This is the moment many readers have been anxiously awaiting - the season's final football predictions by this reporter.

It's been a rocky year on the predicting front, but, fortunately, the teams have played at a much higher level.

There are four public school sectional finals and one Non-Public state championship among teams from the seven-county South Jersey area this weekend.

Here's a thought that may not be so comforting - the weekend picks may continue when the winter season begins.

Either way, nobody is thinking winter right now - except the brave souls who will attend these games, which are expected to be played in a climate fit for a polar bear.

Despite the chilly forecast, the true football fans will be on hand - and so will we.

Enjoy the finals, everybody.

South Jersey Group 1: No. 5 seed Penns Grove (9-2) at No. 3 seed Glassboro (11-0), tomorrow, 2 p.m.

Few expect Penns Grove to win this game, but don't count coach Kemp Carr among the skeptics. Both Carr and his team are confident and realize that running back Aaron Hayward didn't play in the Red Devils' 35-6 regular-season loss to Glassboro due to injury. Hayward is healthy, but so is Glassboro QB Tim Breaker, who has thrown 16 touchdown passes and just one interception. Penns Grove doesn't throw the ball much, and Glassboro does, and that should be the difference in this one.


Glassboro 31, Penns Grove 14.

South Jersey Group 2: No. 2 seed West Deptford (9-1) at top-seed Delsea (7-3), tonight, 7.

For those who enjoy the running game, this is the place to be. Both teams are wing-T specialists, and if either has to pass the ball more than 10 times, they could be in trouble. Both teams are coming off a loss, so complacency won't be a problem here.


Delsea 14, West Deptford 13.

South Jersey Group 3: No. 2 seed Hammonton (9-2) at No. 1 seed Shawnee (11-0), tonight, 7.

Shawnee has been The Inquirer's No. 1 South Jersey team since the preseason, and Mainland has been No. 2. The only link between the teams is Hammonton, which lost to Mainland, 31-0, on Oct. 17. There will be those who will use Hammonton as a way to gauge Shawnee and Mainland, whether that is fair or not. The Renegades don't care about rankings at this point. All they are looking for is to win their second consecutive sectional title, something that has never been done in school history.


Shawnee 31, Hammonton 18.

South Jersey Group 4: No. 6 seed Southern Regional (10-1) at top-seed Mainland (11-0), tomorrow, 1 p.m.

Egg Harbor Township scared the living daylights out of Mainland on Thanksgiving with a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter. Of course, Mainland came back and won, 30-27, showing the Mustangs can indeed win a close game. EHT and QB Tim Little were the first to pass the ball effectively against Mainland. However, Southern Regional has a run-oriented offense and has to hope that Penn State recruit Glenn Carson and his teammates can wear down the Mustangs' defense.


Mainland 24, Southern Regional 14.

Non-Public Group 2: No. 2 seed Hudson Catholic (7-3) vs. top-seed Holy Cross (7-3), Sunday, 11 a.m., at Rutgers.

Hudson Catholic averages 28.1 points, while Holy Cross averages 19.1. One has to believe that Hudson Catholic hasn't met a defense like Holy Cross'. The Lancers have allowed more than two touchdowns just twice, although one of those times came in Friday's 28-7 loss to Moorestown. That should mean that Holy Cross won't be in the best of moods, which isn't a bad thing entering a title game. Holy Cross is the defending state champion, and it will be very difficult to knock the Lancers off the Non-Public Group 2 throne.


Holy Cross 14, Hudson Catholic 12.

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