Here's a projection of the 2014 preseason Top 10 for South Jersey football, with 2013 final record in parentheses.
1. St. Joseph (11-1). St. Joseph could be one of the top five teams in the state the next two seasons. The Wildcats started just three seniors this season. Leading the way in 2014 will be current juniors such as fullback/linebacker C.J. LaFragola and running back Rocco Ordille as well as sophomores such as center Derek Lomax, quarterback/defensive back Salaam Horne, running back/defensive back A'Laam Horne, and defensive end Chris Carey.
2. Timber Creek (11-1). The Chargers will miss seniors such as quarterback Dan Williams, wide receiver Adonis Jennings, and several top linemen. But they should return a ton of talent, led by junior running back/defensive back Kareem Ali and sophomore wide receiver Cameron Chambers. Timber Creek's defense could be strong in 2014, with the continued development of players such as junior end Daren Sherif and sophomore linebackers Tavian Martin and Julian Mahan, among others.
3. Haddonfield (10-2). The Bulldogs have a loaded junior class led by fullback/linebacker Mark Walker, running back/defensive back Mike DeFeo, wide receiver/defensive back Jake Robinson, running back/defensive back Jake Klaus, center Nick Rollo, and tight end/defensive end Tyler Klaus, among others. Sophomore two-way end Jake Walter is a top young player. One key will be developing a replacement for senior quarterback Mike McLaughlin.
4. Cherokee (11-1). The Chiefs lose a loaded senior class, but this program tends to reload, not rebuild. Junior tackle Dan Iannone is a building block along the offensive line. Sophomore inside linebacker Evan Powell is a playmaker. Junior Marc Woodard is a seasoned running back, and junior Jesse Streb is a talented wide receiver. Junior outside linebacker Jordan Krug had two interceptions in the South Jersey Group 5 final.
5. Shawnee (9-3). The South Jersey Group 4 champions lose standout running back/linebacker Anthony Diorio and several other key seniors. But junior linebacker Curtis Corley should be among South Jersey's top players in 2014. Sophomore quarterback Mike Welsh should be back along with junior running back/defensive back Jake Parola and junior defensive backs Max Busca and Rhett Saltiel, among others.
6. Camden (10-1). The Panthers will miss seniors such as Sean Chandler and Andrew Stevens but return a large corps of talented players such as sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Brad Hawkins, junior quarterback Khalil Williams, junior running back Khalif Williams, and sophomore linebacker Dymelle Parker. Coach Dwayne Savage believes his sophomore class might be the most talented in the program.
7. Paul VI (7-3). The Eagles will miss senior quarterback Alec Vignola and several seniors along both lines. But they should return a talented team that features junior wide receiver Irv Charles, who should be one of the state's top recruits in the class of 2015, along with sophomore playmakers such as Lonnie Moore and Stephon Moore-Green.
8. Millville (8-3). The Thunderbolts will need to rebuild both lines and find a new quarterback. But they return perhaps the best 1-2 punch at running back in South Jersey in juniors Rob Ennis and Ryquell Armstead, both of whom rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season.
9. West Deptford (9-1). The Eagles return most of their offensive line, led by junior tackles Jake Kull and Tyler Garrison. Junior linebacker Kevin DeCaesar is a top playmaker on defense. A key will be the development of a young offensive backfield.
10. Lenape (4-6). The Indians have a strong junior class led by running backs/defensive backs Ben Hunt and Malcolm Anthony as well as fullback/defensive end Steve Anderson, among others. Junior kicker/punter Jarry Jones has one of the best legs in the state.
Under consideration, listed alphabetically: Absegami (5-5), Cedar Creek (8-3), Delsea (10-2), Northern Burlington (8-3), St. Augustine (8-3), Sterling (8-2), Williamstown (6-4).
- Phil Anastasia