Battle at the Beach will kick off South Jersey's football season

by Marc Narducci | Aug 7, 2023
Battle at the Beach will kick off South Jersey's football season
In what has quickly become a South Jersey football tradition – the season will kick off with a weekend full of games in Ocean City.

Starting Aug. 25, Ocean City High School will host the West Jersey Football Coaches Association’s Battle At The Beach Football Classic.

At the beginning of the week, the organizers said they had sold 4,150 tickets for the event, an impressive total that is only expected to continue to grow. 

This three-day event will feature four games per day:

Friday Aug. 25
10 a.m.–Washington Township vs. Mainland
1 p.m.–Hammonton vs. St. John Vianney
4 p.m.–Millville vs. Toms River North
7 p.m.–Ocean City vs. Pleasantville

Sunday Aug. 27
10 a.m.–Collingswood vs. Maple Shade
1 p.m.–Cedar Creek vs. Matawan
4 p.m.–Holy Spirit vs. Conwell Egan
7 p.m.–Timber Creek vs. Highland 

South Jersey football fans should anticipate the 4 p.m. Toms River North vs. Millville matchup of defending state champions. Toms River North went 14-0 last season and won the first ever state Group 5 title. (Last year was the first season that public schools competed for an NJSIAA state championship.) 

Toms River North, which beat Washington Township, 28-21 in last year’s Battle At The Beach game, is led by one of the most dynamic players in the country, senior quarterback-defensive back Micah Ford, who has already committed to Stanford – before the Pac-12 saw a mass exodus last week, with only four teams, including Stanford remaining. Ford threw for 1,203 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and ran for 2,360 and another 33 scores. On defense, he intercepted four passes. 

Meanwhile, Millville is coming off a 12-2 season in which the Thunderbolts won the NJSIAA Group 4 state championship. Senior Jacob Zamot threw for 3,180 yards and 27 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver-defensive back Taron Haile, a Syracuse commit, had 48 receptions for 677 yards and three scores. Millville’s top prospect is junior receiver Lotzeir Brooks, who had 69 receptions for 1,089 yards and 14 touchdowns. 

The Friday night Ocean City vs. Pleasantville game should also draw a big crowd. The two schools were  Thanksgiving rivals before state playoffs forced many teams off Thanksgiving games, ending many existing rivalries. At least the Ocean City-Pleasantville rivalry, which played its 100th game this past Thanksgiving, is still scheduled. 

One game involving two non-NJ teams is IMG Academy of Florida against Philadelphia’s St. Joseph Prep on Saturday evening. This is a national caliber game and will be televised by ESPN2.
St. Joseph Prep quarterback Samaj Jones is considered among the top players in the Delaware Valley and St. Joseph Prep has won four of the past five PIAA 6-A state championships.

Sunday’s final game between Timber Creek and Highland pits two rivals from the Black Horse Pike Regional School District. Highland beat Timber Creek 19-14 last year and this year's game is sure to be just as competitive.
For the high school football fan, who wants to see as many teams as possible, this event certainly provides with 15 teams from the seven-county South Jersey area.

Author: Marc Narducci


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