St. Joseph is team of the year
Paul Sacco won't compare his teams.
The St. Joseph coach won't say whether his 2014 team was better than his 2011 team or his 2005 team.
But the Wildcats this season put themselves into the pantheon of the best teams in the history of South Jersey's most decorated program.
St. Joseph went 11-0, dominated competition in the Cape-Atlantic American Division, and won its sixth consecutive Non-Public state title with a 55-0 victory over St. Anthony in the Non-Public 1 state title game.
St. Joseph also went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in The Inquirer Top 25.
"I'm just proud of what these guys accomplished," Sacco said. "They worked hard all year and focused on getting better every week."
St. Joseph this season probably faced the most daunting schedule in the program's illustrious history. Unlike the teams in 2005 and 2011, these Wildcats competed in the CAL's American Division, facing the largest schools in the conference.
In eight games in the division, St. Joseph outscored foes by a combined 373-37. The Wildcats' closest game was a 36-6 win over No. 7 St. Augustine in the opener.
In addition, St. Joseph traveled to Steubenville, Ohio, this season and beat the Big Red, one of that state's perennial powers, by a 25-23 score before 10,000 spectators.
St. Joseph was led by junior twins Salaam and A'Laam Horne, as well as seniors C.J. LaFragola, Justin Kennedy, Knikeem Lewis, and Zach McGuckin, among others.
Salaam Horne, the quarterback, passed for 14 touchdowns and scored 10. He averaged 10 yards per carry. At running back, A'Laam Horne scored 26 touchdowns and averaged 12.3 yards per carry.
LaFragola, a top fullback and linebacker, scored 16 touchdowns, while Kennedy and Lewis anchored the front lines and McGuckin was the team's leading tackler at linebacker.
Gov. Christie watches Camden rally
Camden's players took a knee at midfield shortly after a 27-14 victory over rival Camden Catholic on Oct. 10 at Farnham Park.
But this was no ordinary postgame huddle.
"I gotta tell you, you had me nervous there," Gov. Christie told the players after Camden rallied from a 14-7 deficit late in the third quarter.
Christie had visited a Camden practice a few weeks earlier and vowed to attend one of the Panthers' games.
He arrived at halftime and watched the second half along the sideline with dignitaries such as Camden Mayor Dana Reed, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson, state assemblyman Whip Wilson, and Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, among others.
Christie addressed the Camden team after the Panthers improved their record to 5-0 before a crowd that filled the bleachers on both sides of the refurbished complex on Park Boulevard.
"It means a lot to us," Camden junior Brad Hawkins said that night. "It shows he cares about us, cares about our city."
Leanpe, Buena turn it around
Lenape and Buena made huge jumps this season, from middle-of-the-pack teams in 2013 to division champions and high playoff seeds in 2014.
Lenape finished 4-6 last season. The Indians improved to 9-1 this season, won the West Jersey Football League's Colonial Division, earned the No. 1 seed in the South Jersey Group 5 tournament, and handed rival Shawnee its only loss in the annual Thanksgiving Day game.
Buena was 5-5 in 2013. The Chiefs improved to 10-1, captured the Cape-Atlantic League's National Division title, and secured the No. 2 seed in the South Jersey Group 2 tournament.
But the prize for Most Improved Team goes to Riverside.
The Rams were 0-10 in 2013. They were 1-49 over the last five seasons.
But under first-year coach Dan Harris, Riverside went 6-4, beating rival Burlington City and defeating Asbury Park in a playoff consolation game.
One of Riverside's best games was a loss, as the Rams pushed WJFL Freedom champion Palmyra to the brink in a 21-18 setback.
The Season By the Numbers
2 Points scored by Williamstown in 2-0 victory over Pennsauken Oct. 4.
13 Points allowed by Haddonfield's defense in the team's final six games.
20 Touchdowns scored by Bordentown's Jahmiere Van Kline in the Scotties' last four games. He finished with 38 touchdowns.
41.1 Points per game by Holy Cross, the second-highest-scoring team in South Jersey (behind No. 1 St. Joseph).
55 Points scored by Clearview in a 60-55 loss to Paul VI Sept. 19.
82 Career touchdown passes by Camden senior quarterback Khalil Williams.
113 Combined points by Haddon Heights (57) and Haddon Township (56) in the Garnets' double-overtime victory Sept. 27.
403 Rushing yards by Cherry Hill West senior Tyrone Williams in a 34-20 win over Winslow Township on Nov. 6, the fifth-highest rushing game in South Jersey history.