Renegades Impressive in Earning Title

Renegades Impressive in Earning Title Renegades impressive in earning Group 4 football title

Sometimes a loss can make a team refocus, which is exactly what happened to Shawnee’s football team after Thanksgiving.

To that point, the Renegades were 10-0 and ranked as the consensus No. 2 team in South Jersey behind only St. Joseph.

Then, on Thanksgiving, the Renegades lost to rival Lenape 10-7.

First off, it must be noted that this was arguably the best Lenape team in school history. The Indians went 9-1, but the loss came in the first round of the South Jersey Group 5 playoffs to Toms River North.

So for Lenape, the Thanksgiving rivalry game with Shawnee was like its mini-Super Bowl.

After the loss to Lenape, Shawnee credited the victors, but a number of players said they lost a little focus. That might have meant they were possibly looking past the Indians to the South Jersey Group 4 final.

No matter what the motivation was, Shawnee was ready for one of the great performances of he season by defeating previously unbeaten Timber Creek, 28-7.

It’s the second straight year that Shawnee beat the Chargers in the sectional final, after winning, 31-22 last year.

Entering the 2013 title game, Shawnee was considered an underdog. This year, it was considered a toss-up, although Timber Creek was unbeaten and many were wondering how Shawnee would rebound from its loss.

The focus was back and so was Shawnee’s ground game, which was stopped for the most part by Lenape. And it’s no surprise that senior Jake Parola ended his career in story. Parola, who entered the game with 1,280 yards and 24 touchdowns rushing, added another 159 yards and three scores.

It’s the second time that Shawnee has won consecutive titles. The Renegades were 2007 and 2008 South Jersey Group 3 champions.

This was a senior-laden Shawnee team, although junior Michael Welsh did an outstanding job running the offense at quarterback and he will no doubt be among the team leaders next season.

For Shawnee, it was the sixth sectional title since the advent of NJSIAA playoffs in 1974, and all have come under veteran coach Tim Gushue, who is among the best in South Jersey history.

The defense, led by linebacker Curtis Corely, was stingy the entire season.

The sectional final was the seventh time this season Shawnee had held a team to one touchdown or fewer.

Before the loss to Lenape, Shawnee had been winning in impressive fashion. The Renegades had won every other regular season game by 13 or more points. The closest game (other than Lenape) was a 20-7 win over eventual South Jersey Group 5 champion Cherokee.

In addition, Shawnee had moved to what is annually one of the best divisions, the West Jersey Football League American Division. (This year the division was three deep with quality teams, about one fewer than normal).

In addition to Cherokee, the division included Group 5 playoff participant Williamstown, a team Shawnee beat 42-7 in the season opener for both teams.

Shawnee defeated Mainland, 42-20 in the first round of the playoffs and then downed Hammonton, 42-10 in the Group 4 semifinal.

Then came an impressive win in the sectional final, showing that Shawnee had indeed regrouped after it’s setback to Lenape.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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