Another in a series of early looks at South Jersey football teams
Last year: 11-1, SJ Group 2 champions
Coach: Clyde Folsom (198-66-5; 164-55-2 entering 22d season at WD)
Conference outlook: The favorite (with Haddonfield, Sterling and Haddon Heights as contenders) in the Colonial Liberty
Playoff outlook: The favorite in SJ 2
Opener: Sept. 8 at Lindenwold
Josh Cornelius called it the best victory of his athletic life.
It was West Deptford's 22-14 triumph over Haddonfield last December in the South Jersey Group 2 title game at Rowan University.
It clinched the Eagles' fifth sectional title in 10 seasons, and perhaps the most surprising since Haddonfield entered play with an 11-0 recod, including a 31-21 victory over West Deptford in Week Three.
"I'll never forget that," said Cornleius, the Eagles' senior running back/linebacker.
West Deptford has no shortage of tradition upon which to build. But the Eagles enter this season with an extra boost of momentum from that dramatic victory at the end of last season.
"We know we have to keep it going," senior center Nick Sacco said.
WD looms as the favorite in the Colonial Liberty and SJ 2. Veteran coach Clyde Folsom, who should win his 200th game this season, thinks his team is a work in progress, with a lot of potential trouble spots.
Folsom always says that in August. He says it in September, too.
By October, November and the first weekend in December, his teams usually are operating at a high level.
WD returns top backs in Cornelius, who was all over the field as a LB in the title game, as well as junior Gerald Towns-Owens, whose emergence last season fueled the championship run. Senior RB/DB Connor Smith is another top veteran.
The OL should be solid with returning veterans such as Sacco and guards Tom Dougherty and Julian Downing. Junior Nick Pulli is an emerging TE/DE.
The new quarterback is senior Alex Hilbmann, a top DB last season.
WD will be challenged in the Colonial Liberty by rival Haddonfield as well as improved clubs in Sterling and Haddon Heights. The Eagles play Haddonfield on Nov. 2, the playoff-cutoff date, and could see the Bulldogs again in the next couple of weeks.
WD could win its sixth SJ 2 title in the last 11 seasons. Haddonfield, Sterling and Willingboro also look like contenders, at least in August.
"We know what the tradition is all about here," Sacco said. "We want to keep that going."
-- Phil Anastasia