St. Augustine Prep is the hottest team in South Jersey.
But the Hermits are a tough sell for the No. 1 spot in the Top 10.
That’s because St. Augustine Prep sits in third place in the West Jersey Football League’s American Division, thanks to early-season losses to Lenape and Shawnee. Third in the league usually doesn’t translate to first in the rankings.
Williamstown will finish with the half-share of the WJFL American. But the Braves, who previously held the No. 1 spot, are coming off a 21-7 loss to St. Augustine on Friday night.
That leaves Lenape.
The Indians rise to No. 1 in the new Top 10, but their perch is precarious. They have a Week 4 loss to Williamstown on the books and they still need to beat arch-rival Shawnee on Thanksgiving to earn a share of the WJFL American title.
Winners of four in a row, Lenape enters the Group 5 South tournament this weekend with momentum, on a scoring tear and wearing the wobbly crown as the new top team in South Jersey.
Can they hold it? That’s what the post-season is all about.
Here’s the new Top 10, with last week’s ranking in parentheses:
1. Lenape (2) 7-1: The Indians are averaging 39.7 points in the four-game winning streak since a 28-21 loss at Williamstown on Sept. 27. The latest victory was 34-18 over school-district rival Cherokee on Friday night, as Hamza Bruce and Xavier Coleman each ran for two touchdowns. The Indians also registered their eighth return touchdown in eight games, as Tyler Davis sealed the win with a 65-yard fumble return to the end zone. Lenape is the No. 2 seed in South 5 and, if the chalk holds, would meet top-seeded Williamstown in the title game.
2. St. Augustine (3) 6-3: The Hermits have won five in a row and six of seven, beating the likes of St. Joseph and Williamstown, improving their playoff position and generating lots of confidence entering the rugged Non-Public 4 state tournament. In the victory over previously undefeated Williamstown on Friday night, Texas A&M recruit Isaiah Raikes led the way on offense, defense and special teams while Nasir Hill made the game’s biggest play with a pick six. St. Augustine is the No. 5 seed in NP 4 and will meet fourth-seeded Seton Hall Prep on Nov. 16.
3. Williamstown (1) 8-1: The Braves’ defense was stout in the loss to St. Augustine, allowing just one sustained scoring drive. Michigan recruit Aaron Lewis was as disruptive and productive as ever with 10 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. But the Braves’ offense struggled to find its footing against the Hermits, leading to the team’s first loss to a South Jersey foe in 22 games. Williamstown, the defending champion, earned the top seed in South 5 and opens vs. Hunterdon Central.
4. St. Joseph (4) 8-1: The Wildcats rallied from a 19-7 halftime deficit for a 22-19 victory over Holy Spirit in what likely was the first of two meetings between the fierce rivals. Quarterback Jayden Shertel bounced back from a rocky first half with a pair of scoring passes to spark the rally. The victory locked up the top seed for the Wildcats in the Non-Public 2 tournament, where they could see the second-seeded Spartans again in the title game.
5. Penns Grove (5) 9-0: The Red Devils escaped with a 27-21 victory over rival Salem, thanks to linebacker Makhi Scott’s goal-line tackle on the game’s final play. The victory was Penn Grove’s 22nd in a row and secured the top seed in the South Group 1 tournament for the reigning champions, who open the post-season vs. Keansburg.
6. West Deptford (6): Think the Eagles were a little hot under the collar after their 14-13 loss to St. Joseph on Oct. 18? They’ve won their next two games by a combined score of 116-0, including Saturday’s 63-0 victory over Overbrook. The Eagles are the top seed in the South Group 2 tournament and open vs. old rival Sterling as they pursue the program’s eighth sectional title.
7. Willingboro (7) 8-1: The Chimeras completed their sweep of Camden teams with a 24-12 win over Camden High one week after beating Woodrow Wilson 22-18. Au-Shaun Davis ran for one score and threw a pair of two-point conversion passes and Demie Sumo added two touchdowns for Willingboro, which has won eight in a row. The Chimeras have earned the top seed in Central Group 1 and will open defense of the crown they won in 2018 vs. Haddon Township in the first round.
8. Woodrow Wilson (8): Devin Kargman has passed for 2,308 yards with 25 touchdowns for the Tigers, who were off last weekend. Kargman is just the fifth sophomore in South Jersey history to pass for more than 2,000 yards, per research by sports historian Chuck Langerman. Woodrow Wilson earned the top seed in South Group 3 and will open defense of their title vs. Hopewell Valley.
9. Shawnee (10) 6-2: Nate Summerville has 21 receptions for 393 yards for the Renegades, who were off last weekend. Shawnee is 2-2 against teams currently in the Top 10. The Renegades, the reigning champions, are the top seed in South 4 and play Neptune in the first round.
10. Hammonton (NR) 7-2: The Blue Devils enter the Top 10 courtesy of a six-game winning streak after a 1-2 start. Included in the run have been victories over Holy Spirit as well as Group 5 programs Kingsway, Eastern and Washington Township, the latter by a 34-14 score on Friday night as Jaiden Abrams ran for two touchdowns. Hammonton is the top seed in Central 4 and opens vs. Brick Township.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Camden (6-2), Cedar Creek (7-2), Delran (7-1), Haddonfield (6-2), Highland (6-2), Mainland (8-0), Paulsboro (6-2), Pleasantville (7-1), Timber Creek (5-3).