Millville makes Football history

by Marc Narducci | Dec 14, 2022
Millville makes Football history
In the first-ever NJSIAA Public School state football championships, two came from the seven-county South Jersey area, Millville in Group 4 and Woodbury in Group 1. Here is a look at Group 4 state champion Millville and its season.

MILLVILLE

Coach: Bert Ayala (12-2)

Record: 12-2 overall, 4-1 WJFL American Division (1st place)

2022 Season Schedule

Aug. 28: Thomas Jefferson (PA) at Ocean City, 41-10

Sept. 2: vs. Irvington at Rutgers, 17-25

Sept . 9: Williamstown, 49-28

Sept. 16: St. Augustine, 21-14

Sept. 30: at Lenape, 17-21

Oct. 7: at Shawnee, 21-10

Oct. 14: Ocean City, 41-7

Oct. 21: Cherokee, 31-20

Oct. 28: Lacey, 49-6*

Nov. 4: Jackson, 34-16*

Nov. 11: at Hammonton, 18-16*

Nov. 20: at Mainland, 18-14*

Nov. 24: at Vineland, 35-16

Dec. 3: Northern Highlands, at Rutgers, 18-14*

*playoff game

Top performers

Jr. QB Jacob Zamot: 213-353 passing, 3,158 yards, 27 TDs

So. WR Lotzier Brooks: 69 receptions, 1,089 yards, 14 TDs.

Jr. RB Na’eem Sharp, 199 carries, 1,252 yards, 14 TDs.

 

Millville entered the season as the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey and that is how the Thunderbolts will end.

The one loss to a team from the seven-county South Jersey area was a 21-17 setback to Group 5 sectional finalist Lenape.

That was a WJFL American Division game, but Millville still won the division with a 4-1 record, while Lenape, Cherokee and St. Augustine each finished a game behind at 3-2.

The American Division was arguably the toughest in South Jersey, with the WJFL Independence also in the running.

What made Millville’s run so impressive is that the Thunderbolts won their last three playoff games by a total of 10 points.

The closest was an 18-16 victory at top-seeded Hammonton.

The other thing that was impressive is how many players Millville will return to next season. The three players mentioned above all return, led by Brooks, who is considered among the top sophomores in the country either as a receiver or a defensive back.

The season began with a 41-10 rout of Pennsylvania’s Thomas Jefferson in the Battle at the Beach in Ocean City. That was a Thomas Jefferson team that finished 8-4 and was a PIAA playoff team.

Millville’s first loss of the season came at Rutgers, 25-17 to Irvington. That same Irvington team lost to Northern Highland, 17-13, in the second round of the North I Group 4 semifinals.

Millville, would end its season beating Northern Highland, 18-14 for the state championship.

Ayala made a smooth transition in his first year as head coach. He previously served as the offensive coordinator and presided over one of the most balanced offenses in South Jersey.

The Thunderbolts were more of a passing team, but with Na’eem Sharp, they had a home run hitter at running back who added to Millville’s big-play ability.

Millville won a highly competitive Group 4 bracket and the difficult regular season schedule, competing in the WJFL American Division, surely prepared them for the postseason.

And with so many standouts returning, look for Millville to be near or at the top in the South Jersey preseason rankings.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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