It might not be fair to suggest that Timber Creek's Ezrah Archie has burst onto the scene this year. But it is accurate to say that the senior has fit in well in his first season as the No. 1 receiver on an offense that has put up fantasy football-like statistics.
Archie has been a principal component for the 11-0 Chargers, who will meet Lenape, also 11-0, in the South Jersey Group 4 football championship game Sunday at Rowan.
Going into this year, Archie wasn't an unknown. As a junior he had 42 receptions for 627 yards and three touchdowns for a Timber Creek team that beat Shawnee to win the South Jersey Group 4 title.
That was a solid season, especially for being a No. 3 receiver. The Chargers' top two receivers, Cam Chambers and Noah Ellison, are now at Michigan State and Old Dominion, respectively.
So this year the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Archie realized he would be moving up to No. 1 receiver, and he prepared accordingly.
"My mind-set was different coming into the season being the No. 1 guy," Archie said. "I wanted to be that guy my team can rely on."
Consider that goal accomplished.
Archie has 67 receptions for 1,131 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He earlier made an oral commitment to Penn, but his senior year has caused a number of other colleges to recruit him.
"He's getting a lot of looks and rightfully so," Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson said. "I thought because of the other guys we have had here that he was a little under the radar coming into this season."
That is no longer the case.
Archie said he isn't sure of his next destination. "I will weigh my options," he said.
What is known is that there hasn't been a better passing combination this year than Archie and Timber Creek junior Devin Leary.
"We have been working together since Little League," Archie said. "It's kind of like second nature."
Leary, who has thrown 45 touchdown passes against just three interceptions, said that as soon as last season ended he and Archie got right into preparing for this year.
"He's like another brother on and off the field to me," Leary said. "Ever since last season we have been connecting, throwing routes before and after school."
Leary said that there is a simple reason Archie has been able to get separation against defensive backs this season.
"He has improved his speed this year," Leary said. "I saw that from the very first game of the year."
That was a 54-28 win over a Delsea team that is vying for its fifth consecutive South Jersey Group 3 title. In that game Archie had seven receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He has been torching secondaries ever since.
"He runs great routes and finds the soft spot in coverages," Lenape coach Tim McAneney said. Leary also said that Archie is a more physically imposing player.
"He put on weight and muscle, and it has helped him become a strong runner," Leary said. "And of course he has always had great hands."
One thing is for sure. Archie, who has caught a touchdown in every game, has enjoyed being part of such a wide-open attack.
"It is amazing. We set goals and know we can accomplish them," he said. "We have so much talent that if I don't make a play, somebody else will."