High School Football Preview
The most tightly contested high school football race last season came in the Tri-County Royal Division. It wouldn’t be surprising if things are just as tight this year.
To review, Williamstown won the first conference title in the school’s 49-year history, by the slimmest of margins.
The Braves were 8-2 overall and 7-1 in the Royal Division. The Royal was so balanced that no team went unbeaten in league play. Cumberland and Gloucester Catholic finished second with 6-2 records.
How close was the race?
Had Delsea beaten Williamstown on Thanksgiving, then there would have been a four-way tie for the title. Delsea, Gloucester Catholic and Cumberland would have joined Williamstown.
That still doesn’t explain how tight things were.
Delsea lost that game to Williamstown, 25-24. That still doesn’t begin to explain how tight the race was.
Williamstown won three Royal Division games by one point. Besides Delsea, Williamstown also beat Clearview, 8-7 and Cumberland, 32-31.
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Now as this season begins, Williamstown is the favorite in the Royal Division, although Cumberland, Gloucester Catholic and Delsea can’t be discounted.
In a division that has no shortage of quality running backs, Williamstown has an explosive junior tandem in Ron Gordon (5-9, 185) and fullback Marcus Hampton (6-0, 205).
Gordon rushed for 735 yards. He scored nine touchdowns, five rushing, two on punt returns, one on a kickoff return and the other on a fake punt that went for a 43-yard touchdown.
Cumberland had a 7-3 overall record last season, the best in the program’s history that began in 1977.
Like Williamstown, the Colts will have a strong running game. Leading the way is senior Andrew Pierce who rushed for 1,568 yards and 14 touchdowns. Senior Malik Jones rushed for 482 yards and three touchdowns.
The Colts are expected to be a major factor in the Royal Division.
One of the underrated teams is Gloucester Catholic. The Rams are able to move the ball on the ground and the air. Running back Pat Schull rushed for 1,183 yards and four touchdowns, while receiver George Spingler added 32 receptions for 475 yards and five touchdowns, while Jacob Yates had 40 receptions for 561 yards and seven TDs.
Gloucester Catholic will also have a strong defense, led by defensive end Steven Rotella, who had eight sacks and nose guard Harry Amwake, who contributed nine sacks.
Delsea, which was No. 1 in South Jersey with a 12-0 record in 2005, is arguably the youngest team in the Royal Division. The Crusaders have only a handful of seniors.
Still, the young talent is impressive. Junior running back Austin Medley rushed for 921 yards and nine TDs, while senior Casmir Okoro had 482 yards and four touchdowns. Okoro is a defensive leader with 11 career interceptions.
The rest of the Royal Division is loaded with teams that have a chance to be competitive, led by Clearview and Kingsway.
In fact both have the chance to be competitive with any team in the division, but neither has enough experience to be listed among the contenders.
Deptford is usually listed with the contenders, but after a 2-8 season, there is too much unknown about the Spartans to list them with the elite.
The other two teams, Highland and Woodstown, hope to be spoilers.
In the Royal Division, anything is possible but once again, the possibility exists that this could be the tightest race in South Jersey.
For more Local Sports features, visit our South Jersey Sports page.
Author: Marc Narducci
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