Week 9 always is full of football games loaded with playoff and division title implications. Here's a closer look at 12 games:
(All games at 7, except SA at Vineland, Pleasantville at Middle Twp. and St. Joe at Ocean City at 6.)
No. 11 St. Augustine (4-4) at No. 4 Vineland (7-0): The visiting Hermits are better than their record. They lost to a strong Southeastern Pa. squad in Malvern Prep in "Zero Week" and have lost to three South Jersey teams ranked in the Top 5: No. 2 Millville, No. 3 St. Joseph and No. 5 Holy Spirit. They held the lead in all three of those games. Now SA meets another Top 5 team in No. 4 Vineland. SA has a sturdy defense led by junior LB Joe Bonczek and senior DL Garrett Dolan and a dynamic freshman RB in Pat Smith. It's Week 9, and this represents Vineland's first game against a team in the current Top 25. In fact, the Clan have played just one game against a team with a winning record in Atlantic City (4-3). All Vineland can do is play the teams in front of them, and the Clan has taken care of business, scoring 55 or more in four games behind seniors Isaih Pacheco and Nihym Anderson. The Clan are battling for a home game in the S.J. 5 tournament but there's a chance they could be 8-0 and still open on the road.
Pleasantville (6-1) at Middle Township (3-4): The visiting Greyhounds are angling for their first playoff berth since 2005. Under third-year coach Chris Sacco, the Greyhounds have made remarkable progress. From 2010-15, this program was 3-57 with five winless seasons. This season, the Greyhounds' lone loss was to No. 5 Holy Spirit in a game in which they led in the fourth quarter. Pleasantville is coming off a 66-40 win over Gloucester Catholic as Mohamed Toure ran for 4 TDs. Middle Twp. has something on the line as well. MT is coming off a double bye. The Panthers haven't played since an Oct. 13 loss to Ocean City. They can get to .500 and perhaps pick up enough power points to secure a SJ 2 playoff berth with a win over the Greyhounds, depending on the results of other games.
No. 3 St. Joseph (8-0) at No. 25 Ocean City (6-1): The visiting Wildcats can secure the WJFL Independence title with a win and maintain momentum entering the NP 2 state tournament. SJ has beaten rivals Holy Spirit and St. Augustine this season, rallying from halftime deficits in both games. In those games, the Wildcats outscored the Spartans and Hermits by a combined 42-0 in the second half. Seniors C.J. Parrish and Sencere Tapp led SJ's defense in Saturday's victory over St. Augustine. OC is 11-2 since the middle of last season. One of those losses was 34-21 to St. Joe last November. Senior QB Harry Pfeifle and senior all-purpose Isaac Robertson lead the way for the Red Raiders.
No. 13 Williamstown (4-3) at No. 9 Cherokee (5-2): This game has major WJFL American and SJ 5 playoff implications. The visiting Braves are 3-0 in the division, with a Thanksgiving game vs. Washington Twp. The Chiefs are 4-0 and can clinch the division title with a win. Plus, both teams are jostling for the best possible seed in what looks to be a loaded SJ 5 field. Williamstown has a dynamic run-pass threat at QB in junior J.C. Collins. Sophomore RB Elijah Bard is a player to watch for Cherokee.
Kingsway (1-6) at Washington Twp. (1-6): This is a pride game for these Gloucester County rivals. Both teams will be out to show they are better than their records and build some confidence and momentum under relatively new coaching staffs — with WT's Lamont Robinson in his first season and Kingway's Mark Hendricks in his second. Senior Akennis Yates is a player to watch for WT. Kingsway has a top pass-catch combo in senior QB Joel Scerbo and senior WR Kevin Zehner.
Eastern (5-3) at Paul VI (3-4): This is a homecoming for Eastern coach John Doherty, who spent 13 seasons building Paul VI into one of South Jersey's most respected programs. Doherty went 75-46 with the Eagles, winning seven division titles. His last season was 2015, so he coached most of the Eagles' upperclassmen. There's a lot on the line for both teams. Eastern wants to get to 6-3 and create some momentum heading into tough duty in the SJ 5 tournament. PVI has a chance to get to .500 in its first full season under coach Glenn Hutton, who played for Doherty.
Audubon (3-4) at Overbrook (4-3): The host Rams have won two in a row and three of four. They have an outside shot at a SJ 2 tournament berth with a victory, depending on results of other games. All three of Overbrook's losses have been to Top 25 teams in West Deptford, Sterling and Haddonfield. OB is coming off an impressive 28-12 win over Holy Cross as Erick Riley ran for 2 TDs. Audubon has a chance to get to .500 and could vault into the SJ 1 playoff field with a win, since they would pick up 20 power points by beating the Rams. The Green Wave is coming off a 28-20 win over Bordentown as Luca Rupertus ran for 3 TDs.
Bishop Eustace (4-3) at Highland (4-3): The host Tartans are angling to improve their seed in what looks to be a wide-open SJ 4 tournament. Senior LB Jared Colbert leads Highland's defense. BE has won 3 of 4. The Crusaders' three losses have been to Top 25 teams in Camden Catholic, Woodrow Wilson and Moorestown. Senior two-way lineman Andrew Klitchko is a player to watch for BE.
No. 12 Camden (6-1) at Winslow Twp. (3-4): This is a dangerous game for the visiting Panthers, who have won five in a row, including a dramatic rally from a 17-0 deficit to beat then-No. 6 RV 30-24 on Friday night. Senior QB Premire Wilson has developed into a top run-pass threat for Camden. He threw 2 TD passes and ran for another score in the big win over RV. Winslow Twp. has won two in a row, scoring a total of 66 points behind junior QB Prince-dru Bey. The Eagles would get to .500 and collect a lot of power points with a win, perhaps earning a berth in the SJ 4 field, depending on results of other games.
Holy Cross (4-4) at Delran (3-4): HC senior QB Jeff Undercuffler, an Albany recruit, has a good arm. He might be able to stand on the HC practice field and hit the Delran practice field on the fly, that's how close these schools are. This is a classic, cross-town, public vs. non-public rivalry, pure and simple. And HC coach Frank Holmes teaches in Delran.
Woodstown (4-3) at No. 24 Penns Grove (6-1), noon: Both of these teams have 1 loss and are chasing Salem (which visits Woodstown on Thanksgiving) in the WJFL Diamond race. More immediately, both are angling for high berths in the SJ 1 tournament. Behind senior all-purpose Cody Wolf, Woodstown has won 4 of 5 after an 0-2 start. PG has won 4 in a row, scoring 67, 50, 54 and 42 in the process. The Red Devils, who probably are looking at a 1 or 2 seed with a win, have been getting great work from sophomore quarterback Kavon Lewis, who leads South Jersey with 23 TD passes.