Haddon Heights is an early candidate for most improved football team in South Jersey. It’s only been two games, but the Garnets are halfway to their 2010 win total of four games.
Remember, despite a 4-6 record, the Garnets were a playoff team last year, but one that didn’t own the depth of this squad.
In Saturday’s 34-12 win over Woodbury, Heights used several players carrying the ball. They began by giving junior Brandon Joyner the bulk of the carries. Joyner, after taking off last season to concentrate on basketball, where he is the Garnets’ starting point guard, is back in football mode.
Heights also unleashed senior Haason Reddick, who also added a 23-yard touchdown and some explosive runs. Reddick was sidelined by a knee injury last year and left the game after getting hit in the knee,. Afterwards he wore an ice pack on the knee.
Senior Nick Lundholm is a veteran leader at quarterback, but the Garnets also have a strong backup in junior Dante Pinckney, who threw an option pass for a TD. Pinckney also plays receiver, is adept running the ball and provides strength at linebacker.
The Garnets also have two fullbacks, juniors Phil Azzari and Khyleef Moore.
“We have a lot of offensive parts,” understated Haddon Heights first-year coach Ralph Schiavo.
In addition, Heights is strong up front on both sides of the ball and had its way against a young Woodbury team that figures to improve.
Leading the way up front are the Thompson brothers, senior Ryan Thompson (5-9, 230) and junior Alex Thompson (6-3, 230) along with junior defensive lineman Sean Sack (6-4, 225).
It’s still a major leap to expect Heights to contend with Colonial Conference Liberty Division heavyweights Haddonfield and West Deptford. Yet the fact that the suggestion is even being made, shows how much the Garnets have improved.
And don’t tell Heights that it won’t contend. Winning the first two games has given this team a quiet confidence.
While it still would be surprising in these quarters if Heights overtakes one of the big two in the Colonial Liberty, there is no doubt that the gap has closed. Last year the Garnets lost to Haddonfield and West Deptford by a combined 65-7 margin.
Both of those teams remain strong, but so is Heights and it will be interesting if the previous two-team race is expanded this year to three.