Top games for the opening of the South Jersey high school football season

by Marc Narducci | Aug 24, 2022
Top games for the opening of the South Jersey high school football season
The New Jersey high school football season opens Friday, Aug. 26 and there will be many teams from the seven-county South Jersey area in action. This begins our weekly look at the best games in South Jersey.

Friday

Egg Harbor Township vs. Mainland, 10 a.m. at Ocean City. This kicks off the three-day, 11-game Battle at the Beach between these two Cape Atlantic League rivals. This is a division game between these teams who play in the West Jersey Football League United Division. Mainland senior Ja’Briel Mace is one of South Jersey’s top running backs. He rushed for 937 yards (7.2 avg.) and 10 Tds last season for the Mustangs, who were 4-6 but appear vastly improved. Mace has already committed to Villanova. EHT senior quarterback Christian Rando helped guide the Eagles to a 7-4 record and Group 5 playoff berth. He threw for 617 yards and 7 Tds and ran for another five scores. The winner of this game earns the early upper hand in the United Division race.

Cedar Grove vs. Salem, 1 p.m. at Ocean City. This is a matchup of defending sectional and regional champions. Cedar Grove went 12-1 and won the Group 1, Section 2 title, while Salem was the Central Jersey Group 1 champion. Cedar Grove was hit hard by graduation although its leading tackler, junior Nick Iannacone, had 74 tackles and three interception returns to spearhead the defense. Salem is led by the fourth-year starting quarterback Jahki Coates, who threw for 1,389 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for 729 yards (7.0 avg.) and 13 scores.

Shawnee at Northern Burlington, 6. Shawnee is coming off an 8-4 season in which the Renegades advanced to the Central Jersey Group 4 final before losing to Winslow Township. Now the Renegades must replace four-year varsity QB Matt Welsey, but there are several veterans back including senior two-way lineman Jackson Ray Harris (6-2, 255), who was a first-team all-WJFL American Division choice on defense. Northern Burlington should be improved from last year’s 5-5 team and the Greyhounds figure to contend in the WJFL National Division. Senior two-way lineman Jule Dolci (5-11, 250), son of the Greyhounds coach by the same name, leads a strong interior after earning all-conference honors last year. This very well could be Northern Burlington’s toughest regular season matchup.

 

Saturday

St. Peter’s Prep vs. St. Augustine, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. at Ocean City. Another game in the Battle At the Beach pits two of the state’s top Non-Public A powers. St. Augustine was 9-2 last year and didn’t lose to a team from the seven-county South Jersey area. The Hermits advanced to the state Non-Public A semifinals before losing to Don Bosco Prep. St. Augustine should have one of the top defenses in South Jersey, junior DB Tristan McIeer (5-10, 170) who had 69 tackles and six passes defended. The defense may be ahead of the offense in the early going. St. Peter’s Prep was 8-4 last year and like St. Augustine, advanced to the state Non-Public A semifinals before losing to eventual champ Bergen Catholic. Senior quarterback Champ Long is the offensive leader after throwing for 1,849 yards and 20 touchdowns

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Author: Marc Narducci

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