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At Timber Creek, winning is contagious

It's easy to find Timber Creek High School: Take Erial Road south and hang a right onto Jarvis Road, and the sprawling complex is on your right.

It's easy to find Timber Creek High School: Take Erial Road south and hang a right onto Jarvis Road, and the sprawling complex is on your right.

Or just look at the top of the South Jersey Group 3 tournament field.

In wrestling.

And boys' basketball.

And boys' track.

And baseball.

"Athletics is putting this school on the map," Timber Creek baseball coach Frank Torcasio said yesterday after the Chargers won their fourth sectional title since February with a 9-3 victory over Clearview. "It's this senior class."

Athletic tradition is ankle-deep at Timber Creek. The school is just seven years old, and the Chargers' varsity teams struggled to be competitive - as the varsity teams do at all new schools - during the first few seasons.

But starting with the first winning season in program history in football, and continuing through the indoor success in the winter and into the warm-weather thrills of the late spring, the Chargers have made a leap worthy of senior Montez Blair - the high-jump star for the sectional champion boys' track team.

Just like that, the Chargers have four sectional titles in the same school year in tough Group 3 competition.

"It's just been a big year in the school," said senior second baseman Nate Floyd, who was 3 for 4 with three RBIs yesterday. "Everybody wants to keep it going. Everybody wants to build on the success.

"We supported the basketball team, the track team. You could see how many people were out here supporting us."

Sectional titles are a big deal at every school. But they seem to carry an extra measure of excitement and discovery at schools such as Timber Creek, which are new to the experience.

Maybe that's why Timber Creek's side of the Chargers' home field was packed yesterday, as hundreds of parents, teachers, supporters and students - clapping, chanting students - brought a football-game air to a baseball game.

"Our fans were great," said senior shortstop J.J. Williams, who was 2 for 2, reached base four times, and scored three runs. "They made us want to push even harder. We wanted to win it for them."

Stuff like that happens at top athletic schools. There's a competitive edge to it, as programs like to keep pace with each other. And there's a confidence factor, too, as pulling on the school jersey tends to carry a little more weight as the trophy case gets more and more crowded.

"We're just getting better athletes at this school," Williams said. "The coaches are good, and everybody wants to keep it going. When you see another team winning, you want to win, too."

Sectional titles are one thing. But the Chargers are still looking for their first state title.

The boys' track team goes after one this weekend, and the white-hot baseball team - which ripped 16 hits yesterday, including six doubles - takes dead aim next week, starting with Tuesday's state semifinals.

"That's what we're looking for," Floyd said. "This is great. This is what we worked for. But we've got the momentum now. We've got everybody behind us. We want to bring home the state title."