A game that used to be played right before the beginning of basketball practice was moved to before Labor Day.

It really doesn't matter what time of year it is staged, Paulsboro vs. West Deptford remains one of  the more compelling football rivalries in South Jersey.

One reason this rivalry is so intense is that both teams have a habit of playing in December. Paulsboro is the defending South Jersey Group 1 champion.

West Deptford was in the South Jersey Group 2 title game last year, losing a nail-biter to Haddonfield.

Both teams have designs on extended seasons once again and each showed plenty in Paulsboro's 19-14 win on Friday night at West Deptford in the opener for both teams.

The reason the game was moved to what is known as "zero week" is because there is a different playoff format this season, with the postseason beginning a week earlier and ending with a bowl game between sectional champions.

They could play this game between these two Gloucester County titans in the middle of March and it would be a must-see for the fans of both teams and plenty of other people around South Jersey.

West Deptford was ranked 11th in The Inquirer's preseason South Jersey top 25 and Paulsboro was 13th.

"It's a great rivalry, a tough, good football game and just fun to play," said Paulsboro sophomore running back Bhayshul Tuten, who was named his team's MVP after returning an interception for a touchdown, rushing for 27 yards on eight carries, and making four receptions  for 30 yards.

Leading 19-14, Paulsboro had a chance to put it away, but Gabe Onorato came in at quarterback and was stopped for no gain on the West Deptford 46 by Ray Seas on a fourth-and-1 play with 2 minutes, 2 seconds remaining.

West Deptford then reached the Paulsboro 30 but failed to gain a yard in the last four plays.

Paulsboro took a 7-0 lead on a 55-yard interception return by Tuten.

"I saw the wide receiver go for an out route and I jumped on the ball, made a good play, and when I got my hands on it, I made it work," Tuten said.

West Deptford was so shaken that that the Eagles tied the score on the next play from scrimmage, an 80-yard TD run by junior Tyshawn Bookman, who finished with 150 yards on 19 carries and was named his team's game MVP.

Early in the third quarter, a fumbled punt snap gave Paulsboro the ball on the West Deptford 15, and three plays later senior Tyrehere Dowd scored from 1 yard out,  making it 13-7.

True to the defensive nature of the game, West Deptford took a 14-13 with 5:13 left in the third quarter after Will Sager blocked a punt and teammate Tasir Money recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Brandon Ratcliffe kicked the extra point.

Back and forth it went, with Paulsboro regaining the lead, 19-14, on quarterback Nick Pelllegrini's 4-yard option run with 35.3 seconds left in the third quarter. That completed a 15-play, 82-yard drive.

The Paulsboro defense stepped up in the fourth quarter.

"This is two blue-collar, tough towns going toe to toe every time and this game was no different," said West Deptford coach Jason Morrell, making his debut in replacing  Clyde Folsom. "They will have another incredible year, we are on the cusp of making progress, but it's a great rivalry."

Paulsboro           0 7 12 0 – 19

West Deptford  0 7 7 0 – 14

P: Bhayshul Tuten 55 interception return (Ricky Wolf kick)

W: Tyshawn Brokman 80 run (Brandon Ratcliffe kick)

P: Tyehere Dowd 1 run (kick failed)

W: Tasir Money recovered blocked punt in the end zone (Ratcliffe kick)

P: Nick Pellegrini 4 run (run failed)