Some observations from the final weekend
By Kevin Callahan
1. The Avengers: St. Joseph became the first team in school history to finish the season 12-0. But the history-makers were also “The Avengers” as the Wildcats defeated Mater Dei to win the Non-Public Group 2 state championship after losing to the Seraphs last season in the semifinals and having their seven-year streak of state titles stopped. Like the blue print for so many of coach Paul Sacco’s championships, St. Joseph dominated Mater Dei in the 30-14 win at Rowan University behind a punishing running game. Senior fullback Qwahsin Townsel rushed 32 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns and Jada Byers, a sophomore, carried 27 times for 198 yards. St. Joseph, which was coming off a 7-4 season last year, won its 19th title since the state playoffs system was instituted in 1993 and 26th overall championship, including the old Parochial B sectional crowns. “I don’t think anyone thought we would be in this position,” Sacco said. The Wildcats finished No. 1 in the South Jersey Sports Digest rankings.
2. The Crusaders: Delsea certainly was on a crusade after being slapped with a pair of forfeit losses early in the season. Still the Crusaders finished 9-3 with a 29-28 comeback win over Woodrow Wilson to win the S.J. Group 3 crown and for coach Sal Marchese’s 200th career win. However, the most impressive win for Delsea was knocking off Timber Creek 41-30 in the semifinals to avenge their early season loss to the Chargers and to snap a 25-game winning streak by Timber Creek. Delsea, which only other loss on the field was 43-35 to No. 7 Holy Spirit, won its fifth sectional title in the last six years as Aiden Borguet capped his sensational season with two touchdown runs.
3. Haddonfield High: The sixth-seeded Bulldawgs stunned top-seeded West Deptford 21-17 in the South Jersey Group 2 title game at Rowan when Drew Gavranich caught what looked like a short gain on a pass from quarterback Jay Foley, but ran down the sideline for a 51-yard scoring play with 2:36 remaining for the game winner. After trailing 17-7 in the final seconds of the third quarter, Haddonfield won their fourth S.J. Group 2 championship in the last eight years. “I got the ball to one of our best athletes and he got the job done,” said Foley, the son of former Cherry Hill East great and NFL quarterback Glenn.
4. The First: Lenape capped a season for the ages by winning its first state crown when junior Stephen Mulville kicked a 33-yard field goal with five seconds left to win the S.J. Group 5 championship 10-7 over Rancocas Valley. Ironically, the score was the reverse of a 10-7 loss to the Red Devils for Lenape’s only defeat this magical season, which included coach Tim McAneney winning his 100th game. The Indians finished with eight-straight wins to walk off the field the final time as winners after Lenape entered the last four postseasons as the No. 1 seed, including last season when they lost in the Group 4 finals to Timber Creek.
5. Seventh Heaven: Shawnee won its seventh South Jersey title – all under coach Tim Gushue – with a 41-6 triumph over Hammonton for the S.J. Group 4 title. The Renegades (8-4) jumped on the Blue Devils in the opening minute when quarterback Colin Wetterau connected with Daveon Robinson on a 73-yard scoring strike. Wetterau, who is committed to play baseball at St. John’s, tossed three touchdowns, ran for a TD and returned a fumble for a score to account for 35 of the Renegades’ 41 points.
6. Still Raiding: Rebounding from its first loss of the season a week earlier to West Deptford, Paulsboro won its 19th S. J. Group 1 football championship with a 34-24 victory over Penns Grove. Dehron Holloway closed his outstanding career with three touchdowns – a run, a pass reception and a return, and he finished with 120 yards rushing.
7. The Valley: Rancocas Valley reached the high of the mountaintop when the Red Devils were shut out for the first 46 minutes before notching a stunning 15-14 win over defending Group 5 champion Millville in the semifinals and then emotions sank to the bottom of the valley when RV was beaten by Lenape 10-7 on a last second field goal in the championship game. The Red Devils trailed the Indians late in the third quarter, but drove 74 yards, including a fake punt, before Bryce Mangene completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Iverson Clement on fourth-and-15. Clement, a University of Florida commit, finished his sparkling career and will always be remembered for a scintillating 56-yard punt return for a touchdown against Millville.
