Timber Creek football coach Rob Hinson says his Chargers have yet to play a perfect game.
They will get one final chance.
They'll get that opportunity after Friday night's 32-22 victory over Shawnee in a South Jersey Group 4 semifinal. The Chargers are 9-2 and headed to next weekend's sectional final against the winner of Saturday's other semifinal, between Lacey Township and Kingsway.
After Timber Creek went 12-0 and won the South Jersey Group 3 title last year, the expectations were high for a team that started the year No. 1 in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings but dropped the spot after losing its opener to Camden Catholic.
The Chargers have been getting progressively better since, but still . . .
"We haven't played a complete game yet," Hinson said. "We hope next week is the time it happens."
This game might not have been complete, but it was still impressive.
It's hard to find a unit with more team speed on both sides of the ball.
Timber Creek built a 32-10 lead before Shawnee (6-5) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. The Renegades never stopped fighting and, with a young team, could be playing during this time of the season next year.
Shawnee played without standout running back Rob DiOrio (high-ankle sprain). Senior quarterback Andrew Bertolino was playing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and he left the game after being sacked late in the first half.
All Shawnee freshman quarterback Michael Welsh did was complete 6 of 13 passes for 76 yards and three touchdowns.
"I am proud of my team. They kept battling," Shawnee coach Tim Gushue said.
Imagine how his counterpart felt. The Chargers have had the pressure all season to repeat.
Junior Dan Williams has really come on late in the season after winning a quarterback battle. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns, hitting wide-open receivers Adonis Jennings for 62 yards and Kevin Casey for 17.
"I have felt more comfortable as the season has gone on," Williams said.
Timber Creek continually put pressure on Shawnee, with ultra-quick defensive ends Dajaun Drennon, a North Carolina recruit, and Rutgers recruit Myles Nash leading the way.
Still, the Chargers were penalized 12 times for 85 yards, showing there is still work to do while leaving one question unanswered:
What is going to happen when they put together that complete game, which their coach is still searching for entering another championship game?
Shawnee 3 7 0 12 22
Timber Creek 13 7 12 0 32
S: FG Vince White 40
T: Khalil Pierce 1 run (kick failed)
T: Bryce Shade 3 run (Kevin Casey kick)
S: Joe Lynn 6 pass from Michael Welsh (White kick)
T: Zaire Williams 2 run (Casey kick)
T: Adonis Jennings 62 pass from Dan Williams (run failed)
T: Casey 17 pass from Williams (run failed)
S: Zach McHale 17 pass from Welsh (run failed)
S: Eric Spires 16 pass from Welsh (run failed)
Contact Marc Narducci at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.