Successful second season for the Battle at the Beach

by Marc Narducci | Aug 29, 2022
Successful second season for the Battle at the Beach
The second-annual Battle at the Beach in Ocean City was a tremendous success. Unlike last year, where there were severe weather issues, forcing the Sunday games to be moved to another venue, this season other than it is hot, the weather wasn’t a factor.

There were 11 games, with at least one team from the seven-county South Jersey area competing in 10 of the contests. Here is a look back at the event.

Best game: Holy Spirit beat Cherokee 34-31. Sophomore Mason Forte hit a 23-yard field goal as time expired for the Holy Spirit game-winner. This was considered an upset since Holy Spirit suffered key losses to graduation and Cherokee was considered a Top 10 team in South Jersey. Sophomore Jahcere Ward rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown to lead the winning Spartans.

Runnerup: Toms River North beat Washington Township, 28-21 in a game between two teams that should be major contenders in South Group 5. (T.R. North, led by dynamic quarterback Micah Ford, lost to Kingsway in last year’s SJ Group 5 final). Ford ran for two touchdowns and threw a scoring pass. Washington Township received three touchdowns from junior quarterback Jared Dziergowski, including a dynamic 61-yard run in the first quarter. It would not be surprising if these two teams met again in the postseason.

Top turnaround: After a scoreless first quarter, Mainland put up 23 points in the second quarter of a 37-0 win over rival Egg Harbor Township. Mainland, coming off a 4-6 season. With senior running back Ja’Briel Mace leading the way, Mainland has the look of a contender in South Group 4.

Most impressive team(s). This would have to go to St. Peter’s and Millville, which both put up 41 points against a quality opponent. St. Peter’s beat St. Augustine, 41-7 as Maryland commit Champ Long threw four touchdown passes. Millville beat highly regarded Thomas Jefferson, 41-10. Thomas Jefferson is located about 15 miles South of Pittsburgh. Junior Jacob Zamot completed just seven passes for Millville but threw for 360 yards and four scores. Millville’s shortest TD was 69 yards as the Thunderbolts showed their tremendous big-play ability. Add Toms River North to this list as well. The Mariners showed why they were ranked in the Top 20 of the state by NJ.com in their win over Washington Township. Junior Jeremiah Pruitt, who scored on a 25-yard interception return, might be the state’s top defensive back.

One criticism: There were too many games that weren’t competitive. The close games were compelling, there just weren’t enough of them. Eight of the games were decided by two touchdowns or more. The close games were Holy Spirit's win over Cherokee, Toms River's victory over Washington Township and Wayne Valley's 17-13 win over Delran. 

Most positive development: The crowds. The stands were filled for many of the games, just creating a great atmosphere. Many schools brought huge fan contingents from a good distance. The lure of coming to Ocean City in the summer was a big attraction and it was great to see so much enthusiasm for high school football in an event that should only continue to grow in popularity.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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