It felt like South Jersey high school football settled in this weekend.
No more showcases, no more out-of-state games. Things escalated this weekend around the area.
And it should only get better from here.
The area’s top two teams – St. Augustine and Holy Spirit – recorded their first victories after dropping their openers to out-of-state powers. Holy Spirit’s win over St. Joseph was one of the biggest statements of the early season, as was Woodrow Wilson’s 28-7 win over West Deptford. These are the types of wins that can set a tone for an entire season.
This weekend was a taste of what’s to come. Multiple high-profile, potential ranking-busting games are on the slate for next weekend. And that type of action won’t stop for the rest of the season.
Check our updated NBC Sports Philadelphia South Jersey High School Power Rankings every Sunday morning to see how it plays out throughout the season.
1. St. Augustine (1-1)
In the second game of arguably South Jersey’s toughest regular season schedule, St. Augustine walked away with a 51-21 win over Notre Dame on Friday night. Senior running back Kanye Udoh rushed for 182 yards and four touchdowns to help the Hermits erase the memory of an opening night loss to Maryland’s Archbishop Spalding. Now comes the really fun part of the Hermits’ schedule: a gauntlet of South Jersey powers starting with Williamstown on Sept. 10. St. Augustine will have every chance to show why it belongs atop the South Jersey rankings.
2. Holy Spirit (1-1)
The Spartans won a thriller over fellow area power St. Joseph on Friday night. Gavin Roman was a stud on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 104 yards on 12 carries, scored twice, including the game’s decisive TD in the fourth quarter, and swiped a big interception. Similar to St. Augustine, the win provided a nice boost for Holy Spirit after dropping its opener to Maryland’s DeMatha.
3. Millville (2-0)
It took less than four quarters for freshman Lotzeir Brooks to establish himself as another strong piece to an already star-studded team. Brooks caught an 85-yard touchdown pass to seal his team’s opening day win over Union. He had another touchdown reception in a lopsided 62-0 win over Mainland on Friday night.
4. St. Joseph (1-1)
Even in a loss to Holy Spirit, it was easy to see that the Wildcats – not surprisingly – are again among the top teams in South Jersey. The team is well-rounded, tough and led by a talented quarterback in Ja’son Prevard, who has three touchdowns passes on the season, and has looked strong despite taking some lumps against Holy Spirit.
5. Woodrow Wilson (1-0)
On pure talent, Woodrow Wilson is up there with any team in South Jersey. But the Tigers must prove they can win under new coach Brandon Bather, who previously served as the team’s defensive coordinator. Much of the team’s success will also be dictated by the play of the team’s stud quarterback Devin Kargman, who looked sharp in an opening day win over West Deptford on Saturday. Running back Naz’sir Oglesby had a monster day against West Deptford. He rushed for 192 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries.
6. Salem (2-0)
Salem isn’t messing around in 2021. The team opened its season with a statement win over Camden and followed that with a 40-0 trouncing of Cinnaminson on Friday night. Junior quarterback Jahki Coates, who has an offer from Temple, is poised for a special season. He’s one of South Jersey’s most accurate passers, and he also returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown Friday night against Cinnaminson.
7. Burlington Township (1-0)
The connection between quarterback Gage Millier and receiver Anthony Johnson should be fun to watch this season. The two got off to a hot start – connecting on touchdown passes of 30 and 20 yards – in the team’s 43-6 opening day win over Hamilton West on Saturday.
8. Cherokee (1-0)
Cherokee opened the season with a decisive 35-0 win over rival Lenape on Friday night. In his first game as starting QB, sophomore Ryan Bender was 7 of 8 passing for 149 yards and a touchdown without recording an interception. He was aided by running back Brandon Boria, who rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
9. Shawnee (1-0)
The Renegades dominated Kingsway on Friday night, walking away with a 38-0 road win. Four-year starting quarterback Matt Welsey threw for 148 yards, writing the first chapter of what should be a memorable senior season.
10. Winslow (1-0)
Winslow bounced back from an opening night loss to Woodbridge with a win Saturday night over Camden Catholic. The Eagles will have a big chance to prove they belong in the South Jersey Top-10 when they host Woodrow Wilson on Sept. 11.
Check back every Sunday morning for NBC Sports Philadelphia's South Jersey High School Power Rankings. For more, check out our High School Football hub page. For comments or questions, or if you have a high school sports story that needs to be told, email Chris Melchiorre at email@example.com.