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Wealth of South Jersey running backs returning next fall

Three seniors ran for 2,000 yards in 2012.

Three seniors ran for 2,000 yards in 2012.

But 2013 could be the Year of the Running Back.

This season was good for the ground game. Glassboro senior Corey Clement ran for 2,323 yards to jack his career total to 6,245 yards - tops in South Jersey history and fifth on the state's all-time list.

Wildwood senior Wesley Hills ran for 2,106 yards and led the Warriors to their first playoff berth.

St. Augustine Prep senior Calvin Cass ran for 2,001 yards and led the Hermits to the Cape-Atlantic National Division title.

But there is an army of top running backs set to seize the spotlight next season.

Leading the way will be Kingsway junior Ray Lawry, who ran for 2,225 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in the Dragons' final four games.

Lawry's late-season surge led to a scholarship offer from Temple last week.

West Deptford junior Gerald Owens also was offered a scholarship by Temple and has drawn recruiting interest from programs such as Ohio State and Texas. He ran for 1,691 yards this past season and scored five touchdowns in the South Jersey Group 2 title game.

Gloucester junior Ben Boyer ran for 1,772 yards and led the Lions to the Tri-County Classic title as well as the No. 4 seed in the South Jersey Group 1 tournament.

Penns Grove junior Anthony Robertson ran for 1,230 yards and 28 touchdowns for the South Jersey Group 1 champions. Delsea junior Rob Hooks ran for 1,268 yards for the South Jersey Group 3 champions. Holy Spirit junior Taalib Gerald ran for 1,062 yards for the Non-Public 3 state champions.

Other top running backs slated to return include Absegami junior David Hood (976 rushing yards, 489 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns), Audubon junior Kahleil Chisolm (1,279 yards), Cumberland junior De'Han Milledge (1,179 yards) and Millville sophomore Rob Ennis (1,498 yards).

Williamstown went 12-0, won the South Jersey Group 5 title, and finished as the No. 1 team in The Inquirer Top 10, thanks in large part to a ground game that was fueled by junior fullback John Chamberlin (1,237 yards, 26 touchdowns) and junior halfback Marques Little (1,075 yards, 17 touchdowns).

These guys will be back for more in 2013.

Not every team will feature the run. Eastern will bring back junior quarterback Tom Flacco, who passed for 2,957 yards and 25 touchdowns. He will have one of his favorite receivers, junior Keshawn Segers, who caught 38 passes for 781 yards.

Pennsville junior Dylan Cummings passed for 1,839 yards this season. He'll have his favorite receiver in junior Drew Burdsall, who set the South Jersey record with 91 catches, for 1,171 yards.

Cherokee junior quarterback Trevor Osler passed for 1,259 yards and Moorestown junior quarterback Tyreek Robinson passed for 1,069 yards.

The football will be in the air in South Jersey in 2013.

But it might travel faster and farther over land.