The South Jersey high school football semifinals take place this weekend, with the winners advancing to sectional finals (for public school) and state championships (for Non-Public schools) during the first weekend of December. Here is the look at the bigger enrollment groups.
South Jersey Group 5
(4) Howell (9-1) at (1) Lenape (8-1), Friday, 7. Howell’s lone loss is to Central Jersey Group 5 power Manalapan (10-0). Last week Howell defeated Cherokee, 31-17 for its fourth consecutive win. Lenape is coming off a convincing 35-0 quarterfinal win over Vineland, a team that entered the tournament 7-1 and was considered one of the toughest No. 8 seeds around. Senior JoJo Kellum has rushed for 1,224 yards (8.3 avg.) and 23 TDs for Lenape. Jake Topolski has 20 receptions for 395 yards and four TDs. The Indians have won five in a row since a 10-7 loss to Rancocas Valley.
(3) Millville (9-0) at (2) Rancocas Valley (8-1), Friday, 7. Millville is the defending sectional champion, but the Thunderbolts barely escaped with a 20-14 first round win over Williamstown. Rancocas Valley rebounded from a 30-24 regular season loss to Camden to defeat Eastern, 57-9 in a quarterfinal. Millville will have to stop Iverson Clement, who has rushed for 1,077 yards (7.0 avg.) and 9 TDs. RV quarterback Bryce Mangene has completed 54 percent of his passes for 911 yards and 9 TDs while also rushing for five scores.
South Jersey Group 4
(4) Shawnee (6-3) at (1) Moorestown (9-1), Friday, 7. Despite its seed, Shawnee should be the favorite in the game. The Renegades have gotten healthier late in the season and own a three-game win streak after a 41-0 quarterfinal win over Absegami. QB Colin Wetterau has completed 113 of 184 passes for 1,772 yards and 15 TDs. He has also rushed for 328 yards and six scores. Moorestown has won five in a row since a 30-20 loss to current Group 3 semifinalist Woodrow Wilson. The Quakers would double their win total from last year with a victory over Shawnee. Moorestown escaped with an opening 16-13 win over Pennsauken.
(7) Highland (5-4) at (6) Hammonton (4-6), Friday, 7. Highland stunned No. 2 Burlington Township, 41-0 in the quarterfinal. The Tartans have won three of their last four and are led by freshman running back Johnny Martin, who has rushed for 1,121 yards (7.9 avg.) and 9 TDs. Against Burlington Township he rushed for 157 yards and 2 TDs on 16 carries. Hammonton upset No. 3 Central Regional 21-6. The Blue Devils entered the game having lost six of their previous seven games, but benefited from playing a difficult regular season schedule.
South Jersey Group 3
(4) Delsea (7-3) at (1) Timber Creek (9-0), Friday, 7. This is a rematch from Sept. 8 when Timber Creek earned a 39-36 home win over Delsea. In that game Delsea junior fullback Aidan Borguet rushed for a single-game school record 366 yards, while also scoring three touchdowns. Borguet has rushed for a single-season school record, 1889 yards. He is averaging a staggering 10.8 yards per carry and has run for 24 touchdowns. Timber Creek quarterback Devin Leary has completed 122 of 202 passes for 2,358 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has had to throw less this season due to a potent ground game, led by Jerome Gibson (876 yards rushing, 7.6 avg. 10 TDs) and Temple commit Kyle Dobbins (651 yards rushing, 8.5 avg. and 9 TDs). Timber Creek has South Jersey’s longest current win streak, 25 games. This certainly looks like the biggest game on the weekend calendar.
(6) Lakewood (5-4) at (2) Woodrow Wilson (7-2), Saturday, 1. Lakewood advanced after an opening round 22-14 win over Lacey. That avenged a 34-33 regular season loss to Lacey. Woodrow Wilson had no problem in its opening playing game, defeating Deptford, 46-14 as Nick Kargman threw three TD passes. Travon King, who caught two of the TD passes, is one of the more dangerous receivers in South Jersey. King has committed to Rutgers.