St. Augustine favored in new WJFL...

St. Augustine favored in new WJFL... St. Augustine favored in new WJFL Continental Division

The first full South Jersey high school football weekend begins on Sept. 9, although St. Augustine and St. Joseph will open a week earlier.

St. Augustine opens against visiting Malvern Prep on Friday Sept. 2. The next day St. Joseph will host Allentown.

The divisions featuring St. Augustine and St Joseph will be the first that we preview. As we prepare for the season.

Both are formerly from the Cape Atlantic League and now they join the West Jersey Football League, where every team from the seven-county South Jersey area will compete.

St. Augustine is in the WJFL Continental Division. Here are the teams: Continental: Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, St. Augustine.

No doubt that St Augustine, led by junior running back Kyle Dobbins, will be among the top teams in South Jersey after finishing as the consensus No. 1 team a year ago. Dobbins rushed for 1,619 yards and 19 TDs, averaging 9.5 yards per carry.

As outlined in last week's preview of the top South Jersey teams, St. Augustine has experience on defense, a strong running game and everything in place to another run at the top spot. That certainly makes the Hermits the overwhelming choice in the Continental.

The biggest challenger appears to be Millville, which has seven starters back on both offense and defense, led by junior running back-linebacker Clayton Scott. Last season Scott rushed for 687 yards (7.9 average) and 11 TDs while catching 21 passes for 241 yards and a score. He also had 97 tackles.

Coach Dennis Thomas, now in his second season at Millville after going 6-4 last year, had coaching success at Salem and appears to have the Thunderbolts heading in the right direction.

Bridgeton has one of South Jersey's top players in Markquese Bell. As a sophomore Bell was a quarterback but last season was an explosive receiver who caught 52 passes for 792 yards and 11 TDs. Wherever he emerges on offense, Bell will be a difference maker. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior is also among the top defensive backs in the state.

Bridgeton went 7-4 and made the playoffs last season and coach Dave Ellen has a team that should again vie for a postseason berth.

Egg Harbor Township was a hard-luck 4-6 last year, losing three games by a touchdown or less. The Eagles will attempt to be a .500 or better team, although in this division, nothing is easy.

Vineland (3-7) showed slight improvement and that could continue, especially with players such as exciting junior quarterback-cornerback Isiah Pacheco.

The one team that is difficult to handicap is Atlantic City. The Vikings were 4-6 but during an injury-plagued season.

Coach Thomas Kelly has built the Vikings into an annual playoff contender and it could happen again, but this is a relatively inexperienced unit, led by two-time all-conference linebacker, senior Aaron Jackson.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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