Another Strong Year Expected in the WJFL Liberty Division

Another Strong Year Expected in the WJFL Liberty Division
With the high school football season ready to start for some teams as early as Aug. 30, we will be previewing some of the top South Jersey conferences over the next few weeks. Here is a look at the WJFL Liberty.

Last Year
WJFL Liberty Division
Burlington Township 5-0, 10-1
Highland 4-1, 9-2
Clearview 3-2, 8-3
Winslow Township 2-3, 4-6
Moorestown 1-4, 4-6
Paul VI 0-5, 1-9
 
Burlington Township won the title, but by the slightest of margins. The Falcons were tested to the limit, with two one-point division wins, defeating Highland, 14-13 and Winslow Township, 7-6, in the last two weeks of the regular season to earn the division crown.
 
In the posts season both Burlington Township and Clearview advanced to South Jersey championship games. Township fell to Woodrow Wilson, 22-14 in the South Jersey Group 3 final. Clearview suffered a 17-14 double overtime loss to Shawnee in the South Jersey Group 4 championship.
 
This Year
While Burlington Township is the defending champ and should have another formidable team, Highland should enter the year as the favorite.
 
The Tartans tied a single-season school record for wins, going 9-2, the second time in the past three seasons that coach Brian Leary’s team has achieved this record.
 
Besides the one-point loss to Burlington Township, Highland suffered a 20-0 South Jersey Group 4 semifinal loss to Clearview. In the regular season Highland had beaten Clearview 14-6.
 
The Tartans are led by one of the best players in South Jersey, junior running back-linebacker Johnny Martin (5-9, 205).
 
Martin has received several Division I offers already and he is being recruited as a running back. Last year he rushed for 2,002 yards (7.6 avg.) and 19 TDs. Senior tight end-linebacker Brad Small (6-1, 205) is a tackling machine. A first-team all-conference choice, Small had 118 tackles and nine sacks. He will key a very strong defense.
 
A key for the Tartans will be replacing graduated quarterback Brian Cooey. Even though Highland didn’t throw much, Cooey was an outstanding leader. He was also an exceptional kicker and punter.
 
Despite his absence, this is a potential top five team in South Jersey.
 
Burlington Township again figures to contend, but the Falcons were hit hard by graduation. The offensive leader is senior running back Rodney Vines who rushed for 932 yards (7.2 avg.) and 7 TDs. This is a team that has 10 straight winning seasons and the Falcons should be competitive.
 
So should Clearview, led by senior Rashann Tompkins (6-4, 235), a first-team all-Liberty defensive lineman, who also plays tight end.
 
The Pioneers should be among the top defensive teams in the division and they have a running attack that is tough to stop. Senior quarterback Mike Ancona doesn’t throw much, but he is adept at running the offense.
 
Winslow Township has the ability to beat anybody in the division, but depth will be a key for the Eagles. Wide receiver-defensive back Jalen Cheek (6-2, 190) could be among the best juniors in South Jersey.
 
Moorestown won four of its final five games and is hoping to continue that momentum this season. Senior Adam Robinson (6-2, 215) was a second-team all-conference linebacker who is moving from tight end to quarterback for a Quakers team looking to improve.
 
Dennis Scuderi takes over a Paul VI team whose only win was its final game against rival Camden Catholic. The Eagles have some talented players such as senior running back-linebacker Alfred Woods and junior receiver-defensive back Nick Ocampo, but depth will be questionable. Given time, Scuderi should build this program back to being highly competitive.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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