8. Last Flight: West Deptford coach Clyde Folsom surprisingly resigned after the season, meaning the last flight for the Eagles’ patriarch was a 21-17 loss in the S. J. Group 2 final to rival Haddonfield. But Folsom won’t be remembered for one loss or losing in general as he owns seven South Jersey Group 2 championships and an amazing 13 title game trips in the last 16 years. West Deptford (10-2), which beat Cedar Creek for the championship last season, made its third straight appearance in the finals. Folsom’s last win was worthy of his exit as the Eagles dealt Paulsboro, which won the S. J. Group 1 title, its first defeat 35-26 over Thanksgiving weekend. “I’m proud of this team,” West Deptford senior quarterback Pete Orio said after the championship game loss. The same can be said about Folsom’s career.
9. Tiger Talk: Woodrow Wilson was on the verge of pulling off the upset of the championship weekend when the Tigers led Delsea in the S.J. Group 3 title game before the 29-28 loss. And junior quarterback Nick Kargman certainly ignited talk of being one of the top returning players next season when he threw three touchdown passes and completed 25 of 39 passes for 302 yards. Kargman led the Tigers to a 28-22 advantage late in the third quarter after Wilson trailed by two touchdowns in Wilson’s first trip to the finals in 16 years when it beat Egg Harbor 27-14 in 2001. With Kargman back, the Tigers will be talking about winning the S.J. Group 3 championship next year.
Cal’s Final Top 10
1. St. Joseph (12-0) – The Wildcats stayed at No. 1 after the No. 1 seed in the Non-Public Group 2 playoffs defeated No. 3 Mater Dei for the state championship.
2. Lenape (11-1) – The Indians leaped over Rancocas Valley with a 10-7 win for over the Red Devils to win the Group 5 championship and the first football crown in school history.
3. Delsea (9-3) – The Crusaders moved up a spot after winning the Group 3 title over Woodrow Wilson. Delsea, which knocked off Timber Creek in the semifinals to avenge their early season loss to the Chargers, had its only other loss on the field to No. 7 Holy Spirit, 43-35.
4. Timber Creek (10-1) – The Chargers had dropped from the No. 1 spot after nine straight weeks on top following the upset by Delsea in the Group 3 semifinals. Although Timber Creek didn’t win its third-straight title, the Chargers finished in the Final Four of the SJSD.
5. Rancocas Valley (10-2) – The Red Devils dropped from No. 2 after falling to Lenape in the finals. Rancocas Valley had beaten Lenape 10-7 in October, but lost on a last-second field goal in the Group 5 title game.
6. Cherokee (7-3) – In coach P.J. Mehigan’s final game, the Chiefs beat Seneca on Thanksgiving after losing 31-17 to Howell in the S.J. Group 5 semifinals. Cherokee’s only losses to SJSD teams were to No. 2 Lenape and No. 4 Timber Creek.
7. Holy Spirit (8-3) – The Spartans lost their last two games to Mater Dei in the Non-Public Group 2 playoffs and Atlantic City on Thanksgiving Day, but Holy Spirit proved to be a top team during the course of the season.
8. Camden Catholic (8-2) – The Irish finished off an impressive season with a Thanksgiving Day win over rival Paul VI. Catholic dropped a 45-41 decision at St. John Vianney in the Non-Public Group 3 playoffs and its only other loss was 42-25 to No. 7 Holy Spirit.
9. Shawnee (8-4) – The Renegades won the S.J. Group 4 title with a 41-6 win over Hammonton for the seventh sectional title in school history. Shawnee’s losses were against No. 2 Lenape, No. 6 Cherokee, No. 8 Camden Catholic and Williamstown, which spent time ranked this season in the SJSD Top Ten.
10. Vineland (8-2) – The Fighting Clan held onto the final spot in the Top 10 with a Thanksgiving Day win at ancient rival Millville, which was ranked No. 3 before losses to Rancocas Valley and The Clan. Vineland’s losses were against No. 2 Lenape and St. Augustine, which spent time ranked this season in the SJSD Top Ten.
Tag(s): Home Camden Catholic Haddonfield Schools Tri-County Conference Olympic Conference Cape-Atlantic League Colonial Conference West Deptford Cherokee Lenape Shawnee Burlington Co. League Timber Creek Woodrow Wilson Paulsboro Delsea Holy Spirit Saint Joseph Vineland Rancocas Valley