Highland at Burlington Twp. among top games to watch in South Jersey football
Rancocas Valley at Lenape, St. Joseph at Timber Creek and Williamstown at Shawnee are other key matchups.
Here are 10 games to watch this weekend in South Jersey football:
All games at 7 p.m.
No. 19 Shawnee (2-4) at No. 2 Williamstown (7-0): The Braves need to be careful not to get caught looking ahead to an Oct. 26 clash with No. 3 St. Augustine, which if form holds will be one of the top games of the 2018 regular season.
First things first. Shawnee is no pushover, despite the Renegades' record. This is a battle-tested team with great coaches and good players. The Renegades can change their season with an upset of the Braves.
Williamstown has been on a big-time roll. The Braves have outscored their last three foes by 117-6. Senior all-purpose standouts J.C. Collins and Wade Inge lead the way, and junior Aaron Lewis sparks a defense that might be the best in South Jersey (although Camden would argue that point).
No. 25 Triton (4-2) at Seneca (2-4): The visiting Mustangs make their first appearance in the Top 25 this week after knocking off then-No. 22 Ocean City for their third win in a row.
Senior Eric Staton ran for 178 yards and three TDs as Triton rallied past Ocean City. Senior running back/linebacker Ryan Franz is another player to watch for Triton, which can clinch a share of the WJFL National Division title with a victory.
With victories over Seneca and Pennsauken in the next two weeks, Triton can claim outright ownership of the division crown.
Seneca coach Bill Fisher used to coach at Triton. The Golden Eagles have one of the best pass-catch combos in South Jersey in junior Malin Jasinski and senior Kaden Hastie. Jasinski has thrown for 16 scores, 11 to Hastie.
Buena (6-0) at No. 12 Pleasantville (5-1): This is, in effect, the WJFL United title game, as both teams are 3-0 in the division and clearly the top two contenders.
Buena has quietly put together a perfect season. Senior running back Jaden Roberts went for 226 rushing yards on Friday night's victory over Clayton. Senior running back Chris Doughty leads the Chiefs with 12 TDs this season.
Pleasantville has won five in a row since a competitive loss to current No. 1 Haddonfield in the opener. Seniors Mohamed Toure, a Rutgers recruit, and Elijah Glover, a Villanova recruit, lead the way for Pleasantville.
No. 11 Holy Spirit (4-2) at Kingsway (4-2): This game has major WJFL Royal implications, as the visiting Dragons are 2-0 in the division and the Spartans are 3-0 and can clinch a share of the title with a victory.
Holy Spirit is coming off a tough loss to No. 3 St. Augustine. The Spartans are a dangerous offensive team behind senior quarterback Ryan Yost and juniors such as running back Eli'Jah Gray, wide receiver Ahmad Brown, and tight end Isaiah Gerena.
Kingsway has won two in a row, is coming off a bye, and has a chance to make a major statement with a victory. The Dragons also can significantly improve their South 5 playoff position.
Kingsway's two losses were to Top 10 teams Highland and Millville. Senior running back A.J. Butler and junior all-purpose Alex Odom are players to watch for the Dragons.
No. 10 St. Joseph (5-2) at No. 18 Timber Creek (2-4): The visiting Wildcats are 3-0 in the WJFL Continental and can tighten their grip on the top spot in the division with a victory.
Despite the turmoil of the last week, St. Joseph still can win the division title as well as another state title. The Wildcats have one of South Jersey's top all-around players in junior Jada Byers, a two-way back and top kick returner. Sophomore quarterback Jayden Shertel is another player to watch for St. Joseph.
Timber Creek is coming off a road loss to New Rochelle (N.Y.), the alma mater of former Rutgers star and NFL player Ray Rice. New Rochelle is 6-1 although 7-0 on the field because the one loss was the forfeit of a 41-0 victory.
The game marked the continued emergence of freshman quarterback Donovan Leary, the brother of state record-holder Devin Leary, now a freshman at North Carolina State. Donovan Leary threw two touchdown passes against New Rochelle. He has been playing on a part-time basis through the first half of his freshman season. He has a top target in senior wide receiver Jayvin Little.
