High School Football in South Jersey
After seeing a Williamstown football team that is ranked No. 1 in South Jersey in one poll, it was hard not to be impressed.
Yet it was also hard not to have questions.
The Braves were dominating at times, but also mistake-prone during Friday’s 41-0 win over a good Gloucester Catholic team.
There are no questions that this is a truly talented Williamstown football team. The questions are whether Williamstown’s regular season schedule will prepare the Braves adequately for the postseason.
Williamstown has qualified for the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs in each of the last two years, and lost close postseason games both seasons.
In 2007, the Braves lost to Eastern, 24-20, and last year was a 28-24 defeat to Washington Township.
In those games, Williamstown obviously showed that it was a competitive team against the difficult competition in Group 4.
What has hurt Williamstown during its 7-0 start has been a schedule that has been less than demanding.
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It’s not the Braves' fault. Coach Frank Fucetola has been trying to upgrade the schedule, but there is only so much he can do when there are seven built-in games in the Tri-County Royal Division. That only left two non-league games. Williamstown beat Paramus Catholic, 35-7, in one of the non-league games, and faces Philadelphia’s Father Judge this week.
Williamstown’s most challenging game on the schedule is against Delsea on Thanksgiving.
That could be a showdown between the top two teams in South Jersey, but it would have helped Williamstown in Group 4 if the Braves could have faced Delsea before the playoffs.
All that said, the only thing that Williamstown can control is the teams on the schedule. So even though the Braves probably haven’t faced a schedule to make them playoff-hardened, this is a team that should be dangerous in Group 4.
The Braves have one of the best backfield duos in South Jersey with seniors Marcus Hampton and Ron Gordon.
Hampton missed sufficient time earlier in the year, but he has still rushed for 693 yards and 15 touchdowns.
What makes the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Hampton so difficult to defend is that he has the power to run over people and the speed to run by them.
Like Hampton, Gordon should be a scholarship player. Gordon is one of the few players who starts both ways, as he is a cornerstone in the secondary. He has rushed for 440 yards and five touchdowns.
Then there is junior Harry Ulmer, who would be the main ball carrier on many teams. He is a big-play specialist, who has eight touchdowns this season; six rushing and two receiving. Both receiving touchdowns came against Gloucester Catholic.
Senior Bill McCarty is a savvy leader at quarterback. The Braves don’t throw much, but he has been effective when called up, with five TD passes and just one interception. Plus McCarty is yet another running threat.
The defense isn’t overly big, but it has great speed. Leading the way is senior Jay Edmunds, who is among the quickest defensive linemen in South Jersey.
Against Gloucester Catholic, the Braves received a strong pass rush from junior Vince Kowalski (6-3, 220), who had two sacks.
Williamstown hasn’t faced many predominantly passing teams, but the Braves did well against a proficient Gloucester Catholic attack, intercepting three passes and keeping the heat on quarterback Cody Brown.
So, as the postseason begins the weekend of Nov. 13, Williamstown will be one of the more intriguing stories. The Braves have the ability to beat anybody in Group 4. Williamstown will have to win two Group 4 playoff games to remain unbeaten by time it meets Delsea. And if that is the case, then those worries about the strength of the regular season schedule will no longer be an issue.
For more Local Sports features, visit our South Jersey Sports page.
Author: Marc Narducci
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