A look ahead in South Jersey: 12 games to watch this weekend

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Haddonfield's Brendan Gilmartin, right, looks to pass as Paulsboro defends in the second half on Oct. 15, 2016. Paulsboro won, 36-22. H. Rumph Jr

 

Week 7 offers South Jersey football teams with the opportunity to tighten their grip on division races and improve their position in the battle for playoff berths.

It's getting late. By the end of this weekend's games, we'll be 14 days away from the Nov. 5 playoff cutoff so any team that needs to make a move better make it now.

Here's a closer look at 12 games this weekend:

Friday

(All games at 7 o'clock)

No. 5 West Deptford (5-0) at No. 22 Haddonfield (4-1): This is the GOTW. These rivals battle twice a year in many seasons -- once in division play and again in the SJ 2 tournament. Whether that happens again remains to be seen but Friday night's game likely will decide the WJFL Colonial just like it decided the Colonial Liberty for all those years. WD is rolling with a deep and versatile offensive backfield led by seniors Anthony Seas and Gio Gismondi. Junior Peter Orio is a player to watch at QB and LB. Haddonfield has no time to lick its wounds after a tough loss to Paulsboro on Saturday. The Bulldawgs are a younger team with eight sophomores in the regular rotation. Those 10th graders will be challenge to respond against a top team in a heightened atmosphere on Friday night.

Buena (2-4) at No. 11 Holy Spirit (5-1): Because the WJFL United is the superconference's only division with five teams, Holy Spirit can clinch the title outright with a victory. The Spartans need to bounce back from last week's tough home loss to rival St. Augustine. An upset would propel Buena back into the mix for a SJ 1 playoff berth because the Chiefs would rack up the power points.

Washington Twp. (2-3) at No. 6 Cherokee (3-2): The host Chiefs have won three in a row after an 0-2 start. Senior QB Jake Bodine is coming off the best passing game of his career with four TDs vs. Paul VI. WT has defied definition for the last few seasons, it seems. Just when you think the Minutemen are down, they spring an upset. Just when you think they are up, they slide back. WT has been getting good work from junior all-purpose Colin Meintel, who has seven touchdowns.

Eastern (2-4) at No. 18 Delsea (3-3): The host Crusaders have rallied from an 0-2 start. Their trademark ground game has begun to gain some traction with senior backs Rashad Williams, Taj Summiel and Charles Walker behind an improving OL. Eastern has a  young team with several sophomores in key positions. They're a year away but a visit to John Oberg Field and a battle with the red-clad Crusaders -- who represent one of South Jersey's most accomplished programs -- could be a good experience for some of the team's younger players.

Winslow Twp. (1-4) at No. 9 Cherry Hill West (5-0): The Eagles pushed No. 9 RV to the limit in a 35-32 loss on Friday night as senior QB Tyrae Taylor led the way. CHW is coming off a bye. Junior Nick Divietro is emerging as a big-playmaker on both sides of the football for the Lions. He leads the team in both rushing yards and tackles and is tied with senior all-purpose Harrison Hand for tops in TDs with six. This could be a tricky game for CHW.

No. 23 Collingswood (4-1) at Overbrook (1-4): Collingswood has won four in a row, allowing just 15 points. Senior RB Mike Taulane has scored a TD in every game in the winning streak, with six total. Overbrook has lost its last two to Top 25 teams in one-score games -- 21-20 to Oakcrest and 14-6 to Haddonfield. The Rams are coming off a bye.

No. 8 Shawnee (4-1) at Williamstown (1-4): The visiting Renegades will look to bounce back from Friday night's loss at Camden Catholic. Senior all-purpose Dan Wigley's work vs. Camden Catholic: 94 rushing yards, 38 receiving yards and two 20-yard-plus punt returns. Good stuff. Since Shawnee is 3-0 in the WJFL American, the Renegades can clinch a share of the division title with a win. Williamstown has lost four in a row and the last three have been one-score games -- 14-13 to Hammonton, 22-14 to Millville and 25-23 to AC. With a young team, the Braves are paying the price for a brutal schedule that includes No. 8 Shawnee, No. 2 Timber Creek and No. 6 Cherokee over the next three weeks.

Saturday

No. 21 Paulsboro (4-1) at Haddon Heights (4-1), 11: Both teams are 2-1 and chasing Woodbury in the Memorial Division. This game also has major SJ 1 playoff implications as both teams are angling for good seeds in what is likely to be a loaded field. Paulsboro is coming off an imposing victory Saturday over then-No. 14 Haddonfield as senior QB Kyle Jones threw 4 TDs passes and senior Jake Medica and sophomore Santino Morina led an relentless pass rush. HH is averaging 27 points behind junior QB Matt DiOrio. Depending on the weather, this could be a high-scoring affair filled with big plays.

No. 17 Pennsville (4-1) at Salem (3-2), noon: These teams played last October on Salem's little field on Walnut Street and the host Rams went to 5-0 that day with a 40-13 victory. But the Rams stumbled a bit down the stretch and Pennsville won its next seven games to capture the SJ 1 title. This game is similar to Paulsboro-Haddon Heights: Lots of SJ 1 playoff implications. Pennsville is 11-1 since that loss to Salem, with the only setback to No. 7 St. Joseph. Salem has won two in a row after a choppy start. Senior RB Jon Taylor, a Rutgers recruit, leads South Jersey with 14 touchdowns.

Pennsauken (3-2) at Camden (2-3), 2: This clash in Farnham Park is going to be tough on scorekeeper Ty Maddox, since he works and roots for both school's athletic programs. He's one of many connections between these two teams. Camden needs to bounce back from last week's lopsided loss to Timber Creek. Pennsauken has a player to watch in senior RB Martin Booker Jr., who has eight TDs. His dad, Martin Booker, was a star hurdler and wide receiver at Camden in the early 1980s. These teams have combined for five losses. But every one of them has been to an undefeated team.

Atlantic City (3-2) at No. 15 Vineland (5-0), 2: The Vikings have rallied from an 0-2 start and are coming off a nice win over Williamstown. Junior all-purpose Nazim Derry has been a player to watch for AC. Vineland is the surprise team of the first half of the regular season. The Clan put 61 on the board for the first time since 1959 -- yep, 1959 -- in Friday's 61-29 win over Clearview. Junior QB Isaih Pacheco is the trigger man but this is a team that's "big, fast and athletic," says Clearview coach Mark Deal. Lots of SJ 5 playoff implications in this one.

No. 13 Cedar Creek (5-1) at No. 7 St. Joseph (5-1), 3: Both teams are 3-0 in the WJFL Independence Division and the winner will clinch a share of the title. Cedar Creek is known for its explosive offense but the Pirates have responded to that tough loss to Camden by posting shutout victories in its last two games. Senior two-way lineman Owen Bowles, a Rutgers recruit, is a player to watch. SJ is coming off a bye. The Wildcats have won 28 games in a row against public-school opponents since a 2012 loss to Hammonton. Junior QB Matt Tucker has six TD passes for St. Joe.

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter

 


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