The Inquirer TOP 10
It's just nine months to the start of another football season. Here is a look at some of the teams that project as the best in South Jersey in 2012:
1. Timber Creek 12-0 record in 2011
The Chargers will miss senior linebacker Quanzell Lambert and senior quarterback Calvin Lowe. But coach Ron Hinson said junior two-way lineman Gregg Webb might be the best player in the state next season. Also returning are junior defensive linemen Dajaun Drennon and Myles Nash, who projects as the quarterback, as well as junior running backs Khalil Pierce and Eric Church.
2. St. Joseph 10-0
The Wildcats will lose a lot in defensive stars Max Valles and Kaiwan Lewis as well as two-way standout Corey Litton and fullback Eli Pogue. But junior quarterback Anthony Giagunto will lead a reloaded team that will feature experienced linemen Roy Lucas, Kevin Goldsmith and Charles Cade, running back Miles Pease, wide receiver Robert Thompson, and reenforcements from a loaded freshmen class.
3. Hammonton 9-3
The Blue Devils will welcome back junior quarterback Christian Mortellite and junior fullback David Williams as well as a deep sophomore class led by running back/linebacker Dylan Rosu and defensive back/kicker Alex Padovani. Three starters on the offensive line return as well.
4. Williamstown 8-2
Sophomore running backs John Chamberlin and Marques Little as well as junior linebackers Buddy Brown, Derek Lauria and Marcus Riley will return. The key for the Braves will be developing a replacement for senior quarterback Dan Collins, a two-year starter.
5. Washington Township 7-4
The Minutemen gained a lot of confidence in a bounce-back season. Junior quarterback Tom Hildebrand will lead the way in 2012 along with junior wide receiver/defensive back Julian Allen, while running back Andrew O'Neill leads a loaded sophomore class.
6. Camden Catholic 10-1
The Irish lose a lot of talent but will reload behind junior running back/linebacker Jarred Alwan, junior linebackers Sean Collins and Will Jackson, and junior center Jeff Long. Developing a replacement for senior quarterback Pete Galiano will be a top priority.
7. Cherokee 7-3
The Chiefs have a strong sophomore class, so they could be set for a big push in 2013. Leading the way next season will be junior running back/defensive back Zaire Williams, who ran for 1,623 yards and 28 touchdowns.
8. West Deptford 11-1
The defending South Jersey Group 2 champions will return sophomore fullback Gerald Towns as well as junior running back/linebacker/kicker Josh Cornelius and standout defensive back Connor Smith. This team might be getting a senior quarterback as a transfer.
9. Delsea 6-4
Look for a big bounce-back season for the Crusaders. Junior running back Tyrone Saud scored 17 touchdowns, and junior quarterback Josh Awotunde should benefit from a full year of starting experience. There's a lot of experience along both lines, too.
10. Holy Spirit 8-3
The Spartans will take a big hit from graduation, and now they've lost their coach as Chalie Roman has joined Mark Reardon's staff as offensive coordinator at St. Augustine Prep. The big question is whether any players will leave the school because of Roman's departure. Junior Steve Domonoski should anchor the offensive line, and there's a stacked sophomore class with two-way standouts Jeff Steeb, A.J. Dawson, Tyler Flynn, Ray Ellis and Talib Jared. Watch out for freshman quarterback Cinjun Erskine and freshman running back Matt Bee.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Absegami (5-5), Burlington Township (7-3), Glassboro (10-2), Moorestown (6-5), Pennsauken (11-1), Shawnee (7-3).