It’s Week 5 already.
How did that happen?
Division races are taking firm shape, and jostling for playoff positions is getting serious.
We’ll know a lot more after this weekend, as WJFL teams return to division play. Here are 12 games to watch:
(All games at 7 p.m. except Pleasantville-Holy Spirit at 6.)
Pleasantville (3-0) at No. 9 Holy Spirit (3-1): Under coach Chris Sacco, Pleasantville has been one of the surprise teams of the first half of the season. The Greyhounds will need to play their best football to keep pace with the Spartans, who are riding high after rallying for an emotional 43-35 win over Delsea in overtime. HS might have South Jersey’s top dual-threat QB in senior Josh Zamot, who passed for 205 yards and four TDs and ran for 135 and the winning TD vs. Delsea.
No. 11 Shawnee (2-1) at Kingsway (0-3): The host Dragons have lost by 17-13 to No. 17 Williamstown and by 17-14 to No. 10 Cherokee, so they are not a typical 0-3 team. Senior QB Joel Scerbo and senior WR Kevin Zehner (18 catches, 332 yards, 3 TDs) are a top pass-catch combo. Shawnee has settled in after a surprising season-opening loss to archrival Cherokee. Senior QB Colin Wetterau has been a playmaker for the Renegades.
No. 20 Eastern (4-0) at No. 1 Timber Creek (4-0): The visiting Vikings have been a surprise under new coach John Doherty, with a knack for winning close games. They’ll need to take their play to another level against the Chargers, who are coming off a bye week. TC has been led by senior QB Devin Leary, who seems to set another record every week, as well as senior RBs Kyle Dobbins and Jerome Gibson. Another layer to this game: TC assistant coach Danny Boguszewski was the Eastern head coach the previous three seasons and was Doherty’s assistant at Paul VI for several years.
Hammonton (2-2) at No. 10 Cherokee (2-1): The host Chiefs are coming off a bye and hoping to hold tight to their grip on first place in the WJFL American. Senior QB Jack Walters has led the way for the Chiefs. Hammonton also is coming off a bye. The Blue Devils are looking to restart things after dropping two straight following a 2-0 opening.
No. 7 Rancocas Valley (4-0) at No. 5 Lenape (3-0): Something has to give in what looks like the game of the week. RV is averaging 41 points. Lenape is allowing 2 points per game. It’s classic matchup of the irresistible Red Devils offense, led by senior RB Iverson Clement and junior QB Bryce Mangene, and the immovable Lenape defense, led by senior DL Aaron Acosta and senior LB Mike Galaida, among others. Another matchup within the matchup: Iverson and Lenape’s JoJo Kellum are two of SJ’s best RBs. Major WJFL Capitol Division race and power-point implications in this one.
No. 15 West Deptford (3-0) at Sterling (3-0): Behind a seasoned senior class, the host Silver Knights have made a remarkable turnaround after a 1-9 season in 2016. They face a major challenge in a WD team that has won 15 in a row and 26 of 27. WD has dominated this series, winning 11 times in a row, scoring 62 points in 2015, 2010, and 2009. Sterling’s last win over WD: 27-24 in 2005.
No. 12 Woodrow Wilson (3-0) at No. 18 Moorestown (4-0): This battle for sole possession of first place in the WJFL Royal matches two of South Jersey’s top juniors QBs in Woodrow Wilson’s Nick Kargman and Moorestown’s Brian McMonagle. The visiting Tigers are coming off a bye and have a bunch of playmakers led by brothers Travon and Stanley King and senior all-purpose player Hydir Moore. Junior all-purpose star Nick Cartwright-Atkins has been a big-play man for the Quakers.
Pennsauken (2-1) at No. 3 Camden Catholic (3-0): Both teams in this WJFL Constitution battle are coming off byes. The host Irish, who have been led by senior two-way star Marcus Hillman, have won 25 in a row against South Jersey teams. The visiting Indians have a serious threat at RB in junior Nahzir Russell. In their last game, a 33-21 win over CH West, the Indians got a 95-yard pick-six from Donte Jamison and a 102-yard pick-six from Terrence Phillips.
Buena (3-1) at No. 23 Highland (1-2): The visiting Chiefs have been hot, winning three in a row including a dramatic 42-41, double-OT victory over Collingswood on Friday night. Senior RB Shawn Rice is a player to watch for Buena. Highland is coming off a bye. The Tartans have lost one-score games to No. 12 Woodrow Wilson and No. 18 Moorestown and will be looking to get on a run to earn another ticket to the SJ 4 tournament.
Schalick (2-1) at Gloucester (3-1): The host Lions have a top pass-catch combo in senior QB Nate Kidd and senior WR Sai’mere Colon. Schalick has a top senior RB in Tyreese Snipe. Both teams are undefeated in the WJFL Classic, along with surprising Gloucester Catholic.
Florence (1-2) at Palmyra (2-2): These old river rivals meet in an important WJFL Freedom game. Florence’s two losses have been one-score games — 22-14 to unbeaten Burlington City and 14-7 to 3-1 Holy Cross. Palmyra has scored 30 or more in three straight games, but the Panthers have lost two of them. In a 67-32 loss to Penns Grove, Palmyra’s Elijah Karnjay ran for three scores and Taj Harris tossed a pair of touchdown passes.
Willingboro (2-2) at Holy Cross (3-1): It’s shades of last season for the visiting Chimeras. In 2016, Willingboro started 0-2, rallied to qualify for the SJ 2 tournament, beat Haddonfield in the playoffs and lost by 27-26 to Cedar Creek in the sectional semifinals. Behind senior QB Trae Greene, the Chimeras have rallied from an 0-2 start with consecutive wins and now have a chance to take a major step forward against the Lancers. HC has its own rally going, as the Lancers stumbled against Haddonfield but won their next two, including a big WJFL Liberty victory over rival Cinnaminson. With a win, HC can tighten its grip on first place in the Liberty.
(Two more for good luck.)
Wildwood (0-4) at Gloucester Catholic (3-0), 11 a.m.: The surprising Rams have some impressive wins for a team in its stage of development, beating 3-1 New Egypt in OT and knocking off Middle Township (which defeated Mainland) on the road. GC is 9-4 since ending a 25-game losing streak with a win in the 2016 opener. Sophomore RB Dashaun Harris is a player to watch for the Rams.
Cherry Hill West (0-3) at No. 21 Camden (3-1), 1: The host Panthers are riding high after shutting down then-No. 17 Cedar Creek, 14-0, on Saturday behind senior DE Eli-Sloan-El as well as senior all-purpose player Najyere Edwards. Camden is looking to get to 4-1 ahead of its second bye, courtesy of starting the season a week early in East St. Louis, Ill. CHW has been competitive in every game, losing to Seneca by 3, to Highland by 8 and to Pennsauken by 12.