WJFL's American Division is a Powerhouse of Competition

by Marc Narducci | Aug 16, 2023
WJFL's American Division is a Powerhouse of Competition
Year in and year out, the West Jersey Football League American Division is among the best in South Jersey. The WJFL allows for dominant teams to compete at a higher level of competition and lower-scoring teams to move into an easier division. The divisional setup lasts for two seasons before changes may be made. 

Despite all the movement, the American Division has always been among the deepest in South Jersey and this year is no exception. Last year all six teams qualified for the NJSIAA playoffs, including Williamstown, which was 2-8. 

A team like Williamstown was rewarded for playing such difficult competition, by earning a playoff berth, which takes into consideration strength of schedule. 

Here are last year’s standings in which no team went unbeaten in American Division play:

Millville - Regular Season: 12-2; Postseason:  4-1

St. Augustine - Regular Season: 6-5; Postseason: 3-2

Lenape -  Regular Season: 6-5; Postseason: 3-2

Cherokee - Regular Season: 4-5; Postseason:  5-6

Shawnee - Regular Season: 6-5; Postseason: 2-3

Williamstown - Regular Season: 2-8; Postseason: 0-5

The teams in the American tend to do well in the postseason because nothing better prepares a team for the playoffs than playing a difficult regular season schedule. 

Last year Millville won the first ever NJSIAA state Group 4 public school championship—before only Non-Public teams played for state titles. 

St. Augustine won a Non-Public A playoff game before being eliminated by state power Don Bosco Prep in the quarterfinals.

Lenape advanced to the Central Jersey Group 5 championship before losing to Edison, 28-14. In addition, Lenape was the lone American Division team to beat Millville last year.

Cherokee beat Williamstown in a first round South Jersey Group 5 game before being eliminated by Kingsway in the semifinal.

Shawnee won an opening round South Jersey Group 4 game against Ocean City before being eliminated by Hammonton in the semifinal.

Williamstown qualified for the South Jersey Group 5 playoffs before losing to Cherokee in the first round.

Every American Division team won at least one playoff game except for Williamstown.

This year Millville will be favored to defend its crown. The Thunderbolts, who have a tough opener against defending Group 5 champion Toms River North on Aug. 25 in Ocean City, are likely to be the No. 1 preseason team in South Jersey. 

The Thunderbolts have one of the top offenses in the state, led by senior quarterback Jacob Zamot, who threw for 3,158 yards and 27 touchdowns. Senior running back Na’eem Sharp rushed for 1,252 yards (6.3 avg.) and 124 touchdowns. 

Junior receiver Lotzeir Brooks had 69 receptions for 1,089 yards and 14 touchdowns. 

In addition, St. Augustine has been an annual Top 10 contender in South Jersey and this year should be no different. Junior Julian Turney rushed for 876 yards (6.6 avg.) and 12 touchdowns and he will be among the better running backs in South Jersey.

Lenape senior quarterback Jaelin Mims leads the offense after throwing for 1,093 yards and nine touchdowns, meaning Millville, St. Augustine and Lenape could very well finish as the top three teams in the division. 

Still nobody should count out Cherokee and Shawnee. The two teams that are talented enough to win some other divisions in South Jersey and while Williamstown will likely show improvement it may be hard to move up in the standings in this difficult division.

 

Photo Courtesy of Millville Football

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Author: Marc Narducci

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