A Look Back at High School Football 2023

by Marc Narducci | Dec 28, 2023
A Look Back at High School Football 2023
It was another exciting South Jersey Football season. Here is a look back at the best of the 2023 season.

Team of the Year: That’s an easy one, Mainland became the first team in South Jersey history to finish a season 14-0. The Mustangs upset defending state champion Millville 35-13 in the South Jersey Group 4 championship, then defeated Winslow Township, 41-7 in the state Group 4 semifinal and finally Ramapo, 56-0, in the state championship. For the season, Mainland outscored its opponents, 603-89. During its five playoff wins, Mainland outscored teams 237-47. The 22-point win over Millville was the closest playoff win. Senior Stephen Ordille led a relentless ground attack. According to NJ.com stats, he rushed for 1,841 yards (8.8 avg.) and 30 touchdowns. Defensive back Jamie Tyson was the defensive leader with 12 interceptions. Imagine, last year coach Chuck Smith’s Mainland team went 10-2 and this year they improved by four wins.

Defensive Player of the Year: The aforementioned Jamie Tyson of Mainland would earn the nod. Not only did he lead the state with 12 interceptions, but four were returned for touchdowns. He also had 31 tackles and forced two fumbles. As a bonus, Tyson was also a dangerous receiver in a run-oriented attack. He had 26 receptions for 562 yards and 11 touchdowns. A remarkable senior season for the Villanova commit.

Offensive Player of the Year:  Millville junior Lotzeir Brooks is among the top receivers in the country. He is also an accomplished defensive back. This season Brook helped Millville to a 10-2 record and the WJFL American Division title, South Jersey’s deepest division. Brooks had 61 receptions for 1,295 yards and 22 touchdowns. According to South Jersey historian Chuck Langerman, Brooks tied the single season record of 22 receiving TDs, set by Florence’s Dion Bernardini in 1992. Even though he has another season, Brooks is already the all-time South Jersey leader in receiving yards (3,555) and touchdown receptions (51) according to Langerman. Like Tyson, he was a standout two-way player, with six interceptions this season, of which three that he returned for touchdowns, and 31 tackles. Many of the major college powers are recruiting Brooks and he could be a standout on either side of the ball at the next level.

Newcomer of the Year: Glassboro freshman receiver/defensive back Xavier Sabb burst on the scene in a big way in helping the Bulldogs win the Central Jersey Group 1 title and finish with a 9-4 record. Sabb had 39 receptions for 609 yards and six touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown and intercepted two passes while making 20 tackles. He added another five touchdowns on returns, two on kickoffs and three on punts.

 

One person’s final Super Six:

2. Delsea (12-1).
The Crusaders won the state Group 3 championship, with a 28-3 victory over West Essex in the state final. Delsea ended on an 11-game winning streak after suffering a 28-13 loss to Winslow Township.

3. Winslow Township (10-3).
The Eagles won the Central Jersey Group 4 title after earning the WJFL Independence crown during the regular season. Two regular season losses to Cherokee and Washington Township were by a combined five points.

4. St. Augustine (8-3).
The Hermits saw their season end with a 7-6 loss to Donovan Catholic in a Non-Public A state quarterfinal. The only loss to a team from the seven-county South Jersey area came in a 21-7 defeat to Millville. It was the Hermits lone WJFL American Division loss.

5. Cherokee (9-4).
The Chiefs are the third WJFL American Division team in these rankings. They won the South Jersey Group 5 championship with a 19-13 win over Marlboro. The next week, they lost to eventual state champion Toms River North in the state Group 5 semifinal. 

6. Camden (10-3).
The Panthers won the Central Jersey Group 3 championship with a 47-14 win over Cedar Creek.  They lost to Delsea, 28-12 the following week in the state Group 3 semifinal. Camden also won the WJFL Constitution title, with the big win a 20-7 victory over Haddonfield.

 

Photo: Millville's Lotzeir Brooks


Author: Marc Narducci

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