When the Delsea and West Deptford football teams look in the mirror, they can clearly see each other.
Tomorrow, when second-seeded West Deptford visits Delsea in the 7 p.m. South Jersey Group 2 final, the opponents will see many similarities.
Both thrive on running attacks in their respective wing-T offenses. The key to success for both is the execution. Opponents often know what is coming, but stopping that is a different story.
"We are like a mirror image of each other," Delsea coach Sal Marchese Jr. said. "We both run the wing-T, and both play a '50' defense."
Marchese and West Deptford coach Clyde Folsom have a healthy respect for each other.
"I think they have the best wing-T offense I have seen in years," Folsom said about Delsea.
Said Marchese: "West Deptford's success starts with Clyde Folsom. "He is one of the best football coaches around."
The two respect each other so much that in the past they have compared notes both during and after the season. Before this year, Delsea had been in Group 3, so Marchese frequently conferred with Folsom.
This season has been a little different, since the coaches realized they might be playing each other.
And it's no surprise that both are in the championship game.
West Deptford (9-1) is the winner of the Colonial Conference Liberty Division, although the Eagles will try to bounce back from Friday's 19-10 loss to Paulsboro.
Delsea (7-3) is coming off a 31-14 loss on Thanksgiving to Tri-County Royal Division champion Williamstown.
Those losses are ancient history. Both teams are focused on winning the Group 2 title.
When Folsom spoke glowingly about Delsea's offense, he wasn't just blowing smoke. Delsea has rushed for 3,259 yards and 39 touchdowns. The Crusaders are averaging 8.01 yards per carry.
"They get all their backs involved, and all of them are difficult to stop," Folsom said.
The statistics support that.
Junior Austin Medley has rushed for 925 yards and 12 touchdowns on 113 carries. Classmate Sean McPherson has 933 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 88 carries. Senior Casmir Okoro has gained 803 yards and nine touchdowns on 83 carries. Junior quarterback Chris Jackson has rushed for 277 yards and four TDs on 49 carries.
Jackson has attempted only 33 passes, completing 15 for 213 yards and five touchdowns. Okoro has caught 11 passes for 165 yards and three TDs.
"Medley keeps you honest inside, and they also have the speed to hurt you on the outside," Folsom said.
In addition to being a force on offense, Medley is the defensive leader from his linebacker position.
What has to be disconcerting to Delsea's future opponents is the relative youth of the Crusaders. Okoro, who also excels at safety; offensive guard Kyle Danter, and middle guard Dan Walker are the only senior starters.
West Deptford has its own big-play threat in junior fullback Jimmy Owens (5-foot-9, 205 pounds), who has speed and power.
"Owens is a great back who runs hard, and he's a 10.7 to 10.8 100-meter man," Marchese said.
A year ago, Owens missed most of the season with a knee injury. He started slowly this year, but over the second half of the season he has been almost unstoppable.
Owens has rushed for 950 yards and 13 touchdowns on 117 carries. Fellow junior Ken Tamasitis has gained 716 yards and nine touchdowns on 87 carries.
Sophomore Rob Fearon has rushed for 683 yards and eight touchdowns on 86 carries.
Though West Deptford isn't known as a passing team, it has the edge in that area over Delsea. Senior Ryan Ritchie has completed 44 of 85 passes for 742 yards and eight TDs.
Senior Bryan Jackson, who had three touchdowns during last year's 31-17 win over Point Pleasant Boro in the sectional final, is a big-play performer. He has caught 24 passes for 676 yards and six touchdowns.
Another key weapon is sophomore kicker Ben Cornelius.
Senior Gerry Pacitti (6-2, 260) heads a strong West Deptford offensive line. Classmate Kevon Brown (6-4, 205) is one of the quickest defensive ends in South Jersey. He has nine sacks. Senior linebacker Josh Kerr is a tackling machine for West Deptford.
It's no secret that the team that can stop the run, or at least limit the effectiveness of the opponent's ground game, will be the likely winner.
West Deptford (9-1) at Delsea (7-3), tomorrow,
West Deptford, Clyde Folsom (167-61-5 overall, 133-50-3 at West Deptford); Delsea, Sal Marchese. Jr. (116-46-1).
West Deptford is No. 2. Delsea is No. 1.
Road to the final:
After both teams received a first-round bye, West Deptford beat third-seeded Buena, 39-21. Delsea beat fourth-seeded Haddonfield, 39-29.
Delsea beat Haddonfield, 39-29, and West Deptford beat Haddonfield, 43-0.
The teams have never played.
West Deptford: 4 (2007, 2004, 2003, 2002).
Delsea: 7 (2005, 2000, and 1979 in Group 3; 1986, 1984, 1982 and 1976 in Group 2).
Last year's final:
West Deptford 31, Point Pleasant Boro, 17.
West Deptford is averaging 38.9 points per game, and Delsea 33.2 points.
- Marc Narducci
Here is how Delsea and West Deptford fared during the season:
W-Sept. 12 at Cumberland, 34-21
W-Sept. 19, Kingsway, 35-7
L-Sept. 26, Gloucester Catholic, 54- 26
L-Oct. 3, at Clearview, 25-27
W-Oct. 10, at Absegami, 21-12
W-Oct. 24, Deptford, 48-12
W-Oct. 31, at Highland, 42-7
W-Nov. 7, at Woodstown, 48-14
W-Nov. 14, Haddonfield (Group 2 playoffs), 39-29
L-Nov. 27, Williamstown, 31-14
West Deptford (9-1)
W-Sept. 12, at Lindenwold, 48-20
W-Sept. 19, Audubon, 42-7
W-Sept. 26, Collingswood, 42-7
W-Oct. 3, at Sterling, 46-14
W-Oct. 10, Overbrook, 42-0
W-Oct. 24, at Haddonfield, 43-0
W-Nov. 1, at Haddon Township, 49-7
W-Nov. 8, at Haddon Heights, 28-6
W-Nov. 14, Buena (Group 2 playoffs), 39-21
L-Nov. 28 Paulsboro, 19-10