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Latest Cornelius brother kick-starting West Deptford

Luke Cornelius says his older brothers used to knock him around a little bit. "I guess that's what brothers do," Cornelius said.

West Deptford's Luke Cornelius (left) and Isaiah Easterling. (Elizabeth Robertson/Staff Photographer)
West Deptford's Luke Cornelius (left) and Isaiah Easterling. (Elizabeth Robertson/Staff Photographer)Read more

Luke Cornelius says his older brothers used to knock him around a little bit.

"I guess that's what brothers do," Cornelius said.

Ben and Josh Cornelius also set a standard for their kid brother and inspired him to make a name for himself with the West Deptford football team.

"I wanted to do better than them," Cornelius said.

The third of three brothers who have been mainstays for highly successful West Deptford teams in recent seasons, Luke Cornelius has made an impact as a senior on offense, defense, and special teams.

Cornelius will lead West Deptford (9-2) into the South Jersey Group 2 title game against archrival Haddonfield (11-0) at noon Sunday at Rowan.

"He has a great football sense," West Deptford coach Clyde Folsom said. "That's probably his greatest asset. He's extremely athletic for a thick kid, and he has a great football mentality."

As a halfback, the 5-foot-10, 220-pound Cornelius has carried the football 73 times for 784 yards (10.7-yard average) and seven touchdowns. As a linebacker, he has 92 tackles and two interceptions.

As a kicker, Cornelius is 50 for 55 in extra points and 8 for 9 in field goals.

Cornelius played one of his best all-around games Friday night in a 36-33 overtime loss to Paulsboro. He tied a state record with four field goals, made three extra points, and scored on a 40-yard run.

"That touchdown run was unbelievable," Folsom said. "He made that cut, and then he dragged two tacklers into the end zone over the last 10 yards."

Cornelius' only missed field goal came in Friday's game. He hit the crossbar with a 44-yard attempt that likely would have won the game with 0:35 remaining in regulation.

"I love not coming off the field," Cornelius said. "I take a lot of pride in that. I think a lot of people don't realize how hard it is to kick field goals and extra points and do everything else."

As his brothers were, Cornelius was a soccer player as a youth in West Deptford. He didn't start playing football until the seventh grade.

"I think it was my brother Josh who talked me into it," Cornelius said. "He told me how much I would love football."

Ben Cornelius was a top kicker/punter for West Deptford, graduating in 2011. Josh Cornelius was a standout kicker/punter as well but also played running back and linebacker, graduating in 2012.

Like his brother Josh, Luke Cornelius has been far more than a special-teams standout.

"I wanted to make more tackles and for more yards than Josh," Luke Cornelius said.

Luke Cornelius is looking to follow in his brother Ben's footsteps after high school. Ben Cornelius is an Army Ranger, according to his youngest brother, who plans to join the military after graduation in June.

"He loves it," Luke said of Ben's feelings for the military lifestyle. "I know that's what I want to do."

Sunday's title battle likely will mark Luke Cornelius' last football game. He says it's fitting that it's against Haddonfield.

"I remember we were playing Collingswood [in the semifinals] and we said, 'If Buena beats Haddonfield, it won't be the same,' " Cornelius said. "The rivalry is strong. We don't like each other. But we respect them because they've proven themselves."