Cedar Creek, St. Joseph's Should...

by Marc Narducci | Aug 27, 2016
Cedar Creek, St. Joseph's Should... Cedar Creek, St. Joseph's Should Battle For Division Supremacy

Former Cape Atlantic teams St. Joseph and Cedar Creek should have a fascinating race in the new West Jersey Football League Independence Division. The Cape merged into the WJFL and here is the new divisional alignment:
Independence: Cedar Creek, Oakcrest, Mainland, Absegami, St. Joseph and Ocean City.

Two years ago St. Joseph was the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey. Last season the Wildcats entered No. 1 in preseason polls, but dropped from the rankings but not from relevance during a 10-2 season. St. Joseph won a seventh straight state title, earning the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 2 crown.

Meanwhile Cedar Creek, in only its fifth season of varsity existence, won the South Jersey Group 2 title, beating West Deptford, 28-27 in the final.

For what it's worth Cedar Creek and West Deptford are probably the two favorites entering the season in Group 2.

As for the Independence?

Cedar Creek gets the nod over St. Joseph, but nobody should every underestimate the Wildcats.

Leading Cedar Creek is one of South Jersey's most dynamic players, senior slot-cornerback Bo Melton.

Last season Melton earned several South Jersey Player of the Year honors. Already committed to Rutgers, he rushed for 742 yards and 13 touchdowns and had 31 receptions for 676 yards and 11 TDs. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Melton is also a top cornerback.

Quarterback Jesse Milza threw for 2,208 yards last season. With Milza and Melton and other quality skill position players, the Pirates have one of the most balanced attacks, one that could hurt teams either running or throwing the ball.

It's rare when St. Joseph enters a season in an underdog role, but the Wildcats will seriously challenge Cedar Creek. Coach Paul Sacco enters the season just two wins shy of becoming the first coach in South Jersey history with 300 wins.

This is a team with most of its experience on defense, led by senior nose tackle Elijah Hardee who had 54 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

The rest of the division promises to be competitive.

Oakcrest, coming off a 5-5 season, is led by one of South Jersey's top two-way players, senior quarterback-safety Kendall Elliott (6-2, 222). The Falcons could also be a factor in South Jersey Group 3, where four-time defending champion Delsea remains the favorite.

Ocean City (4-6) went 4-2 in its final six games and hopes to carry that momentum this season. The Red Raiders are led by senior quarterback-safety Andrew Donoghue who threw for 1,208 yards and 8 TDs.

Absegami (3-7) could be a year away from contention. The Braves have one of the top two-way linemen in the division in returning all-Cape American choice Alex Walk (6-1, 260).

Mainland (5-5) appears to be rebuilding under first-year coach Chuck Smith, who was the head coach at Oakcrest. Senior H-back/linebacker Jack Bergman (6-2, 235) is one of the leaders.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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