Cherry Hill West, Camden Catholic in clash of unbeatens

Camden Catholic's Nazir Streater runs with the football against Shawnee on Oct. 14, 2016.

Football coaches tell their players to focus on one game at a time.

The message doesn't always get through to the student body.

Take Cherry Hill West, for example. The Lions were preparing to play Sterling in a crossover game last week, and all the kids in the hallways wanted to talk to coach Brian Wright about was this week's game with Camden Catholic.

"That's all I heard in the hallways - 'Next Friday night at Camden Catholic for the [division] championship, Coach,' " Wright said. "There's so much buzz about this game."

Cherry Hill West will travel to Shamrock Field for one of the most highly anticipated regular-season games in recent program history.

Both teams are 7-0 overall. Both teams are 4-0 in the West Jersey Football League's Constitution Division.

The Irish are No. 3 in the Inquirer Top 10. The Lions are No. 8.

The schools are less than three miles apart. The power-point payoff will be a jackpot for the winner on the last weekend before the playoff cutoff.

With a win, Cherry Hill West could vault into the No. 2 seed in South Jersey Group 4.

With a win, Camden Catholic could seize the No. 4 seed and a coveted home game - likely against undefeated St. John Vianney - in Non-Public Group 3.

"We both run the same offensive system," Wright said. "We both have playmakers on offense. I think we match up well with them."

Cherry Hill West took care of business on Friday, beating Sterling by 55-6. It was the program's most points in a game since Delaware Township - the school's name until 1963 - put 60 on the board in a game against Williamstown in 1960.

Camden Catholic has won 20 in a row against South Jersey opponents.

"Their field, it seems like the fans are right on top of you, right on the fence," Wright said. "It's a unique atmosphere for a game like this."

Big night. Pennsville beat Gloucester, 35-0, in a homecoming game Friday night.

But the big moment came when the Eagles were led out of an inflated helmet and on the field by Kyle Pszenny, a former star wide receiver who was severely injured when he was struck by a car while riding his skateboard in June 2015.

Pszenny was in a coma for three weeks and spent more than six months in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. He was the inspiration for Pennsville's South Jersey Group 1 championship last season.

Pszenny is repeating his senior year at Pennsville since he missed so much time in 2015 and early in 2016.

"Kyle and I have been talking about him leading us out on the field," Pennsville coach Ryan Wood said. "He's been working so hard at rehab. He set a goal for homecoming, and he did it."

Wood said it was a "pretty awesome scene" when Pszenny led the team onto the field.

But the coach said the best part was after the game, when Pszenny joined with veteran players in their "senior lounge" in the back of the locker room.

"If you saw that room, you would laugh," Wood said. "But it's big part of our program and it meant a lot to Kyle to get back there again."

Resurgent Gators. Gateway (4-3) is 12-9 since Week 7 of the 2014 season. In the 56 games before then, the Gators were 5-51.

Coach Josh Mason was 0-6 in his first six games in 2014. Since then, the Gators have developed into a competitive small-school team.

"It's been complete commitment from the kids," Mason said. "They really believe in what we're doing, in our system. They've worked hard to make this happen."

Gateway beat Burlington City, 49-18, on Friday night. It was the sixth time in seven games the Gators have scored 26 or more points.

Senior quarterback Marc Scambia has led the way for the Gators. But the team is young, with six sophomores and two freshmen in the starting lineup.

"We should bring back nine starters on offense and eight on defense," Mason said. "We're getting there. Teams used to have a running clock on us [with a 35-point lead]. That's not the case anymore.

"We're competitive with pretty much everybody we play."

Gateway will visit Haddon Heights (5-2) on Saturday with an outside chance to earn the program's first playoff berth since 2004, depending on results of other games involving teams competing for berths in the South Jersey Group 1 field.

Seas injured. West Deptford (7-0) coach Clyde Folsom said Sunday that star senior running back Anthony Seas was "day-to-day" with a torn left labrum.

Folsom said Seas suffered the injury late in No. 5 West Deptford's 48-14 win over Haddonfield on Oct. 21. Seas sat out the team's 14-6 win over Cinnaminson on Friday.

"He's going to need surgery at the end of the year," Folsom said. "But if he can manage it, and we're not putting him at more risk, he'll probably play" Friday against Collingswood.

Seas put together a player-of-the-year-caliber performance through the first half of the season, with 15 touchdowns in West Deptford's first six games.

Hard-luck Chiefs. Cherokee (4-3) lost three games by a total of 14 points to the No. 2 (Timber Creek), No. 4 (Lenape), and No. 6 (Shawnee) teams in the rankings.

Those teams are a combined 20-1.

"We're a good team, we're not a great team," Cherokee coach P.J. Mehigan said after Friday night's 17-13 loss to Lenape. "This isn't the end of our season. We'll get back to work."

This and that. No. 21 Collingswood (6-1) has won six in a row for the first time since 1993. Collingswood will try to snap an 18-game losing streak to West Deptford on Friday. The Panthers last beat the Eagles in 1998. . . . Timber Creek (7-0) junior quarterback Devin Leary has 27 touchdown passes and one interception. He needs 15 yards to reach 2,000 for the second time in his career. No South Jersey passer has ever fashioned three 2,000-yard seasons.

No. 15 Delsea (5-3), the four-time South Jersey Group 3 champions, likely secured a berth in this year's tournament with a 23-19 win over Woodrow Wilson on Saturday as senior Charles Walker ran for two touchdowns. . . . Junior running back Kyle Dobbins has scored seven touchdowns in the last two games for No. 1 St. Augustine (8-0). The Hermits are projected as the No. 7 seed in the Non-Public 4 tournament, and are likely to visit Bergen Catholic in the first round.

No. 16 St. Joseph (5-3) projects as the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in Non-Public 2 when the Wildcats begin pursuit of their eighth straight state title. . . . Senior all-purpose Bo Melton, a Rutgers recruit, has scored four touchdowns in the last two games for No. 11 Cedar Creek (7-1), both 17-14 victories.

No. 20 Haddonfield (4-3) has lost three in a row for the first time since 2004. The Bulldawgs' losses have been to No. 5 West Deptford, No. 11 Cedar Creek, and No. 18 Paulsboro, three teams with a combined record of 20-2. . . . Moorestown (5-3) and No. 23 Pennsauken (5-2) could end up as the No. 5 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, in Central Jersey Group 4 and meet in the first round.

Holy Cross (5-3) scored 49 points in each of its last two games as junior quarterback Jeff Undercuffler threw five touchdown passes. . . . Salem (5-2) has averaged 39.7 points in a four-game winning streak. Senior running back Jon Taylor has scored 13 touchdowns in that stretch.

No. 7 Millville (6-1) won its last two games by a combined score of 113-0 as junior Clayton Scott scored seven touchdowns. . . . No. 12 Vineland (7-0), which visits No. 1 St. Augustine in a clash of unbeaten teams on Friday, averaged 47.5 points in its last six games. . . . No. 14 Burlington Township (7-1) has won five in a row, allowing a total of 19 points.

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