steinert, West Windsor North, West Windsor South

Colonial: Allentown, Lenape, Notre Dame, Nottingham, Rancocas Valley, Trenton

American: Cherokee, Cherry Hill East, Eastern, Shawnee, Washington Township, Williamstown

National: Clearview, Delsea, Hammonton, Kingsway, Pennsauken, Timber Creek

Constitution: Cherry Hill West, Moorestown, Paul VI, Seneca, Triton, Winslow

Royal: Bishop Eustace, Camden, Camden Catholic, Cumberland, Highland, Woodrow Wilson

Diamond: Deptford, Gloucester Catholic, Glassboro, Penns Grove, Schalick, Woodstown

Classic: Clayton, Pennsville, Gloucester, Pitman, Salem, Wildwood

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter

 

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About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
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