Football teams get in a rhythm during the regular season.
The players and coaches set their body clocks to the routine — play on the weekend (usually Friday night), rest, recover and prepare for the next game the following weekend.
It’s interrupted for some teams by a bye week. But for the most part everybody settles into a habitual framework of activity from September through November.
Timber Creek is different.
Not only are the Chargers No. 1 in the Inquirer’s Top 25.
Not only have they won 21 games in a row.
But when they take the field for Friday night’s West Jersey Football League National Division clash with Paul VI, they will have played one game in the last 27 days.
“I’m not sure we could take any more time off,” Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson said.
Because Timber Creek (5-0) started the season a week early with a 35-14 victory over Belleville West (Ill.) in East St. Louis, Ill., on Sept. 2 and also have a Thanksgiving Day game against Winslow Township, the Chargers had two bye weeks built into their schedule.
And the bye weeks were close together. The Chargers beat Clearview, 45-7, on Sept. 29, took a week off, beat Eastern, 47-3, on Oct. 6, and took another week off.
“It was a little challenging,” Hinson said. “We’ve got a younger team, some inexperienced guys, and they were starting to make some strides, and then we have a bye. Then we play well and have another bye.
“We’ve tried to make things competitive in practice and also give the guys some time off.”
Behind senior quarterback Devin Leary and senior running backs Jerome Gibson and Kyle Dobbins, the Timber Creek offense has been operating at a high level. The Chargers have scored at least 35 points in every game and are averaging 40.2 points.
But the defense, with some inexperience in the front seven, has been a work in progress, allowing 78 points in the first three games.
“Guys were starting to come on, and then we had these byes,” Hinson said. “Hopefully, they continue to improve.”
Because of the Thanksgiving game, the Chargers will play seven straight weekends, starting Friday night, if they advance to the South Jersey Group 3 title game the weekend of Dec. 2-3.
“Our guys are about as rested as they can be,” Hinson said. “They don’t want any more time off. They want to play.”
Here is a closer look at six games this weekend:
Friday (all games at 7 p.m.)
No. 17 Moorestown (5-1) at Bishop Eustace (3-2): The host Crusaders are riding high after an overtime win over rival Holy Cross as Drew Ciampi scored a touchdown in the extra session, and Steve Schoenborn sealed the victory with an interception.
The Quakers enter this WJFL Royal game with their best record after six games since 2007, when they went 12-0. Junior all-purpose Nick Cartwright-Atkins is a player to watch for Moorestown.
Pick: Moorestown, 24-21.
No. 12 Delsea (3-3) at No. 19 Eastern (5-1): The visiting Crusaders have scored 91 points in their last two games and are angling for a high seed in the South Jersey Group 3 tournament. Senior quarterback Mason Maxwell is a player to watch for Delsea.
Eastern already has topped last season’s win total in its first year under coach John Doherty. Junior quarterback Andrew Heck has been a playmaker for the Vikings.
Pick: Delsea, 27-14.
Florence (2-3) at Maple Shade (1-5): This game could mark a major milestone in South Jersey history as coach Joe Frappolli of the visiting Flashes has 299 career victories.
Senior running back Mark Pacini leads Florence, which will seek to supply Frappolli with his 300th win in his 44th season. St. Joseph’s Paul Sacco, with 311 wins, is the only coach in South Jersey history to have reached that plateau.
Pick: Florence, 30-19.
No. 16 Williamstown (3-2) at No. 10 Shawnee (3-2): This WJFL American game is loaded with playoff implications for both teams as the visiting Braves are angling for a berth in the South Jersey Group 5 tournament, and the Renegades are jostling for a high seed in South Jersey Group 4.
Williamstown is coming off a 14-6 win over Atlantic City, courtesy of sturdy defense and a strong ground game.
Shawnee, which has been missing its top two running backs in recent weeks because of injuries, relies heavily on senior quarterback Colin Wetterau and senior all-purpose Daevon Robinson.
Pick: Shawnee, 17-14.
Paul VI (3-3) at No. 1 Timber Creek (5-0): The visiting Eagles have a top senior quarterback in John Donegan, who has passed for 772 yards and four touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Jayvin Little has 16 catches for 422 yards (26.2-yard average) and four touchdowns for the Chargers.
Pick: Timber Creek, 35-14.
No. 4 St. Joseph (6-0) at No. 22 Cedar Creek (5-1), 1 p.m.: The visiting Wildcats are averaging 49.4 points behind a potent offensive line led by senior Dashan Birch and juniors Quarshie Wisdom, Brad Lomax, Bobby Hyndman and Tucker Monico.
Cedar Creek’s defense has been stout, allowing just 27 points in the last four games. The Pirates have a top linebacker in senior Mike Gulig.
Pick: St. Joseph, 27-14.
Last week: 4-3.
Year to date: 30-12.