South Jersey Football Playoff Preview...

South Jersey Football Playoff Preview... South Jersey Football Playoff Preview Part I: A look at South Jersey Groups 5-1

The NJSIAA Football Playoffs begin this weekend. In the South Jersey public schools, many of the defending champions are among the favorites. Here is Part I of our preview--a look at South Jersey Group 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.

SJ Group 5
(8) Atlantic City (4-4) at (1) Toms River North (9-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
(5) Howell (5-4) at (4) Vineland (7-1), Friday 7 p.m.
(6) Cherokee (5-3) at (3) Millville (7-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
(7) Southern (5-4) at (2) Rancocas Valley (7-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Outlook: Toms River North is the defending champion and the Mariners will be difficult to beat. The Mariners' closest game was a 41-31 victory over Jackson. Every other win was by more than 20 or more points. Vineland is a team that bears watching. The Clan became the first team to hold St. Augustine under 40 points in a 26-7 loss on Friday. A darkhorse is Cherokee, which has lost to Shawnee, Timber Creek and Lenape by a total of 14 points. Cherokee senior John Lovett has rushed for 1,144 yards (8.5 avg. and 17 TDs and could be a difference maker). Another team to watch is Rancocas Valley, whose only loss is to Lenape.

South Jersey Group 4
(8) Woodrow Wilson (5-3) at (1) Lenape (8-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
(5) Highland (7-1) at (4) Cherry Hill West (7-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
(6) Clearview (6-2) at (3) Shawnee (7-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
(7) Absegami (6-2) at (2) Timber Creek (8-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

Outlook: Defending champion Timber Creek will be difficult to beat, although Lenape is the best defensive team in the section, allowing just 6.25 points per game. The question is how is anybody going to stop Timber Creek junior QB Devin Leary? He has completed 121 of 193 passes for 2,257 yards, 33 TDs and 2 interceptions. His top target is senior Ezrah Archie, who has 49 receptions for 861 yards and 15 TDs.

South Jersey Group 3
(8) Camden (3-5) at (1) Wall (6-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
(5) Hamilton (5-3) at (4) Lakewood (6-2), Saturday, 1 p.m.
(6) Seneca (3-5) at (3) Delsea (5-4), Friday, 7 p.m.
(7) Pemberton (5-3) at (2) Burlington Twp. (7-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

This Group appears to be wide open. Delsea is the four-time defending champion and the Crusaders, who have played the toughest schedule in the section, remain extremely dangerous. No. 2 Burlington Township bears watching. The Falcons open against Pemberton after beating the Hornets, 42-6 on Oct. 29. Township's lone loss came to unbeaten Lenape, 20-3. Falcons senior Everett Wormley, who has battled injury, has 14 receptions for 152 yards and four TDs and could be a game-breaker. So is senior RB Drew Price, who has rushed for 729 yards (6.3 avg.) and 13 TDs. Want a darkhorse? Don't sleep on Camden, a very dangerous No. 8 seed.

South Jersey Group 2
(8) Delran (3-5) at (1) West Deptford (8-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
(5) Cinnaminson (6-2) at (4) Collingswood (6-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
(6) Haddonfield (5-3) at (3) Willingboro (6-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
(7) Middle Twp. (5-3) at (2) Cedar Creek (8-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.

Outlook: Last year Cedar Creek beat West Deptford, 28-27 in a memorable championship game. The two teams could very well meet again in the final. West Deptford is the favorite, with a lethal running game. There was concern about senior Anthony Seas and whether he'd be healthy, but in last week's win over Collingswood, he rushed for 164 yards and a TD on 22 carries. For the season he has rushed for 1,257 yards (11.9 avg.) and 13 TDs. Cedar Creek, with Rutgers commit Bo Melton at running back, wing back or receiver, will have to be accounted for. Haddonfield is another team that has a history of coming up big in the postseason. The Bulldogs lost 48-14 to West Deptford, but just 17-14 to Cedar Creek.

South Jersey Group 1
(8) Penns Grove (4-4) at (1) Woodbury (6-2), Saturday, 1 p.m.
(5) Haddon Heights (6-2) at (4) Salem (6-2), Saturday, 1 p.m.
(6) Woodstown (6-2) at (3) Pennsville (6-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
(7) Schalick (7-1) at (2) Paulsboro (7-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.

Outlook: This might be the most balanced Group in South Jersey. Woodbury is the top seed and a big reason was an opening day 14-13 win over Paulsboro. Consider those two Colonial Conference teams contenders. Pennsville is the defending champion and won't be easy to oust. A team that is coming on is Salem. The Rams have won five in a row. Senior running back Jonathan Taylor, who recently made a verbal commitment to Wisconsin (after de-committing from Rutgers) has scored 24 touchdowns and is as dangerous as any player in South Jersey.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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