Sizing up the WJFL American Division

by Marc Narducci; Photo Marc Narducci | Aug 30, 2019
Sizing up the WJFL American Division
Each year the WJFL American is among the top divisions in South Jersey and this year should be no different. Defending champion Williamstown, St Augustine and Shawnee have the capability of being Top 10 teams. What makes the division so strong is that Lenape and Rancocas Valley were playoff teams, with RV advancing to the South Jersey Group 5 final before losing to Williamstown.
Here are last year’s standings:
American Division
Williamstown 5-0, 12-1
St. Augustine 4-1, 7-4
Rancocas Valley 3-2, 9-3
Shawnee 2-3, 6-7
Lenape 1-4, 5-6
Cherokee 0-5, 1-8
Despite going 5-0 in the division, champion Williamstown was challenged. The Braves beat Rancocas Valley, 17-6, Lenape 12-3 and St. Augustine, 14-7 in low-scoring games. Williamstown also had convincing wins over Lenape, Cherokee and Shawnee and then defeated Rancocas Valley 56-20 during their rematch in the South Jersey Group 5 championship.
Shawnee joined Williamstown as sectional champion by winning the South Jersey Group 4 crown, despite finishing with a 6-7 record.
This Year
St. Augustine enters the season as the favorite, with Williamstown right behind and Shawnee also a dangerous team.
Leading the Hermits is senior RB-DT Isaiah Raikes (6-2, 300) who has already committed to Texas A&M. Even though his future is on defense, Raikes is a punishing runner who rushed for 226 yards (4.8 avg.) and 8 TDs.
Sophomore Nasir Hill is among the more dangerous offensive players. Last season he rushed for 894 yards (5.5 avg.) and 4 TDs while playing running back. He could be used at quarterback this season. The Hermits are deep and only their recent struggles against St. Joseph (who beat St. Augustine 30-8 last year) kept them from being ranked No. 1 during the preseason in South Jersey.
Williamstown was hit hard by graduation, but coach Frank Fucetola will have a formidable team in which the defense should lead the way, at least in the early going. Senior two-way lineman Aaron Lewis has already committed to Michigan (along with Delran’s R.J. Moten).
Joining Lewis on the first-team all-conference team on defense were senior TE-LB Brandon Perkins (6-2, 220) and senior B-CB Quinn Hart (5-10, 185).
The offense may need some time to grow but the defense should keep the Braves in any game.
Shawnee turned its season around when then-freshman Matt Welsey took over at quarterback and since-graduated Joe Dalsey moved to running back.
The Renegades benefited from their tough schedule. They were just 2-6 entering the postseason, but were ready for the Group 4 competition. Senior linebacker Dalton Short, who had 86 tackles, leads the Renegades defense.
Two years ago Lenape won the South Jersey Group 5 title, but the Indians were hit hard by graduation, and went 5-6, but won a playoff game against one of the toughest schedules in South Jersey last year. Junior Xavier Coleman, who rushed for 754 yards (4.5 avg.) and 8 TDs could be among the better backs in South Jersey.
Lenape has a real chance for improvement this season.
Cherokee went 1-8, its first losing season since 1996. The Renegades expect to be improved, but moving up in this division will be difficult.
Rancocas Valley never seems to be picked high, but the Red Devils usually exceed expectations. This year it may be tough to duplicate the 9-3 record, especially with the graduation of 23 seniors including QB Bryce Mangene. Senior WR-QB-B Mateo Asis is a playmaker, but it may take the young Red Devils awhile to gain their footing.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci


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