That’s been the formula for Willingboro football over the last few years and it’s working better than ever.
Willingboro began this season with a loss to Cedar Creek. No big deal. It marked the fourth year in a row that the Chimeras were 0-1 and in each of the previous three seasons they rallied to finish with seven victories.
Willingboro has seven wins again, thanks to Friday night’s 22-18 victory over third-ranked Woodrow Wilson.
But with seven straight wins, the Chimeras have jumped into the South Jersey Top 10 at the No. 7 spot and look poised to add a few more to the victory total as reigning Central Jersey Group 1 champions.
With one week remaining before the start of the post-season tournaments, here’s the new Top 10, with last week’s ranking in parentheses:
1. Williamstown (1) 8-0: In their last four games, the Braves have outscored their opponents by a cumulative 115-7. The latest win was a workmanlike 17-0 shutout of Shawnee, with defensive lineman Donovan Ezeiruaku leading the charge with two sacks and a fumble recovery. The shutout was the Braves’ fifth of the season. Williamstown plays at rival St. Augustine Friday with the chance to earn its second straight WJFL American crown.
2. Lenape (2) 6-1: Connor Kennedy continues to make big plays for the Indians. The senior all-purpose standout returned an interception for a touchdown and caught a pass for another score in a 35-14 victory over Rancocas Valley. Hamza Bruce added 121 rushing yards. Lenape visits school-district rival Cherokee on Friday.
3. St. Augustine (4) 5-3: Kanye Udoh ran for 220 yards and the Hermits’ defense continued its sturdy play in a 20-7 win over Cherokee. The Hermits have won four in a row, outscoring opponents by a combined 110-17. St. Augustine hosts No. 1 Williamstown Friday in a renewal of a rivalry between two of South Jersey’s top programs, further fueled by Monroe Township kids on the Prep roster and the fact that Braves’ coach Frank Fucetola used to lead the Hermits’ program.
4. St. Joseph (5) 7-1: Jada Byers scored four touchdowns in a 41-16 victory over Timber Creek, returning a fumble for one score, taking an interception back 102 yards for another and running for two more. Byers is just the second player in South Jersey history with more than 4,000 career rushing yards and more than 1,000 career receiving yards, joining former Moorestown and Iowa star Albert Young, per research by sports historian Chuck Langerman. Byers has 91 career touchdowns, 10 short of Paulsboro legend Kevin Harvey’s record of 101. St. Joseph hosts rival Holy Spirit in a renewal of the Holy War on Saturday.
5. Penns Grove (6) 8-0: That’s 21 wins in a row for the Red Devils after a 40-0 victory over Glassboro. Nasir Robinson ran for 186 yards and four scores. Penns Grove generated 356 rushing yards and scored 30 or more for the eighth time in eight games. The Red Devils visit Salem on Saturday in the 103rd meeting between the Salem County rivals in a series that dates to 1912, according to Langerman’s research.
6. West Deptford (7) 6-1: Tyshawn Bookman ran for three touchdowns as the Eagles bounced back from a one-point loss to St. Joseph with a 53-0 win over Deptford. Quarterback Aaron Graeber passed for 78 yards and score and ran for 63 yards and another. West Deptford visits Overbrook Saturday.
7. Willingboro (NR) 7-1: Demie Sumo kick-started the victory over Woodrow Wilson with an 86-yard return of the opening kickoff for touchdown and a scoring reception less than two minutes later. Temple recruit Chris Long went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark in the victory, raising his season total to a school-record 1,020 yards, according to Langerman. Willingboro hosts Camden Friday.
8. Woodrow Wilson (3) 5-2: Devin Kargman was 25-for-38 passing for 326 yards and a touchdown and Malik Harvey caught seven passes for 89 yards but the Tigers’ offense lacked its usual rhythm in the loss to Willingboro. The Chimeras’ pass rush was a factor in that. Woodrow Wilson is off this weekend before starting the Group 3 South/Central playoffs.
9. Camden (10) 6-1: The Panthers scored four touchdowns on returns in a 57-0 win over Camden Catholic. Darian “Duce” Chestnut scored on a punt return and a kickoff return and Camden also generated touchdowns on blocked-punt return and interception return. The shutout was the Panthers’ fourth of the season. Camden visits Willingboro in a key clash on Friday.
10. Shawnee (9) 6-2: The Renegades’ defense was solid, containing Williamstown for much of the game before a late, long touchdown run made it 17-0. But for the second time in three weeks, Shawnee was shutout by a Top 10 opponent. Quarterback Matt Welsey was 10-for-18 passing for 108 yards but the Renegades were unable to generate anything on the ground. Shawnee is off this weekend before starting the Group 4 South/Central playoffs.