The biggest debate in South Jersey this year has been at the very top. Who is No. 1?
Some have Holy Spirit. Others (including this publication from the very beginning) pegged St. Augustine as the top team in the area.
The case for St. Augustine (and, of course, for this publication’s elite prognostication prowess) was strengthened this week when the Hermits seemingly brushed aside St. Joseph, a classic rival and fellow elite program.
But that’s a results-oriented way of looking at the action this week in South Jersey. It’s just as important to step back and appreciate what we’re all watching. Teams like Millville, Woodrow Wilson and Shawnee, to name a few, are putting up points at an incredible rate.
The offensive firepower on some of these teams it truly special. And all of them will be put to some pretty serious tests in the near future. Don’t be surprised if Millville’s upcoming game with St. Augustine on Friday night ends up being a contender for game of the year.
1. St. Augustine 3-1 (1)
The Hermits again strengthened their case to hold South Jersey’s top spot after a decisive 24-7 win over St. Joseph on Friday night. The Hermits held St. Joseph – always among the best teams in South Jersey – to less than 200 yards of total offense. Running back Kyle Udoh also continued to impress. He rushed for 155 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He has seven touchdowns through 4 games.
2. Holy Spirit 2-1 (2)
Holy Spirit had a bye this week, but looking ahead, it was probably nice to be able to take a breather before running the gauntlet with upcoming games against Pleasantville, Cedar Creek, St. Augustine, Woodrow Wilson and Winslow.
3. Millville 3-0 (3)
This year’s iteration of the greatest show on turf was idle this week in preparation for a huge showdown with St. Augustine on Friday night. Millville’s electric offense against a Hermits defense that routinely shuts down elite opponents is just one reason the Sept. 24 meeting is a can’t-miss game.
4. St. Joseph 2-2 (4)
A .500 record at this point in the season isn’t exactly par for the course for an elite program like St. Joseph. But the team’s strength of schedule has been brutal the first month of the season. The Wildcats are hoping it pays off from this point forward. They visit Eastern next week as one of South Jersey’s most battle-tested teams.
5. Shawnee 2-1 (5)
A week after trading haymakers with Millville, the Renegades put up another 49 points in a win over a talented Burlington Township. Shawnee is averaging 43 points per game this season, largely because of the play of senior quarterback Matt Welsey, a four-year starter who completed 11 of 13 passes for 136 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against Burlington Township. Running back Dean Bialous had his best game of the season for Shawnee, racking up 130 yards and two scores on 18 carries.
6. Winslow 3-1 (6)
Winslow turned in its third consecutive win in a 44-7 trouncing of Timber Creek. The breezy win was needed after Winslow’s dramatic victory last week over Woodrow Wilson. But it doesn’t get easier from here for Winslow, starting with a road game against Camden on Friday night.
7. Woodrow Wilson (2-1) (7)
After being sidelined with injuries for most of the last two seasons, Wilson receiver Amari Clark had almost 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in a 44-21 win over Haddonfield on Saturday afternoon. Clark’s biggest play was a 53-yard score in the second quarter – on a beautiful throw from quarterback Devin Kargman. Kargman was already one of the area’s most dangerous players. Adding Clark to his arsenal of weapons should only make him scarier for opponents.
8. Salem 2-0 (8)
Salem brushed aside Pleasantville this week by a score of 41-6. The third quarter kickoff return touchdown for Pleasantville represented the only points allowed by Salem in the past three games. The Rams – outscoring opponents 138-22 this season – will visit Paulsboro on Sept. 25.
9. Burlington Township 1-1 (9)
A week after having a game cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns with its opponent, Burlington Township took a tough loss to a Shawnee team that is clearly among South Jersey’s elite this year. There were bright spots in the game for the Falcons, including the continued strong play of quarterback Gage Miller.
10. Cherokee 1-1 (10)
The Chiefs had a bye this week – giving them some extra time to take in last week’s loss to St. Joseph. Cherokee is back in action this weekend against Washington Township
For any comments or questions about these rankings – or if you have an area high school sports story you think needs to be told, contact Chris Melchiorre at CMelchiorre11@yahoo.com.