South Jersey Football Games of the Week

by Marc Narducci | Nov 16, 2022
South Jersey Football Games of the Week
This is the first year that there are NJSIAA state playoffs for public schools. In the past teams could just win a sectional championship and then over the last few years, they could go for a regional championship. The regional championship of the last few years now serves as the state semifinal, which will be played this weekend.

Cherokee will be the host school for teams that won South Jersey and Central Jersey titles. Here is a preview of teams from the seven-county South Jersey area that will be competing in the public school state semifinals.

Group 1: Salem (8-4) vs Woodbury (9-2), 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Cherokee. These two teams know each other extremely well. Last year Salem beat Woodbury, 34-8 in the South/Central Regional championship at Rutgers. In addition, these two teams are in the same division, the WJFL Diamond. Salem beat Woodbury in this year’s regular season game, 21-20. Both Salem and Woodbury won convincingly in the sectional final. Woodbury beat Maple Shade, 36-6, in the SJ Group 1 final, while Salem was a 33-14 winner over Paulsboro in the Central Jersey final. This will be a matchup of premier senior quarterbacks. Woodbury’s Bryan Johnson and Salem’s Jahki Coates. Johnson has completed 64% of his passes for 2,011 yards and 23 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 277 yards (4.0 avg.) and four scores. Senior JaBron Solomon is a big-play performer with 49 receptions for 759 yards and 12 touchdowns. Coates has completed 50.6% of his passes for 1,315 yards and 16 touchdowns and has rushed for 659 yards (6.6 avg.) and 15 touchdowns. Junior Ramaji Bundy has 19 receptions for 494 yards and five touchdowns.

Group 3: Delsea (11-0) vs. Camden (10-1), 2 p.m. Saturday at Cherokee. Delsea hopes to have junior quarterback Zach Maxwell back after he missed the Crusaders 44-7 sectional title win over previously unbeaten Hopewell Valley due to injury. Junior Wayne Adair led the attack in the sectional final, gaining 136 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries. He also returned a kickoff 80 yards for a score Delsea didn’t attempt a pass (other than twice on two-point conversions), but coach Sal Marchese Jr.’s Wing-T offense is very difficult to stop. Camden has won 10 in a row following its 21-0 win over previously unbeaten Seneca in the Central Jersey Group 3 final. Sophomore quarterback Deante Ruffin has completed 57.1% of his passes for 2,016 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has also run for 373 yards (4.6 avg.) and nine touchdowns.

Group 2: Rumson-Fair Haven (7-4) vs. Willingboro (6-5), 11 a.m. Sunday at Cherokee. Willingboro beat Gloucester, 20-7 to win the Central Jersey Group 2 title. Jarelle Taylor Jr. had a touchdown reception and two interceptions to lead Willingboro’s effort. The Chimeras played an extremely tough schedule, which included games against Group 4 Pennsauken, Group 3 Camden Eastside and perennial South Jersey Non-Public power St. Joseph Hammonton. The Chimeras have won five in a row. Freshman Lamar Best has thrown for 1,325 yards and 22 touchdowns. Senior Khamaad Rice has 36 receptions for 520 yards and 13 touchdowns. Like Willingboro, Rumson has played a difficult schedule. The Bulldogs finished just 2-3 in the Shore Conference American Division, which was won by Red Bank Catholic. Rumson scored a 34-27 double overtime win over Raritan to win the South Jersey title. Sophomore quarterback Owen O’Toole has thrown for 1,808 yards and 22 touchdowns. His leading receiver is senior Scott Venancio, who has 32 receptions for 561 yards and nine touchdowns.

Group 4: Millville (9-2) vs. Mainland (10-1), Sunday, 2 p.m. at Cherokee. These are two old Cape Atlantic rivals playing in the sectional final. Millville is the defending Group 4 regional champion. The Thunderbolts have a potent passing game, led by junior Jacob Zamot, who has thrown for 2,555 yards and 23 touchdowns. Sophomore Lotzeir Brooks had 51 receptions for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns. Junior Na’eem Sharpe has rushed for 1,030 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Thunderbolts beat Hammonton, 18-16 in the sectional final. Mainland beat Middletown South, 34-24 to win the Central Jersey Group 4 title. The Mustangs have won nine in a row since a 21-20 loss to Ocean City. Villanova commit Ja’Briel Mace has rushed for 24 touchdowns and is a key member of the secondary.

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Author: Marc Narducci


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