The schedule-makers at St. Augustine are making things very easy on anyone tasked with ranking South Jersey’s top football teams. And the players themselves — well, they’re certainly doing their part, too.
Once again, the Hermits took on one of the area’s top-ranked teams this weekend. And once again, the Hermits didn’t just win, they dominated in a 31-17 drubbing of Millville. The Hermits made a loud and clear statement that they are, right now, the team to beat in South Jersey.
Holy Spirit, of course, might have something to say about that. But guess what? The teams play on Oct. 8. So, once again, St. Augustine will spare us from guessing who the top team is. They’re fully prepared to show us.
And speaking of showing, those who questioned whether the Cedar Creek defense was for real got their answer when the team held Woodrow Wilson to 8 points on Saturday. Those were the only points allowed by the Pirates all season.
The win earned Cedar Creek a spot in this week’s rankings in a week when the top teams in South Jersey asserted their will all over the area.
1. St. Augustine 4-1 (Last week: 1) The case is even stronger. St. Augustine has held the top spot in the South Jersey rankings from the beginning (at least in this publication), and the Hermits continue to show why they deserve it. Friday night — a 31-17 trouncing of a very talented Millville team — may have been its most impressive performance of the season. Kanye Udoh continued to shine for the Hermits, rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. But the entire Hermits defense deserves credit for holding the vaunted Millville offense to seven points through the first three quarters and holding Syracuse recruit LeQuint Allen to just 69 yards on 20 carries.
2. Holy Spirit 3-1 (Last week: 2) It felt almost like a showcase. Holy Spirit beat Pleasantville 58-0 on Friday night. But that doesn’t mean the game wasn’t fun to watch. It was a chance to take in some of the area’s top talent. Elijah Steward caught three touchdown passes in the first quarter. His chemistry with quarterback Trevor Cohen is worth the price of admission regardless of opponent.
3. Millville 3-1 (Last week: 3) Maybe there was a bit of rust after Millville had its game last week postponed due to a COVID issue; maybe it was a case of a young team still trying to find its footing. Either way, a loss to St. Augustine — at this point the clear No. 1 team in South Jersey — won’t exactly tarnish what should still be a special season for Millville. The Thunderbolts will look to bounce back next week against Hammonton.
4. Shawnee 2-1 (Last week: 5) Shawnee topped Vineland 49-13 on Friday night, continuing a scorching hot start to the season for the Renegades offense. Shawnee hasn’t scored less than 38 points in a game. Senior quarterback Matt Welsey’s bid for South Jersey Player of the Year was further solidified Friday night. He threw for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for two touchdowns.
5. St. Joseph's 3-2 (Last week: 4) Eastern was unlucky enough to have to play one of the area’s best programs the week after a loss. St. Joseph trounced the Vikings 45-2 as it moved past a loss to St. Augustine last week. The Wildcats were up 40-0 in the first half of this game and will look to keep that play going next week against Rancocas Valley.
6. Cedar Creek 5-0 (Last week: Not ranked) The Cedar Creek defense hadn’t allowed a single point this season entering Saturday’s game with Woodrow Wilson. Some may have questioned how much strength of schedule played into those gaudy numbers. But Cedar Creek answered those questions Saturday afternoon as the Pirates held one of the area’s most talented offenses in check while forcing three turnovers and recording five sacks in a 21-8 win over the Tigers.
7. Winslow 4-1 (Last week: 6) For the second time in three games, Winslow was forced to weather some late-game drama. The Eagles needed overtime before sealing a 22-20 win over Camden. This comes after a 2-point win over Woodrow Wilson on Sept. 11. On Friday night against Camden, Winslow was trailing 14-0 at halftime before quarterback Hamas Duren caught fire and ultimately connected with Cam Miller for the game-winning 28-yard score.
8. Washington Township 4-0 (Last week: Not ranked) The Minutemen continued one of their best starts in years with a 21-14 overtime win over Cherokee on Friday night. Running back Nahmere Graves scored three touchdowns, including one to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, and the go-ahead touchdown in the extra period.
9. Woodrow Wilson 2-2 (Last week: 7) The Tigers were the latest victim of one of the area’s hottest defenses in a 21-8 loss to Cedar Creek on Saturday afternoon, just one week after putting up 44 points in a win over Haddonfield. The Tigers will have a week to prepare before they take the field against Timber Creek on Oct. 9.
10. Salem 4-0 (Last week: 8) Salem did not play this week but will be back in action next week against Buena.
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.