WJFL Diamond the big winner in the first week of South Jersey football

by Marc Narducci | Sep 1, 2021
WJFL Diamond the big winner in the first week of South Jersey football

Entering the high school football season the West Jersey Football League Diamond Division figured to be one of the top smaller enrollment divisions in South Jersey if not statewide.

In the first week of the season, the top three Diamond teams made an emphatic statement.

Salem 22, Camden 20

Paulsboro 18, West Deptford 3

Penns Grove 40, Bernards 20

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What made the wins even more impressive is that they came against three highly regarded teams.

Camden and West Deptford are considered contenders in South Jersey Group 2.

Bernards had gone 24-5 over the previous three seasons and is expected to be a North Jersey Group 2 playoff team.

The fact that Camden, West Deptford and Bernards are all highly regarded Group 2 schools, made the wins even more impressive for the three Group 1 winners.

Last season there were no playoffs in South Jersey and there weren’t any division winners crowned, but Paulsboro went 7-0, Salem was 6-1 and Penns Grove was 6-3.

All are not only expected to compete for the Diamond Division title, but these are likely the top three teams in South Jersey Group 1.

Senior Nate Wilson kicked a game-winning 37-yard field goal with under 3 minutes left to give Salem the win.

Paulsboro’s defense was stellar against West Deptford and the Red Raiders put the game away with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Tyree Thomas to Jamil Gantt early in the fourth quarter.

Penns Grove rushed for 403 yards and five touchdowns, in a dominating effort for coach John Emel’s team. Asante Johnson rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns and Jaleel Patrick gained 162 yards and scored one rushing and one receiving touchdown.

When Penns Grove, Salem and Paulsboro play one another, it should be quite an event. And it’s likely that at least two of these teams will also meet in the postseason.

Penns Grove will host Paulsboro on Saturday, Sept. 11. On Oct. 23, Penns Grove hosts Salem. So the Red Devils will face their two biggest competitors at home. Salem will visit Paulsboro on Sept. 25.

All three teams are highly proficient at running the ball, but have the ability to pass as well.

And all three have speed to burn on both offense and defense.

Penns Grove might be among the fastest teams in South Jersey. The defense is led by 6-2, 220-pound senior linebacker Zion Cheeks, a University of Cincinnati commit.

All season long the race for the Diamond Division should be among the key story lines in South Jersey and once the division is settled, all three teams will then likely be the teams to beat in South Jersey Group 1.

Author: Marc Narducci


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