Hammonton (3-4) at No. 13 Eastern (5-1): The visiting Blue Devils are coming off a 20-14 win over Winslow Twp. as Kyle Vandever threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to his brother, Kevin Vandever, in the final minute.
Sophomore Jaiden Abrams, who is emerging as one of South Jersey's top players in the class of 2021, ran for 161 yards and a touchdown for Hammonton.
Eastern has won five in a row since a competitive loss to No. 11 Holy Spirit in the opener. Senior quarterback Andrew Heck and senior wide receiver Dante Keitt, a Monmouth recruit who has 633 yards and seven touchdowns, are among the players to watch for the Vikings.
This WJFL Royal game has major playoff implications for both teams, as Hammonton tries to strengthen its bid for a berth in the South 4 field and Eastern looks to improve its chances for a high seed in South 5.
Collingswood (5-2) at No. 1 Haddonfield (6-0): The visiting Panthers take their shot at the current kings of the division and the rankings.
Collingswood has won four of five, although the Panthers are coming off a tough loss to Woodbury. Senior Michael Jenkins leads Collingswood with 11 touchdowns.
Haddonfield is coming off a bye after two huge victories over then-No. 1 St. Joseph and arch-rival West Deptford. Senior quarterback Jay Foley has run for five touchdowns and passed for 11 for the Bulldawgs. Senior end Gabe Klaus and senior linebacker Lewis Evans lead the Haddonfield defense.
No. 9 West Deptford (4-2) at Deptford (5-1): The host Spartans are a 14-7 loss to Collingswood away from a perfect season. They would make a major statement with a victory over the high-flying Eagles.
Deptford is coming off an impressive win over a Florence team that pushed unbeaten Penns Grove to the brink in a 19-14 loss. Khi'on Smith ran for 162 yards for the Spartans in the win over the Flashes.
West Deptford played its best game of the season in a shutout of then-No. 4 St. Joseph, according to coach Jason Morrell. Junior two-way back Tyshawn Bookman ran for a touchdown and returned a fumble for another, and sophomore quarterback Aaron Graeber threw for a pair of scores.
No. 5 Highland (6-0) at No. 6 Burlington Twp. (6-0), 1:30: This is the game of the week. Both teams are 3-0 in the WJFL Liberty, and both are angling for high berths in their respective group tournaments.
Highland is coming off a bye after a shutout win over Moorestown. The Tartans defense has been led by junior linebacker Brad Small, among others.
Sophomore running back Johnny Martin and senior quarterback Brian Cooey spark the Highland offense, Cooey also is a top kicker and punter. The Tartans are looking to strengthen their case for a high seed in South 4.
These teams have a history, as Highland beat Burlington Twp., 41-0, in last year's South Jersey's Group 4 tournament. This year, the Falcons have been re-classified in South 3, and are competing with teams such as Woodrow Wilson, Timber Creek and Delsea for high berths.
Burlington Twp. has long been known for offense, and the Falcons this season have a top quarterback in senior Danny Grozozski as well as a group of top receivers led by senior Isaiah Pae.
The Falcons defense has been stout as well, as the first-string unit has allowed just 21 points, per coach Tom Maderia.
No. 20 Lenape (3-3) at No. 15 Rancocas Valley (4-2), 2: This game has major South 5 playoff implications as the host Red Devils are the projected No. 2 seed, behind Williamstown, and the visiting Indians are the projected No. 3 seed.
Rancocas Valley bounced back from a tough loss to St. Augustine with a victory over Vineland. Tai Matlock ran for two scores, including a 96-yarder. Cerrome Hill caught a pair of touchdown passes from Bryce Mangene.
Lenape, the defending South Jersey Group 5 champion, has won three of four, with the lone loss a competitive battle with No. 2 Williamstown, since an 0-2 start. The Indians shut out Camden Catholic as sophomore Xavier Coleman ran for two touchdowns and junior Connor Kennedy returned an interception for a score.